Tom Cotton Stands up Against Electoral College Challengers: Would ‘Establish Unwise Precedents’

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) became the first Republican senator on Sunday night who is actually a supporter of President Donald Trump’s agenda to oppose a challenge of the electoral college, issuing a statement saying he is concerned it would create dangerous precedents that Democrats would all but certainly use in the future to undermine election integrity.

Cotton’s statement comes after a dozen Republican senators last week, beginning with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and continuing this weekend with a group led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), joined what is expected to be more than a hundred House Republicans in challenging the certification of the electoral college before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

It is worth noting that Cotton, in his statement, said he agrees that there are concerns about the election irregularities and that he backs a commission to study this and propose reforms.

“I share the concerns of many Arkansans about irregularities in the presidential election, especially in states that rushed through election-law changes to relax standards for voting-by-mail,” Cotton said. “I also share their disappointment with the election results. I, therefore, support a commission to study the last election and propose reforms to protect the integrity of our elections. And after Republicans win in Georgia, the Senate should also hold more hearings on these matters. All Americans deserve to have confidence in the elections that undergird our free government.”

Vice President Mike Pence, who said through a spokesman he welcomes the challenges, will oversee the joint session of Congress at which this challenge will take place. The challenges will ultimately fail because after House members object to the certification of a state’s slated electors then senators uphold the challenge, the two chambers of Congress retreat and debate and then vote on the challenges. Democrats control the House majority, and even though their majority is slimmer than before November’s elections, it is impossible to see any Democrats breaking ranks — never mind enough to sustain a challenge. Meanwhile, in the Senate, there were already — before Cotton’s statement — more than enough Republicans opposed to the challenges to stop a majority in the GOP-controlled Senate from succeeding. Therefore, the vote is simply symbolic and will not result in the electoral college’s votes to make Democrat Joe Biden the president-elect being overturned or in doubt.

Cotton’s statement continues by explaining that he believes this challenge by Congress to the electoral college is a perversion of the Founders’ intent to have the states run elections, not Congress.

“Nevertheless, the Founders entrusted our elections chiefly to the states — not Congress. They entrusted the election of our president to the people, acting through the Electoral College — not Congress,” Cotton said. “And they entrusted the adjudication of election disputes to the courts — not Congress. Under the Constitution and federal law, Congress’s power is limited to counting electoral votes submitted by the states.”

As such, Cotton said, he believes this could create dangerous precedents that Democrats would all but certainly abuse in the future when it benefitted them politically.

“If Congress purported to overturn the results of the Electoral College, it would not only exceed that power but also establish unwise precedents,” Cotton said. “First, Congress would take away the power to choose the president from the people, which would essentially end presidential elections and place that power in the hands of whichever party controls Congress. Second, Congress would imperil the Electoral College, which gives small states like Arkansas a voice in presidential elections. Democrats could achieve their longstanding goal of eliminating the Electoral College in effect by refusing to count electoral votes in the future for a Republican president-elect. Third, Congress would take another big step toward federalizing election law, another long-standing Democratic priority that Republicans have consistently opposed.”

Because of all of this, and because this effort will not succeed anyway because supporters of it do not have the votes to pull it off, Cotton says he will not back the challenges. He concluded his statement as well by saying he thanks President Donald Trump for all of his successes during his administration and believes in what Trump accomplished, which is why he campaigned for him perhaps more than any other GOP senator — Cotton regularly cut ads that he paid for and aired in battleground states backing up Trump, something most other senators did not do.

“Thus, I will not oppose the counting of certified electoral votes on January 6,” Cotton said. “I’m grateful for what the president accomplished over the past four years, which is why I campaigned vigorously for his reelection. But objecting to certified electoral votes won’t give him a second term — it will only embolden those Democrats who want to erode further our system of constitutional government.”

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Queensland Health cracks down on coronavirus hotel quarantine exemptions as police establish new border checkpoint

Health authorities in Queensland are cracking down on hotel quarantine exemptions following a surge in coronavirus cases overseas and the emergence of more contagious variants.

Queensland Health has revealed it has approved just 104 requests to home quarantine out of more than 34,774 exemption applications made to the state’s health department since June.

In a statement, the department said many requests were from people living interstate, hoping to quarantine at home, visit a dying relative or attend a private viewing of someone who had died.

“The vast majority were for people coming from interstate and most were approved based on the applicants’ complex healthcare needs,” the statement said.

Since November 1, just one international traveller has received an exemption from hotel quarantine.

“This was granted around two months prior to the applicant’s travel date and would not have been approved under the current circumstances,” the department said.

Queensland Health said its quarantine policies had changed significantly since the middle of the year.

“Given the growing risk of COVID-19 worldwide and the emergence of more contagious variants, we have further tightened our quarantine requirements,” it said.

Terminally ill cancer patient Lisa Laird has spent the festive season isolated in quarantine after having several exemption requests knocked back.(Supplied)

The statement came in response to the department’s continued refusal to allow a terminally ill breast cancer patient to bypass hotel quarantine and isolate at home.

Lisa Laird, 49, who is a metastatic stage four breast cancer patient, has applied for several exemptions on medical grounds with the support of three specialist doctors.

Her requests have so far been denied and Ms Laird is serving the remainder of her hotel quarantine in the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Queensland Health would not comment on Ms Laird’s case but said they had established “specialised suites in government-arranged accommodation, making it safer for people with complex medical needs to quarantine”.

New border checkpoint established

Meanwhile, police have established a new border checkpoint at Miles Street on the Gold Coast to deal with the large number of people entering the state.

The checkpoint is the fourth to reopen since borders closed to Greater Sydney just over a week ago.

Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler said the additional checkpoint means officers have been redeployed from across the state.

“There’s an additional 38 police on the ground now in conjunction with the resources we already have,” he said.

“We have 30 people from the State Emergency Service and also the Rural Fire Service and we have our partners from transport and main roads assisting.”

Police have issued 12 infringement notices for border breaches since the borders closed again on December 22, including five people travelling from Sydney who have now been forced into self-funded hotel quarantine.

“People are trying to game the system from time to time, we really discourage them from doing that, because it would only take one person to bring COVID into our state,” Mr Wheeler said.

Police have again urged motorists and border residents to be patient on the roads.

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Eesti Energia to establish separate free market network services company | The Budapest Business Journal on the web

 Energy Today

 Thursday, October 15, 2020, 16:30

On Jan. 1, 2021, a new service company Enefit Connect will start operating, as part of the Eesti Energia Group, to manage electricity networks and a major portion of the street lighting network in Estonia, build internet network, develop the charging network for electric cars and offer its clients new energy solutions based on contemporary technology, according to a report by Baltic-course. 

The current network company of the group, Elektrilevi, will in the future only offer the electricity distribution network service regulated by the state.

The aim of the change is to allow the provision of regulated distribution network services to focus on its strength, and for services based on free-market logic to bring new value based on modern technology to the customer, Eesti Energia said in a press release on Tuesday.



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Plan to establish mine death unit in Queensland

RESOURCES Safety and Health Queensland will set up a dedicated mine death investigation unit as the industry grapples with a spate of fatalities over the past 18 months.

In his statutory declaration to the Coal Mining Board of Inquiry, chief inspector of coal mines Peter Newman said the unit would be established by 2022.

Known as the Serious Accident Investigation Unit, it would comprise specialised inspectors and an investigation officer to probe all fatalities and serious accidents in the coal mining industry.

The unit would be a single point of contact for serious accidents, while regional inspectors would continue to manage high potential incident investigations.

Queensland’s mines inspectors are currently tasked with investigating fatalities, serious accidents and HPIs.

The first week of hearings as part of the inquiry has finished.

Another two weeks of hearings are scheduled to start on Monday.

Chief inspector of coal mines Peter Newman.

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They will focus the role of the Mines Inspectorate, the role of the industry and site safety and health representatives and how the management structure and employment arrangements of the mining companies may impact on mine safety.

They will also explore the methane exceedances at Grasstree, Moranbah North and Oaky North mines.

Earlier this week, Burdekin MP Dale Last said the hearings had proved the safety system for Queensland mines and quarries was a “dismal failure”.

“Minister Lynham and Labor have failed when it comes to ensuring our mine and quarry workers go home safe every day,” Mr Last said.

“That will change under an LNP government because people who do the wrong thing will be held to account, not just through the courts but when it comes to their ability to participate in the industry.

“I don’t care which company it is, the message is clear.

“You will stick to the letter of the law, and the spirit of the law, or you can look forward to a very unpleasant meeting with the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines.”

Harry Bruce’ cartoon.

Harry Bruce’ cartoon.

Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said he was “gravely concerned” over the LNP’s latest comments on mine safety.

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“Five months ago, they voted with the government in the parliament to establish an independent Resources Safety and Health Queensland with just one role – to protect mine workers,” Dr Lynham said.

“Today, Mr Last plans to take over mine safety and health personally as investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury.

“We have made sweeping reforms to mine safety and health over the past five years.

“This includes keeping investigations and prosecutions independent of politicians – as they are across the developed world.”

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Sudan to establish police force to protect health workers

CAIRO (AP) — Sudan’s transitional authorities are working to create a police force to protect health facilities, the prime minister’s office said Saturday, as attacks against health workers and hospitals increase amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The move came after doctors across the country threatened Thursday to go on strike to pressure authorities to provide protection for health workers and facilities.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok met with representatives of doctors on Friday to find “decisive and strict solutions” to “the phenomenon of repeated attacks on health workers,” his office said in a statement.

The government will introduce a draft bill to provide protection to health workers, the statement said.

At least two dozen attacks on health care workers and facilities have taken place in the past two months across the country, according to a tally by the Sudan Doctors’ committee. The group is part of the protest movement that last year helped oust longtime autocratic president Omar al-Bashir.

In one instance last month, a riot erupted at a hospital in the city Omdurman, across the Nile River from the capital, Khartoum, when a rumor spread that it would take coronavirus patients. Police arrested several people who tried to attack the building.

On Thursday alone, there were at least three attacks on health workers and facilities in Khartoum that led to a temporary suspension of services at a hospital there, the committee said.

Sudan has reported at least 63 deaths from COVID-19 among around 3,380 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, which causes the disease.

Sudan’s health care system has been weakened by decades of war and sanctions. The country is still reeling from last year’s uprising that toppled al-Bashir.

Meanwhile, a handful of young people took to the streets in Khartoum on Saturday on the first anniversary of the deadly dispersal of a protest camp in in the last days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan last year. The protesters torched tires but there were no clashes reported between protesters and security forces.

Footage circulated online showed some protesters practicing social distancing or wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against the virus.

The violent beak-up last year of the protest camp outside the military’s headquarters in Khartoum was an alarming turn of events in the standoff between the military and civilian protesters. The protesters had been holding a sit-in to pressure the military council to hand power over to civilians after al-Bashir ouster.

The protesters say at least 128 people were killed and hundreds wounded during the sit-in dispersal and the subsequent crackdown. However, military-backed health authorities say only 87 died, including security forces.

Later, the generals and the protesters reached a power-sharing deal that established a joint military-civilian sovereign council that would lead Sudan toward elections.

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