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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review

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The unresolved midterms; Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III replaced; the debut of the world’s first AI television anchor

Democrats took control of the House of Representatives while Republicans are forecast to increase their majority in the Senate in the midterm elections.1 In Georgia, where 670,000 voter registrations were canceled in 2017, 53,000 registrations of predominantly black voters were put on hold a month prior to the election; there were voting machine shortages in three counties as a result of hundreds of machines being sequestered by local officials as part of a lawsuit alleging they were vulnerable to being hacked, and voters in Gwinnett County waited up to four hours to vote because of malfunctioning equipment.2 3 4 The Democratic candidate for governor, Stacey Abrams, refused to concede the election to the Republican, Brian Kemp, who holds a lead of fewer than 59,000 votes, and Abrams filed a lawsuit in an attempt to force a runoff election.5 Abrams’s opponent, who had been criticized for refusing to step down as secretary of state before the election, because of the conflict of interest between his roles as chief election official and candidate and the announcement that his office was opening an investigation into alleged hacking by Democrats two days before the vote, called Abrams’s refusal to concede “a disgrace to democracy.”6 7 A ban on greyhound racing passed in Florida with overwhelming support; eight thousand greyhounds will be in need of homes by 2021.8 President Trump said his key takeaway from the elections was that “people like me,” and called for an end to the recounts in the gubernatorial and Senate races in Florida, which were triggered because the margins between the candidates were under 0.5 percent, complaining that ballots were “massively infected” and that “an honest vote count is no longer possible.”9 10 The Vatican instructed US bishops not to vote on ratifying ethical guidelines for church leadership and the creation of a lay commission to investigate sexual abuse within the church.11

Jeff Sessions, who did not file a single voting-rights case during his tenure as attorney general, was pressured into resigning a day after the midterm elections by President Trump, who vowed in a press conference to adopt a “warlike posture” if Democrats use their new power in the House to investigate him.12 13 Sessions was replaced by Matthew Whitaker, a former University of Iowa football player who has criticized the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election meddling as going “too far” and was an adviser to World Patent Marketing, a Florida-based company that scammed veterans out of their life savings.13 14 15 Trump, who held a fund-raiser for veterans in Des Moines, Iowa instead of participating in a 2016 Republican debate a week before the Iowa caucuses but is being sued for allegedly redirecting money raised by the Trump Foundation to his campaign, said variously of Whitaker, “I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” and, “Matt Whitaker is a great guy. I mean, I know Matt Whitaker.”16 17 Thirty-year-old former Clinton campaign staffer Tyrone Gayle lost his battle with colon cancer; former vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine, who opposes single-payer health care and was chauffeured by Gayle during his 2012 Senate campaign, stated that “all who crossed Tyrone’s path were affected by his warmth, humor, and positive energy.”18 19 

Twelve people were killed in a shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, at the Borderline Bar and Grill, where a number of survivors of the 2017 Las Vegas country music festival shooting were present.20 In northern California, the Camp Fire killed 23 people in three days, most of whom were in a town called Paradise.21 In Uganda, a fire at a boys’ dormitory killed 10 students and left 20 others injured.22 The president of Tanzania, who has drawn criticism from the United States and European Union for increasing the persecution of LGBTQ+ individuals, gave cashew farmers a deadline to sell their nuts at government-approved rates.23 An Air Force staff sergeant pumped breast milk while running an Ironman triathlon and successfully beat her personal record, and the world’s first AI television anchor debuted in China.24 25Willa Glickman

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