Tuesday, November 17, 2020

-Ivanka's childhood friend, taking no prisoners

Sources close to Joe Biden and Democratic leaders have begun signaling a desire to move beyond the Trump administration’s corruption and abuses of power, while Donald Trump and his allies are still in the middle of trying to light election results on fire. 

  • A staffer for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has corroborated Raffensperger’s allegation that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) pressured him to throw out a bunch of legally cast absentee ballots to swing the Georgia election towards Trump. Graham denied it, and to prove his very legal intentions, announced that he also spoke with election officials in Arizona and Nevada. Arizona’s Democratic Secretary of State said she never spoke with Graham, though, so Graham was specifically calling up Republicans in states where Trump lost to chat about trashing ballots. It is partly cloudy in Washington today with a high of 51, beautiful resigning weather! 
  • In spite of Republicans’ attempted election crimes, Georgia’s recount will wrap up on Wednesday and affirm Biden’s historic victory: Election officials from 29 counties have finished their audits without finding discrepancies in the results. (Officials in Floyd County and Fayette County did find a few thousand previously uncounted ballots, which should net Trump around 1250 votes—nowhere near enough to swing the 14000 vote margin.) Georgia’s audit of its voting machines likewise found no evidence of fraud or tampering, unless you count the one with eye holes that Lindsey Graham has been crouched in dressed as the Hamburglar for the last week. 
  • Democratic leaders have reportedly decided to rely on public pressure and fed-up Republicans to force Trump into allowing the transition to move forward, rather than take legal action, at least for now. It could be a long wait. Two weeks after Election Day, a growing number of Republicans now acknowledge that Biden sure does seem to be the president-elect, but stop miles short of suggesting that their disgraced leader stop putting national security and vaccine distribution at risk by blocking the transition. Maybe tomorrow?

Democrats also sent a signal that they may not be spoiling for a fight about Trump in the post-Trump era. 

  • Biden has reportedly told advisors that he doesn’t want his presidency consumed by divisive investigations into Trump, but that he’d leave those probes up to his independent Justice Department. While we can certainly expect the Justice Department to operate much more independently from Biden’s White House than it did under Trump, reports like this could send a signal to the eventual department leadership (and the still-criming Trump administration) about Biden’s preferences. 
  • In the same vein, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have notified the Supreme Court that they might drop their fight for grand jury materials from Robert Mueller’s investigation, saying that the newly-elected Congress will have to decide whether to continue seeking them. If it doesn’t, and if Biden’s Justice Department chooses not to release those documents, we may never know the full extent of Trump’s abuses.

Uniting the country, or at least backing away from constant social unrest, is a very cool goal we can all get behind. Another cool goal is a full accounting of the Trump administration’s unprecedented corruption and criminality, especially while Trump is still in a position to wreak havoc, and when Trump 2.0 could be just around the corner.

We usually like to root for an underdog, but when it comes to science vs. everything else (a famous rivalry) we make an exception. We’re on team science, and luckily science has a perfect record. It might be because they have facts and evidence on their side OR it might be because their fans wear the coolest merch. Who’s to say?

Show your science pride and rep America Dissected with our Science Always Wins line. We even included some phosphorescence (scientific name: super cool glow-in-the-dark). Go team

Facebook is still profiting from ads placed by a Ukranian neo-Nazi group that the company banned a year ago. The far-right Azov movement has created at least a dozen new Facebook pages since July, and used them to place dozens of ads. Azov-affiliated groups have a history of using violence, and using social media to both organize those actions and share the results. The movement’s Intermarium project, which aims to connect white-nationalist movements in western Europe and the U.S. (the LinkedIn of nightmares), has also ducked around a Facebook ban to continue facilitating violence on social media. The State Department has designated the Azov movement a “nationalist hate group,” and Facebook knows it’s been using the platform to expand beyond Ukraine, but seems content to continue taking its money.

Russia didn’t mount any major hacking or disinformation operations to interfere in the election—possibly because Americans did such a good job of it on our own. U.S. officials said that a series of cyber operations, better overall preparation, and the exposure of Russian malware may have helped to keep hackers at bay, but the Kremlin may have simply decided it wasn’t worth the risk of extra sanctions: Four years of Trump successfully banged up American democracy, Americans were satisfactorily anxious about the very prospect of foreign election interference, and Trump himself churned out so much election disinformation that Russia didn’t need to lift a finger. Bringing jobs back to the U.S., baby!

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New data suggests that coronavirus immunity could last for years, and possibly even for decades. That research hasn’t been peer reviewed, but it’s the most comprehensive study on the topic to date, and provisionally extremely good news. 

New York will allow nonbinary gender designations on state drivers licenses. 

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has handed the Trump campaign its 25th post-election legal defeat.

The Biden transition team is reportedly vetting Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) for the Secretary of Interior post. If nominated, she would be the first-ever Native American Cabinet secretary. 

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