Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Anna Salvatore
Tuesday, November 24, 2020, 2:58 PM

President Trump has authorized the federal government to begin transitioning to a Biden administration, reports the Washington Post. His announcement on Twitter came after the Michigan Board of State Canvassers certified the state’s electoral votes for President-elect Biden, as well as after General Services Administration head Emily Murphy released a long-awaited letter allocating resources to Biden’s transition team. Even though President Trump did not expressly concede the election, a senior campaign aide told the Post that his tweet is “as close to a concession as you will probably get.” The New York Times writes that the formal beginning of the transition allows the government to conduct background checks on Biden’s aides and cabinet nominees. 

CNN reports that the U.S. recorded more than 144,000 new coronavirus cases among children over the past week, meaning that children now account for 11 percent of cases in the country. A record 85,836 people were hospitalized with the virus on Monday, setting a hospitalization record for the 14th straight day, and South Dakota and Nebraska have the most infected people in hospitals per capita. Pointing to the recent “exponential growth in cases,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have urged Americans to stay home during Thanksgiving.

An early mutation in the coronavirus may have hastened its spread, reports the Chicago Tribune. Researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Arizona have discovered that the mutated virus–first spotted in January in eastern China–immediately displaced other variants and was more contagious than the original virus. Slight changes in the Covid-19 genome made the virus “harder to contain than the first time around” in places like Singapore and Vietnam, though the spread was compounded by inadequate and inconsistent safety measures across the globe. 

For the first time, Pope Francis named China’s Muslim Uighurs among a list of “persecuted peoples,” in his new book alongside Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and Coptic Christians in Egypt. The Pope’s statement was criticized as “groundless” by the Chinese government, CNN writes, which has been surveilling, kidnapping and detaining hundreds of thousands of Uighurs in the northwestern Xinjiang province. 

Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid Oxycontin, pleaded guilty to three criminal charges in court today. According to the Associated Press, the drug manufacturer admitted that it had paid doctors to prescribe more addictive painkillers, obstructed the federal government’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and failed to prevent opioids from entering the black market. 

Britain’s Supreme Court will consider whether a woman who left the country to join ISIS may now return, reports NPR. Shamima Begum, a 21 year-old now living in a Syrian detention camp, is claiming that the British government rendered her stateless when it stripped away her citizenship. The government is arguing in turn that Begum poses a threat to national security. 

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Shaiba Ratner discussed the status of diplomatic talks between India and China over their disputed Himalayan border. 

Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of The Lawfare Podcast entitled “A Conversation with Alexander Vindman.” Benjamin Wittes spoke with Vindman about the foreign policy implications of the presidential transition and his experience during the impeachment trial. 

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