IT’S THE COUNT THAT COUNTS
Campaign staff for Joe Biden are increasingly confident of a victory in Pennsylvania, and with it the presidency, where The New York Times’ live blog notes Donald Trump’s lead is falling amid the counting of mail-in votes. Counting for one county, however, has been delayed by a day due to a delivery company’s mishap last month.
Trump’s lead continues to fall in a number of other tight swing states such as Georgia, where, according to AP, a judge has dismissed a Republican lawsuit over absentee ballots that briefly led to a halt on counting. The Trump campaign also lost an attempt for “emergency relief” to observe votes in Michigan, but secured a court order to allow party poll watchers to stand closer to ballot counters.
And in a mail-in failure we’re certain the president will want fully investigated, Bloomberg reports that US Postmaster General Louis DeJoy may have to testify under oath after his agency did not follow court orders to avoid delivery disruptions. This included a failure to complete a mandatory sweep of mail-processing facilities to check for undelivered ballots by 3pm on election day.
PS: In a terrifying development, The Atlantic reports that America yesterday hit a record 103,087 new COVID-19 cases. Australia, meanwhile, saw another day of no cases from community transmission and no deaths AKA a double doughnut day.
WHAT NEXT FOR THE SENATE?
Latest figures from the The New York Times suggest two Georgia Senate races could end without a clear majority and, as political blog Daily Kos explains, lead to two crucial run-off races on January 5.
Democrats would likely need to win both seats in order to create a 50-50 Senate, where Kamala Harris could then act as a tie-breaker.
If Republicans do retake the Senate, Axios reports that Mitch McConnell plans to block progressive Cabinet nominations, even if Biden chooses to replicate Trump’s “acting” cabinet model for unconfirmed nominees.
However, Biden would not be able to undo the Republicans’ 6-3 control of the Supreme Court, or, as Daily Kos writer Stephen Wolf explains, a pre-existing gerrymander that stands to net the GOP four-to-five times the amount of congressional districts as Democrats from 2021.
PS: In more proposition updates, Vox reports that Los Angeles voters have approved a measure requiring 10% of the city’s unrestricted general funds — estimated between $360 million and $900 million per year — to go towards social services and alternatives to incarceration, rather than prisons and policing. A Fox News (!) exit poll also suggests 72% of Americans support a change to a government-run healthcare plan, which neither leader currently supports.
ISRAELI ARMY DEMOLISHES PALESTINIAN VILLAGE
Israel’s army has demolished the homes and resources of nearly 80 Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, with Al Jazeera reporting that soldiers destroyed tents in in the northern village of Khirbet Humsa along with portable toilets, sheds used as livestock enclosures, water containers, and solar panels.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has called on the international community to intervene against Israel’s attempt to “displace the citizens of Khirbet Humsa and tens of similar communities from their homes and lands”, and pointed to the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “chose this evening to commit another crime” while the world is focused on the US election.
According to The Guardian, Chinese-Australian community figure Di Sanh Duong has become the first person charged under Malcolm Turnbull’s foreign interference laws.
Duong, the president of the Oceania Federation of Chinese Organisations from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, was pictured with acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge donating $30,000 in COVID-19 relief to a Melbourne hospital in June. He appeared before the Melbourne magistrates court on Thursday charged with preparing for a foreign interference offence, but no other information has been released about the alleged offence.
As The Age reports, the news comes as Australian businesses across seafood, wine, barley, sugar, copper, coal, and timber brace for a $6 billion halt to exports to China today.
President Xi Jinping told thousands of foreign exporters on Wednesday that Beijing does not want to hurt other economies and that “it is ill advised to pursue unilateral dominance, or choose to hurt others’ interests, which diminishes one’s own interests”.
In just extraordinary timing, The Age reports that Victoria Police’s fraud squad is investigating allegations of vote rigging in Melbourne’s council elections.
Councillors in Moreland’s north-west ward have still taken their seats and will be able to exercise decision-making powers ahead of a potential new election, after the Victorian Electoral Commission reported that hundreds of ballot papers had been removed from letterboxes, filled in fraudulently and then posted to the commission.
MORE POWER TO THEM
Finally, in a rare example of a government announcing good news under the cover of a nightmare news week, the ABC reports that Victoria will be home to the largest battery in the southern hemisphere, a 300 megawatt Tesla battery to be installed at Moorabool near Geelong.
In other, much funnier energy news, The Guardian reports that Adani has changed the name of its Australian operations to “Bravus”, a word chief executive David Boshoff claimed means “courageous” in Latin but experts say more accurately translates to “crooked”, “deformed”, and “mercenary or assassin”.
The North Queensland Cowboys — who now count the mining company as platinum sponsors — have also announced they are “proud to wear Bravus on [their] sleeve”.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
For sure [there’s a chance electoral fraud occurred in the US election]. The question is whether it’s enough to change the election outcome and I doubt it is.
For example, in Washington DC, they sent out ballot papers to every household. Some people got two ballot papers … 93% of the city voted for Joe Biden. 93%! [laughs] Even my best booth in Longueville, god bless em … I got 83%. 93% in the city, I find it hard to believe.
Australia’s former ambassador to the United States — a role that required, y’know, living in DC — is absolutely flummoxed by how a city that voted over 90% Democrat for the past three straight elections could do it again.
“For Donald Trump’s many supporters and advocates in Australia, yesterday was a defining moment. Either they support democracy and free and fair elections, or they don’t. Many, it seems, do not.
“Whether they’re on the lunatic fringe of right-wing politics here, or in the ranks of the Morrison government, or lurking in the commentariat at News Corp, or capering on Sky News, Trump supporters have ignored four years of the trashing of many of the values and institutions that they claim to hold dear.”
“Sure, the president tried to disenfranchise every opponent he could imagine ahead of time, from the entire Black community to former felons, and tried to prevent people voting every which way right down to removing the actual post boxes. And then there was the risk of death courtesy of the pandemic, of course.
“Yet the Americans came out in record numbers — including for the president.”
“As Donald Trump was threatening to steal the election yesterday evening, former prime minister Kevin Rudd was pinning the blame for the great American unraveling on another old white man: Rupert Murdoch.
“‘In creating two warring states in America, our friend Rupert has had a big role to play in that,’ Rudd told an exclusive talk for Crikey subscribers.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Re-election hopes fading, Trump tries for an election win in the courts — Sarah John (The Conversation): “Facing the gradual erosion of early leads in several battleground states — and increasingly likely defeat in the presidential election — the Trump campaign is launching a well-planned legal assault to challenge the validity of ballots and the process of vote-counting itself. The Biden campaign is responding with an equally well-coordinated legal defence and a grassroots fundraising effort called the ‘Biden Fight Fund’.”
Whoever wins, this election is not the end of Trumpism — Barry Eidlin (Jacobin): “At the moment, we’re still waiting for final results from a number of key states. But regardless of the results, what we know for sure is that the 2020 election will not signal the end of Trumpism, even if, as appears increasingly likely, Trump himself ends up losing the election. Despite his rank incompetence and callousness in the face of the pandemic and economic crisis, which eroded his support somewhat, Trump has retained the support of a significant minority of American voters.”
McConnell flexing his obstructionist muscle already. Biden needs to fight fire with fire — Joan McCarter (Daily Kos): “Moscow Mitch McConnell is twisting his pretend mustache and rubbing his hands together in preparation for how he’s going to block everything presumed President Joe Biden wants to accomplish. And reportedly, Biden is considering ‘limiting its prospective Cabinet nominees to those who Mitch McConnell can live with, according to people familiar with the matter.’ That’s Axios reporting, so all the grains of salt.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The High Court is set to decide on Clive Palmer’s battle against Western Australia’s border closure.
Polymath Barry Jones will launch his new book What Is to Be Done: Political Engagement and Saving the Planet in an Avid Reader Zoom event.