Over 58.6 million ballots already cast


With nine days before the US Election, more people already have cast ballots in this year’s presidential election than voted early or absentee in the 2016 race as the start of in-person early voting in big states led to a surge in turnout in recent days.

The opening of early voting locations in Florida, Texas and elsewhere has piled millions of new votes on top of the mail ballots arriving at election offices as voters try to avoid crowded places on November 3 during the coronavirus pandemic.

The result is a total of 58.6 million ballots cast so far, more than the 58 million that The Associated Press logged as being cast through the mail or at in-person early voting sites in 2016.

Voters line up in front of the Yonkers Public Library in Yonkers, as the first day of early voting in the presidential election begins across New York state. (AP)

Democrats have continued to dominate the initial balloting, but Republicans are narrowing the gap. GOP voters have begun to show up as early in-person voting, a sign that many heeded President Donald Trump’s unfounded warnings about mail-voting fraud.

On October 15, Democrats registrants cast 51 per cent of all ballots reported, compared with 25 per cent from Republicans. On Sunday, Democrats had a slightly smaller lead, 51 per cent to 31 per cent.

There has been a huge turnout of early voters due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There has been a huge turnout of early voters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP)

The early vote totals, reported by state and local election officials and tracked by the AP, are an imperfect indicator of which party may be leading. The data only shows party registration, not which candidate voters support. Most GOP voters are expected to vote on Election Day.

Analysts said the still sizable Democratic turnout puts extra pressure on the Republican Party to push its voters out in the final week and, especially, on November 3.

That’s especially clear in closely-contested states such as Florida, Nevada and North Carolina.



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PLDT, Smart select Nokia’s WING for breakthrough IoT services


First IoT offer for enterprises in the Philippines

PLDT Inc., through PLDT Enterprise and its Wireless arm Smart Communications. Inc., is in an advanced stage of discussion with long-time partner Nokia to provide next-generation Internet of Things (IoT) services for its customers. Together, Smart and Nokia intend to build the “Smart IoT Platform” – the first of its kind for enterprises in the Philippines. This platform aims to help businesses easily deploy IoT services and solutions to manage their connected devices for growth opportunities in the future.

“IoT is a technological revolution with immense potential in improving the way we do things, and we are finalizing a partnership with Nokia to fortify our initiatives in this space. With Smart’s proven robust network and Nokia’s Global IoT ecosystem, this strategic partnership aims to simplify IoT deployment at scale,” said Jovy Hernandez, ePLDT President & CEO and SVP & Head for PLDT and Smart Enterprise Business Groups. “Our aim is to further complement PLDT Enterprise’s already extensive solutions portfolio with the launch of this platform.”

With its newfound capability, PLDT Enterprise intends to scale its current LTE based IoT offerings. This platform will also enable their customers, to explore and deploy 5G based IoT solutions, on Smart’s 5G network — which is on a virtualized core network, and deployed on a software-defined transport network, launched earlier this year. This IoT initiative is part of PLDT’s strategy in building a complete 5G ecosystem.

This enables PLDT to deliver the next-generation digital services like Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) enhancing the IoT solutions, at a faster and more cost-effective manner. Now, with the platform being available for 5G IoT use cases, customers can opt for different combinations of ultra-low latency, high security, and enhanced throughput based services—fortifying the group’s commitment to provide critical public services, real-time industrial monitoring, and control, as well as remote healthcare.

Given this, the group aims for the public sector, as well as the transport & logistics, manufacturing, utilities, and retail industries to be among principal beneficiaries of the platform. These IoT solutions will be fully ready by 2021 but PLDT is already in discussions with enterprise clients that intend to utilize IoT technology for their operations.

The platform is set to be powered by Nokia’s Worldwide IoT Network Grid (WING). This simplifies the expansion of current LTE based IoT to 5G based IoT solutions, providing mission-critical services. The 5G ultra-low latency services are enabled by separating and extending the user plane functions (UPF) to the far network edge or enterprise premises. Such capability, of Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) technology, provides the support for real-time, compute-intensive IoT services, such as AR/VR based maintenance.

Further, the PLDT Group’s roll-out of 5G SA (Standalone) will enable their customers to leverage WING’s cloud-native architecture—effectively laying the groundwork for network slicing and providing them with more comprehensive 5G based IoT use cases.

“I look forward to seeing our Enterprise customers, utilizing this platform, to expand their deployment of IoT solutions and services, easily, on our LTE and 5G networks,” said Joachim Horn, PLDT Group Chief Technology Advisor. “This will also be a catalyst for the Philippines manufacturing industry, to embrace IR4.0.”

PLDT Enterprise and Nokia executives will introduce the Smart IoT Platform in time for the PLDT group’s upcoming Philippine Digital Convention (PH Digicon) 2020 on October 28-30, the first all-virtual event featuring key technology industry leaders with more than 10,000 expected global attendees.

“We recognize the great value potential of IoT. In 2025, the projected value creation potential is at US$3.7 Tn/year for factories, US$1.7 Tn/year for smart cities, and US$1.6 Tn/year for humans. With Nokia WING, we will continue to drive the adoption of next-generation technologies, providing our customers with not only connectivity but solutions to maximize their IoT potential,” said Andrew Cope, Country Manager for Nokia Philippines.

PH Digicon 2020 will introduce the latest industry 5.0 solutions to delegates and customers. The Industry 5.0 Breakout Session will cover enterprises’ need for a seamless, automated and zero-touch client experience. It will also tackle the co-existence of man and machine, and how this collaboration affects the ever-evolving digital world.

For more information, visit pldtenterprise.com.










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Kamala Harris Lies 4 Times About Trump and Racism on ’60 Minutes’



CLAIM: President Donald Trump is a racist, as shown by Birtherism; Charlottesville; “Mexicans”; and the “Muslim ban.”

VERDICT: FALSE. None of these examples is valid. All of them involve outright lies or significant omissions of context.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), the Democratic Party nominee for vice president, told 60 Minutes on Sunday evening that she believed that President Trump is a racist, and cited the four reasons above.

From the CBS News transcript of the interview:

Norah O’Donnell: On the campaign trail, President Trump has attacked you frequently. He’s called you a monster. He’s said you’re nasty and it would be an insult to our country if you became the first female president. Do you see this as just the rough and tumble of politics, or do you view those attacks against you as racist?

Senator Kamala Harris: Well, this is not the first time in my life I’ve been called names and it– you know, it was predictable, sadly.

Norah O’Donnell: Do you think the president is racist?

Senator Kamala Harris: Yes, I do. (LAUGH) Yeah. I do. You can look at a pattern that goes back to him questioning the identity of the first Black president of the United States. You can look at Charlottesville, when there were peaceful protesters, And on the other side, Neo-Nazis  and he talks about fine people on either side.  Calling Mexicans rapists and criminals. His first order of business was to institute a Muslim ban. It all speaks for itself.

All of these examples are invalid, as Breitbart News has shown countless times — most recently in a fact check of Harris’s speech last week in Atlanta:

(1) [Birtherism] Trump questioned Obama’s eligibility to be president. He did the same with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who was born in Canada (and later produced evidence of his mother’s U.S. birth). Trump applies the same standard to everyone. (Proof.)

(2) [Charlottesville] Trump never said the neo-Nazis were “fine people.” In fact, he said they should be “condemned totally.” Harris knows that she is lying, because Vice President Mike Pence told her the truth to her face at their debate earlier this month. (Proof.)

(3) [“Mexicans”] Trump did not refer to Mexicans as rapists and criminals. He was referring to people who entered the U.S. illegally, making clear that he was not even talking about all illegal immigrants: “And some, I assume, are good people.” (Proof.)

(4) [“Muslim ban”] Trump never imposed a “Muslim ban.” He restricted travel from terror-prone countries identified under Obama. Most Muslim states were unaffected, and the ban was upheld at the Supreme Court. Non-Muslim countries are on the list. (Proof.)

During the Democratic presidential primary, Harris attacked former Vice President Joe Biden for his past racial insensitivity. 60 Minutes did not ask her about Biden’s statements on race.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.





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Early count has Chileans backing a new constitution


The country’s conservative government agreed with the center-left opposition to allow the plebiscite after vast street protests erupted a year ago with a hike in transport fares but culminated in frustration over inequality in pensions, education and healthcare in what has long been one of South America’s most developed nations.

Demonstrators burn a doll depicting General Augusto Pinochet on a horse, on the day of the referendum.Credit:AP

Recent polls indicated heavy backing for a new constitution despite opposition from conservative groups, and centre-right Piñera said after voting that he assumed the measure would be approved.

“I believe the immense majority of Chileans want to change, modify our constitution,” he said.

A special convention would then begin drafting a new constitution to be submitted to voters in mid-2022.

The current constitution was drafted by the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, and was sent to voters at a time when political parties had been banned and the country was subject to heavy censorship.

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It was approved by 66 per cent of voters in a 1980 plebiscite, but critics say many voters were cowed into acceptance by a regime that had arrested, tortured and killed thousands of suspected leftist opponents following the overthrow of an elected socialist government.

“I think that many people went to vote out of fear,” said political scientist Claudio Fuentes, who wrote a book about that plebiscite titled, The Fraud.

“The current constitution has a flaw of origin, which is that it was created during the military dictatorship in an undemocratic process,” said Monica Salinero, a 40-year-old sociologist who supports drafting a new charter.

The free-market principles embodied in that document led to a booming economy that continued after the return to democracy in 1990, but not all Chileans shared.

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A minority was able to take advantage of good, privatised education, health and social security services, while others were forced to rely on sometimes meagre public alternatives. Public pensions for the poorest are just over $US200 ($280) a month, roughly half the minimum wage.

Luisa Fuentes Rivera, a 59-year-old food vendor, hoped that “with a new constitution we will have better work, health, pensions and a better quality of life for older people, and a better education.”

But historian Felipe Navarrete warned, “It’s important to say that the constitution won’t resolve the concrete problems. It will determine which state we want to solve the problems.”

Claudia Heiss, head of the political science department at the University of Chile, said it would send a signal about people’s desires for change, and for a sort of politics that would “allow greater inclusion of sectors that have been marginalised from politics.”

Conservative groups fear the revamp could go too far, and endanger parts of the constitution that have helped the country prosper.

Electoral officers tally votes in Santiago during Sunday's constitutional referendum.

Electoral officers tally votes in Santiago during Sunday’s constitutional referendum.Credit:Getty Images

“The people have demonstrated saying they want better pensions, better health, better education, and the response of the political class” is a process that won’t solve the problems and will open a period of uncertainty,” said Felipe Lyon, 28-year-old lawyer and spokesman for the group “No, Thanks” that opposes the change.

The decision to allow the vote came after hundreds of thousands of Chileans repeatedly took to the streets in protests that often turned violent.

The vote was initially scheduled for April, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has killed some 13,800 Chileans. More than 500,000 people, or one in four Chileans, have been infected by the new coronavirus.

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Officials trying to ensure voters felt safe barred infected persons or those close to them from the polls, and long lines formed at voting places. Voters had to wear masks — dipping them only briefly for identification purposes — and brought their own pencils.

The manner of drafting a new constitution was also on the ballot. Voters were choosing between a body of 155 citizens who would be elected just for that purpose in April, or a somewhat larger convention split equally between elected delegates and members of Congress.

AP, Reuters

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Patrick Dangerfield shrugs off Nick Vlastuin incident after Geelong Cats’ loss to Richmond Tigers


“It was the view of the MRO that Dangerfield’s actions were not unreasonable in the circumstances. No further action was taken.”

As he celebrated with teammates at the club’s Gold Coast hub on Sunday, Vlastuin said it was “just one of those contests” where he found himself in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

“I was just going for the ball and I think Dangerfield was too. It’s just one of those contests,” Vlastuin said.

He said anyone who thought Dangerfield’s action was intentional were off the mark and he bore no ill will towards the Cat.

“The contest happened that quickly, you can’t do anything like that [deliberately]. It is just one of those things in footy.”

On Saturday night, Dangerfield said he was not concerned about potential ramifications from the match review officer after the incident, which occurred in his first grand final appearance.

Dangerfield’s forearm connected with Vlastuin’s head as the Cat tapped a loose ball towards teammates as the Tiger defender courageously bore down on him.

Although the contact was high, Dangerfield said it was not intentional and occurred in the play.

“I didn’t think there was much in it,” Dangerfield said.

“I was trying to tap the ball away. There were three Richmond players coming towards me. Had it been something, there would have been repercussions on the field.

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“For everyone it is just play on. It is a contact sport.”

Having had little influence in his first grand final with 12 touches and a goal, a disappointed Dangerfield said the club would remain united in defeat and come back ready to have another crack at the premiership in 2021.

“We’re down not out, we’ll regroup,” Dangerfield said.

“We’re bitterly disappointed but we had a great run.”

He said he was happy to play forward when Richmond’s midfield began to get on top as the Cats decided his presence inside 50 was important to help them score and get back into the game.

Geelong coach Chris Scott said the decision on where to deploy the champion was always difficult and sometimes the result skewed the reaction to whatever decision was made.

Skipper Joel Selwood said the club had taken a step forward in 2020 but it was “shattering” to lose any grand final.

He admitted that maybe it was impossible to stop Tigers’ champion Dustin Martin when he was in a grand final mood.

“He was finding the ball in a phone box at times. We had a plan for him. We had a couple of different plans for him. He’s a good player. He’s a hell of a player,” Selwood said.

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Richmond president wants decider to be played during day


“It is canvassed around and brought up for comment [by the AFL with presidents] but I don’t think there’s an actual vote that happens.

“This was a sample of what it might look like and I guess we are better informed when we comment next.”

O’Neal said the nighttime kick off isn’t family friendly.

“Night games, generally, like Friday night evening games, children tend not to come in the same sort of numbers and we have to be mindful of the next generation,” she said.

“I also think that, having been fortunate enough to win a couple of grand finals … after the game is over it is really time to let players celebrate with their fans and families.

“The next day … there is some family event back at the club and so you think ‘well if it’s going on until two in the morning and that’s just families and they have to turn around and come the next day [that’s too late].’

“I think we have to think about what happens after the grand final and make sure that isn’t lost along the way.”

AFL legend Leigh Matthews is also in favour of a day grand final, while Cotchin on Sunday said the game should stay in the day.

“I love the day game,” Cotchin said.

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“It’s what I grew up with during the day playing footy and there is nothing better than a red Sherrin at the MCG – or at the Gabba, it’s a special place too – on a Saturday afternoon.”

But Channel Seven Melbourne managing director Lewis Martin also said on Sunday the game should be played in front of the biggest television audience.

“More people are available to watch at night. My view is that it is really important to showcase the biggest event to where the audience is most available. If you’re going to show off, show off where most people can see you.”

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Melbourne Storm’s Ryan Papenhuyzen says emotional letter from Billy Slater inspired his heroics against Penrith Panthers


Papenhuyzen was considered Melbourne’s third choice No.1 behind Jahrome Hughes and Scott Drinkwater after Slater retired.

“He doesn’t hold anything back, he’s an open book,” Papenhuyzen said of Slater. “I spoke to him a few times before this game and he’s been really good.

‘It’s a pinch-yourself moment to think Billy Slater is writing you a letter to wish you good luck for a grand final. It’s pretty amazing.’

Ryan Papenhuyzen

“He typed up a message I got to read [on Saturday]. It’s a pinch-yourself moment to think Billy Slater is writing you a letter to wish you good luck for a grand final. It’s pretty amazing.

“He said I remembered a couple of conversations we had, like me going up to Bill when I was a third stringer and asking him what I had to do to make the team. He said he reflected on that and said I was going to be good from that day.

“I didn’t know it at the time he was thinking about that, but to hear it from him was really special.”

Papenhuyzen scored a brilliant solo try early in the second half to help the Storm surge to a 26-point lead, a pivotal play given the Panthers responded with 20 unanswered points against Craig Bellamy’s side, which finished with only 11 players on the field.

Clive Churchill Medallist Ryan Papenhuyzen.Credit:Getty

Brad Fittler gave Papenhuyzen extra cause for celebration when he included the Wests Tigers junior in NSW’s 27-man squad for the State of Origin series.

The letters were used by Bellamy as an extra source of motivation given the club was prevented from having special guests present the players with their jerseys due to the NRL’s strict biosecurity protocols.

The Storm arrived back on their chartered flight to the Sunshine Coast at 5am on Monday.

Dale Finucane, who was one of the Melbourne players included in the Blues squad, said he asked his cousin Michael to write his letter.

Ryan Papenhuyzen streaks away to score his second half try.

Ryan Papenhuyzen streaks away to score his second half try.Credit:NRL Photos

“By the time we had captain’s run [on Saturday], went back and had lunch and came down to Sydney it would have just been too hectic and too busy a time if we presented each other jerseys and said something special,” Finucane said.

“I think it could have mentally drained people so it was a great idea to have someone special and close to us write a letter to us. It was probably better from a timing point of view.

“There was a fair bit of emotion [when the letters were read]. My letter was a good mix of emotion and fun. There were some emotional guys there and I’ve been involved in a number of grand finals and we’ve always done something special in terms of the presentation of the jersey.

“It’s always an emotional time.”

Fittler will weigh up the fitness of Australian and NSW fullback James Tedesco, who suffered a knee injury in the Roosters’ semi-final loss to the Raiders a fortnight ago.

Papenhuyzen and Clint Gutherson loom as options for Fittler if Tedesco is not available for the Origin series opener in Adelaide on Wednesday week.

Papenhuyzen said he thought Cameron Smith would win the Clive Churchill Medal, and even conceded his opinion of the 37-year-old has completely changed since joining the Storm having grown up a Blues fan.

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Sportsbet paid out more than $5 million to punters who had backed Smith to win the Clive Churchill Medal before the match had finished.

“You always heard Slater, [Cooper] Cronk and Smith were grubs,” Papenhuyzen joked.

“I remember thinking it and then coming down to Melbourne, [Smith] is like a father figure. I’ve seen it, my family has seen it, everyone has seen it.

“I don’t think he deserves a lot of the stuff he cops in the media. He’s great and wants to make everyone better. He’s the greatest player for a reason.”

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the election outcome that could shake markets


There is, of course, the potential outcome where Biden wins the presidency but the Republicans retain control of the Senate, which would probably mean a smaller fiscal response to the pandemic and a less urgent approach to implementing the very ambitious Democrat policies on the environment and climate change.

Lurking as a highly disruptive outlier is one where there is no clear-cut outcome, with the Republicans challenging the outcome in the courts and/or some state legislatures controlled by Republicans over-riding the voters to nominate their own slate of the electors who decide the presidency.

That would exacerbate the already considerable potential for widespread civil unrest in the event of a close result for either party and probably generate turmoil within markets.

Given the gulf in the policy approaches of the parties, the temperaments of the two candidates for the presidency, the risk of a contested outcome and associated civil unrest and the worsening statistics of the pandemic in the US one might expect markets to be nervous and volatile. They’re not, at least yet.

While the US stock market is about 3 per cent off its highs a month ago, it is still up about 55 per cent since its March lows and, despite the pandemic-driven recession, more than 7 per cent higher than at the start of the year.

Interestingly, bond yields – which, after some turbulence in March during the initial recognition of the severity of the virus had been quite stable after the Federal Reserve Board cut interest rates and re-started bond and mortgage buying among other measures – have been edging up recently.

That’s being attributed to the prospect of a Biden win and the possibility that the Democrats will control both chambers of Congress. Short term rates have risen only a couple of points but 10-year bond rates are more than 30 basis points higher than they were in mid-year.

That steepening of the yield curve relates to an expectation that the Democrats would quickly effect a $US2 trillion-plus relief package in response to the pandemic and, later in the terms, start implementing their multi-trillion-dollar plans to respond to climate change and create health and welfare safety nets.

Spending of that magnitude would greatly increase US debt and deficits but would turbocharge US economic growth and provide the kind of large-scale stimulus that the Fed has said is necessary to respond to the economic impacts of the pandemic.

It would make it more likely that US inflation, stubbornly low since the financial crisis, might finally be rekindled and, in the longer term, allow a normalisation of the US rate structure.

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In the near term the big increases in debt and deficits and in the issuance of debt would probably weigh on the US dollar, which has fallen nearly 10 per cent against America’s major trading partners’ currencies since March.

The dysfunctional and contentious response to the pandemic, the civil disturbances, the dive in US economic growth and the imminence of the election are probably the main influences on the currency.

Some analysts, however, see the depreciation as reflecting the decline in America’s standing and trustworthiness during the Trump presidency, where policymaking has been erratic, historic relationships and policies discarded and the dollar’s reserve currency status wielded like a club to enforce the administration’s foreign policy goals.

The stock market broadly likes both the key Democratic spending programs – apart from fossil fuel-exposed companies and pharmaceutical firms the spending and lift in GDP would be good for the market – but isn’t as keen on the promise to undo Trump’s corporate tax cuts and to lift taxes on the wealthy.

If the Democrats win both houses and are able to pursue their agenda, 2021 would see a sharp uplift in economic growth and overall corporate profitability before the increase in the corporate tax rate from 21 per cent to 28 per cent, with a 15 per cent minimum tax, impacted earnings in 2022.

A proposed end to some tax breaks and the taxing of capital gains for the wealthy could also have significant implications for the sharemarket if the “one percenters” decided to cash out their gains while they could.

The damage the Trump administration has done to international relations is probably irrevocable. America’s allies no longer trust it or its commitment to the multilateral agreements and institutions it played such a major role in establishing in the post-war era.

A Biden administration would probably re-commit to the World Trade Organisation, the World Health Organisation, UNESCO and the Paris accord.

It would also try to re-establish America’s pre-Trump relationships with its allies. Its trade policies, other than those directed towards China, would be less aggressive and overtly protectionist.

The Democrats know Trump’s tariff wars have damaged America as much, and arguably more, than those they were directed at but the Biden platform has, nevertheless, a heavy “America First” tinge to it.

If Trump were to win a second term, of course, Americans, and the rest of the world, would get an even bigger dose of Trumpism, unrestrained by any concerns about re-election.Credit:

There are economic incentives and subsidies for US manufacturers, a ban on foreign companies for government procurements and specific funding for the reshoring of supply chains for the sectors exposed by the pandemic as critical to national interest.

Those policies couldn’t, of course, be reconciled with membership of a pre-Trump WTO. Biden might believe broadly in free trade and globalisation and trade and security alliances but the Democrats’ platform reflects the broader shift in sentiment in the US towards protectionism and economic nationalism.

The Democrats are no friendlier towards China and its economic aspirations than the Republicans and are likely to be more aggressive towards China – and other countries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey – in response to non-economic issues.

A Biden administration might be less dysfunctional and erratic than its Trump-dominated and tweet-driven counterpart – it might appear more conventional, predictable and professional – but the past four years have changed America, its own convictions and sense of its role in the world and its relationships with the rest of the world in ways that are unlikely to be reversed.

If Trump were to win a second term, of course, Americans, and the rest of the world, would get an even bigger dose of Trumpism, unrestrained by any concerns about re-election.

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The Green wave that swept the 2020 A.C.T. Election


In a result almost none saw coming, the A.C.T. Greens have tripled their seat count in the A.C.T. Legislative Assembly following the Election on 17 October.

Going from two seats to six, stealing two seats each from A.C.T. Labor and the Canberra Liberals in the process.

From an Assembly comprised of 12 Labor, 11 Liberals and two Greens last term, after the count was finalised on Friday night, 23 October, the result is Labor: ten, Liberals: nine and Greens: six.

Many people had expected Labor to be returned to government this election, especially with the effect of the pandemic incumbency factor. What was not so predictable was the swings against both Labor and especially the Liberals in the process.

Whilst the Liberals on the final count had a Territory-wide swing of -2.9% against them to Labor’s Territory-wide swing against them of only -0.6%, it is the massive individual swings in Brindabella and Yerrabi of -7.1% and -9.8% respectively against Labor that cost the party the most.

The swings against the Liberals ranged from -3.4% against them to -7.2% against in the various seats and overall added up to a much larger loss of votes Canberra-wide. The saving grace for the Liberals is the result of nine seats in total — up from eight during most of the count progress.

The one party that is, of course, overjoyed with the vote is the A.C.T. Greens.

This election, the Greens picked up the second and fourth seats in order in the very Left-leaning city electorate of Kurrajong, along with the fourth seat in order in Murrumbidgee and Ginninderra, in addition to also taking the fifth seat (out of five) in Brindabella and Yerrabi as well.

Clearly any party which manages to increase its representation by 300% in a single election has done an excellent job, appealing to the voters not only as a party but as credible individual candidates as well.

Newly elected MLA Johnathan Davis, who was in a very tight race for Brindabella but emerged the victor at the final count, had this to say on behalf of the Greens:

“The A.C.T. Greens are so grateful for the support we’ve received from Conder to Kippax, from Forde to Fraser. Every single Canberran is now represented by the Greens. We commit to working hard and honouring the support offered to us. Together, we’ll work every single day to build a better normal.”

This is not the first time the Greens have reached this vote level in the A.C.T., however. In the 2008 Election, under the then smaller 17-seat Assembly, they reached a similar vote total and four members from the Greens were elected.

At the time, the party could not seem to retain that level of support, losing three-quarters of those seats at the 2012 Election, with only leader Shane Rattenbury re-elected that time. In 2016, when the Assembly expanded to 25 seats, the Greens managed to elect two members in total.

One million trees — a bold vision for Canberra

The challenge for the Greens this time around is to demonstrate to Canberra that they can play a productive and positive role in government with Labor and retain or even grow this new voter base before the 2024 Election, lest history ends up repeating itself.

Having served in a coalition government with Labor the past two terms, it is fairly likely they will do so again, this time with Labor being in minority government once more with only ten seats out of 13 needed for a majority.

Whether this would take the form of all six Greens members sitting in government for a coalition of 15 seats, or whether some of the Greens will sit on the crossbench and some in government is a question currently being fiercely negotiated by the two parties.

There is also the possibility the Greens could sit entirely on the crossbench, forcing Labor to govern as a minority government of ten against an Opposition with nine seats. This is considered the less likely outcome but should not be dismissed entirely as an option either.

The challenge for Labor now is to show that it is not just a lapdog of the Greens during this next term, while still working with them to implement both their party’s agenda for Canberra. It will be a tricky balancing act for both.

The Liberals campaign in this election was disjointed and narrowly focused on a cost of living message about rates charges and punctuated by gimmicky stunts along the way. It’s a message that clearly turned off some previous Liberal voters.

A.C.T. Government announces intent for permanent pill testing site

Labor ran a fairly boring, lower-profile campaign focused mainly on outstanding voter issues and combating the loss of any Left-leaning votes to the Greens, making some key policy announcements with the Greens just prior to the campaign commencement on issues like pill testing.

The Greens ran a solid issues-based campaign but seemed to fly under the radar to an extent, foregoing roadside signs entirely for the first time in an A.C.T. election. With a much smaller budget to work with than the two major parties, the Greens’ focus was heavily on social media.

While Labor did reasonably well in retaining government, it was instead the Greens’ message which most struck a chord with a particular key segment of voters across the entire Territory this time.

The Greens, as a result, are in an extraordinarily strong position now for the next four years, whether they join Labor in government or sit on the crossbench, or a combination of both.

They hold a significant amount of the cards in this equation. They could even choose to form government with the Liberals, were it not for the fact that Rattenbury ruled this out specifically during the campaign.

A question remaining is will the Liberals ditch Alistair Coe as leader and seek a more moderate path forward this term, or will they consign themselves to irrelevance by digging in even further despite the result due to sheer stubbornness of ideology?

This A.C.T. Assembly is going to be quite interesting to watch. Like cannabis legalisation and the planned pill testing facility, we will likely see some new bold legislative positions taken thanks to the Greens’ influence, as the A.C.T. continues to set an example for other jurisdictions in Australia.

The Australian Greens will certainly be examining in detail how the local party pulled it off to see how they might replicate this result in other parts of the country. For now, the A.C.T. is once more the greenest jurisdiction in Australia.

You can follow Chris Mordd Richards on Twitter @Mordd_IndyMedia.

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Gap considers store closures placing thousands of jobs at risk


Hundreds of Gap stores could close across Europe after the American fashion retailer said that it was considering changes to its business model outside the United States.

Shares in the San Francisco-based company jumped last night after it said that options under consideration included the possible closure of outlets in Britain, France, Ireland and Italy by mid-2021. That could put up to 3,000 UK jobs at risk.

Gap, which had 129 Gap-branded stores in Europe at the end of July, wants to focus on its domestic American business. The group is looking to operate more through franchises in Europe in the future.

“Franchisees already operate in 35 countries through 400 stores and we believe there is significant room to expand our franchise footprint,” Katrina O’Connell, Gap’s chief financial officer, said yesterday at a virtual investor event.

The move comes as Gap struggles with out-of-fashion styles and intense competition from rivals including Zara, part of the Spanish Inditex group, and H&M, of Sweden. The pandemic has compounded its troubles by delivering a severe hit to its store sales worldwide.

Gap also said yesterday that it was reviewing its warehouse and distribution model and its Gap and Banana Republic-owned ecommerce operations in Europe. Earlier in the year Gap said that it planned to close more than 225 unprofitable Gap and Banana Republic stores globally.

Gap was founded in 1969 by Donald and Doris Fisher in San Francisco. The company now has more than 3,800 stores worldwide, under brands also including Old Navy and Athleta and featuring 611 Gap outlets in the US.





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