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Long Island Native Louise Gluck Wins Nobel Prize for Literature

American poet Louise Gluck reacts after winning the 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature, at her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S. October 8, 2020. REUTERS/Katherine Taylor

By Daniel Trotta and Anna Ringstrom

American poet Louise Gluck, who was raised on Long Island, won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature for works exploring family and childhood in an “unmistakable…voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”, the Swedish Academy said on Thursday.

Academy Permanent Secretary Mats Malm said that Gluck, 77, a George W. Hewlett High School graduate, also a multiple winner of U.S. literary awards, was “surprised and happy” at the news when it came in the early morning hours U.S. time. She gave no comment to journalists gathered outside her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A professor of English at Yale University, Gluck first rose to critical acclaim with her 1968 collection of poems entitled “Firstborn”, and went on to become one of the most celebrated poets and essayists in contemporary America.

The Swedish Academy said that in Gluck’s works “the self listens for what is left of its dreams and delusions, and nobody can be harder than she in confronting illusions of the self”.

Drawing comparisons with other authors, the Academy said Gluck resembled 19th-century U.S. poet Emily Dickinson in her “severity and unwillingness to accept simple tenets of faith”.

While describing her work as “engaged by the errancies and shifting conditions of life”, the Academy said Gluck was “also a poet of radical change and rebirth, where the leap forward is made from a deep sense of loss.”

Born in New York, Gluck becomes the 16th woman to win the literary world’s most prestigious distinction since the Nobel prizes were launched more than a century ago.

While she draws on her own experiences in her poetry, Gluck, who is twice divorced and suffered from anorexia in younger years, explores universal themes that resonate with readers in the United States and abroad.

Erica McAlpine, associate professor of English at Britain’s Oxford University, said Gluck “has managed to feel urgently contemporary and yet simultaneously timeless”. She added:

“The occasional bleakness of her voice speaks especially well to our present moment, and yet her poetry has always been intimately connected to the long lyric tradition behind it.”

In her poems, “love, loss, desire, and beauty wear the specific dress of her own life while turning the everyday into something mythical,” McAlpine added.

NOBEL PRIZE LIKELY TO BROADEN APPEAL

Jonathan Galassi, president of her publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux, said via email he was certain the Nobel prize would bring Gluck “to many, many new readers.”

“She is one of the rare contemporary poets whose work has the gift of speaking directly to readers through her great and subtle art,” he said.

Gluck was awarded a U.S. Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for her poetry collection “The Wild Iris”, with the title poem touching on suffering and redolent with imagery of the natural world.

She was Poet Laureate of the United States in 2003-04, and won the U.S. National Book Award for her collection “Faithful and Virtuous Night” six years ago.

In 2015, then-President Barack Obama honoured Gluck with the National Medal of Arts and Humanities, saying her “probing poems capture the quiet drama of nature and the quiet emotions of everyday people”.

Nobel prizes for medicine, physics and chemistry were awarded earlier this week, and the peace prize is to be announced on Friday.

The awards are named after dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901 in accordance with his will.

CONTROVERSIES, SCANDAL

Gluck’s Nobel prize followed years of controversy surrounding the literature award, but Malm sidestepped questions about whether Gluck was chosen to address any related concerns.

Alluding to past disputes, he told reporters: “I’d say that in our Nobel (prize) work the crisis hasn’t been decisive.”

In 2019, the Academy exceptionally named two winners after postponing the 2018 prize in the wake of a sexual assault scandal involving the husband of one of its members.

The secretive, 234-year-old Academy later announced changes it billed as improving the transparency of the awards process.

But one of the literature laureates announced last year, Austria’s Peter Handke, had drawn international criticism over his portrayal of Serbia as a victim during the 1990s Balkan wars and for attending the funeral of its nationalist strongman leader Slobodan Milosevic.

The 2016 literature prize granted to American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan polarized opinion over whether a popular musician should be given an award that had been largely the domain of novelists and playwrights.

Like much of public life around the world, this year’s awards have taken place under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the cancellation of the splashy Nobel prize-giving ceremony held each December in Stockholm.

Instead, a televised event will be held with winners receiving their honours in their home countries.

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Q&A: Where Are We In The Coronavirus Vaccine Race?

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

By Carl O’Donnell

Drugmakers and research centers around the world are working on COVID-19 vaccines, with large global trials of several of the candidates involving tens of thousands of participants well underway.

As some companies close in on unveiling their initial findings – with Canadian and European regulators already reviewing early data on some vaccines – the following is what we know about the race to deliver vaccines to help end the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over a million lives:

Who is furthest along?

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc with German partner BioNTech SE, U.S. biotech Moderna Inc and Britain-based AstraZeneca Plc  in conjunction with University of Oxford researchers could provide early analyses of data from their various large trials over the next two months. Johnson & Johnson is not far behind.

What happens in these trials?

The companies are testing their vaccines against a placebo – typically saline solution – in healthy volunteers to see if the rate of COVID-19 infection among those who got the vaccine is significantly lower than in those who received the dummy shot. Neither trial participants nor researchers know who has received the vaccine or placebo until the data is ready for review, or unblinded. The studies rely on subjects becoming naturally infected with COVID-19, so how long it takes to generate results largely depends on how pervasive the virus is where the trials are being conducted. In areas with large outbreaks and community spread, infections will pile up faster.

How will we know if the vaccine works?

The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the World Health Organization have all set similar minimum standards for effectiveness. Vaccines must demonstrate at least 50% efficacy – meaning at least twice as many infections among volunteers who got a placebo than in the vaccine group. Independent panels oversee the trials to monitor for safety and effectiveness since the data is hidden from companies and researchers. These data safety monitoring boards take a peek at the interim results at pre-determined milestones, such as after a certain number of people have become infected. It the vaccine is looking significantly better than the placebo, the companies can apply for emergency use, and the study may be halted or continue to its intended conclusion. A trial also can be halted if the panel determines the vaccine to be unsafe.

Will regulators ensure a vaccine is safe before making it available to the public?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said it will not approve a vaccine unless it is both effective and safe. On Tuesday, it added more stringent safety guidelines for U.S. vaccines. The FDA wants developers to follow trial subjects for at least two months after they receive their final vaccine dose to check for any side effects that may crop up. The agency will consider an emergency use authorization (EUA) once that data is collected from at least half of the trial’s participants. The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency will review the vaccines for the U.K. and the European Medicines Agency will review vaccines for European Union use.

When will regulators decide?

Regulators will review the vaccines after the companies have enough data to submit applications seeking an EUA or formal approval. Pfizer/BioNtech will likely know how well its vaccine works as soon as this month, while Moderna’s first look at data is more likely to come next month. AstraZeneca could provide a look at late-stage data in the next two months. Regulators for Europe and Canada are considering data on a rolling basis, as it becomes available. The U.K. and the U.S. both expect speedy reviews of initial data for possible emergency use before more traditional lengthy reviews for formal commercial approvals.

Could these be the first approved coronavirus vaccines?

Yes, although China and Russia are on a similar timeline. China launched an emergency use program in July aimed at essential workers and others at high risk of infection that has vaccinated hundreds of thousands of people. At least four vaccines are far along including from China National Biotec Group (CNBG), CanSino Biologics and Sinovac. Sinovac and CNBG have said to expect early trial data as soon as November. Russia’s Gamaleya Institute has begun a 40,000-person late-stage trial and is expected to have early data at the end of October or early November. Russia has also given the vaccine to at least hundreds of “high-risk” members of the general population.

Is U.S. authorization up to President Trump?

The FDA must make sure that the benefits of a vaccine outweigh the risks before authorization since they are intended to be given to hundreds of millions of healthy people. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has the authority to override the FDA’s recommendation. U.S. President Donald Trump has complained about the new safety guidelines that would likely delay any vaccine availability until after the Nov. 3 presidential election. The Trump administration can hire and fire HHS officials, opening the possibility of political pressure to approve a vaccine.

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5 Takeaways From The First Trump-Biden Debate

U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in their first 2020 presidential campaign debate held on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., September 29, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

By Jeff Mason and Joseph Ax

President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, faced off in their first debate of the campaign in Cleveland on Tuesday, with Trump talking over his rival and the moderator as he sought to hold the spotlight.

Here are takeaways from the matchup, the first of three before the Nov. 3 election:

‘WILL YOU SHUT UP, MAN?’

Trump is used to sparring with reporters, and he spent Tuesday’s debate using the same tactic he uses in the White House briefing room: interrupting.

Throughout the 90-minute debate, Trump repeatedly talked over Biden and moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News, overshadowing attempts to discuss policy and drawing rebukes for breaking the rules that both campaigns had agreed on to ensure that both candidates had equal time.

The debate split-screen regularly showed the two candidates talking simultaneously while Wallace pleaded for order.

“Please let the vice president talk,” Wallace admonished Trump during one of his interruptions.

“Will you shut up, man?” Biden said to Trump, one of many times he directed the president to be quiet.

The effect was exhausting, for viewers and, seemingly, for the moderator, who conceded at one point that he was having trouble following.

“That was too hot,” Chris Christie, the combative Republican former New Jersey governor and adviser to Trump, said on ABC, while also criticizing Biden’s performance.

“It’s been an interesting hour and a half,” Wallace said at the conclusion of the debate with a chuckle and, with a nod to the follow-up debates in next few weeks, said there was more to come.

‘STAND BACK AND STAND BY’

Trump deflected a question asking him to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, instead calling on one group to “stand back and stand by” and then attacking left-wing activists.

Senior federal officials, including at the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, this month warned that white supremacist groups pose a rising threat of violence in the United States.

BODY LANGUAGE

There was no opening handshake on Tuesday night because of COVID-19, but the body language between Trump and Biden still took center stage.

Trump scowled at his rival for much of the debate, or wagged his finger or waved his hand to dismiss his Democratic opponent.

Biden, meanwhile, regularly gazed into the camera when Trump interrupted him to make a direct appeal to the American people.

Trump “doesn’t want to talk about what you need – you, the American people. It’s about you,” Biden said at one point.

While Trump spoke, Biden shook his head, sometimes broke into a smile or a laugh, and occasionally simply stopped speaking and kept silent in exasperation.

TRUMP’S TAXES

Trump didn’t mince words when Wallace asked him what he paid in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, after the New York Times reported that his tax returns showed only a $750 payment in each year.

Offering no evidence, Trump said he had paid, “millions of dollars. And you’ll get to see it,” despite his refusal to release any returns since he became a candidate in 2015, breaking with decades of tradition.

“Show us your tax returns,” Biden interjected.

Trump attempted to walk a fine line, claiming he owed a hefty tax bill while also defending his efforts to pay as little taxes as possible – and blaming Biden and former President Barack Obama for helping him to do so via the tax code.

When Wallace turned to Biden, the Democrat quickly pivoted to his economic plan, saying he would repeal Trump’s tax cuts that largely benefited corporations and the wealthy, and the discussion turned to the trillions of dollars those proposals represent.

Left unmentioned were many of the allegations in the Times report: tax deductions for hair styling and private jets, no income tax paid in 10 of the last 15 years, a massive $72.9 million tax refund that is the subject of a long-running audit.

It may have been a missed opportunity for Biden. He has worked hard to reach out to the working-class white voters at the heart of Trump’s base who might be particularly offended by Trump’s miniscule tax payments.

GUEST LIST

Presidential candidates invite guests to debates with a calculated purpose: to emphasize a core campaign theme.

Ann Dorn, whose retired police officer husband was killed amid anti-racism protests in St. Louis in June, was among Trump’s guests, a month after appearing in a video on his behalf at the Republican National Convention. Trump has hammered away at a “law-and-order” message in response to widespread civil unrest over police brutality and racism and accused Democrats of failing to support law enforcement.

Biden’s guests included Kristin Urquiza, whose father, a Trump supporter, died of the coronavirus after dismissing its deadliness. The former vice president has sought as much as possible to turn the campaign into a referendum on Trump, and specifically on his handling of the outbreak, which has killed more than 205,000 Americans.

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Wall Street Fundraisers Become Wallflowers During 2020 Election

insider trading

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

Early this year, a prominent billionaire tried several times to organize a fundraiser for presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, a moderate who gained favor among Wall Street Democrats.

No one responded to the outreach, and the fundraiser never happened, two people familiar with the matter said.

That was just one sign that Wall Street has become a detour on the road to the White House, more than a dozen hedge fund managers, bankers and political analysts told Reuters.

Wealthy bigwigs who were once super-fundraisers now find themselves largely sidelined ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The financial industry has so far donated $83 million to the 2020 presidential campaigns of Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden, according to Center for Responsive Politics data through July 31.

Although that figure is up 6% from the same period in 2016, the industry’s proportion of overall dollars donated has fallen to 9% from 14%.

“Eight years ago, we were super important. Four years ago, we were very important. And now we are no longer as relevant or important,” said one billionaire hedge fund manager who, like most, spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid backlash. “I’ve got a lot less influence.”

Wall Street’s influence in elections is waning because its money is not as critical as it once was as grassroots contributions soar. And a harsh political and economic climate makes politicians and bankers want to steer clear of each other.

In the 2016 election, 26% of Trump’s donations came from individuals contributing less than $200 while 19% of Clinton’s donations fit that profile, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Those were higher than prior election cycles, and the trend has only accelerated since then, especially for candidates who promise to shake up the establishment. Nearly 80% of New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ fundraising comes from small individual donations, according to CRP data.

“The big bundlers are becoming less and less relevant,” said Robert Wolf, a former UBS Group AG executive and prominent Democratic fundraiser, referring to those who amass contributions for campaigns. “This change has been coming since the 2008 financial crisis and became really noticeable in 2016.”

When Wall Street’s political clout was at its peak, candidates and donors would rub elbows over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at posh fundraising parties.

The coronavirus pandemic has put a stop to that, while also gutting the economy and throwing millions of Americans out of work.

That makes the optics of schmoozing with wealthy Wall Streeters untenable for candidates mindful of the roasting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton received for paid talks to Goldman Sachs bankers in 2016.

Biden, whose campaign declined to comment, has mostly turned a cold shoulder to the industry, though he attended at least one $35,000-a-head Zoom fundraiser this summer with financiers, according to a participant.

In his three decades as a Delaware senator, Biden was closer to Wall Street. Notably, he backed tough personal bankruptcy rules favored by banks and credit-card companies, many of which were based in his state.

Even so, he doesn’t have a personal network on Wall Street as candidates like Clinton had, and has cast himself as a defender of working-class Americans and labor unions.

“Biden doesn’t really like rich people and doesn’t see himself as a Wall Street person,” said Jeff Hauser, founder of Revolving Door Project, which scrutinizes executive branch appointments.

Trump, who was born and spent his business career in New York, has had warmer relations with Wall Street. But even he is not relying on donations from the financial industry. The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

The president, who appointed former bankers to his cabinet, has this year consulted with bankers and hedge fund managers, including Steven A. Cohen and Kenneth Griffin, on how to reopen the economy after coronavirus.

In August, he attended a Long Island fundraiser hosted by billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson, according to someone apprised of the event.

However, Trump portrays himself as a straight-talking, anti-elitist candidate and occasionally needles people like JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon on Twitter.

POLITICAL DISTANCING

Just as candidates want to distance themselves from Wall Street, finance types do not want to attract attention with big public donations.

Financiers fear the country’s economic crisis and deep political divides may make them – and their firms – targets for criticism from both the political left and right.

“Trump has disrupted the whole circuitry of Wall Street being involved in elections,” said Anthony Scaramucci, who served as Trump’s communications director and is now an opponent.

Even some finance executives who support Trump and have benefited from tax cuts and deregulation during his tenure said they fear retribution for publicly supporting him.

Nevertheless, Wall Street detractors say the Wall Street quietly retains outsize influence because of its deep pockets and strategic lobbying.

Dennis Kelleher, president of nonprofit group Better Markets, calls the industry’s “mountain of money” dangerous. “Small dollar contributions simply cannot compete with that at the presidential level,” he said.

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Trump Frequently Paid No Federal Income Taxes in Years Leading Up To Presidency: New York Times

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump spoke at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood on Friday, July 28, 2017.

By Pete Schroeder

President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017, after years of reporting heavy losses from his business enterprises to offset hundreds of millions of dollars in income, The New York Times reported on Sunday, citing tax-return data.

In a report that Trump dismissed as “fake news,” the Times said the Republican president also paid no federal incometaxes in 10 of the previous 15 years through 2017, despite receiving $427.4 million through 2018 from his reality television program and other endorsement and licensing deals.

The disclosure of previously private tax information came little more than a month before the Nov. 3 election between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. Democrats were quick to seize on the report to paint Trump as a tax dodger and raise questions about his carefully groomed image as a savvy businessman.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer took to Twitter to ask Americans to raise their hands if they paid more in federal income tax than Trump.

Calling the report “total fake news” at a White House news conference, Trump again cited an ongoing audit as his reason for not releasing his returns. In a statement to the Times, Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, said Trump had paid millions of dollars in personal taxes over the last decade, without weighing in on the specific finding of minimal income taxes.

Trump‘s consistent refusal to release his taxes has been a departure from standard practice for presidential candidates. He is currently in a legal battle with New York City prosecutors and congressional Democrats who are seeking to obtain his returns.

He also previously indicated he preferred to minimize his tax bill, saying in a 2016 presidential debate it made him “smart.”

The Times reported that Trump was able to minimize his tax bill by reporting heavy losses across his business empire. It said he claimed $47.4 million in losses in 2018, despite saying he had income of at least $434.9 million in a financial disclosure that year.

The Times emphasized the documents reveal only what Trump told the government about his businesses, and did not disclose his true wealth.

The Times said it had obtained tax-return data covering over two decades for Trump and companies within his business organization. It did not have information about his personal returns from 2018 or 2019.

The Times also reported that Trump was currently embroiled in a decade-long Internal Revenue Service audit over a $72.9 million tax refund he claimed after declaring large losses. If the IRS rules against him in that audit, he could have to pay over $100 million, according to the newspaper.

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NY To Review Any COVID-19 Vaccine Authorized By Feds, Cuomo Says

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in front of stacks of medical protective supplies during a news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center which will be partially converted into a temporary hospital during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said the state will carry out its own review of coronavirus vaccines authorized or approved by the federal government due to concerns of politicization of the approval process.

Cuomo, a Democrat who has repeatedly criticized President Donald Trump and his Republican administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, told reporters at a briefing he was going to form a review committee to advise the state on the safety of a vaccine.

“Frankly, I’m not going to trust the federal government’s opinion,” Cuomo said. “New York state will have its own review when the federal government is finished with their review and says it’s safe.”

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declined to comment on the governor’s remarks. On Wednesday, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told a U.S. Senate committee that the agency would only approve a vaccine that was safe and effective.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declined to comment, saying it was a question for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The choice by states to independently review products for safety and efficacy is a troubling sign. This country is in trouble if we get to the point that we don’t trust the FDA … or the CDC … or the EPA,” said Dr. Paul Offit, an infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, in a comment emailed to Reuters.

Recent statements by Trump and his secretary of Health and Human Services on authorization of COVID-19 vaccines currently in late stages of testing have caused concern among health experts that FDA decisions can remain independent of politics.

“The way the federal government has handled the vaccine, there are now serious questions about whether or not the vaccine has become politicized,” Cuomo said.

The CDC and the U.S. Department of Defense and HHS officials will allocate authorized vaccines to the states, which are then expected to handle most distribution, the agencies have said.

Cuomo said a committee of state experts will devise a distribution and implementation plan for approved vaccines that would also determine who gets vaccinated first.

While all U.S. states are expected to come up with vaccine distribution plans, conducting an independent safety review would be a very unusual move.

Trump has repeatedly said a vaccine for COVID-19 could be ready for distribution ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

On Wednesday, Trump said he may not approve any new, more stringent FDA standards for an emergency authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine, saying such a proposal would appear political.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the FDA would issue the guidance to boost transparency and public trust over fears it was being pressured to rush out a vaccine.

“We’re looking at that, and that has to be approved by the White House. We may or may not approve it,” Trump told a White House news conference, when asked about the report.

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Trump’s Niece From Long Island Sues President, Family, For Fraud

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech as the 2020 Republican presidential nominee during the final event of the Republican National Convention on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 27, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Mary Trump, the Rockville Centre resident and niece of Donald Trump, sued the U.S. president on Thursday, accusing him and other family members of cheating her out of tens of millions of dollars from an inheritance.

The complaint filed in a New York State court in Manhattan against Donald Trump, his sister Maryanne Trump Barry, and the estate of his brother Robert Trump, who died in August, accused the defendants of “rampant fraud” and conspiracy.

Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for Trump, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A lawyer who had represented Robert Trump did not immediately respond to a similar request. Trump Barry could not immediately be located for comment.

The complaint retraces some allegations that Mary Trump made in her recent tell-all book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.

Mary Trump accused the president and the other defendants of moving to “squeeze” her out as they maneuvered to take control of the estate of her grandfather Fred Trump, the father of Donald Trump, who died in 1999.

“Fraud was not just the family business – it was a way of life,” the complaint said.

In a statement provided by her lawyer, Mary Trump said the defendants “betrayed me by working together in secret to steal from me, by telling lie after lie about the value of what I had inherited, and by conning me into giving everything away for a fraction of its true value.”

Related Story: Montauk Key To Trump Taking Over Family Empire, Niece Writes in Tell-All

Related Story: Trump’s Sister Calls Him Cruel, Phony in Secret Recordings By President’s Niece From Long Island

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Judge Orders Post Office To Expedite November Election Mail

A United States Postal Service (USPS) mail carrier pushes his cart while delivering mail in the rain on Manhattan's Upper West Side during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, New York, U.S., April 13, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

By David Shepardson and Karen Freifeld

A federal judge on Monday ordered the U.S. Postal Service to expedite all November election mail and to approve additional overtime for postal workers.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan said the Postal Service must treat to the extent possible all election mail as first-class mail or priority mail express and “shall pre-approve all overtime that has been or will be requested” between Oct. 26 and Nov. 6.

Marrero’s opinion said that in prior elections, including 2018, the Postal Service typically treated election mail as first-class mail, even if it was sent at marketing mail rates.

“Multiple managerial failures have undermined the postal employees’ ability to fulfill their vital mission,” he wrote.

The Postal Service said Monday it is “reviewing the court’s decision. There should be no doubt, however, that the Postal Service is ready and fully committed to handling expected increased volumes of Election Mail between now and the conclusion of the November 3rd election.”

Last week, U.S. District Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima, Washington, issued a nationwide injunction sought by 14 states in a case against President Donald Trump, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and the U.S. Postal Service over July changes to the service.

The 14 states, led by Washington, had filed a motion for a preliminary injunction asking the court to immediately halt a “leave mail behind” policy that required postal trucks to leave at certain times, regardless of whether mail was loaded.

DeJoy, a Trump supporter, said in August that he would halt many of the cost-cutting changes he put in place until after the presidential election after Democrats accused him of trying to put his thumb on the scales to help Trump, which he has denied. A surge in mail-in ballots is expected because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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How RBG’s Death Could Shift The Supreme Court – And American Life – Rightward

The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is mourned during a vigil in Monument Square in Portland, Maine, U.S., September 20, 2020. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

By Lawrence Hurley

The death of liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has huge implications for the future of law and life in the United States, giving Republican President Donald Trump the chance to cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the court.

Here are several ways in which a rightward tilt would be felt if Trump gets to pick Ginsburg’s successor:

ABORTION AND OTHER SOCIAL ISSUES

Ever since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, conservative activists have sought to overturn the decision and always fallen just short. If Trump replaces Ginsburg with a staunch conservative, the chances of the court drastically curbing abortion rights becomes ever more likely.

Similarly, the conservative wing of the court may be emboldened to make sweeping moves on other social issues, which could include expanding gun rights, bolstering individual religious rights and curbing voting rights. The court may also have the votes to strike down progressive legislation enacted by Congress in the event Democrats have the votes to pass major bills on issues like climate change.

The court would be even less likely to embrace liberal causes, such as ending the death penalty, although its recent 6-3 ruling in favor of LGBT worker rights suggests that issue could be an exception in certain circumstances.

OBAMACARE HANGS IN THE BALANCE

In the short term, Ginsburg’s absence could be felt most keenly when the court hears oral arguments on Nov. 10 on the latest challenge by conservatives to the Obamacare health law, enacted in 2010 and previously upheld by the Supreme Court on a 5-4 vote in 2012. Ginsburg was one of the five justices in the majority then, which means that her replacement could tilt the balance.

Even if no Trump nominee is confirmed by then, the court would go into those arguments with a 5-3 conservative majority.

Other cases the court has taken up for its new term, which officially starts on Oct. 5, could also be affected. On Nov. 4 the justices consider a major legal fight over the scope of religious-rights exemptions to certain federal laws. The dispute concerns Philadelphia’s decision to bar Catholic Social Services from participating in its foster-care program because the organization prohibited same-sex couples from serving as foster parents.

In a politically sensitive case, the court on Dec. 2 weighs a bid by the Democratic-led House of Representatives to obtain material that the Trump administration withheld from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian political meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

PIVOTAL ROLE OF CHIEF JUSTICE

For the last two years, following the retirement of conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy in 2018, Chief Justice John Roberts has been the pivotal figure on the court, but his position of influence would be weakened if Trump replaces Ginsburg.

At the ideological center of a nine-member court, Roberts had the option of siding with the four liberal justices to his left or four conservatives to his right to secure a majority opinion.

Roberts, known as a defender of the court as an institution and champion of the judiciary as an independent branch of government, sided with Ginsburg and the court’s other three liberals in key cases.

In June, he helped strike down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law and thwarted Trump’s bid to rescind protections for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants dubbed “Dreamers” who entered the United States as children.

Roberts has on occasion sought compromises in big cases, sometimes to the dismay of his more conservative colleagues.

In July, for example, he authored both decisions as the court ruled that a New York prosecutor could try to obtain Trump’s financial records but prevented Democratic-led House of Representatives committees from immediately getting similar documents.

Without Ginsburg, Roberts loses the ability to shift the balance on his own.

WAR ON BUREAUCRACY

Conservatives and business interests have long sought to weaken the power of federal agencies and the Supreme Court has already been a willing ally.

That so-called war on the administrative state could expand with a sixth conservative justice on the bench. Most notably, a landmark ruling from 1984 that said courts should defer to federal bureaucrats when interpreting the scope of federal laws could be in danger.

If that ruling was overturned, it could potentially give the conservative court greater power to limit efforts by future Democratic administrations to issue regulations on such issues as the environment and consumer protection.

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Tips For Managing Mental Health Amid COVID-19

By Beatrix Lockwood

Months in, the pandemic continues to take a toll on mental health. As part of our #AskReuters Twitter chat series, Reuters gathered a group of experts to share their tips on coping with isolation, caregiving and more.

Below are edited highlights.

How does isolation affect mental health? What are some strategies we can use to find community during a lockdown?

“Before the pandemic, we were already in the middle of a mental health crisis. And the pandemic has only made that more urgent. An August survey from the Centers for Disease Control found that over 40 percent of adults reported experiencing mental health challenges, including anxiety and depression.”

— Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post and CEO of Thrive Global

“Physical isolation doesn’t mean social isolation. Staying connected is more important than ever. Take a walk, enjoy nature, gather in small numbers outside. Be present.”

— Preeti Malani, chief health officer at University of Michigan Medicine

What should business leaders know about COVID-19’s impact on their employees, whether they are working remotely or on-site? What are some steps they can take to address it?

“Everything is different. Everyone’s routines, support systems and expectations have changed. Have grace. Allow flexibility. Provide anonymous, confidential support.”

— Megan Ranney, associate professor of emergency medicine at Brown University

“Don’t just say you support mental health. Model it so that your team members feel they can prioritize self-care and set boundaries.”

— Kelly Greenwood, founder & CEO of Mind Share Partners

Do you have tips for dealing with grief over the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19?

“Grieving for loved ones is so hard during COVID-19. We can’t gather for funerals or memorials. We can’t be in the hospital to offer comfort on the final days. We can meet family and friends virtually or socially distant. Reach out to friends and professional health when needed.”

— Lawrence Gostin, director at O’Neill Institute for National & Global Health Law at Georgetown Law

What advice do you have for caregivers now? How can we support our children during COVID-19?

“It’s hard to think about how to help others when individuals might be struggling themselves! Maintain self-care and healthy habits. Help kids do the same: get outside, connect with friends (even if virtual), establish routines.”

— Elizabeth Stuart, Associate Dean for Education Professor at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

“Role modeling is so important for kids, and that includes role modeling vulnerability as parents. When we are grieving, don’t hide. It’s OK for kids to see your tears. When we are down, it’s OK to let them know you are seeing a therapist or psychiatrist.”

— Dr. Howard Liu, chair of University of Nebraska Medical Center’s department of psychiatry and spokesperson for the American Psychiatric Association

How can we help our friends, family and colleagues who are feeling depressed, anxious and maybe even suicidal?

“Don’t be afraid to ask about safety. It is awkward and anxiety-provoking. People do not consider suicide because someone asks. Asking is often the intervention that keeps people safe. Isolation and helplessness are much greater risks than despair.”

— Rebecca Kullback, psychotherapist and co-owner of Metropolitan Counseling Associates and LaunchWell College Readiness Program

What makes people resilient?

“A sense of belonging can promote resilience: that could be a sense of belonging to family, a group one identifies with, culture, or place in the world. Familiarity with your own history can support a sense of belonging and therefore increase resilience.”

— Riana Elyse Anderson, assistant professor in the health behavior and health education department at the University of Michigan School of Public Health

For more coronavirus coverage, visit longislandpress.com/coronavirus

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