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Media captionHow Ruth Bader Ginsburg personally shaped our lives

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died a week ago, has become the first woman in US history to lie in state at the US Capitol in Washington DC.

The liberal icon died from pancreatic cancer after 27 years on the nation’s top court.

Thousands have been paying their respects as she lay in repose outside the Supreme Court building this week.

Ginsburg, who died aged 87, was an outspoken advocate for gender equality and civil rights.

She has been mythologised by liberals and feminists as a barrier-breaking leader.

Dubbed by her fans as the Notorious RBG, she also became the first justice to have two days of viewing at the Supreme Court.

Given the sheer number of visitors coming to pay their respects, organisers determined one day would not be enough.

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Lawmakers watched as Ginsburg’s coffin arrived at the US Capitol

Makeshift memorials lined the court steps as the lines of those attending Ginsburg’s public viewings snaked around the National Mall. Her casket was kept outside the Supreme Court earlier this week to allow for outdoor visitation in light of Covid-19.

The formal ceremony – in which she is lying in state at the US Congress – is invite-only, also due to the pandemic. It is being attended by senior elected officials. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife are also present.

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Mr Biden, his wife Jill and running mate Kamala Harris (right)

As her casket arrived in Congress on Friday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called it her “high honour” to welcome the late justice as the first US woman to lie in state there.

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, who eulogised Ginsburg as she lay in state, recited a prayer in Hebrew – not often heard in the halls of Congress.

In addition to being the first woman, Ginsburg is also the first Jewish American to ever lie in state at the US Congress.

She will be buried next week in another private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

Her death has sparked a row between President Trump’s Republicans, who wish to nominate a replacement, and opposition Democrats, who say whoever wins the 3 November election should have that right. Back in 2016, Republicans blocked then-President Barack Obama’s top court nominee, arguing that the decision should be made outside of an election year.

Naming justices to the nation’s top court is contentious as court is the final say in major issues. Recent rulings have included abortion rights, immigration, healthcare and same-sex marriage.

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What does it mean to lie in state?

In short, lying in state is when the caskets of prominent government officials are displayed inside the US Capitol or other government buildings.

The first person given the honour was Henry Clay in 1852, a Kentucky Senator who died during his term. Since then, the 33 men who have lain in state at the US Capitol have all been high-profile statesmen, like President Abraham Lincoln, or military members.

Ginsburg is now the first woman and only the second justice from the top court to be given the honour. The first was William Howard Taft, who was also a US president.

Who else has lain in state?

Civil rights leader John Lewis, who served as the Democratic Congressman from Georgia until his death this July, was the last individual to lie in state.

Congressman Elijah Cummings in 2019 became the first African-American lawmaker to do so.

Another civil rights icon and African-American woman, Rosa Parks, received a similar tribute when she died in 2005. She lay “in honour” in the Capitol Rotunda – a different term for private citizens.

1601047469 611 Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes first woman to lie in state

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Media captionHundreds of people visited the US Supreme Court to pay their respects to the late justice

Who was Justice Ginsburg?

Ginsburg joined the Supreme Court in 1993, after her nomination by President Bill Clinton. She was the second woman ever confirmed to the bench.

Among Ginsburg’s most significant, early cases was United States v Virginia, which struck down the men-only admissions policy at the Virginia Military Institute.

During her 27-year tenure on the bench, she moved noticeably to the left, serving as a counterbalance to the increasingly conservative-leaning court.

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She was known for her forceful – occasionally biting – dissents. Ginsburg did not shy away from criticising her colleagues’ opinions.

“Justice Ginsburg’s dissents were not cries of defeat. They were blueprints for the future,” Rabbi Holtzblatt said in her eulogy.

In 2015, Ginsburg sided with the majority on two landmark cases – both massive victories for American progressives. She was one of six justices to uphold a crucial component of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. In the second, Obergefell v Hodges, she sided with the 5-4 majority, legalising same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

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Democrats elect Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to lead campaign arm

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As incoming DCCC chief, Maloney will have one of the trickiest jobs in Washington after the Democrats’ down-ballot trouncing at the polls last month that left Republicans between five and seven seats away from the majority. He will have to convince dozens of new candidates to run in a potentially unfavorable environment and in districts that have yet to be drawn.

Maloney will be immediately inserted into the center of an ideological debate that has gripped House Democrats since Nov 3., with the caucus’s warring factions pointing fingers at each other over exactly why they’re staring down a shrunken majority come January.

Many moderate Democrats — who largely supported Maloney for his ability to win in a Trump-won district — are demanding a new party message that veers starkly away from the GOP’s attacks on socialism and progressive slogans like “defund the police.”

Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, are dissecting the internal gears at DCCC, arguing that the operation needs to rely on more diverse staff and consultants, devote more resources to get-out-the-vote efforts and completely rethink its digital operations.

Many progressives, particularly lawmakers of color, had flocked behind Cárdenas, who proved to be a prolific fundraiser and organizer as he built the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s campaign arm, BOLD Pac, from the ground up. And he staked his campaign on a vow to Democrats’ increasingly apparent struggles with Latino. The party suffered surprising losses in heavily Latino seats in Florida, Texas and California.

Cárdenas was vocal about reforming some of DCCC’s practices, including ending a contentious policy that banned the organization from hiring any consultant that has helped a primary challenger of a sitting Democrat — a practice that enraged progressives.

Maloney has acknowledged concerns with messaging and said he would reconsider the DCCC blacklist, though he has been mostly restrained — both publicly and privately — in his assessment of DCCC’s miscalculations.

“The smart thing for the DCCC chair to do is to say, I don’t know what happened until I’ve really had a chance to dig into the numbers,” Maloney said in a recent interview.

As chair, Maloney will have an additional task of shepherding members through the decennial redistricting process, which is fraught with politics and internal bickering, particularly in states that are on track to lose a seat. Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that the Census Bureau will almost certainly not be able to release its reapportionment data in December, delaying states ability to draw new maps.

It’s entirely possible that redistricting alone creates enough red-friendly seats to place Republicans in the majority in 2022. The GOP has total control of the process in many key states, including Texas, Florida and North Carolina, which could have a combined total of 82 seats.

Heather Caygle contributed to this report.

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Students May Not Be Allowed To Return To University For Five Weeks After Christmas To Prevent Spreading Coronavirus Round Campus

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Many students can only begin to return to campus at the end of January, and some not until 5 week into the spring term


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Students who go home for Christmas may have to wait five weeks into the spring term before they can return to campus.

That is according to new government coronavirus guidance, which says the measure “is to minimise transmission risks from the mass movement of students”.

The plan says those on practical or medical courses should be allowed to come back on a staggered basis over three weeks from 4 January.

But for those who do not have work, clinical or practical placements or on “courses requiring access to specialist or technical equipment”, they should not begin to go back until 25 January at the earliest, and should be spread out over a fortnight until 7 February.

As most universities plan to end their spring term after 12 weeks on 26 March, some students may be away from campus for almost half of that time.

And with the education department guidance on going home for Christmas stating people should return between tomorrow and 9 December, some students may be off-campus for more than two months.

Professor Glen O’Hara, who teaches modern and contemporary history at Oxford Brookes university criticised the plans, tweeting: “It is a total joke and an insult to hard-working lecturers and students. 

“It is badly-written, badly-planned and a complete mess. Disgusting.”

The document to higher education providers, published this afternoon, states: “The government is committed to prioritising education and wants to enable all students, including those who have travelled home for the winter break, to return to university and resume blended learning. 

“While we are confident that the face-to-face teaching element of blended learning can be done in COVID-secure environments, the mass movement of students across the country poses a greater risk for the transmission of infection between areas.

“It is important that measures are taken to manage the return to university carefully, to protect students, staff and local communities, while reducing disruption to education. 

“This guidance sets out how we will support HE providers to enable students to return as safely as possible following the winter break, by staggering this process and to facilitate testing for all.”

Providers are advised that: “The return of students should be staggered over 5 weeks – this is to minimise transmission risks from the mass movement of students.”

It also states universities must offer “asymptomatic mass testing to all students on their return”, and says if they are using lateral flow tests then they should be tested twice, the second one three days after their arrival.

The guidance on who can return says “from 4 January to week commencing 18 January 2021 HE providers should allow those students on practical courses to return to campus in line with their planned start dates”.

It adds: “The remaining courses should be offered online from the beginning of term so that students can continue their studies from home. 

“HE providers should plan for students to return gradually from 25 January, over a 2-week period.”

Students are also told to “use private transport wherever possible and only use public transport if they have no other option”, and universities should encourage people to “avoid car sharing with anyone outside their household or support bubble”.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said:   “The health and wellbeing of students, staff and local communities is always our primary concern and this plan will enable a safer return for all students. But we must do this in a way which minimises the risk of transmission.

“I know students have had to make sacrifices this year and have faced a number of challenges, but this staggered return will help to protect students, staff and communities.

“It is so important students have the support they need to continue their education, which is why we are providing up to £20m funding for those facing hardship in these exceptional times.”

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Joe Biden: Covid vaccination in US will not be mandatory

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Mr Biden, and state governors who would be on the front lines of any such mandate, might prefer to target only certain segments of the population more at risk of contracting or spreading Covid-19. For instance, employers could be encouraged to require healthcare and nursing home workers to be immunised, and most children already must have up-to-date shot records before attending public or private schools.

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