Posts tagged with "Biden"

The Nation cover illustration by Heather Skovlund (Original cover art Illustration by Barry Blitt) for 360 Magazine

Elie Mystal × The Nation

Can Biden Fix the Courts That Trump Broke?

There is no progressive future without a serious fight to reclaim the judiciary from the grips of conservative judges.

In The Nation’s latest cover story, justice correspondent Elie Mystal explains:

“While previous Republican administrations tried to break government, Donald Trump tried to break democracy. He did this boldly and brazenly, by attacking elections, and he did it less boldly but no less brazenly, by working alongside Mitch McConnell to take over the unelected branch of government that sets the rules for all the others: the federal judiciary. That branch is now stuffed with conservative ideologues masquerading as jurists.”

Making the case that there is no progressive future without a serious fight to reclaim the judiciary from the grips of conservative judges, Mystal evaluates whether Biden can fix the courts that Trump broke: Happily, there is a solution, and that solution is to expand the lower courts.

Congress has used its constitutional authority throughout history to expand the federal judiciary. Historically, these lower court expansions were bipartisan: As the country grows in population, so does the number of lawsuits. Adding judges is just a thing we used to do to keep the judiciary running smoothly. But since 1990, when the last judgeship bill was passed, the US population has grown by a third; the number of district court cases has grown by 38 percent; and the number of cases involving a felony defendant has grown by 60 percent. The number of judges has not changed.

“I absolutely believe that if Trump had won reelection and McConnell had hung onto the Senate, Republicans would be working on court expansion right now,” writes Mystal. “There just aren’t a lot of vacancies left in the federal judiciary. Republicans can always find some casus belli for stacking the courts with conservative judges. The only question is whether Democrats will ever realize there’s a war, and they’re losing it.”

“To balance out decades of inequity, Biden’s judicial appointments shouldn’t ‘look like America;’ they should overrepresent the kinds of Americans routinely excluded by Republican administrations,” he continues. “You can’t balance a seesaw by standing in the middle when an elephant is sitting on one side.”

Read the full cover story here. Mystal, who covers the courts, the criminal justice system, and politics for The Nation, has also recently reported:

Biden’s Supreme Court Commission Is Designed to Fail

Biden’s recently announced commission to study court reform isn’t designed to offer solutions—it’s designed to be an excuse to do nothing.

How the Supreme Court Gave Cops a License to Kill

Derek Chauvin’s defense team is hoping that the 1989 Graham v. Connor ruling will be his ticket to acquittal.

The Blue Wall of Silence Is Crumbling Around Derek Chauvin

For one of the first times in memory, police are testifying against one of their own. But will it lead to an actual conviction?

ABOUT Elie Mystal

Elie Mystal is The Nation’s justice correspondent—covering the courts, the criminal justice system, and politics—and the force behind the magazine’s monthly column, “Objection!” He is also an Alfred Knobler Fellow at the Type Media Center. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Mystal was previously the executive editor of Above the Law and a former associate at Debevoise & Plimpton. He’s a frequent guest on MSNBC and Sirius XM. 

Founded by abolitionists in 1865, The Nation has chronicled the breadth and depth of political and cultural life from the debut of the telegraph to the rise of Twitter, serving as a critical, independent, and progressive voice in American journalism.

COVID 19 by Symara Wilson for 360 Magazine, Covid Travel restriction

Coronavirus Mutations × U.S. Travel Restrictions

By Emily Bunn

A breaking news article featured in The New York Times announced that the United States will be imposing a mandatory requirement for negative COVID-19 test results from all incoming, international travelers. The requirement for proof of a negative test in order to fly will begin Tuesday, January 25th.

The CDC has ordered for all travelers to provide proof of a negative test taken no more than 3 days before their travels. Without documentation of a negative test or documentation of recovery supplemented with a letter from a health care provider or public health official, passengers will be prohibited to fly.

The United States is not the only country to be putting in place tighter travel regulations. Due to new mutations of the virus, many countries are adopting stricter border protocol. The New York Times reports:

“Even as the United States moved to impose travel restrictions, citing the danger of the fast-moving variants, a case of the variant spreading in Brazil was identified in Minnesota.”

Variations of the virus in Brazil and South Africa, due to international travel, both pose the threat of COVID-19 mutating. If the virus does mutate, it is potential that the new strain of such will be unreactive to current vaccination efforts.

The New York Times reports that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, an adviser to President Biden, has commented: “With the world travel that you have, and the degree of transmissibility efficiency, it’s not surprising.” Further, President Biden has broadcasted a ban on travel by all non-citizens into the United States from South Africa, the U.K., Ireland, and 26 other European countries.

An article published today on AP News reported that in attempts to increase vaccination efforts, President Biden announced that his administration is planning to purchase 100 million doses of each of the approved coronavirus vaccines–Pfizer and Moderna. Vaccination deliveries to states will be surged for the next three weeks. The Biden administration has announced that they plan to vaccinate 300 million citizens by the end of summer, as reported by The New York Times.

The President, in a White House briefing on January 26th, commented on importance of increasing vaccination supplies to help Americans:

“And to a nation waiting for action, let me be clearest on this point: Help is on the way.  We can do this if we come together, if we listen to the scientists.”

These efforts come at an especially critical time, as the global number of coronavirus cases has surpassed 100 million, reports The Wall Street Journal. However, that has been recent speculation regarding the accuracy of that number. In New York, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration has been accused of undercounting the amount of coronavirus deaths that occurred at nursing homes. A report released by Letitia James, the Attorney General of New York, shows that the coronavirus death count appears to have been cut by approximately 50 percent. The report compares the number of facility deaths publicized by the Department of Health–1,229 deaths, versus the number of facility deaths reported the Office of Attorney General–1,914 deaths. This staggering discrepancy between reported deaths has spurred suspicion against Cuomo, and the Office of Attorney General (OAG) is conducting an on-going investigation concerning the cause of these variances.

However, there is still hope. In Los Angeles, Governor Gavin Newsom rescinded the county’s stay-at-home order this past Monday, reports The Los Angeles Times. This new jurisdiction will allow for all counties in California to return to the four-tier, colored-coded system of assessing coronavirus risk. Lifting the imposed stay-at-home order could allow for the reopening of personal care services and outdoor dining. While LA has been particularly hard hit by coronavirus, the city actually has a higher vaccination rate than most other comparable cities in the U.S. The New York Times reports that “83 percent of the doses the city has received have been administered, compared with 74 percent in New York City; 52 percent in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio; and 58 percent of the doses ordered in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix.”

While the coronavirus situation is still being closely tracked and monitored, hospitalizations and the number of patients in ICUs have been steadily declining. With hospitalizations at their national lowest since December 13th and an increase in vaccination efforts, there is progress to be recognized, despite current setbacks and uncertainties.

Covid-19 Impact on Artists

Story × Art: Alex Rudin

As we head into the eighth month of Covid-19, the distractions of apple picking, pumpkin carving, and outdoor dining are behind us. Lockdowns have long been lifted and social gatherings have become commonplace. The ominous inevitability of a deadly third wave looms. This guaranteed “dark winter” begs one to reflect on the early days of the pandemic. A time when fear, disinformation, and isolation plagued every household, no matter its inhabitants. 2020 has been a year of postponement, grief, isolation, and reckoning. Yet with struggle comes the opportunity for growth, change, and creation… If you let it. As Andy Warhol once said, “they always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

As a self-employed artist, uncertainty is a language I speak well. Prior to Covid-19 I spent my days in the School of Visual Arts printshop in NYC. From conceptualizing and prototyping new products for my business, Rudin Studios LLC, to fumbling around for an answer to the age-old question of “what to make,” it is clear I was lost in an artistic haze of looking for purpose. Then Coronavirus hit. Instantaneously everything turned upside down. Suddenly, I was in an unfamiliar town, without the ability to work (silkscreen), miles away from the studio I call home. I remained glued to the news awestruck by the infection and mortality rates. I racked my brain for something to do, how to help, what to make.

I became focused on those who were not as privileged as me. Those who were struggling to find housing, to feed themselves, to protect themselves from this deadly virus which was clearly and disproportionately hurting people of color. I began working on a series of paintings to be auctioned off, 100% of the proceeds going to homeless and trafficked youth in NYC. While the fundraiser was a success, I could not help but feel the conceptual aspects of the work were not important, relevant, or impactful. If I learned anything from my education at Parsons School of Design, it is that concept is king. My artwork slowly began to shift towards the idea of documentation. Buzzwords like “historical” and “unprecedented” flew across the airwaves and fueled my desire to capture and document the struggles of 2020. This was just the beginning.

Soon to follow were the atrocious murders of George Floyd, Ahmed Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, which brought racial justice to the forefront of the American conscience. While the President continuously fanned the flames of racism, the cries for equality and allyship were deafening. It was time to allow my artwork to reflect the times and struggles of our country which so deeply affected me and so many others. Black Lives Matter, and it is the white person’s responsibility to be educated allies; to use the privilege we are born into to advocate for our oppressed brothers and sisters. I wanted to help acknowledge, reflect, and correct the institutional racism that is so insidiously intertwined with our institutions and the American way of being.

Concurrently, the 2020 Presidential election was ramping up. Climate change’s incendiary winds pillaged the west. The wearing of masks became a polarizing political tool. And all the while, the current administration refused to acknowledge or accept responsibility for any of it. Rather shifting blame, denying, and lying became the governing practice. The global importance of what was taking place in the United States was apparent. Election 2020 was to be a reckoning. On the docket: racial justice, women’s rights, climate change, science, and healthcare, to name a few. A polarizing choice between Id and empathy.

For the first time in my career, my purpose seemed clear. I began making work that focused on the progression of human rights, equality, and fairness relying on my trusty formula of stylized portraiture and anecdotal commentary. I firmly believe that artists have a social responsibility to reflect the times we live in. The majority of my work has focused on uncovering and expressing truths about what it means to be a woman in 2020. However, one cannot comment on the feminine experience without addressing the current political situation and the oppression experienced by American minorities. While the Trump Administration continued to attack women’s rights, promote violence, ignore climate change, and fan the flames of racism, I relied on my creative voice to talk about the challenges we faced not only as women, but as a nation. That being said, I decided to devote my time to creating a series of posters for the 2020 election to help galvanize the female vote. This included partnering with Women for Biden Harris 2020, Women for the Win, and Article 3 among numerous other female-run organizations.

While the trials and tribulations of 2020 have forever altered the fabric of American reality, so has it altered me. A year such as this begs internal personal reflection if not metamorphosis. To find purpose, love, and empathy through the chaos of hate and violence is the silver-lining we all need. In a time where division is the name of the game, we must transcend the idea of the “other.” As the most recent Covid-19 wave surges across the country, I implore anyone with the creative impulse to say something, to do so. Pick up the pen. Document the times, the thoughts, the fears that come along with living through such tumultuousness. Follow the empathy, the creativity, and the voice inside telling you to advocate for those less fortunate. As Thomas Paine aptly stated, “The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.” If you find yourself in a place of privilege, take it upon yourself to seize the opportunity in front of you. It is not an opportunity for financial incentive or career advancement, but for internal revolution. Soon, life will “go back to normal,” but there’s nothing normal about what we have witnessed. Allow the intensity of experience to alter you. For when the time has come and gone, and you reflect upon 2020, wouldn’t it be nice to say that through all the sadness, grief, and fear a better version of yourself was uncovered?

Trump Tax Findings posted by 360 MAGAZINE and illustrated by Rita Azar.

Trump’s Tax Records Exposed

By Hannah DiPilato

Recently The New York Times got ahold of President Donald J. Trump’s tax information and made the shocking discovery that he has not been paying his fair share of taxes. 

According to The New York Times in 2016 and 2017, Trump only paid $750 in taxes each year. Many working Americans pay much more than this and have an income that is far lower than Trump’s. The Times also reported Trump paid nothing for income takes for 10 of the last 15 years. 

“The Fake News Media, just like Election time 2016, is bringing up my Taxes & all sorts of other nonsense with illegally obtained information & only bad intent,” said Trump in a tweet today, September 28th. “I paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits….. Also, if you look at the extraordinary assets owned by me, which the Fake News hasn’t, I am extremely under leveraged – I have very little debt compared to the value of assets.” 

Although Trump is brushing this off as fake news, the evidence proves otherwise. Trump has hidden these records and sold others to the American people. Although he takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, Trump has claimed losses that gave him millions of dollars in tax refunds. 

This information is being revealed just 37 days before the presidential election where Trump appears to be just behind the democratic candidate Joe Biden. The first presidential debate is also coming up in two days, a debate that may need to question Trump’s behaviors regarding taxes. In the first debate in Cleveland, Ohio on Tuesday, Biden could easily interrogate Trump with these accusations. 

Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization spoke on the findings in a letter. “Most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate,” said Garten and requested to see the documents that the accusations were based on. After seeing the records, Garten said that Trump “has paid tens of millions of dollars of taxes to the federal government.” However, by saying “personal taxes,” it appears that Garten is combining income taxes with various other federal taxes. 

The Twitter account “Team Joe” made a video comparing the tax returns of middle-class workers to those of Trump in 2019. They reported that the typical income tax for elementary school teachers was $7,239, for a firefighter the average was $5,283 and for a nurse it was common to pay $10,216. They then compared this to Donald Trump’s payment of $750.

Trump’s millionaire persona could be all about appearances. He is facing a lengthy audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service because of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed. The IRS is investigating the legitimacy of this claim which he received after declaring major losses. If the IRS finds this claim to be false, Trump could owe over $100 million. 

For example, Trump disclosed in 2018 that he had brought in at least $434.9 million, but his tax records show a loss of $47.4 million. Tax records are not specific enough to investigate all the business expenses that Trump uses to reduce his taxable income. For example, from 2016 to 2017 Trump’s Bedminster golf club in New Jersey showed expenses that increased fivefold. He has even previously boasted that getting away with paying fewer taxes makes him smart. 

The president also brings in a hefty income from overseas in various different countries. In his first two years in office, this revenue added up to $73 million. He paid more to other countries then he did to The United States, by thousands. 

Trump’s tax records can be compared to President Richard M. Nixon’s tax bill that showed in 1970 he paid $792.81 of taxes when his income was around $200,000. When this information was revealed there was an uproar from the American people and resulted in the decision that presidents and presidential candidates should allow their tax records to be shared. In 2014, Trump even agreed to this saying, “I would love the do that,” referring to revealing his tax records if he ran for office. Then when he ran, Trump mocked this idea and said he would make the records public if Hillary Clinton made her deleted emails public and if Barack Obama showed his birth certificate. 

This information could greatly impact the election coming up in November. Depending on how people that planned to vote for Trump take these findings into consideration. Biden has been previously leading the polls, so it will be interesting to see how things will play out in both the upcoming debates and the election.

Presidents Illustration for 360 Magazine by Maria Soloman

Biden’s Fight to Lead

By Hannah DiPilato

Joe Biden is leading in the polls against Donald Trump for the upcoming presidential election. 

Although Hillary Clinton was also in the lead for most of her 2016 campaign and even won the popular vote, she lost due to the electoral college. As of now, Biden is not only leading the popular vote, but there is also evidence that he is ahead when it comes to the electoral vote.

Swing states are critical in deciding the fate of the election. According to a recent poll tracker, Ohio and Iowa, both swing states, are leaning more towards Trump. However, swing states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Arizona and Wisconsin are showing Biden in the lead. 

Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Nevada will be vital for Trump in the upcoming election. Currently, however, the polls are showing that Biden is ahead. Nevada has swung more democratic in recent years, as their demographic of voters has changed from Caucasian voters that leaned right to a larger proportion of working-class minorities. Wisconsin has historically voted democratic from 1988 to 2012, and Trump only had the lead by a small percentage in 2016. Minnesota also generally votes democrat, but Trump believes he could be successful by campaigning to voters in rural areas. What will be necessary for Biden to see victory are securing the few states that Hillary Clinton wasn’t able to obtain – currently he leads in those crucial states. 

Even with his current lead, the fight is not over for Biden. In a Mammoth University poll, Biden was leading in Pennsylvania by thirteen percent in July, but this number had already shrunk to four percent by late August. Earlier in the year, with more media coverage on the Black Lives Matter movement, many democratic activists made sure to stress the importance of voting among younger generations which was helping Biden with votes. Now that the media coverage of the movement has become less prominent, this could explain the change in percentages from July to August. 

Although certain surveys are showing Biden in the lead, the race is still close. According to U.S. News, this is usually how the election plays out. Guy Cecil, chair of the Democratic SuperPAC Priorities USA said to reporters during a conference call that the United States is “still dealing fundamentally and structurally, with a very close election.” The electoral college votes could swing either way, meaning nothing is ever certain in an election. 

The most important thing to recognize is that these polls can never be fully accurate and can lean one way or another based on who is participating. Depending on the demographics of the people surveyed, along with who chooses to respond at all, these polls are only an estimate. 

After the recent and unfortunate death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, many younger generations have been pushing strongly that everyone needs to vote. The death of Ginsburg could allow Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to select another supreme court justice making the supreme court lean more towards the right. However, in Obama’s last year of office McConnell led a blockade against Obama’s ability to nominate another justice with so little time left as president. Biden commented on this issue and said, “Let me be clear: The voters should pick a President, and that President should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg.” The death of Ginsburg so close to November could end up swinging the votes significantly in the upcoming election. However, just like the polls, it all depends on who chooses to participate. 

politics, podium, flag, speech

Trump Rally Fails

By Eamonn Burke

Despite the continually grim forecasts of COVID-19, which is spiking in almost half of the states in the country right now, and the many warnings of experts, President Trump carried through with his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma yesterday.

The rally, originally scheduled for Juneteenth but pushed ahead so as to not disrespect the holiday, was one of the first large gatherings planned since the coronavirus outbreak began. The participants were not required to wear a mask or social distance, but they were required to sign a liability form agreeing not to sue the President’s campaign if they did contract the virus.

The rally turned out to be a failure, and Trump was not happy. It was claimed that almost one million people had bought tickets, and yet just under 6,200 people actually showed. This ruined Trump’s image of sold out arenas and hoards of crowds, and Trump responded by allegedly lashing out at aides, giving a poor speech, and of course, taking to Twitter trying to change the subject. Trump also attempted to blame protestors outside of the rally who wouldn’t let audience members in.

Reason for a mild turnout is largely believed to be the very real fears of the coronavirus, which Trump has been downplaying and even, in the case of this rally, acting against. However, there is also a more exciting story behind the empty seats: the viral social media platform Tik-Tok became the base for an organized effort to upend the rally, by spreading the message to purchase tickets without going to the event. Fans of Korean Pop, or K-Pop, also joined together under this effort. Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale dismissed the teens as “Leftists and online trolls doing a victory lap’” but it cannot be denied that this had an effect on the outcome of the rally.

Trump plans to hold another rally soon, but it is yet to be known whether or not he will comply with the safety measures necessary or just ignore them again.

Ivory Rowen, illustration, 360 MAGAZINE

The Royal Portfolio

The Royal Portfolio collection in South Africa has announced a new program offering travelers ‘bonds’ (vouchers) for future stays at its four luxurious properties across the country. As part of the hotel group’s commitment to the local and greater community, each voucher will include a donation to The Royal Portfolio Foundation, funding counter-poaching initiatives and food donations to vulnerable communities. The hotel group, which includes Royal Malewane, Birkenhead House, The Silo and La Residence, is debuting this program as a response to the enormous challenges COVID-19 has presented around the world.

Communities involved in The Royal Portfolio Foundation

“The impact on communities, conservation, and the economy in South Africa is devastating,” says The Royal Portfolio Founder and Owner, Liz Biden. “Even though our hotels remain closed, we are committed to critical conservation and community work through The Royal Portfolio Foundation.” In addition to the donation, the voucher includes an added value of 25%. Travelers purchase a voucher of approximately US$525, including an added gift of US$135; The Royal Portfolio will donate the equivalent of US$135 to the foundation’s community and conservation efforts for each voucher purchased.

“Through these challenging times, we are doing what we can to adapt, and we hope that these bonds will inspire you to keep dreaming of your next trip to South Africa,” says Biden. “We cannot wait to welcome our wonderful guests back to our beautiful hotels and lodges just as soon as it is safe and responsible to do so.” Bonds are available to purchase until the end of July 2020. To learn more, visit: https://www.theroyalportfolio.com/bonds/

Please note that the US Dollar amount is based on the current exchange rate for the South African Rand, and may therefore fluctuate.

About the Royal Portfolio

The Royal Portfolio is a collection of iconic hotels and private residences in South Africa owned and run by the Biden family. The Royal Portfolio includes Royal Malewane in Greater Kruger National Park, Birkenhead House in Hermanus, La Residence in Franschhoek, The Silo in Cape Town, and a collection of private residences that includes The One Above penthouse.