‘You can’t even keep the lights on!’ EPA chief mocks California’s 2035 ban on sales of gas-powered cars

The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency has panned California’s new goal to outlaw all sales of gas-powered cars by 2035, insisting the plan is neither legal nor practical given the state’s current power grid problems.

In a letter penned to California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday, EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said that a recent executive order seeking to replace all gas-guzzling vehicles with electric cars would run into legal issues and would be unworkable, arguing that California “is already struggling to maintain reliable electricity for today’s demands.”

“Your recent executive order (EO) establishing a goal that 100 percent of new vehicle sales be zero emission by 2035 raises serious questions regarding its legality and practicality,” Wheeler wrote, adding that while the EO “seems to be mostly aspirational,” any attempt to implement it would need approval from the EPA.

California’s record of rolling blackouts – unprecedented in size and scope – coupled with recent requests to neighboring states for power begs the question of how you expect to run an electric car fleet that will come with significant increases in electricity demand, when you can’t even keep the lights on today.

Signed last week, Newsom’s executive order comes as the state’s latest effort to phase out vehicles heavier on carbon emissions, to which California has already committed some $2.46 billion, encouraging various government agencies to make the switch from internal combustion engines to electric cars. The state has embarked on other ambitious environmental goals, working to cut emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, and by 80 percent by 2050. Newsom has also urged the state legislature to pass a ban on hydraulic fracturing to obtain oil in California, also known as “fracking.”

Wheeler, however, said some of those plans may be too optimistic, suggesting that if the state implemented a full switch to electric cars, it would have “even worse power shortages than the ones that have already caused a series of otherwise preventable environmental and public health consequences,” citing an incident in August in which a power outage at a wastewater treatment plant resulted in 50,000 gallons of raw sewage pouring into the Oakland Estuary.

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Cars travel along a freeway in down town Los Angeles, California, US
California to ban sales of gasoline cars by 2035

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Kentucky AG to release grand jury records in Breonna Taylor case after juror files motion to disclose details of proceedings

Kentucky’s attorney general will release a recording from the grand jury probe into the death of Breonna Taylor, saying he would do so hours after a juror on the case filed a motion to go public with details about the proceeding.

While state AG Daniel Cameron said in a statement on Monday that grand juries are meant to be “secretive,” he acknowledged that “public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen” soon after a judge ordered the recording of the grand jury proceeding to be released this week.

“We will comply with the judge’s order to release the recording on Wednesday,” Cameron said, despite “concerns” the disclosure could “compromise the ongoing federal investigation” into Taylor’s death.

Once the public listens to the recording, they will see that over the course of two-and-a-half days, our team presented a thorough and complete case to the grand jury.

Cameron added that the recording would “also address the legal complaint filed by an anonymous grand juror,” referring to a motion submitted anonymously earlier on Monday alleging that the AG used jurors as a “shield to deflect accountability” and requesting permission to disclose details about the jury’s proceedings.

“The attorney general publicly made many statements that referenced what the grand jury heard and decisions that were made based on what certain witnesses said,” the juror’s motion said, adding “He further laid those decisions at the feet of the grand jury while failing to answer specific questions regarding the charges presented.”

Attorney General Cameron attempted to make it very clear that the grand jury alone made the decision on who and what to charge based solely on the evidence presented to them.

The juror’s motion also requests authorization to divulge information about what did not happen during the grand jury probe, such as what charges were not presented and what witnesses were skipped over during the process, arguing there is a “compelling public interest” for those facts to be known.

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Protesters march in Louisville, Kentucky, after one officer was charged in relation ot Breonna Taylor's death, September 26, 2020 © Reuters / Eduardo Munoz
Ex-cop pleads NOT GUILTY to endangerment charges in Breonna Taylor shooting case

Cameron announced last week that the grand jury had decided not to indict three officers for Taylor’s death, which occurred during a narcotics raid on her home in March. Instead, the jury charged only one officer, Brett Hankison, for three counts of “wanton endangerment” linked to reckless use of his weapon, finding that Taylor’s death was justified because her boyfriend opened fire on officers as they attempted to serve a search warrant.

Hankison pleaded not guilty to those charges during his arraignment on Monday, after which Judge Ann Bailey Smith ordered the grand jury recording to be released “by noon on Wednesday of this week.”

The legal wrangling over the recording comes days after Vice News obtained body camera footage from the night of the raid on Taylor’s apartment. Though it depicts only the aftermath of the shooting, the videos reportedly show officers violating department policies, one of which requires personnel involved in shootings to be isolated from other officers, which was not done. At one point in the footage, Hankison is seen attempting to enter Taylor’s apartment after the shooting, but is asked by another officer to leave.

Though her family received a $12 million settlement from the city, Taylor’s death – as well as the lack of murder charges for the officers responsible – has stoked heated protests and rioting across the US, seeing chaos and unrest in Louisville last week, during which two police officers were shot. The disorder comes amid a wave of similar anti-police brutality protests nationwide, sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of officers in Minneapolis last spring.

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‘It will always be us against them’: Breonna Taylor family slam grand jury decision, says black people ‘never safe’

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Covid-19 death toll tops 1 MILLION worldwide as pandemic spikes in US, Brazil & Europe

The coronavirus has claimed more than 1 million lives around the globe, the latest dark ‘milestone’ for the worldwide pandemic first detected some 10 months ago, which continues to spread across several hotspots.

Infecting more than 33 million since first emerging in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December, the global Covid-19 death toll surpassed the 1 million mark on Monday night, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University.

The news was met with a mournful statement from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), which deemed the pandemic “one of the largest humanitarian catastrophes in recent times.”

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FILE PHOTO.
Death toll from Covid-19 could ‘very likely’ reach 2 MILLION before vaccine widely available, WHO says

“Today, we stand in grim solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of families that have lost loved ones,” said Jagan Chapagain, Secretary General of the IFRC.

A million deaths represent 1 million individual tragedies and countless heartbreaks. They represent many, many thousands of orphans, of widows, of holes in families and community fabrics that will never be filled.

To date, the health crisis has spread to at least 188 nations since late last year, disrupting daily life for hundreds of millions of people and spurring draconian lockdown policies that have brought swathes of the world economy to a halt.

The US continues to report the world’s highest case and fatality numbers, with some 7.1 million infections and over 205,000 deaths. India takes the number-two spot for cases, with more than 6 million, while Brazil has reported in excess of 142,000 deaths, putting it just behind the States for mortalities.

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A coronavirus self testing centre is pictured at Cotmandene Crescent car park in Orpington, South East London on September 24, 2020.
The peak wasn’t the peak? UK & France record HIGHEST-EVER daily rises in Covid-19 cases

Europe, meanwhile, is seeing what some have called a “second wave” of the virus, with the UK and France both reporting their highest-ever daily case tallies last week. Both countries had begun to lift sweeping economic shutdowns imposed during the peak of the first surge last spring, but are now considering new containment measures in light of the new spike in cases.

Though the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that Covid-19’s overall death toll may cross 2 million by the time vaccines are widely available for much of the global population, efforts to develop immunizations continue in several countries, including the US, the UK, Australia and China. Russia became the first nation to debut an inoculation against the deadly pathogen in August, dubbed ‘Sputnik V.’ According to the Russian Health Ministry, the new jab has been given to more than 5,000 volunteers with no reports of serious side effects. The final phase of trials for Sputnik V will see some 40,000 Muscovites vaccinated.

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FILE PHOTO: A nurse shows Russia's
Over 5,000 Russians have taken world’s first Covid-19 vaccine, none have reported serious side effects

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Never mind the body bags from Serbia to Syria: British Labour Party MP nominates Joe Biden for Nobel Peace Prize

Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by UK Labour Party lawmaker Chris Bryant, who credited the politician for easting political tensions amid violent protests across the US.

“When American cities have been in flames and citizen has been pitched against citizen, Joe has been a calming influence to bear,” Bryant reportedly said Monday. “When others have resorted to violent solutions, he has argued that the best force is the force of argument because guns can stop a heart, but well-placed words can change many hearts, and many hearts can change the world.”

The nomination came just one day before the first US presidential debate. Biden’s rival, President Donald Trump, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times this year, most recently on Monday by Australian law professors praising the “Trump Doctrine” against endless wars.

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© The Atlantic
Delayed reaction? Trump’s media foe The Atlantic calls to ‘end’ Nobel Peace Prize after his nomination, but not after Obama’s

Trump’s other nominations came from Swedish Parliament member Magnus Jacobsson for helping to broker a peace and economic deal between Serbia and Kosovo, and Norwegian Parliament member Christian Tybring-Gjedde for brokering a peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The Trump administration later followed up on that deal by getting Bahrain to join the UAE in a peace agreement with Israel.

While Bryant praised Biden’s efforts to ease civil unrest, the UK politician was largely silent about the violent nature of many Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests this summer. Even CNN host Don Lemon warned in late August that riots across the US – and the failures of Biden and other Democrat politicians to condemn and quell the violence – was a “blind spot” that could cause Biden to lose votes in November.

The nomination also raised eyebrows among critics of Biden’s record in supporting wars and military interventions as a Senator and as vice president under former President Barack Obama. The Obama-Biden administration campaigned on peace – and Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 largely on speculation that he would deliver on his promises – but the US instead started new wars and prolonged existing ones. The administration finished its last full year, 2016, by dropping more than 26,000 bombs around the world and expanded the presence of US special forces to 70 percent of the world’s nations, more than doubling their reach under former President George W. Bush.

Biden not only voted for Bush’s Iraq War in 2003 but also argued for removing Saddam Hussein from power in 1998. He also voted to authorize former President Bill Clinton’s bombing of Serbia (along with NATO) in 1999, as well as supported Obama’s disastrous intervention in Syria.

Mindful of that track record, Twitter users ridiculed Bryant for nominating Biden. “Biden’s never been anything but a rubber stamp for CIA bull***t,” one commenter tweeted. “I’m sure the people of Libya and Syria will be glad to hear that,” one observer said of the nomination, followed by another who added “Not to mention Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.”

Another commenter speculated that he saw a trend in Bryant’s move: “I think the idea for these warmongering Henry Jackson Society types is to undermine the Nobel Peace Prize with absurd nominations.”

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© RT / Kevin Lamarque / TT News Agency
More than Hillary or Obama: Biden gets endorsements from 81 Nobel laureates, who cite his ‘willingness to listen’ to expert orders

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Major US health care firm hit by cyberattack, forcing hospitals to revert to ‘pen and paper’

Universal Health Services, one of the largest US for-profit hospital operators, was hit by a massive cyberattack over the weekend, reportedly forcing staff at some of its facilities to record patient data with “pen and paper.”

The attack “looks and smells like ransomware,” NBC reported, citing an unidentified person familiar with the incident. Ransomware attacks spread viruses across computer systems and encrypt files, then demand payment for data to be made available again.

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FILE PHOTO:  The Duesseldorf university clinic, in Duesseldorf, Germany, February 26, 2020.
Patient DIES as ransomware attack paralyzes German hospital

The incident was billed as one of the largest medical cyberattacks in US history. It caused Universal’s computer systems to begin failing over the weekend.

IT systems at Universal’s facilities, which span more than 400 locations across the US and the UK, are currently offline, the company said. Universal didn’t specifically confirm that the breakdown stemmed from a cyberattack, citing only an “IT security issue.” It said it’s “working diligently” with its IT security partners to restore system operations as quickly as possible.

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The US Justice Department © Mark Wilson/Getty Images/
‘Hero’ hacker who shut down WannaCry faces 4 more charges, including lying to FBI

“In the meantime, our facilities are using their established back-up processes, including offline documentation methods,” Universal said. Patient care is still being delivered safely and effectively, the firm added, and no patient or employee data appears to have been accessed, copied or misused.

King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based Universal operates behavioral health hospitals, acute-care hospitals, emergency care outlets and surgery centers. It also manages 11 physician networks.

Ransomware attacks can be devastating to health care providers and cause treatment delays because hospitals typically access patient data online. NBC cited a Universal nurse in Arizona as saying patient data had been backed up as of the end of Sept. 26, but hand-labeling each medication has made things more difficult. The global WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 forced the UK’s government-run National Health Service (NHS) to cancel about 19,000 patient appointments.

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Police departments across US report ‘nationwide’ 911 OUTAGE, possibly caused by Microsoft cloud glitch

A number of police departments around the United States have reported that their 911 services are down, a widespread outage believed to be linked to a glitch in Microsoft cloud computing platform Azure.

Police and sheriffs departments in at least Minnesota, Arizona, California, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania have noted issues with their emergency call systems on Monday, directing residents to use alternative numbers while they work to correct the issue, allegedly caused by a technical failure in Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing services.

No official explanation has yet been offered for the outages in any of the affected locations.

Public safety alerts were sent by text to some Minnesota residents, also giving another way to contact authorities if calls to 911 fail to go through.

Microsoft earlier on Monday reported that a “subset of customers in the Azure Public and Azure Government clouds may encounter errors,” while the company’s Office 365 and Outlook services also encountered issues.

Some linked Microsoft glitches to the 911 outages, as many police departments across the US rely on the Microsoft tech to manage their emergency call systems.

By around 8pm local time in Minnesota, some departments noted 911 service had been restored, however the outages appeared to continue across various counties in Nevada and elsewhere.

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Turkey hiring Syrian rebels to fight Armenians for Azerbaijan, Guardian claims as Baku calls mercenary reports ‘nonsense’

Rebels from Syria’s Idlib province are being recruited by Turkey to fight in Azerbaijan’s conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, just as it has done in Libya, the Guardian reported citing several of the militants.

Idlib is Syria’s northwestern province, and the last bastion of the Turkish-backed militants once hoping to effect regime change in Damascus. It is there the recruitment drive for Azerbaijan began a month ago, three rebels told the Guardian’s Bethan McKernan. Two brothers from Azaz said they had been summoned to a camp in Afrin on September 13 and told by a commander in the Sultan Murad Division that three- or six-month contracts were available “guarding observation posts and oil and gas facilities” in Azerbaijan for 7,000-10,000 Turkish lira a month. 

That works out to roughly $900-1300 a month, and is a princely sum compared to the monthly wage of 450-550 Turkish lira a month ($57-70) that Ankara pays the militants to fight against the government of President Bashar Assad.

“Our leader told us that we won’t be fighting, just assisting in guarding some areas,” said one of the men, whom the outlet named as Muhammad. “Our salaries aren’t enough for living, so we see it a great opportunity to make money.”

“There are no jobs available,” added his brother, Mahmoud. “I used to work as a tailor in Aleppo but since we were displaced to Azaz, I’ve tried many times to practise my craft but my family and I can’t earn enough.” 

It was implied that the militants would be taking the job, though they could not say what exactly it entailed, for how long, when they were expected to leave – or even the name of the Turkish security company officially hiring them.

Another militant, who also asked for his name to be changed, said he and 150 other men were summoned to Afrin on September 22, but then told their departure had been delayed. He had promised $200 from the first paycheck to a local broker to sign him up for the job.

“When we first started being offered work abroad in Libya, people were afraid to go there, but now there are definitely thousands of us who are willing to go to either Libya or Azerbaijan,” he told the Guardian.

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Military vehicles of members of the Libyan internationally recognized government forces head out from Misrata to front line in Tripoli, Libya, May 10, 2019. © Reuters / Ayman Al-Sahili
Turkey vows to ‘defend’ Tripoli-based govt against Haftar ‘dictatorship’ in Libya

Reuters also reported the recruitment of Syrian militants on Monday, citing two of the fighters who had fought for Ahrar al-Sham jihadists, and volunteered for Azerbaijan after being promised $1,500 a month. 

“I didn’t want to go, but I don’t have any money. Life is very hard and poor,” one of the militants told Reuters. The agency said it could not independently verify their accounts.

Turkey has previously been accused of sending Syrian militants to Libya, to fight for the Turkish-backed government against the Libyan National Army of General Khalifa Haftar. On Monday, the Armenian ambassador to Russia said that around 4,000 militants from northern Syria were sent by Turkey to Azerbaijan, as fighting broke out over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

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Azeri artillery firing on Nagorno-Karabakh, in still image from video released by Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry, September 28, 2020.
Armenia claims Azerbaijani artillery attacks are intensifying as Nagorno-Karabakh officials allege they’ve downed Azeri warplane

An aide to Azeri President Ilham Aliyev dismissed those claims as “complete nonsense” and “another provocation from the Armenian side.” A source in the Turkish defense ministry likewise told the Guardian that Ankara “does not deal with recruiting or transfering militiamen anywhere in the world,” but would not go on the record.

The Guardian cited unnamed sources in the Syrian National Army as saying that a first group of some 500 Syrian militants has already arrived in Azerbaijan, including senior commanders Fahim Eissa of the Sultan Murad Division and Saif Abu Bakir of the Al Hamza. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed as many as 1,000 fighters could be headed for Azerbaijan. The Guardian said it could not verify either of those claims.

Some of the men who went to Libya said they had been told they would be working as security guards, but ended up fighting on the front lines instead. They also said their commanders would take up to 20 percent of their wages.

Nagorno-Karabakh is one of several border disputes left over from the collapse of the Soviet Union. An enclave predominantly populated by Armenians, it seceded from Azerbaijan in 1988 and declared itself the Republic of Artsakh following a bitter war in 1992-94. 

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WATCH: Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale slammed to the pavement by cops during arrest after alleged suicide threat

Brad Parscale, who was demoted from his job as President Donald Trump’s campaign manager in July, was suddenly tackled and slammed to the pavement by Fort Lauderdale, Florida, police after his wife said he threatened suicide.

Police body-cam footage released Monday shows Parscale, wearing only a baseball cap and a pair of knee-length shorts, sitting on his porch as officers arrive at his home on Sunday afternoon. Parscale began to walk slowly toward an officer at the end of his driveway, saying, “She’s lying, I’m your friend.”

The officer said, “Alright, relax. What’s going on?” Parscale then set down a beverage can on the sidewall of his pickup and began to quietly explain a dispute with his wife, who had told police that he had a gun and threatened to kill himself. At least two other officers then rushed toward Parscale from behind the pickup with one yelling at him to “get on the ground.” The 6-foot-8 Parscale, still shirtless and holding nothing in his hands, then began to turn toward the officer who was speaking, only to be grabbed by the knee, lifted up and thrown onto his back in the street.

About four second elapsed from the first command to “get on the ground” to an apparently confused Parscale being tackled. After being thrown down, he said, “Take it f***ing easy. I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything.” Police then roll Parscale over and cuff his hands behind his back as he continues to say, “I didn’t do anything.” The clip ended with Parscale, 44, being pulled to his feet and again saying, “I didn’t do anything.”

Parscale’s wife, Candice Parscale, reportedly called police from a neighbor’s house and said he was armed and had locked himself in his home. Police said they negotiated over the phone for Parscale to come out.

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FILE PHOTO
Anti-Trumpers dismiss ex-campaign manager’s mental health issues, say he doesn’t deserve compassion after reported suicide bid

He was sitting on his porch without a visible weapon at the point the body-cam footage began. Police said Parscale’s wife fled the residence after he threatened suicide and loaded a gun in front of her. She told police she heard a gunshot from the home shortly thereafter, then heard Parscale “ranting and pacing around the residence and the dog barking frantically.”

Officers seized 10 firearms from Parscale’s home – including six handguns, two shotguns and two rifles – police said. Parscale was taken to a hospital and detained for a psychiatric evaluation under Florida’s Baker Act, which allows a person to be involuntarily confined if they are deemed to pose a risk to themselves or others. Parscale hasn’t yet been charged with a crime. Police said he appeared to be under the influence of alcohol, and they observed bruises on his wife’s arms, which she attributed to an altercation with her husband a few days earlier.

Officer Matthew Moceri said he tackled Parscale because Parscale was bigger than him, wasn’t complying with his commands and had pockets that “could easily conceal a firearm.”

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Parscale remains a beloved member of “our family.” “We are ready to support him and his family in any way possible,” Murtaugh added.

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Then Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale addresses the crowd in Manchester, New Hampshire U.S. August 15, 2019. © REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Former Trump campaign manager Parscale in hospital after wife calls police, says he is ‘armed & suicidal’ – report

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NYC civilian voters sent military absentee ballots, sparking fears votes will go uncounted

Dozens of voters in the NYC borough of Queens have received military absentee ballots, despite never having served. While the Board of Elections has insisted the ballots are “correct,” some fear their votes could be challenged.

Reports from concerned Queens civilians who’d received forms labeled “official absentee military ballot for the general election” began proliferating on social media over the weekend. They may have gone out to everyone in the borough who requested an absentee ballot, according to a Monday report from the New York Post – which has seen several of its own reporters receive them.

While the city Board of Elections has denied a mix-up, instead blaming a typographical error, many who received the ballots fear their votes might be thrown out on a technicality.

Sunnyside city councilman Jimmy Van Bramer told the Post that about a dozen of his constituents had contacted him for advice about what to do with the seemingly-mistaken mailing. “It appears that everyone has gotten this particular ballot,” he said, suggesting the early reports were “just the tip of the iceberg.”

While the NYC Board of Elections responded to one Queens resident’s Twitter query, confirming it was “the correct ballot, even if you are not serving in the military,” it has not issued a public statement about the ballots on its own Twitter feed (never mind the usual publicity channels). However, a BOE spokesperson confirmed to the Post that the ballots were legit, explaining the confusion stemmed from a typographical error in which a hyphen between “military” and “absentee” was not printed and insisting the ballots are the same for military and absentee voters.

Despite these attempts at reassurance, the New York State Board of Elections was not pleased to learn of the mistake. Co-chair Doug Kellner pledged to look into the matter, acknowledging that “there are lots of questions of whether there is adequate quality control” at the city BOE.

The seemingly-minor typo could come back to haunt absentee voters if the ballots are challenged after Election Day, and voters already on edge due to the political firestorm that has erupted around mail-in ballots don’t need more reasons to distrust the system. Last month, it emerged that a quarter of mail-in ballots cast by New Yorkers during the 2020 primary were disqualified for reasons that were largely the fault of the city’s Board of Elections and the US Postal Service.

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Election workers counting mail-in ballots © Reuters / Mike Blake
Several discarded absentee military ballots marked for Trump discovered as FBI insists voter fraud is localized & minor

A coalition of voter rights groups sued the city BOE following 2016’s disastrous Democratic primary after it emerged that 200,000 registered Democrats had been purged from voter rolls without warning in advance of the vote – tilting the primary heavily in favor of Hillary Clinton. The Board quietly settled the lawsuit, admitting it had broken both federal and state election laws, but the “reforms” it agreed to were nominal at best and the plaintiffs in the lawsuit warned local media there was nothing to prevent a repeat.

Last week, nine mail-in military ballots were found discarded in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Seven of them had been marked for President Donald Trump, who has loudly warned that a mail-in election is likely to bring unprecedented levels of voter fraud.

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Armenia warns it will deploy Russian-made Iskander missiles if Turkey uses American-built F-16 jets in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Yerevan is prepared to use Russian-made Iskander ballistic missiles in the Nagorno-Karabakh region if Turkey deploys its US-made F-16 fighter jets in support of the Azeri offensive, but hopes the situation won’t escalate that far.

Calling the Turkish F-16s a “Sword of Damocles” hanging over the people of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, the Armenian ambassador to Russia Vardan Toganyan said on Monday that “all measures, including the Islanders,” were on the table if Ankara deployed the jets.

However, he added, the time for that has not come yet. According to Toganyan, air defense systems in the area are enough to deal with Turkish and Azeri drones that have been used so far.

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Azeri artillery firing on Nagorno-Karabakh, in still image from video released by Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry, September 28, 2020.
Armenia claims Azerbaijani artillery attacks are intensifying as Nagorno-Karabakh officials allege they’ve downed Azeri warplane

The 9K720 Iskander (SS-26 Stone in NATO nomenclature) is a mobile, short-range ballistic missile system of Russian design, in service with the Armenian military. Yereven has said it was open to deploying the Iskanders, as well as the Su-25 ground attack jets, if it became necessary to match Azerbaijan’s escalation in the ongoing conflict over the disputed region.

Armenian Defense Ministry spokesperson Artsrun Hovhannisyan said during a Monday press briefing that Yerevan could use heavy weaponry if “the logic of battle” called for it.

Azeri Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov responded by saying that Baku has an “adequate response” to any potential escalation from the Armenian side, without giving any specifics.

Armenian President Armen Sarkissian has accused Turkey of directly providing Baku with military-grade drones, mercenaries and even the F-16s. Azerbaijan maintains that Turkey is not taking part in any fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. Ankara has openly supported the latest offensive launched by Azeri forces on Sunday, to numerous calls from NATO allies to show restraint.

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FILE PHOTO © REUTERS/Erik De Castro
Armenia & Azerbaijan point finger at each other over use of Syrian militants in Nagorno-Karabakh, neither provides any evidence

Fighting broke out along the entire line of control on Sunday, with Azeri troops clashing with ethnic Armenian soldiers in the disputed region. Artillery exchanges, tank battles and combat aircraft sorties were all reported, with both sides claiming civilian casualties on their own side and inflicting heavy losses on the other.

Azerbaijan considers Nagorno-Karabakh and a strip of territory connecting it to Armenia proper its own sovereign territory, illegally occupied by Armenians during the war that ended in 1994. Ethnic Armenians in the enclave have declared it the Republic of Artsakh, so far recognized only by Yerevan.

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