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Millions Vote Early

Millions have voted early in midterms. Here’s what that means. NYT: "Early voting for the midterm elections has begun in states across the country, and enthusiasm — and voter turnout — both appear to be high, with hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots arriving in Florida and voters lining up around the block in Texas. Turnout has surged among Republicans, Democrats and independents, according to poll data. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than seven million people had voted early, according to data compiled by Michael McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida who studies elections. 'If these patterns persist, we could see a turnout rate at least equaling the turnout rate in 1966, which was 48 percent, and if we beat that then you have to go all the way back to 1914, when the turnout rate was 51 percent,' he said. 'We could be looking at a turnout rate that virtually no one has ever experienced.' Publicly available data on early voting suggests more likely Republican voters than likely Democrats have so far cast their ballots, but it is too early to draw any firm conclusions."

GOP Forces Through More Judicial Nominations

Republicans push ahead with conservative Trump judicial nominees. Reuters: "A Republican-led U.S. Senate panel on Wednesday held the second of two unusual hearings during a congressional recess in an aggressive push to confirm President Donald Trump’s conservative judicial nominees including to a liberal-leaning California-based court he often criticizes. Democrats, who mounted an unsuccessful effort to block Senate confirmation this month of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, have slammed the president’s fellow Republicans for holding the hearings. Only two senators on the 21-member Judiciary Committee, both Republicans, showed up for the hearing in Washington on Wednesday in which four judicial nominees were considered. Democratic Senator Patty Murray, who had asked Republicans to postpone the hearing while the Senate is in recess ahead of the Nov. 6 congressional elections, criticized 'the shameful partisan path they have taken on what has always been a bipartisan process.' She accused the Republicans of a “mad dash” to secure confirmation."

FBI Arrests White-Power Leader For Incitement

White nationalist leaders arrested in L.A.; private messages show effort to 'reimagine' movement. LA Times: "Federal authorities have arrested key members of a Southern California white-power group, the latest move in an ongoing effort by authorities to break the back of an organization linked to racism-fueled violence. Robert Rundo, leader of the so-called Rise Above Movement, was taken into custody Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. Two others — Tyler Laube and Robert Boman — were arrested Wednesday morning in connection with organizing and participating in riots, according to federal authorities. Another, Aaron Eason, was charged but remains at large, they said. All four were charged with traveling and using the internet to organize or participate in riots, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Private messages between group leaders, members and associates show an effort to keep their violent intentions secret, according to an FBI affidavit attached to the complaint. One man, Benjamin Daley, urged members in a 2016 phone call to attend events wearing polo-style shirts and khakis, and to get military-style haircuts. Daley responded: 'think its time to reimagine the nationalist look and playbook, we have become predictable that needs to change.' He told another associate to keep a low profile on social media. In private Facebook messages to the person in January, Daley said: 'I would be mindful of saying anything that could be misconstrued as a call to violence. I know people who literally have had feds show up at there door over posts. [J]ust food for thought. Trust I’m not speaking in terms of morality rather practicality.'"

Asbestos Imports Soar After EPA Eases Restrictions

Asbestos Imports Soar 2,000% as Trump Loosens Restrictions on Cancer-Causing Material. Common Dreams: "As President Donald Trump's industry-friendly Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) takes steps to loosen restrictions on the commercial use of asbestos—which is known to cause cancer and lung disease—an analysis of federal data published Tuesday found that asbestos imports to the U.S. surged by nearly 2,000 percent between July and August of this year. 'It is appalling that unlike more than 60 nations around the world, the U.S. not only fails to ban asbestos, but allows imports to increase,' Linda Reinstein, president and co-founder of ADAO, said in a statement. 'Americans cannot identify or manage the risks of asbestos. The time is now for the EPA to say no to the asbestos industry and finally ban asbestos without exemptions.' 'When most people learn that asbestos remains legal even after it's claimed the lives of countless Americans, they're shocked,' added EWG president Ken Cook. 'And when the public finds out the Trump administration is actively working to keep it legal, they are furious.' But as environmentalists raise alarm that the Trump administration is actively facilitating the importation and use of asbestos even in the face of its devastating health effects, asbestos producers are ecstatic at the White House's lax stance toward the carcinogenic mineral."

Court Rules To Support Sanctuary Cities

Court rules part of Trump order on sanctuary city funding is unconstitutional. The Hill: "A federal court has ruled against the Trump administration in a lawsuit over funding for "sanctuary cities. U.S. District Judge Richard Jones wrote in a Wednesday judgement that part of President Trump's executive order to end federal grant funding for sanctuary cities is unconstitutional. Jones, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, ruled that it "would be unconstitutional" for the administration to withhold funding from the cities of Seattle and Portland, the two plaintiffs named in the lawsuit. The lawsuit named Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen as defendants. The ruling follows a U.S. appeals court decision in August that also found Trump's executive order unconstitutional. That decision upheld a lower court ruling in favor of two California counties. The city of Seattle filed its lawsuit in March 2017 seeking to clarify Trump's executive order, which was signed just days after his inauguration in early 2017. The order gave the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security the power to withhold federal grants to cities that did not comply with federal immigration law."

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