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Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, said on Sunday that Trump had already narrowed his list and was “prepared to make a nomination very soon.” Trump is expected to announce a nominee later this week, and has said he will choose a woman.

“It’s certainly possible” a nominee could be confirmed before Election Day, Short told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “But I think that the president’s obligation is to make the nomination. We’ll leave the timetable to Leader McConnell.”

Democrats have mounted an intense pressure campaign amid McConnell’s stated intention to fill the vacancy immediately, noting that Senate Republicans blocked Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia in 2016, Merrick Garland, from being considered. At the time, Republicans said it was too close to an election for a Senate and White House controlled by different parties to process a Supreme Court nomination.

At a press conference, Schumer reiterated that if the Republicans fill the seat and Democrats take back the majority in November “everything is on the table.” The New York Democrat also described the potential selection of Amy Coney Barrett, a frontrunner for the vacancy, as someone who “stands for all the things Ruth Bader Ginsburg was against,” adding “someone of that philosophy does not belong on the court.”

On Sunday afternoon, Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, appealed to the handful of Republican senators who control the fate of the next nomination.

“Please follow your conscience,” Biden said in a speech in Philadelphia. “Don’t vote to confirm anyone nominated under the circumstances President Trump and Senator McConnell have created. Don’t go there. Uphold your constitutional duty, your conscience, let the people speak. Cool the flames that have been engulfing our country. We can‘t ignore the cherished system of checks and balances.”

Democratic lawmakers earlier in the day noted that Election Day is only six weeks away and early voting has already begun in several states. Ginsburg’s absence leaves the court with a 5-3 split in favor of conservatives, and the high court is set to take up a case that could determine the fate of Obamacare just one week after the election.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told POLITICO that Republicans essentially created a new rule in 2016 that the Senate should wait to advance a Supreme Court nominee in the final year of a presidential term, and that Democrats are united in holding them to that.

“It doesn’t really matter who it is,” he said of the future nominee. “We are unified in the proposition that we want to hold the Republicans to their word, and we will not entertain a nominee until after Inauguration Day.”

Senate Democrats have limited tools at their disposal as the minority party. Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, chairman of the Senate GOP conference, was adamant that the process would move forward this year.

“The president is going to make a nomination,” he told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.” “We will hold hearings, and there will be a vote on the floor of the United States Senate this year.”

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas went even further, insisting that confirming a nominee before the Nov. 3 election was “the right thing to do.” Cruz cited in 2016 “a long tradition” of not considering Supreme Court nominees in an election year.

At least three Republicans recalled on the Sunday shows that there have been 29 vacancies in a presidential election year, and that presidents named a nominee all 29 times. The big difference, Cruz told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week,” is that the Senate traditionally confirms that nominee when the Senate majority and president are members of the same party.

“It’s not just simply your party, my party,” he said. “The reason is, it’s a question of checks and balances. In order for a Supreme Court nomination to go forward, you have to have the president and the Senate.”

Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said it’s “too soon to say right now” whether Republicans would confirm a nominee before the election, but he insisted the Senate would move forward “without delay,” echoing the president’s language.

“In 2014, the American people elected a Republican majority to the Senate to put the brakes on President Obama’s judicial nominations. In 2018, we had a referendum on this question,” Cotton told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday,” citing the contentious confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

“There could not have been a clearer mandate, because the American people didn’t just reelect Republicans. They expanded our majority,” Cotton said. “They defeated four Democratic senators who voted against Justice Kavanaugh. They reelected the one Democratic senator who did vote for Justice Kavanaugh.”

Democrats who appeared on the Sunday shows were uniformly opposed to the Senate’s advancing Trump’s future nominee, especially given that polling shows Biden currently favored to win the election and Democrats could regain control of the Senate.

But the party appeared to try several different tacks rather than one unified strategy. Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said he would personally appeal to his Republican colleagues, who he suggested should respect the 2016 precedent they set. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former President Bill Clinton both recalled that President Abraham Lincoln allowed the election to occur before making a Supreme Court nomination when a vacancy opened this close to Election Day.

And Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said the president’s rush to nominate a replacement was evidence that he is more focused on crushing the Affordable Care Act than the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 200,000 Americans.

Pelosi shut down the possibility of Democrats leveraging government funding to slow down the Senate’s confirmation process but did maintain that Democrats have “arrows in our quiver” to stop the Senate from advancing a nominee. She declined, however, to discuss their options.

“People have something at stake in this decision and how quickly the president wants to go,” Pelosi said on “This Week.” “I don’t think they care about who said what when and all the rest of that, but they do care about their own health and well-being and the financial health and well-being of their families.”

NPR reported on Friday that Ginsburg had dictated to her granddaughter, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Republicans have largely dismissed that desire.

“She’s certainly a giant upon whose shoulders many will stand, and she blazed a trail for many women in the legal profession,” said Short, the vice president‘s chief of staff. “But the decision to nominate does not lie with her.”

Clinton, who nominated Ginsburg to the high court and appeared on three programs Sunday, said it would be worth waiting to see whether people care that several senators, including some up for reelection this fall, are going to go against their positions from 2016.

“It would be very interesting to see whether their position could only be justified as: ‘If my party can do it, now I’m for it. If their party can do it, then I’m against it,” Clinton said on “This Week.” “And if that’s the rule of life in America, then who knows what the consequences will be.”

Marianne LeVine and Christopher Cadelago contributed to this report.

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A Lebanese artist created an inspiring statue out of glass and rubble from the Beirut port explosion

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Written by Alaa Elassar, CNN

Hayat Nazer doesn’t remember a time when Lebanon was at peace. But she has learned to channel her grief and pain into beautiful works of art.

She was on her way to Beirut on August 4 when a massive stockpile of ammonium nitrite exploded at the port, killing 190 people, injuring more than 6,000 and leaving more than 300,000 displaced from their homes.
Lebanon had already been reeling from months of political turmoil, economic collapse and a worsening coronavirus outbreak. The weight of it all had nearly paralyzed the small country.

“The explosion broke my heart. I was just devastated. I was traumatized, but honestly, all of us in Lebanon are traumatized,” Nazer, 33, told CNN.

Like many residents, she joined efforts to clean debris and restore the city to its former glory. That’s when she got the idea to use some of what she found to create a statue that could inspire her people to unite and rebuild.

“When I’m feeling that way I just try to help, and fix and heal through art, so this is my way of accepting reality and trying to build my people back up,” she said.

The unnamed scultpure made from explosion debris depicts a woman with long flowing hair. Credit: Courtesy Hayat Nazer

For weeks, Nazer walked the streets of Beirut, collecting twisted metal, broken glass and people’s discarded belongings to use in the sculpture.

“I traveled to people’s homes after they were destroyed by the explosion and told them, ‘I just want you to give me anything I can include to make you a part of my sculpture,'” Nazer said.

“I was shocked. People gave me such valuable things — things from their childhood, their grandparents who died in the civil war, things they wanted to save for their children. So many emotions went into this.”

When Nazer finally had enough items, she put them together — creating a woman raising Lebanon’s flag, her hair and dress flowing in the wind. The sculpture, which still doesn’t have a name, even features a damaged clock stuck at 6:08, the moment of the explosion.

For Nazer, the process was cathartic. But it wasn’t the first time she had created a work of art inspired by Lebanon’s social and political troubles.

A Lebanese artist made a statue of a woman using glass and rubble from the Beirut port explosion

Nazer stands beside her sculpture of a woman made entirely from Beirut port explosion debris. Credit: Courtesy Hayat Nazer

Before the explosion, as the country descended into months of protests against the country’s ruling elite, Nazer left her job in communications to create art in hopes of inspiring change.

“I suddenly started feeling the need to paint,” Nazer said. “It was a need that I couldn’t stop. I had to quit my job because I felt like I just couldn’t make the change I want to see in the world without focusing on my art.”

Her works include other found object sculptures, as well as graffiti and paintings on canvas.

In 2019, she created a sculpture called “The Phoenix,” which was made from tents broken by counterprotesters during the country’s political upheaval. The work depicts the mythological bird rising from ashes. She also created a giant heart from stones and tear gas canisters left over from riots.
Nazer, who chronicles her projects on Instagram, said most of her work has been destroyed by authorities who don’t take kindly to criticism of the government.

Related video: The architectural heritage Beirut stands to lose

She fears the same fate will befall her latest work, the sculpted woman.

“After an explosion, you can build back homes and buildings, but what you can’t bring back are memories. And throughout Lebanon’s history, our government removes anything that reminds us of what has been done to us,” Nazer said.

“That’s what makes this project so special. It’s fighting. We’re raising our voices through art. We’re telling our own stories.”



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Pelosi to run for speaker again if Democrats keep the House

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday she’ll seek another term as speaker should Democrats keep the House majority in the Nov. 3 elections.

Asked directly by host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” whether she will run again, Pelosi responded: “Yes, I am. But let me also say that we have to win the Senate.”

The California Democrat, who is 80, first served as speaker from 2007 to 2011 — becoming the first woman in history to hold the post — and was reelected to it in January 2019.

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Andy Burnham Has Blamed Boris Johnson For The Failure To Reach A Deal For Greater Manchester Over A Tier 3 Lockdown

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Andy Burnham has blamed the government for being unwilling to offer enough financial support to Greater Manchester


5 min read

Andy Burnham has blamed Boris Johnson for the collapse in talks over a cash settlement for Greater Manchester as it faces the highest level of coronavirus restrictions.

And the region’s mayor has set up a Commons clash over Tier 3 lockdowns by saying he looks to “Parliament to intervene and make a judgement on a fair financial framework”. Labour later said it would force a vote over the restrictions.

In a press conference shortly after it was revealed the government will impose the tightest measures on Greater Manchester without local approval, he said the government had not offered enough to protect people through the “punishing” winter ahead.

Negotiations continued beyond the government’s self-imposed 12pm deadline today, but finally broke down without an agreement to provide extra financial support for the region.

A statement from communities secretary Robert Jenrick confirmed the outcome, with explicit criticism of the mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.

“I’m disappointed that despite recognising the gravity of the situation, the mayor has been unwilling to take the action that is required to get the spread of the virus under control in Greater Manchester and reach an agreement with the government,” Mr Jenrick said.

“I have therefore advised the Prime Minister that these discussions have concluded without an agreement.”

But Mr Burnham hit back over the funding for businesses and employees affected by a Tier 3 lockdown, which will see all pubs that cannot operate as a restaurant shut for a minimum of 28 days, along with betting shops, casinos, bingo halls, adult gaming centres and soft play areas.

He said local leaders had calculated they needed £90million in extra support, around £15million a month until the end of the financial year.

Having dropped that to £75million during the negotiations in the past week, Mr Burnham told reporters they were prepared to reduce it again to £65million – a figure he described as the “bare minimum to prevent a winter of real hardship” – but Number 10 would not go above £60million. 

“That is what we believe we needed to prevent poverty, to prevent hardship, to prevent homelessness,” he said.

“Those were the figures that we had – not what we wanted – but what we needed to prevent all of those things from happening.

“But the Government refused to accept this and at 2pm today they walked away from negotiations.

“In summary, at no point today were we offered enough to protect the poorest people in our communities through the punishing reality of the winter to come.

“Even now I am still willing to do a deal but it cannot be on the terms that the Government offered today.”

The government has said it had sought to work with the mayor, council leaders and MPs in the region to find a mutually agreeable solution, but has also repeatedly said the prime minister has the power to unilaterally move the area from “high” to the “very high” category.

It has expressed fears about compliance if the restrictions were not endorsed by the local authorities, but appears willing to act now after projections released by Number 10 yesterday suggested Greater Manchester’s intensive care capacity would be filled within days.

It is now unclear what level of financial help the Treasury will hand over to enter Tier 3, as any lump sum was set to be on top of a £22million payment to pay for additional test and trace services and enhanced enforcement.

This equates to around £8 per person, which is proportionate to the per capita deals struck by Merseyside and Lancashire when they went into the “very high” category last week.

Mr Burnham was highly critical of the process, saying: “I don’t believe we can proceed as a country on this basis through the pandemic, by grinding communities down through punishing financial negotiations.

“We are asking a lot of the public at this difficult time and we need to carry them with us, not crush their spirits.

“We need national unity, and that is why I now look to Parliament to intervene and make a judgement on a fair financial framework for tier three lockdowns, because make no mistake, this was not just about Greater Manchester, all parts of the country may find themselves in a tier three lockdown at some point this winter.

“And what we need to be able to say to people living in those areas, is that they have a guarantee that they can apply for, should they need it, 80% of their wages for their income.

“That is the least that we owe to those people. The money that businesses will be able to rely on to survive. We should be setting out fair financial frameworks.”

In response to the news Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “The collapse of these talks is a sign of Government failure.

“The Conservatives have been treating local communities, particularly in the Midlands, North West and North East, and their leaders with contempt.

“Labour recognise the need for stricter public health restrictions. However, that must be accompanied by extra financial support.

“Labour will continue to support Andy Burnham in the fight for people’s jobs, lives and livelihoods.”

And William Wragg, the Conservative MP for Hazel Grove in south Manchester, tweeted: The sense of failure is overwhelming.

“I shall avoid political comment until I have heard Matt Hancock’s statement in the House of Commons this evening.

“Leadership is required from everybody. Trust is placed in us all and that is the privilege of public office.”



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