Luton has been made an ‘area of intervention,’ after seeing a spike in coronavirus cases – meaning plans to open gyms and leisure centres this weekend have been put on hold.
The number of cases was appearing to drop in the Bedfordshire – falling from 31.8 per 100,000 in the week to July 13, compared to 24.8 cases per 100,000 the following week.
However Luton Council has now set up an emergency testing centre at a primary school and is telling locals to stay at home ‘as much as possible,’ as it tries to prevent a further spread of Covid-19.
Luton Council set up a testing centre at Downside School for local residents today after a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases
The primary school in Luton is being used as a testing centre today and tomorrow for locals
Hazel Simmons, leader of Luton Council, said: ‘Our main priority is to protect Luton and these measures only serve to underline the importance of doing just that.
‘Please pass these important messages on to your family and friends and if you can, stay at home.
‘Fighting coronavirus is everyone’s responsibility.
‘Too many families and friends have lost loved ones and we must do everything we can to ensure more lives aren’t wasted unnecessarily.
‘There has been too much heartache in the town for us to risk further anguish, pain and suffering.’
Testing has been ramped up in the town (above), but the government is not expecting a local lockdown, as seen in Leicester earlier this month, to be implemented
Testing has been ramped up in the town to track who may have come into contact with the disease.
Today an emergency testing centre was set up at Downside Primary School, which will continue to test locals tomorrow.
According to Sky News, the government is not expecting a similar local lockdown scenario to the one seen in Leicester earlier this month.
Luton has emerged as one of the towns where the government’s test and trace programme may have failed locals
Experts say language barriers are one of the main factors behind the low success rates, as many of England’s worst-affected areas have high numbers of residents from black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) backgrounds.
Figures released today suggest just 47 per cent of potentially-infected people in the town were contacted by the system since its launch on May 28.
Earlier today it was announced another 53 people have died from coronavirus in the UK, according to the Government, taking the total to 45,554.
The number of people being diagnosed with the disease has surged to 769 from 560 yesterday and one-week low of 445 on Tuesday.
The seven-day average has risen more than 12 per cent compared with last week – from an average 584 per day to 656, and by 15 per cent in two weeks.
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New series The Write Offs explores staggering adult illiteracy rates in UK
To hide the fact that he couldn’t read, Tommy would get aggressive. He’d shout at colleagues, family members, even supermarket checkout workers when they asked him to sign something. Inside he would be burning with humiliation.
Emily became very naughty at school. Her teachers thought she was simply a troublemaker when she kept asking for extra help. So she stopped asking.
While Craig, after being sacked from five jobs in a row because he wasn’t able to fill in the forms modern life demands, even of shelf-stackers, became suicidal. He even decided exactly how he was going to do it.
The three of them, all profoundly dyslexic, are among the shameful 8 million people in this country who cannot read or write properly – one of the worst adult literacy rates in Europe.
And it’s shameful because they’ve all been let down by those who could have helped them. But these three are the lucky ones.
Along with five others, they have taken part in a genuinely life-changing experience on inspiring new Channel 4 show The Write Offs.
Tommy Dawkins, 67, from Newcastle, is among those on inspiring new Channel 4 show The Write Offs where a group of adults who were let down by the education system will learn how to read and write properly
Emily Dickenson, 23, from Huddersfield is a hairdresser and mother-of-two, who says her lack of reading knowledge has always made her feel ‘like an outsider’, while Craig, 31, was sacked from five jobs because he wasn’t able to fill in forms
They don’t win a record deal or a medal. Instead they’re given something far more important – the ability to read.
And it’s only when you watch the show that you realise how important something most of us take for granted is.
Tissues will be required for viewers of the emotional two-part series, hosted by Sandi Toksvig, which sees people who have always been told they were stupid, dumb or ignorant get their dignity back.
Sandi had a very particular reason for wanting to take part. Her son Theo, now 26, had profound dyslexia and was more or less written off himself.
‘At that time I found it very difficult to access information,’ she recalls of first learning of the issue 22 years ago.
‘There were many people who were very helpful in the education system, but there were also those who wanted to sideline him and say that he was obviously not very bright, and so on. I knew that wasn’t the case because just from speaking to him I knew there was a good brain, he just couldn’t read.’
The emotional two-part series, hosted by Sandi Toksvig, will teach a group of adults from the ages of 23 to 67 how to read and write properly
She says it was only luck that got him the access to the help he needed: ‘I’ve watched my beautiful boy grow into a fantastic playwright and I know that might have been stifled in him under different circumstances and we wouldn’t have had that voice.
‘There is much more help within the education system today, but clearly still not enough. We should be absolutely ashamed of our high rate of illiteracy. I don’t know why people get left behind.
‘But one of the things that I most hope about this show is not just that people will think, “Oh, I’m not alone in my struggles”, but that those of us who can help will notice the signs and offer help.’
The series tested the reading age of each of the participants at the start of the series. None of them were rated higher than 10 years old. One of them, Craig Cooper, didn’t even have the reading age of a child in nursery school.
The first part of the process involved them sitting at a desk faced with a pen and paper. Craig, 31, found even that too emotional as it brought back memories of the shame and upset he felt at school.
‘It just reminded me of how no one knew what to do with me,’ he says. ‘Whenever there were tests at school the teachers would tell me to go outside and play. As a kid I thought it was a great opportunity to get out of class, but it was only when I became an adult that I realised how mortifying it was.
‘I was sent to a secondary school for special needs children, but while I had dyslexia there were children with much more serious problems so I never got any attention and never had the help I needed. I was bullied and called thick and stupid.
Pictured, The Write Off Group Shot. .(L-R) Paul, Benny, Dean, Carol, Sandi, Viv, Craig, Emily, Tommy
‘I used to hate myself for not being able to read. I became very lost in the world and I didn’t know what to do with myself.
‘I would argue with people and I became an angry person. When I lost my last job – it was the fifth job I was fired from when they suddenly needed everyone to start filling in forms – it was my lowest point. I was thinking about driving my car into a bridge.
‘Nowadays, even if you’re washing dishes or stacking shelves, you have to fill out forms. I don’t think people realise how many people there are out there like me.’
Craig’s wife spotted an advert for the TV show soon after he had lost that final job. He hoped that taking part would give him the one big thing he was aiming for – to be able to read his daughter her favourite book The Hungry Caterpillar.
The show paired each person up with a tutor who would see them for intensive one-to-one sessions three or four times a week.
Every month Sandi would meet them for a challenge, things that would seem easy for someone who can actually read.
One was being given some travel instructions, a second was writing ingredients down and buying them from a shopping list, then cooking a dish, while a third was performing a short play.
Celebrity guests Prue Leith and Martin Kemp joined in for two of the challenges, but the real joy is in seeing the difference in the contestants as they improve.
For Tommy Dawkins, 67, from Newcastle, the travelling challenge made him more determined. ‘If you ask for help at a station, people will think you’re taking the mickey,’ he says.
‘A station guard will point you to the board, and it’s hard to tell him that you can’t read it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone the wrong way and it’s taken me two or three hours to get to where I needed to go.
‘I was once heading to a football match in Lincoln. I knew I had to look for an L but I ended up in Leicester. It can sound funny but it’s frightening. You have sweat pouring down you because you’re panicked and don’t know where you are.’
WHAT IS DYSLEXIA?
Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling.
It’s a specific learning difficulty, which means it causes problems with certain abilities used for learning, such as reading and writing.
Unlike a learning disability, intelligence isn’t affected.
It’s estimated up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia.
Dyslexia is a lifelong problem that can present challenges on a daily basis, but support is available to improve reading and writing skills and help those with the problem be successful at school and work.
Signs of dyslexia
Signs of dyslexia usually become apparent when a child starts school and begins to focus more on learning how to read and write.
A person with dyslexia may:
- Read and write very slowly
- confuse the order of letters in words
- put letters the wrong way round (such as writing ‘b’ instead of ‘d’)
- have poor or inconsistent spelling
- understand information when told verbally, but have difficulty with information that’s written down
- find it hard to carry out a sequence of directions
- struggle with planning and organisation
A factory worker, he admits that he used to become aggressive to hide the fact he couldn’t read. ‘My way of hiding things was to be a bully,’ he says. ‘If you asked me to write something I would just say, “Do it yourself.” It was no way to behave.’
Over the years Tommy tried adult learning sessions but found the teaching was so uneven that he gave up. It was only when he was given a union job and a discussion emerged when a colleague said he didn’t believe there were people who couldn’t read or write that things started to change for him.
He now has an MBE for giving talks about not illiteracy, even though he had to deliver his speeches from memory. One of his reasons for going on the show was that he wanted to be able to write a letter to all the people who have helped him. When he manages to do it, it provides one of the most emotional moments of the series.
‘One thing I’ve done is bought myself a cookbook,’ says Tommy, who followed his first recipe on the show.
‘I’ve baked a cake for my family and it’s one of the most fantastic things ever. I’ve also bought a ticket on a railway station. It’s amazing that I can now do something I could never do before. It’s changed my life and the important thing is that it might change the lives of others too, now that they can see they’re not alone.’
The youngest of the contestants is Emily Dickenson, just 23, from Huddersfield. While there was help in her school for dyslexia, she didn’t have enough of it.
‘The only time I would have someone to help read and write was in exams,’ she says.
‘But there was no point in doing the exams because by then I didn’t know what I was doing. I couldn’t read the whiteboard. I couldn’t read the books. I couldn’t do any of it because I wasn’t taught.
‘My sister is also dyslexic and was in special classes but I never got that. I ended up dropping out of school because I became so embarrassed and angry.
‘When I put my hand up to ask the teacher to explain something again, they would shout at me for not paying attention. I just couldn’t read it. I would then ask the person sitting next to me and I would be labelled a troublemaker and told to stop messing around.
‘I would walk out of classes, and I left school as soon as I could. I thought I would never make anything of my life because everything revolves around reading. I don’t think it’s surprising that many of us do become angry.
‘If you have the right help things can be different. My character at school was judged on my learning ability. I was frustrated that no one would listen to me, and I think you stay angry about it.’
She did manage to train as a hairdresser – and her college was more supportive than her school. But, as a mother of two, her lack of reading skills meant she always felt like an outsider.
‘My little boy’s school is always sending emails and I could never read them. I would be terrible about missing World Book Day and sending him in to school wearing the wrong clothes.’
Now she’s able to read them herself. What’s more, she’s also about to start driving lessons now that reading signs will no longer be a problem.
‘Being on the show has changed my life in so many ways,’ she says. ‘It has boosted my confidence. Now I cook meals from recipe books. I can’t explain how genuinely freeing it is to be able to cook whatever you like, or to go wherever you want.
‘I can now send texts to my friends, read menus in restaurants and if I were to apply for a job, I’ll be able to read the forms. It’s also given me the confidence to be able to tell my children that whatever you face, you just need to find the right support. You shouldn’t quit and think, “This is all I’m capable of”.’
By the end of the show, which was filmed over four months, each of the participants, having put hours of work in, are in a much better place than they started. Each of them has had their lives genuinely changed.
‘I’m sure I’m not the only one who sometimes catches themselves and realises they can now do something that they could never do before,’ says Craig. ‘Now I hope the programme will show people that if they need help, they won’t be alone.’
The Write Offs starts on Channel 4 on Tuesday 22 September at 9.30pm on Channel 4.
For confidential support, log on to samaritans.org or call the Samaritans on 116123.
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Morrisons reinstates door marshals to limit shoppers in stores amid fears of Covid panic buying
Morrisons has reinstated door marshals at its stores to limit the number of shoppers amid fears of Covid-19 panic buying – as supermarkets double their delivery slots to prepare for a second wave.
Staff will be stationed at all 494 of Morrisons supermarkets to monitor shoppers and remind them to wear face masks.
It comes as bosses at Britain’s big chains insisted they have enough stock and delivery slots for everyone, as they try to prevent scenes of panic buying seen back in March.
Morrisons has reinstated marshals to monitor customer numbers and remind them to wear masks, while Tesco has boosted its online ordering capacity
Tesco’s weekly ordering capacity has risen from 600,000 to 1.5million – but it remains fully booked until Wednesday.
There are three-day waiting times for Ocado, while Sainsbury’s is experiencing high demand.
Sainsbury’s revealed the number of Christmas pudding searches was four times higher than this time last year.
The online supermarkets pasted notices on their ‘pick a slot’ page warning customers the sites were experiencing high demand.
Ocado’s read: ‘Delivery slots are selling out faster than usual. If you can’t find a slot now, please use the “Next 3 days” button to see available slots further in advance.’
Toilet roll and kitchen roll was seemingly in shorter supply than normal at a Tesco in the West Midlands, with one shopper sharing pictures of the bare shelves on Twitter (above)
A notice on Sainsbury’s delivery slots page said: ‘Slots are still in high demand. We have been working hard to expand our service. More slots are now available and we are able to offer some of them to other customers.
‘Customers who are vulnerable will get priority access and are able to book slots in advance of anyone else. We’re releasing new slots regularly so please check back if you can’t see any available.’
On Saturday, Tesco was fully booked until Wednesday with an available slots all priced at £5.50 – and there were no available spaces until Monday at Asda.
Delivery slots for supermarkets, including Ocado and Sainsbury’s, are also selling out ‘faster than normal’ as shoppers worry that a second wave of panic buying has already started
Concerned shoppers took to Twitter over the weekend to share photographs of their local supermarkets, showing shelves completely emptied of essential items.
Another shopper posted pictures of a Tesco in the West Midlands, where kitchen roll and toilet roll was in short supply – but had not been completely cleared out.
One person shared pictures on Twitter, writing: ‘This was my local Tesco! People are already panic buying once again! Even though supermarkets do stay open.’
An ASDA shopper said: ‘This is our ASDA it’s madness and as you say even though they are staying open.’
There are concerns that a second wave of panic buying has already begun as shoppers share photographs of supermarkets with the shelves stripped bare (above, ASDA in London)
And another person predicted that ‘It’s happening again’.
Andrew Opie, head of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, told The Mirror: ‘We urge consumers to be considerate and shop for food as they would usually during this difficult time.’
One supermarket worker in Birmingham told the paper: ‘Some people are definitely panic buying again. We have 4,000 more items this weekend than we usually would.
‘When the panic buying started months ago, we hadn’t experienced it. We are prepared now.’
Concerned shoppers shared pictures of panic buying from stores in London and other parts of the country
The Prime Minister is now threatening to ‘intensify’ coronavirus restrictions as he blames the British public for the rise in cases – despite his repeated pleas for people to return to their desks and eat out at pubs and restaurants in a bid to resuscitate Britain’s economy.
Mr Johnson looks to ditch his Rule of Six and introduce fortnight-long ‘circuit breakers’ nationwide for six months, following claims that it was ‘inevitable’ that a second wave would hit the country.
The new approach to get the UK through winter would see it alternate periods of stricter measures, including bans on all social contact between households and shutting down hospitality and leisure venues like bars and restaurants, with intervals of relaxation. Schools will be shut as a ‘last resort’, a Whitehall source claimed.
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Mitch McConnell locks down key swing vote of GOP Rep. Lamar Alexander for Supreme Court fight
Mitch McConnell has locked down the key swing vote of GOP Representative Lamar Alexander for his Supreme Court fight, after two Republicans said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should not be replaced before the election.
The Tennessee Senator threw his support behind McConnell in a statement Sunday, saying ‘no one should be surprised’ by a new appointment in an election year and that voters ‘expect it’.
Donald Trump on Saturday urged the GOP-run Senate to consider ‘without delay’ his upcoming nomination to fill Ginsburg’s seat, who died Friday after a battle with cancer.
The move comes just six weeks before the election and has sparked fierce debate, with many Democrats – as well as some Republicans – insisting the seat must not be filled until after the election.
The crux of the debate centers around the move made by Republicans back in 2016 – and led by McConnell – to block then-President Barack Obama from appointing a new justice to the court nine months before the election.
Their argument at the time was that the position should not be filled until a new president was elected by the American people – a standard set by the Republicans that the Democrats now argue the party must continue to honor.
Four GOP senators now need to join the Democrats to stop a Supreme Court nomination going forward.
Mitch McConnell has locked down the key swing vote of GOP Representative Lamar Alexander (pictured) for his Supreme Court fight
‘No one should be surprised that a Republican Senate majority would vote on a Republican president’s Supreme Court nomination, even during a presidential election year,’ Alexander said in a statement.
‘The Constitution gives senators the power to do it. The voters who elected them expect it.’
Alexander, who is retiring at the end of his current term, went on to say that Democrats would also rush to fill the seat ‘if the shoe were on the other foot’.
‘Senator McConnell is only doing what Democrat leaders have said they would do if the shoe were on the other foot,’ he said.
‘I have voted to confirm Justices [John] Roberts, [Samuel] Alito, [Sonia] Sotomayor, [Neil] Gorsuch and [Brett] Kavanaugh based upon their intelligence, character and temperament.
‘I will apply the same standard when I consider President Trump’s nomination to replace Justice Ginsburg.’
Alexander’s statement comes as a blow to the Democrats after he was viewed as a potential swing vote against efforts by McConnell and Trump to fill Ginsburg’s seat as soon as possible.
The senator has a history of bipartisanship, having worked closely with Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the past on making it easier for the Senate to confirm presidential nominees.
He had also been eyed by Democrats as a swing vote during Trump’s impeachment trial, one of a handful of GOP senators that hinted they could vote to hear from witnesses with knowledge of Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine.
However Alexander disappointed Democrats in this instance too, deciding against the calling of witnesses and calling the trial a ‘partisan impeachment.’
The Tennessee Senator threw his support behind McConnell (pictured) in a statement Sunday, saying ‘no one should be surprised’ by a new appointment in an election year and that voters ‘expect it’
Two GOP senators – Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins – have already dissented, vowing to derail Trump’s nomination plans until after the November 3 election.
Murkowski became the second Republican senator Sunday to say the chamber should not take up the president’s nominee before the American people vote for their next president, hours after Trump threw shade at her publicly and after her colleague and frequent collaborator Collins made her own opposition to a quick vote known.
‘For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election,’ the Alaska senator said.
‘Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed,’ she continued.
‘I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia.
‘We are now even closer to the 2020 election – less than two months out – and I believe the same standard must apply.’
Murkowski in her statement was referencing the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, which never got a hearing despite Barack Obama nominating Garland nine months before the 2016 elections.
Two GOP senators – Lisa Murkowski (left) and Susan Collins (right) – have already dissented, vowing to derail Trump’s nomination plans until after the November 3 election
WHO’S WHO ON TRUMP’S SUPREME COURT SHORTLIST
Ted Cruz, Texas. 49
Josh Hawley, Missouri. 40
Tom Cotton, Arkansas. 43
Bridget Bade, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 54
Stuart Kyle Duncan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. 48
James Ho, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, 47
Gregory Katsas, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. 56
Barbara Lagoa, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. 52
Carlos Muñiz, Supreme Court of Florida. 51
Martha Pacold, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. 41
Peter Phipps, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. 47
Sarah Pitlyk, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. 43
Allison Jones Rushing, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. 38
Lawrence VanDyke, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 47
CURRENT AND FORMER REPUBLICAN OFFICIALS
Daniel Cameron, Kentucky Attorney General. 34
Paul Clement, partner with Kirkland & Ellis, former solicitor general. 54
Steven Engel, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. 46
Noel Francisco, former U.S. solicitor general. 51
Christopher Landau, U.S. ambassador to Mexico. 56
Kate Todd, deputy White House counsel. 45
Trump took a slap at potential dissenter Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski hours before she released the statement Sunday morning, as he kept up his pressure campaign on his own party and prepared to nominate a Supreme Court Justice in an upended election.
The president kept his comments brief, penning a simple ‘No thanks!’ as he retweeted a promotion by the Alaska Chamber of Commerce speech by Murkowski for Tuesday.
Murkowski voted against Trump’s last Supreme Court pick – Justice Brett Kavanaugh. More critically for the current scramble underway, she said shortly before Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death.
‘I would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee. We are 50 some days away from an election,’ she said, Alaska Public Radio reported.
She referenced Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision not to grant a hearing to Garland in 2016 nearly nine months before the election.
‘That was too close to an election, and that the people needed to decide,’ Murkowski said.
‘That the closer you get to an election, that argument becomes even more important.’
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine – with whom Murkowski often votes when diverging from party orthodoxy – came out with her own statement Saturday.
‘In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd,’ Collins, facing a tough re-election race herself, said on Twitter.
Collins is up for reelection in a close race.
The two dissenters have left Democrats still shy of the count of four needed to derail a nomination, but points to the possibility they could prevent it by winning over an additional pair of Republicans.
With Alexander no longer a possible dissenter, the focus has shifted to Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who votes with conservatives but also voted for an impeachment article against Trump and has called him out occasionally in public.
Democrats have put several other options forward to stall or counteract Trump rushing through the appointment for Ginsburg’s replacement.
Several including Rep. Joe Kennedy III have threatened to pack the Supreme Court if they capture the Senate in November and Republicans have already pushed through a conservative successor to Ginsburg.
President Trump said Saturday his Supreme Court nominee is most likely to be a woman. On Sunday he tweeted about Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski
President Donald Trump tweeted a dig at GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who said before Ginsburg’s death that she would not vote for a replacement close to the election
What is court packing?
Court packing is the move to appoint extra justices to the Supreme Court.
It is a move several Democrats have proposed if the party takes control of the Senate in order to increase the presence of liberal justices on the bench.
Franklin D. Roosevelt made attempts to pack the court back in 1937 when the Republican president wanted to pass his New Deal laws and needed more conservative justices in the court to vote in favor of them.
Roosevelt’s attempts failed and he was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans for the move.
However Democrats argue court packing will be necessary to rebalance the court if President Trump does not wait until after the presidential inauguration to appoint Justice Ginsburg’s replacement.
The issue in contention is that Republicans barred President Obama from appointing a justice in the election year in 2016.
Many Democrats say this meant the seat – finally filled by a Trump nominee after he entered the White house – was ‘stolen’ by Republicans and that if Republicans now do the very same thing they banned Democrats from doing in 2016 by rushing through an appointment, Democrats will then be within their rights to rebalance the court.
Joe Kennedy III, who represents Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District and is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, tweeted Sunday: ‘If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021. It’s that simple.’
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler wrote on Twitter: ‘If Sen. McConnell and @SenateGOP were to force through a nominee during the lame-duck session — before a new Senate and President can take office – then the incoming Senate should immediately move to expand the Supreme Court.’
Court packing is a controversial move, however Democrats argue it will be necessary to rebalance the court if Trump does not wait until after the presidential inauguration to appoint Ginsburg’s replacement.
Other options on the table are the pursuit of impeachment charges, something House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would not rule out in an interview Saturday.
‘We have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now but the fact is we have a big challenge in our country,’ she told ABC’s ‘This Week‘ when asked about the prospect.
‘This president has threatened to not even accept the results of the election,’ Pelosi continued.
‘Our main goal would be to protect the integrity of the election as we protect the people from the coronavirus.’
AOC echoed the possibility of pursuing impeachment charges at a joint press conference with Schumer Sunday saying there has been ‘an enormous amount of lawbreaking’ under Trump’s watch and branding Barr ‘unfit for office’.
‘I believe that certainly there has been an enormous amount of lawbreaking in the Trump administration,’ she said, when asked about impeachment.
‘I believe Attorney General Bill Barr is unfit for office and that he has pursued potentially law-breaking behaviors.’
She said America must ‘use every tool at our disposal’ and turn to ‘unprecedented ways’ to stall the appointment and that means putting all options ‘on the table’.
‘I believe that also we must consider again all the tools available to our disposal and all these options should be entertained and on the table,’ she said.
Two other senior Republicans, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Rob Portman of Ohio, backed McConnell in public statements Sunday.
Conservative Trump loyalist Sen. Tom Cotton told ‘Fox News Sunday’ the president should act ‘without delay.’
‘The Senate will exercise our constitutional duty,’ he said. ‘We will move forward without delay.’
Trump’s public pressure comes hours after he said at a campaign rally he will act swiftly to make a nomination.
‘I will be putting forth a nominee this week,’ he said at a campaign rally in North Carolina
‘It will be a woman,’ Trump added.
The nomination would fail if Republicans were to lose four members from their 53-vote majority.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday pushed the Senate to vote on a nomination before the election, but would say his party has the votes.
‘I don’t know the answer to that. I believe we will’ he said.
Before he left the White House for the rally, Trump had named two conservative women who he has elevated to federal appeals courts as contenders, a move that would tip the court further to the right.
Trump, who now has a chance to nominate a third justice to a lifetime appointment on the court, named Amy Coney Barrett, 48, of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa, 52, of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees.
He praised Lagoa, in particular, as an ‘extraordinary person’.
Who is Amy Coney Barrett?
On Saturday afternoon, Trump named Amy Coney Barrett, 48, of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and Barbara Lagoa, 52, of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit as possible nominees.
Emerging as the favorite is Barrett, 48, a mother of seven children, including two adopted from Haiti and one with special needs.
Her involvement in a cult-like Catholic group where members are assigned a ‘handmaiden’ has caused concern in Barret’s nomination to other courts and is set to come under fierce review again if she is Trump’s pick.
The group was the one which helped inspire ‘The Handmaids Tale’, book’s author Margaret Atwood has said.
Barrett emerges now as a front runner after she was already shortlisted for the nomination in 2018 which eventually went to Brett Kavanaugh.
Trump called the federal appellate court judge ‘very highly respected’ when questioned about her Saturday.
Born in New Orleans in 1972, she was the first and only woman to occupy an Indiana seat on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
Married to Jesse M. Barrett, a partner at SouthBank Legal in South Bend and former Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, the couple have five biological and two adopted children.
Their youngest biological child has Down Syndrome.
Friends say she is a devoted mother – and say with just an hour to go until she was voted into the 7th District Court of Appeals by the U.S. Senate in 2017, Barrett was outside trick-or-treating with her kids.
Barrett’s strong Christian ideology makes her a favorite of the right but her involvement in a religious group sometimes branded as a ‘cult’ is set to be harshly criticized.
In 2017, her affiliation to the small, tightly knit Christian group called People of Praise caused concern while she was a nominee for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
The New York Times reported that the practices of the group would surprise even other Catholics with members of the group swearing a lifelong oath of loyalty, called a covenant, to one another.
They are also assigned and held accountable to a personal adviser, known until recently as a ‘head’ for men and a ‘handmaid’ for women and believe in prophecy, speaking in tongues and divine healings.
Members are also encouraged to confess personal sins, financial information and other sensitive disclosures to these advisors.
Advisors are allowed to report these admissions to group leadership if necessary, according to an account of one former member.
The organization itself says that the term ‘handmaid’ was a reference to Jesus’s mother Mary’s description of herself as a ‘handmaid of the Lord.’
They said they recently stopped using the term due to cultural shifts and now use the name ‘women leaders.’
The group deems that husbands are the heads of their wives and should take authority over the family while ‘the heads and handmaids give direction on important decisions, including whom to date or marry, where to live, whether to take a job or buy a home, and how to raise children,’ the Times reported.
Unmarried members are placed living with married couples members often look to buy or rent homes near other members.
Founded in 1971, People of Praise was part of the era’s ‘great emergence of lay ministries and lay movements in the Catholic Church,’ founder Bishop Peter Smith told the Catholic News Agency.
Beginning with just 29 members, it now has an estimated 2,000.
According to CNA, some former members of the People of Praise allege that leaders exerted undue influence over family decision-making, or pressured the children of members to commit to the group.
At least 10 members of Barrett’s family, not including their children, also belong to the group.
Barrett’s father, Mike Coney, serves on the People of Praise’s powerful 11-member board of governors, described as the group’s ‘highest authority.’
Her mother Linda served as a handmaiden.
The group’s ultra-conservative religious tenets helped spur author Margaret Atwood to publish The Handmaid’s Tale, a story about a religious takeover of the U.S. government, according to a 1986 interview with the writer.
The book has since been made into a hit TV series.
According to legal experts, loyalty oaths such at the one Barrett would have taken to People of Praise could raise legitimate questions about a judicial nominee’s independence and impartiality.
‘These groups can become so absorbing that it’s difficult for a person to retain individual judgment,’ said Sarah Barringer Gordon, a professor of constitutional law and history at the University of Pennsylvania.
‘I don’t think it’s discriminatory or hostile to religion to want to learn more’ about her relationship with the group.
‘We don’t try to control people,’ said Craig S. Lent. ‘And there’s never any guarantee that the leader is always right. You have to discern and act in the Lord.
‘If and when members hold political offices, or judicial offices, or administrative offices, we would certainly not tell them how to discharge their responsibilities.’
During her professional career, Barrett spent two decades as a law professor at the University of Notre Dame, from which she holds her bachelor’s and law degrees.
She was named ‘Distinguished Professor of the Year’ three separate years, a title decided by students.
A former clerk for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, she was nominated by Trump to serve on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 and confirmed in a 55-43 vote by the Senate later that year.
At the time, three Democratic senators supported her nomination: Joe Donnelly (Ind.), who subsequently lost his 2018 reelection bid, Tim Kaine (Va.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.), according to the Hill.
She was backed by every GOP senator at the time, but she did not disclose her relationship with People of Praise which led to later criticism of her appointment.
Barret is well-regarded by the religious right because of this devout faith.
Yet these beliefs are certain to cause problems with her conformation and stand in opposition to the beliefs of Ginsburg, who she would be replacing.
Axios reported in 2019 that Trump told aides he was ‘saving’ Barrett to replace Ginsburg.
Her deep Catholic faith was cited by Democrats as a large disadvantage during her 2017 confirmation hearing for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
‘If you’re asking whether I take my faith seriously and I’m a faithful Catholic, I am,’ Barrett responded during that hearing, ‘although I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.’
Republicans now believe that she performed well in her defense during this hearing, leaving her potentially capable of doing the same if facing the Senate Judiciary Committee.
She is a former member of the Notre Dame’s ‘Faculty for Life’ and in 2015 signed a letter to the Catholic Church affirming the ‘teachings of the Church as truth.’
Among those teachings were the ‘value of human life from conception to natural death’ and marriage-family values ‘founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman’.
She has previously written that Supreme Court precedents are not sacrosanct. Liberals have taken these comments as a threat to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide.
Barrett wrote that she agrees ‘with those who say that a justice’s duty is to the Constitution and that it is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks clearly in conflict with it’.
Among the other statements that have cause concern for liberal are her declaration that ObamaCare’s birth control mandate is ‘grave violation of religious freedom.’
LGBTQ organizations also voiced their concern about her when she was first named on the shortlist.
She has also sided with Trump on immigration.
In a case from June 2020, IndyStar reports that she was the sole voice on a three-judge panel that supported allowing federal enforcement of Trump’s public charge immigration law in Illinois,
The law would have prevented immigrants from getting legal residency in the United States if they rely on public benefits like food stamps or housing vouchers.
Who is Barbara Lagoa?
Barbara Lagoa , 52, was named by Trump as one of his potential nominees to the Supreme Court.
A Cuban American who parents fled to the U.S., Lagoa was born in Miami in 1967. She grew up in the largely Cuban American city of Hialeah.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, her parents fled Cuba over five decades ago when Fidel Castro’s Communist dictatorship took over.
During the 2019 news conference in Miami announcing her appointment to the Supreme Court, she told the crowd that her father had to give up his ‘dream of becoming a lawyer’ because of Castro.
If nominated to the nation’s high court by Trump and confirmed by the Senate, the mother of three daughters would be the second Latino justice to ever serve.
She served on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for less than a year after being appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate on an 80-15 vote
Prior to that she also spent less than a year in her previous position as the first Latina and Cuban American to serve on the Florida Supreme Court.
Lagoa is considered a protégé of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a close Trump ally.
Her position in crucial swing state Florida could help Trump politically.
Last week, she voted in the majority in a ruling that barred hundreds of thousands of Florida felons who have served their time from voting unless they pay fees and fines owed to the state.
This decision could have a major impact on the presidential race as Florida is often won by a candidate by only razor-thin margins.
‘Florida’s felon re-enfranchisement scheme is constitutional,’ Lagoa wrote in a 20-page concurrence, according to USA Today.
‘It falls to the citizens of the state of Florida and their elected state legislators, not to federal judges, to make any additional changes to it.’
In 2000 Lagoa was one of a dozen mostly pro bono lawyers who represented the Miami family of Elián González, a Cuban citizen who became embroiled in a heated international custody and immigration controversy.
In 2016 while in the Florida Third District Court of Appeal, she wrote an opinion reversing the conviction of Adonis Losada, a former Univision comic actor sentenced to 153 years in prison for collecting child porn.
She ruled that a Miami-Dade judge erred in not allowing Losada to defend himself at trial.
That same month she became unpopular with free press advocates when she was one of three judges who allowed a Miami judge to close a courtroom to the public for a key hearing in a high-profile murder case.
They ruled that publicity surrounding the machete murder of a student in Homestead might unfairly sway jurors at a future trial.
Lagoa is a graduate of Florida International University and Columbia University Law.
She is is a member of the conservative Federalist Society, which stresses that judges should ‘say what the law is, not what it should be.’
She is married to lawyer Paul C. Huck Jr., and her father-in-law is United States District Judge Paul Huck.
All eyes on Arizona Senate race that could give Democrats the extra vote they need in the Supreme Court fight
If Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly wins a seat in the U.S. Senate, he could take office as early as November 20, shrinking the GOP’s Senate majority at a crucial moment and complicating the path to confirmation for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
Kelly has maintained a consistent polling lead over Republican Senator Martha McSally, who was appointed to the seat held by John McCain, who died in 2018.
In a recent poll by The New York Times/Sienna College Research Institute, Kelly had secured 50 per cent of likely votes and McSally weighed in at 42 per cent.
If Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly (left) wins a seat in the U.S. Senate, he could take office as early as November 20, shrinking the GOP’s Senate majority at a crucial moment and complicating the path to confirmation for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Republican Senator Martha McSally (right) is Kelly’s rival for the seat
Because the contest is a special election to finish McCain’s term, the winner could be sworn in as soon as the results are officially certified. Other winners in the November election won’t take office until January.
If Kelly wins, the timing when he formally takes office could be crucial in determining who replaces Ginsburg. It could eliminate a Republican vote in favor of Trump’s nominee — the GOP currently has 53 seats in the 100-member chamber — or require McConnell to speed up the nomination process.
With McSally in the Senate, four GOP defections could defeat a nomination, while a tie vote could be broken by Vice President Mike Pence.
McSally quickly laid down a marker, declaring on Twitter within hours of the announcement of Ginsberg’s death that ‘this U.S. Senate should vote on President Trump’s next nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court.’
She has not elaborated on whether the confirmation vote should come before or after the election. But she highlighted the renewed stakes of her race in a fundraising pitch on Saturday.
‘If Mark Kelly comes out on top, HE could block President Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee from being confirmed,’ she wrote.
Democrats in 2018 found success in Arizona, a state long dominated by the GOP, by appealing to Republicans and independent voters disaffected with Trump.
The Supreme Court vacancy could shake up the race and boost McSally’s lagging campaign by keeping those voters in her camp.
Kelly has maintained a consistent polling lead over Republican Senator Martha McSally (pictured), who was appointed to the seat held by John McCain, who died in 2018
Kelly said late Saturday that ‘the people elected to the presidency and Senate in November should fill this vacancy.’
‘When it comes to making a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, Washington shouldn’t rush that process for political purposes,’ Kelly said in a statement.
Republican and Democratic election lawyers agreed that Arizona law is clear: If Kelly wins, he will take office once the results are official.
Arizona Supreme Court precedent favors putting elected officials in elected positions as soon as possible, said the Tim LaSota, the former lawyer for the Arizona Republican Party and a McSally supporter.
‘Somebody who has only been appointed does not have the imprimatur of the electorate,’ LaSota said. ‘It’s sort of intuitive that the law should favor somebody who has won an election as opposed to someone who’s just been appointed.’
Arizona law requires election results to be officially certified on the fourth Monday after the election, which falls this year on November 30. The certification could be delayed up to three days if the state has not received election results from any of the 15 counties.
Mark Kelly (pictured): ‘When it comes to making a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, Washington shouldn’t rush that process for political purposes’
Mary O’Grady, a Democratic lawyer with expertise in election law, said the deadlines are firm and there’s little room for delay.
‘I don’t see ambiguity here,’ said O’Grady, who was Arizona’s solicitor general under two Democratic attorneys general.
Arizona law allows recounts and election challenges only under very limited circumstances, she said.
‘Usually, the Secretary of the Senate’s office goes out of its way to accommodate the new senators coming in,’ former Senate Historian Don Ritchie told The Arizona Republic, which first reported on the prospect for Kelly taking office early a day before Ginsburg’s death.
‘The old senator is out of their office there. I mean, they actually literally put a lock on the door so their staff can’t go in.’
Still, GOP leaders are optimistic they can pull it off. In the turbulent Trump era, nothing has motivated the Republican Party’s disparate factions to come home quite like the prospect of a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.
‘This can be an important galvanizing force for President Trump,’ said Leonard Leo, co-chairman of the conservative Federalist Society who has advised the Trump administration on its first two confirmations – for Neil Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.
GOP Sen. Tom Tillis (center) holds a sign as President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturday, September 19 in Fayetteville, North Carolina
Lest there be any questions about the political implications, Trump is expected to make his choice in a matter of days. Those close to the president are encouraging him to announce his pick before the first presidential debate against Democratic challenger Joe Biden on September 29.
Biden said the winner of the November election should choose the next justice. Biden’s team is skeptical that the Supreme Court clash will fundamentally change the contours of a race Trump was trailing so close to Election Day. Indeed, five states are already voting.
In fact, Democrats say it could motivate voters to fight harder against Trump and Republicans as the Senate breaks the norms with an unprecedented confirmation at a time when Americans are deciding crucial elections.
‘Everything Americans value is at stake,’ Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told fellow Democratic senators on a conference call Saturday, according to a person who was not authorized to publicly discuss the private call and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Biden is not planning to release a full list of potential court nominees, according to a top aide, because it would further politicize the process. The aide was not authorized to publicly discuss private deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Biden’s team suggests that the court fight will heighten the focus on issues that were already at stake in the election: health care, environmental protections, gender equity and abortion.
Health care, in particular, has been a top voter concern this pandemic-year election, Democrats say.
They will argue that protections for Americans with preexisting conditions are essentially on the ballot as the Supreme Court will hear the administration’s argument to strike down President Barack Obama’s health law shortly after the election. The Affordable Care Act includes such protections and the court is expected to render a verdict next year.
‘Make it real,’ said Hillary Clinton, urging Democrats to take the fight to the polls, in an interview on MSNBC.
Republicans say voters, particularly those the party needs to win back, are motivated by the chance to name a conservative judge – so much so that it could take some states off the map for Democrats.
The focus on the nomination fight could help unify such voters around a common issue in an election season with so many distractions, said Leo of the Federalist Society.
‘Going as far back as 2000, poll after poll shows that the Supreme Court is an issue that resonates strongly with Republican and conservative voters, and importantly even with low-propensity voters from those groups,’ he said.
Republicans were especially optimistic that the court battle would boost their chances of holding the Senate, particularly in Republican-leaning states such as Montana, Iowa, Kansas, Georgia and South Carolina where GOP candidates are at risk. Democrats need to pick up three seats to claim the Senate majority if Biden wins and four if he doesn’t.
Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine (left) and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska (right), spoke out after Ginsburg´s death to object to the speedy pace, saying the Senate should not vote before the election so the candidate elected on Nov. 3 can decide
Key GOP senators who face tough reelection contests in such states where Trump is popular quickly linked themselves to his push for a swift vote, embracing the prospect of another conservative on the bench. Among them: McSally in Arizona, Thom Tillis in North Carolina and Lindsey Graham in South Carolina.
Yet other Republicans in more contested battleground states, including Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado, held back, heeding McConnell´s advice to keep their ‘powder dry.’
Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, spoke out after Ginsburg´s death to object to the speedy pace, saying the Senate should not vote before the election so the candidate elected on Nov. 3 can decide.
As he left the White House for Saturday evening’s rally in North Carolina, Trump signaled his displeasure with Collins – and a potential warning to other wayward Republicans: ‘I totally disagree with her,’ he said.
Democratic challengers and outside allies seized on what they called ‘hypocrisy’ of Republicans refusing to consider Obama’s nominee before the 2016 election, unearthing past statements from many of the same senators now pushing ahead for Trump.
The Democrats raised more than $71 million in the hours after Ginsburg´s death.
Many Republicans are hopeful the Supreme Court fight will supersede many conservative voters’ concerns about Trump’s inconsistent leadership and divisive rhetoric. But voters in key states are already dealing with unprecedented hardships that will not simply disappear in the coming weeks.
Conservative activist Tim Phillips, president of the group Americans for Prosperity, is doubtful that the court fight will change many votes. He spent much of Saturday canvassing suburban neighborhoods around Kansas City as part of his organization’s massive push to boost down-ballot Republicans in November.
People gather at the Supreme Court on the morning after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, Saturday in Washington D.C.
When conservative activists gathered in the morning, the Supreme Court was a prime topic of conversation that ‘strengthened their resolve to get out and work,’ Phillips said. But once they started knocking on voters’ doors, ‘it didn’t even come up.’
‘I just think given the magnitude of the crises – plural – facing swing voters, this is just not going to be a crucial factor in their final decision,’ Phillips said.
At the Cambria County Republican Party headquarters in western Pennsylvania, the vacancy wasn’t a major topic of conversation as people swung by on Saturday to pick up yard signs and campaign swag.
Lisa Holgash, a 49-year-old Trump supporter, said she would ‘love it’ if Trump were able to appoint another Supreme Court Justice. But she said she was concerned about the idea of Republicans pushing through a nominee so quickly ahead of the election, especially after Republicans denied Obama a final pick in his last year.
‘It´s not that far now to the election,’ she said. ‘I don´t think it should be rushed.’
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