The Sacklers get off easy

The Sackler family has made billions of dollars by pushing doctors to aggressively prescribe the opioids produced by their company Purdue Pharmaceuticals to patients, thus helping cause the passive prescription drug addiction problem that has ranged so many families and communities. They then donated money to universities and other cultural institution that put their name on buildings to enable them to pose as philanthropists.
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Reflections on the final Biden-Trump debate

I watched the debate last night and it was much better than the first one simply because it could not have got worse. Believe it or not, for the most part Trump did tone it down as his advisers had promised. He did not interrupt Joe Biden as much though he did refuse to listen to the moderator when she tried to limit the length of his responses. What he did as usual was to reel off lies, make up stuff, and refuse to answer some questions, and keep veering off into accusing Joe Biden and his family of getting payments from foreign governments.

Biden got in some good shots at Trump for not having any plan to replace Obamacare and for being utterly callous about the suffering of so many people due to covid-19.
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Can this be true?

A Dutch security researcher has said that he had gained access to Trump’s Twitter account by guessing the password. What was it, you ask? “maga2020!”. Yes, really.

Victor Gevers, a security expert, had access to Trump’s direct messages, could post tweets in his name and change his profile, de Volkskrant reported.

Gevers – who previously managed to log into Trump’s account in 2016 – gained access by guessing Trump’s password. Maga2020, a popular tag for Trump’s re-election campaign, was Gevers’ fifth attempt – and it worked.

“I expected to be blocked after four failed attempts. Or at least would be asked to provide additional information,” Gevers told de Volkskrant.

Remarkably, it wasn’t the first time Gevers has gained access to the president’s Twitter account. In 2016 he and two others guessed Trump’s password, and got into his account.

Back then Trump’s password was “yourefired”, according to Vrij Nederland.

I find it hard to imagine that even Trump would use such an obvious password but with Trump, there seems to be no lower limit for incompetence.

How the AP will call results of the election

People outside the US are confused, with good reason, about how US elections work and one of the mysteries is how the results are ‘called’. In most countries, after the votes are tallied, an official certifying body declares the winner. While there are often exit polls that might predict the outcome before the official announcement, in practice the official call usually comes so quickly after the count that it does not matter.

But in the US, there is another layer between the vote count and the official certification because what voters are voting for are members of something called the Electoral College and it is these people who then vote for the president about a month later, although they are expected to vote according to how their state voted on election day. Since the result only becomes official on January 6, 2021 when Congress formally certifies the electoral college votes that were cast on December 14, we see that there is a two month gap between election day and the final certification.
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John Oliver on the WHO

As usual, he gives a clear explanation of what the World Health Organization does, why it is such a valuable organization, and why it is madness for the US to withdraw from it. Currently Trump has given the one year notice of withdrawal which will go into effect in July 2021, which is another reason to elect Joe Biden who can reverse that decision.

What to expect in the next two weeks

As the days wind down to November 3, people who are following this election closely can be excused for getting more tense. In general, opinion polls tend to tighten as election day approaches. The media likes an exciting race so they will greatly highlight any new poll result that shows the underdog gaining ground and the gap closing. For the campaigns, they have to strike a delicate balance between warning their supporters against the danger of complacency with being too alarmist so that their supporters get depressed and think it is hopeless and decide it is not worth voting.
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Denying science can kill you

The US has long had a strain of anti-intellectualism, with some viewing science and expertise with suspicion and as somehow of less value than ‘common sense’ or folklore or one’s own intuition or what your friends tell you or what you read on social media. That attitude can kill as Derek Thompson writes in his examination about why some countries have managed to keep death rates from covid-19 low.
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Early voting patterns

For those political junkies who love data, this website maintains updated totals of early voting state by state, along with weekly analyses of the trends. As of today, over 35 million people have voted early. (I dropped mine in the ballot box in my local city hall yesterday.) To get a sense of scale, this is about 25% of the total number of votes cast in the 2016 election, which was about 138,800,000.
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Trump tone it down? That’s wishful thinking

The debate organizers have made a rule change for the second debate on Thursday between Joe Biden and Donald Trump that includes mute buttons.

When Trump and Biden face off on Thursday for a final televised debate, each candidate will have their microphones cut off while the other is delivering responses to questions.

During the 90-min debate, each candidate will have two minutes of uninterrupted time to respond to questions before they move on to open debate. The rule change from the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) comes after a chaotic first debate during which the presidential conductors spoke over each other, and Trump, especially, interrupted his opponent.

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Bolivia’s return to democracy

Just a year after Evo Morales was forced into exile after he won Bolivia’s presidential election and was replaced by a US-backed puppet, his party and its candidate Luis Arce who served as his economy minister, has won an overwhelming victory in the election, gaining over 50% of the vote and thus winning outright, negating the need for a run-off.

A quick count suggests socialist candidate Luis Arce of the Mas party is set to win Bolivia’s presidential election in the first round.

The second-placed candidate, Carlos Mesa, has conceded defeat and called Mr Arce’s 20-percentage-point lead in the quick-count “unassailable”.

Sunday’s vote was a re-run of the 2019 election, in which incumbent Evo Morales was declared the winner.

The 2019 vote was followed by mass protests triggered by allegations that Mr Morales’s victory had been rigged.

Following calls from the chiefs of the police and the army for him to resign, Mr Morales went into exile and Senator Jeanine Áñez was sworn in as interim president.

Ms Áñez said a re-run of the election would be held as soon as it was feasible, but amid the coronavirus pandemic the vote was postponed twice before it was finally held on Sunday.

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