GA Rep. arrested protesting voter restrictions. EU-UK vaccine row grows. Ship blocking Suez Canal threatens global trade, sparks memes.
GA Rep. arrested protesting election law
Georgia state troopers guarding Gov. Brian Kemp’s office door arrested Park Cannon, a Democratic state representative, for knocking repeatedly at Kemp’s door. Cannon says she was trying to lodge a protest with Kemp about a newly-signed election bill in the state. Critics of the bill says it amounts to an act of voter suppression by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature. They also allege that it targets black and Latino voters, a key demographic for Democrats in the state.
Cannon was charged with “obstructing law enforcement officers by use of threats or violence” and “disrupting general assembly sessions or other meetings of members”.
Many question the legitimacy of Cannon’s arrest. According to Georgia’s constitution, lawmakers “shall be free from arrest during sessions of the General Assembly” except for treason, felony or breach of the peace. Cannon and others repeatedly told the troopers that she was a state representative.
The new law
The law Cannon was protesting has garnered nationwide criticism since its proposal. The law creates a voter ID requirement for absentee ballots and limits access to ballot dropboxes and limits use of mobile voting buses. Perversely, the law also makes it a crime for volunteers to hand out food and water to voters standing in long lines.
In one concession to their Democratic colleagues, Republicans included an expansion of early voting days for general elections.
Voter ID laws have long been a source of controversy on their own. While Republicans allege they are necessary to validate elections, Democrats counter that there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud and that the laws make it more difficult for disadvantaged voters to participate.
But most worrying for Democrats and voting rights advocates are provisions that give the state legislature substantial control over county election boards. Critics fear these provisions allow the Republican-controlled legislature to intervene if they don’t like an election’s results. Cliff Albright of Black Voters Matter said, “This bill would give the power for (the state) to do exactly what Donald Trump wanted them to do: to overturn an election”.
Alex Wan, chair of Fulton County’s board of elections, said, “basically, the worst-case scenario is that the state legislature does not like the outcome in a county, takes over and puts in a new board, suspends the existing board, does not certify the elections until they are certifying the election results that they want”.
EU-UK vaccine row grows
At a virtual summit of EU leaders, European Commission President Von der Leyen essentially called for an all-out ban on exporting vaccine doses made in the EU to “highly-vaccinated” countries (like the UK). The leaders decided it was a step too far and chose to support global supply chains. However, leaders offered backing in principle to von der Leyen’s assertion that AstraZeneca must “catch up” on its EU deliveries before exporting doses outside the bloc.
Von der Leyen told the assembled leaders that manufacturers in the EU had send 21 million doses to the UK, accounting for two-thirds of the vaccines given there so far. Last week, Italian authorities raided an AstraZeneca production site in the erroneous belief the firm was “hiding” doses destined for the UK.
Ship blocking Suez Canal could take weeks to free
The Ever Given, a 1300-foot transport vessel, has managed to become diagonally wedged across the Suez Canal, blocking traffic through the canal both ways. A salvage company working to free the vessel says it could take weeks to dislodge. In the meantime, Lloyd’s estimates that the vessel is holding up passage of about $9.6 billion worth of cargo a day.
The blockage could create worldwide shortages of goods and a spike in the price of oil and other commodities. But pictures of two guys and a backhoe working to dislodge the ship towering over them has sparked a flood of amusing memes.
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