Penguin Random House, PEN America team up to Book the Vote

NEW YORK (AP) — Neil Gaiman, Anita Hill and Ann Patchett will be among the contributors to Book the Vote, an online initiative to provide information on the electoral system, voting registration and civic topics.



FILE - Anita Hill attends the 10th annual DVF Awards in New York on April 11, 2019. Hill, Neil Gaiman and Ann Patchett will be among the contributors to Book the Vote, an online initiative to provide information on the electoral system, voting registration and civic topics. Book the Vote (bookthevote.com) is a collaboration among Penguin Random House, PEN America, the non-profit organization When We All Vote and the literary retailer Out of Print, which is owned by Penguin Random House. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)


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FILE – Anita Hill attends the 10th annual DVF Awards in New York on April 11, 2019. Hill, Neil Gaiman and Ann Patchett will be among the contributors to Book the Vote, an online initiative to provide information on the electoral system, voting registration and civic topics. Book the Vote (bookthevote.com) is a collaboration among Penguin Random House, PEN America, the non-profit organization When We All Vote and the literary retailer Out of Print, which is owned by Penguin Random House. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

Book the Vote is a collaboration among Penguin Random House, PEN America, the non-profit organization When We All Vote and the literary retailer Out of Print, which is owned by Penguin Random House.

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The web site will include videos from Gaiman, Hill, Patchett and other authors and public figures, including Jennifer Egan, Jeffrey Tobin, Susan Orlean and Alan Cumming. One feature is called “How America Works” and covers four topics: the right to vote, voting for the president, the Supreme Court and the electoral college.

“Truth, facts, press freedom, and the future of open discourse are all on the ballot this November,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.

Noseel and Penguin Random House U.S. CEO Madeline McIntosh said they were pleased to be working together to provide credible and authoritative information about the U.S. election and voting rights.

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Online: bookthevote.com

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Trump’s Covid-plagued White House proves testing alone can’t keep America safe

President Donald Trump’s White House continues to rack up positive tests, from Hope Hicks to Stephen Miller. On Tuesday, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany (and two of her aides) tested positive for SARS-CoV2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. Despite knowing that she was in close contact with both the president and top adviser Hope Hicks prior to their diagnoses, McEnany not only refused to quarantine, but even continued to give briefings with reporters without a mask.

Her stated reason for this behavior, up until Monday afternoon? She hadn’t tested positive yet.

This behavior highlights a fundamental and dangerous misunderstanding of the point of Covid-19 tests — and their limitations. If we don’t know how to interpret and respond to tests, we risk the kind of disaster now unfolding at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

To be clear, testing is not a prevention strategy. Just like a pregnancy test cannot take the place of birth control, Covid-19 tests should not be seen as substitutes for robust strategies to reduce community transmission. It is part of the public health approach, but not for the reasons people think.

The first and most familiar reason people get tested is to obtain a definitive diagnosis. This type of testing is most often done for individuals with symptoms — people who have a cough, fever, loss of taste or smell, or fatigue. Asymptomatic contacts of a known Covid-19 positive patient may also be tested to rule out infection. This type of testing is usually done with a “PCR” test, which amplifies the virus and which is currently considered the gold standard for testing, although other more rapid forms of molecular tests can also be used. Most tests on the market were approved for this type of “diagnostic” testing, and it has the most robust metrics.

The second reason to test is to monitor the disease on a population level. Individual-level accuracy is less important here. The goal is to detect positive cases before they spread. In this type of testing, we want to test frequently and widely; this is the strategy used by universities, sports teams and workplaces. Many groups are using rapid antigen tests, which are quicker but less accurate, and which have not (for the most part) been proven particularly effective in identifying asymptomatic patients; others are using novel strategies like “wastewater testing” (e.g., testing sewage).

Testing is also used to see if someone has recovered from an infection. For this purpose, an antibody test is used to see if you have mounted an effective immune response; or a repeat PCR test is used to see if you have eliminated the virus from your body. These tests are not completely accurate, though, and should not be used as the sole marker of whether it’s safe to be around other people.

The last main reason we test is to try

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Interior Secretary’s View: ‘Made in America’ starts with Minnesota mining

Failed policies from previous administrations undercut the American manufacturing and mining industries, putting Americans out of work and China in the driver’s seat to control the products we rely on every day for electric power, communications, internet connectivity, and national security. President Donald Trump has championed policies to bring these jobs back to the United States, and his administration is continuing to take major steps forward to ensure our rightful place in the mining, processing, and manufacturing of critical minerals.

Following President Trump’s Executive Order 13817 in 2017, the Department of the Interior produced a list of 35 minerals — including rare earth elements and other metals such as lithium, indium, tellurium, gallium, and platinum-group metals — and determined that the supply chains for these critical minerals are vital to our nation’s national security and economic vitality.

The United States used to be the leader in mineral production and processing. Now, for 31 of 35 critical minerals, the United States imports over half of its annual consumption with no domestic production at all for 14 critical minerals. Everything from solar panels to smartphones to medical devices to the military equipment our soldiers need to protect our nation require these critical minerals. For many of these minerals, China largely controls the market for mining, processing, and manufacturing.

President Trump signed an executive order and declared a national emergency on Sept. 30 to expand the domestic mining industry. Critical minerals can and should be sourced from the United States by American workers, and the Trump administration is making sure this happens. The Department of the Interior and the rest of the federal government have been directed by the president to take bold action to support the mining and processing of minerals here at home.

Through his executive order, President Trump has taken decisive action to put Americans back to work and to restore economic growth. As directed by the president, I will be working with the secretary of Defense to examine how the presidential authority that we have been delegated can be used to provide grants to procure and install equipment to produce and process critical minerals here in the United States, which would accelerate the reopening and expansion of American mines and processing plants. This program could help ensure that new technologies are invented and manufactured in America and exported around the world.

Developing our critical minerals and production capacity at home is good for national security, good for jobs, and good for the environment. American workers are up to the task of efficiently and safely supplying these minerals. The United States boasts some of the strongest protections for workers and our environment in the world, which means producing and processing critical minerals domestically will result in a lower net environmental impact.

President Trump has made it clear that we will not put American workers on the sidelines by continuing to rely on other countries, particularly after the supply-chain disruptions from foreign markets we saw at the onset of the pandemic.

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Trevor Noah Says ‘White House Rose Garden Is Like the Wet Market of America Right Now’ (Video)

Trevor Noah dissected last week’s “super-spreader” White House event on Monday’s “Daily Show,” joking that the recent positive COVID-19 test results that have been revealed for President Trump and dozens of people who are in close contact with him mean that “The White House Rose Garden is like the wet market of America right now.”

“Turns out, while you’ve spent the last seven months hugging your grandma through a giant condom, Trump and his friends are having no-mask cocktail receptions, indoors, where the guest of honor is COVID-19,” the Comedy Central late-night host said, referring to the Sept. 26 celebration for Trump’s Supreme Court pick Judge Amy Coney Barrett. “And now at least 30 people in Trump’s circle have tested positive for COVID-19. You realize that means there’s been more infections at the White House over the last day than in New Zealand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand and Australia combined.”

Noah emphasized that he doesn’t see the “massive outbreak” at the White House as “karma” for an administration that has downplayed the coronavirus, but as “consequences.”

Also Read: Biden Resumes Attack Ads With a Reminder That Trump Mocked Masks, Then Caught COVID (Video)

“It’s not karma to get hit by lightening when you’re standing on the roof of a skyscraper holding a metal rod while there is lightening. The universe didn’t do that s–t to you, you did that s–t to yourself!”

“The Daily Show” host also made it clear he does not want Trump, who left Walter Reed hospital Monday after a three day stay, to lose his life due to his COVID-19 infection: “I want him to lose an election.”

“I also don’t want him to die because then Mike Pence would be president. And then we might as well be dead, because Mike Pence is the most boring human being on the planet,” Noah joked. “If Trump is cocaine, Mike Pence is just flour. Your nose is still going to burn, but nothing cool happens.”

Watch Noah’s full monologue via the video above.

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Trevor Noah Says ‘White House Rose Garden Is Like the Wet Market of America Right Now’ (Video)

Trevor Noah dissected last week’s “super-spreader” White House event on Monday’s “Daily Show,” joking that the recent positive COVID-19 test results that have been revealed for President Trump and dozens of people who are in close contact with him mean that “The White House Rose Garden is like the wet market of America right now.”

“Turns out, while you’ve spent the last seven months hugging your grandma through a giant condom, Trump and his friends are having no-mask cocktail receptions, indoors, where the guest of honor is COVID-19,” the Comedy Central late-night host said, referring to the Sept. 26 celebration for Trump’s Supreme Court pick Judge Amy Coney Barrett. “And now at least 30 people in Trump’s circle have tested positive for COVID-19. You realize that means there’s been more infections at the White House over the last day than in New Zealand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand and Australia combined.”

Noah emphasized that he doesn’t see the “massive outbreak” at the White House as “karma” for an administration that has downplayed the coronavirus, but as “consequences.”

“It’s not karma to get hit by lightening when you’re standing on the roof of a skyscraper holding a metal rod while there is lightening. The universe didn’t do that s–t to you, you did that s–t to yourself!”

“The Daily Show” host also made it clear he does not want Trump, who left Walter Reed hospital Monday after a three day stay, to lose his life due to his COVID-19 infection: “I want him to lose an election.”

“I also don’t want him to die because then Mike Pence would be president. And then we might as well be dead, because Mike Pence is the most boring human being on the planet,” Noah joked. “If Trump is cocaine, Mike Pence is just flour. Your nose is still going to burn, but nothing cool happens.”

Watch Noah’s full monologue via the video above.

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Voice Of America White House Bureau Chief Investigated By Political Appointees : NPR

An investigation by political appointees into Steve Herman, the Voice of America’s White House bureau chief, for anti-Trump bias is the latest act that may break federal laws promising its journalistic independence.

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An investigation by political appointees into Steve Herman, the Voice of America’s White House bureau chief, for anti-Trump bias is the latest act that may break federal laws promising its journalistic independence.

Voice of America

Two political appointees at the federal agency that oversees the Voice of America recently investigated one of its most prominent journalists to make the case he was biased against President Trump, NPR has learned.

They compiled an extensive report deemed “confidential” on VOA White House bureau chief Steve Herman, claiming that in his reporting and tweets that Herman had been unfair to Trump and had broken the broadcaster’s standards and social media policies. And they repeatedly cited a “conflict of interest,” based on their conclusions from Herman’s social media postings, including his own tweets and his “likes,” according to materials reviewed by NPR. The findings were quietly presented to acting Voice of America Director Elez Biberaj for action two weeks ago.

In so doing, the two men appear to have violated laws and regulations intended to protect the federally funded news outlet from political interference or influence. That has set off alarms within the VOA newsroom, already unnerved by investigations of coverage of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by VOA’s Urdu language service and the tenor of language used to describe his wife, Jill Biden, to introduce a segment on VOA’s French to Africa language service.

NPR spoke to three people who had knowledge of the episode and another five for other elements of this story. It is not clear what Biberaj has done with the file. Herman, who declined comment for this story, is perhaps the most public face of VOA. He has been its bureau chief in India, South Korea and Thailand as well as the network’s senior diplomatic correspondent.

Earlier this year, Herman drew the ire of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff after revealing the vice president had not worn a mask inside the Mayo Clinic despite his office’s awareness of the hospital’s policy requiring it ahead of time. And Herman last week filed a first-person dispatch about being barred from Joe Biden’s campaign plane over concerns of COVID-19. Herman had traveled on Air Force One a day earlier — just before news broke that White House communications director Hope Hicks and the president had tested positive for the virus.

The investigation of Herman is the latest and perhaps the most blatant in a growing series of episodes pointing to the politicization of the international broadcaster since Trump’s pick, Michael Pack, became CEO of its parent agency. Pack took over the U.S.

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How the White House is trying to convince America that Trump’s illness isn’t a big deal

In case that point was somehow lost on observers, campaign aides like Jason Miller made it more explicitly.

The tacit message of the tweet: Even the virus can’t keep this guy down.

But Miller’s presentation of what’s shown is obviously questionable. For one thing, while he boasts that Trump didn’t need a teleprompter, the president can be seen looking down at the sheet of paper in front of him, almost certainly to consult notes about what he plans to say.

This is not a big deal, of course, and, technically, it doesn’t conflict with Miller’s representation that no teleprompter was used. But that Miller pointedly uses this as a point of contrast with former vice president Joe Biden, Trump’s opponent in the upcoming election, is ironic. After all, Trump’s campaign has repeatedly criticized Biden’s use of written notes or alleged that he was referring to notes as he gave public comments. (Here’s an example from a Biden television appearance and one centered on his invitation to Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) to join his ticket.)

Then there is Miller’s claim that this was “one take” — meaning that it is presented as Trump offered it, without editing. Shortly after the video was published, a number of professional video editors noted that this probably wasn’t true; that, after Trump mentions the use of therapeutics, he appears to begin to cough — but not complete the cough.

You can see it in the animation here. About halfway through, his shoulders hunch. You’ll also notice that when the animation loops, the position of the cabinets behind him shifts, despite this apparently being shot from a mounted camera. In other words, the camera was probably moved.

Those shifts are evidence to experts of the use of Adobe Premiere’s “fluid morph” tool, a nifty bit of software that allows video producers to hide cuts. There are a number of examples on YouTube of the tool at work, such as this one. If you watch that video, you will notice that the effect is most noticeable in the background, where the position of elements (particularly at upper left) suddenly changes.

This video wasn’t released simply as a matter of course. It followed reports earlier in the day that Trump had been in more dire condition on Friday than the White House at first let on. The New York Times reports that the revelation that Trump had been more ill than was originally suggested “infuriated” the president, prompting him to first encourage his attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani to pass a message about his vitality to the New York Post and, later, to make a similar point publicly himself.

In other words, Trump himself wanted to show the world how healthy he was, something that wouldn’t be aided by an on-camera cough. (His doctors have publicly acknowledged that Trump has been experiencing a cough, a common symptom of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.)

Trump’s team also released photos of him apparently working from the presidential facility at

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In the Presidential Race, What Happens in an Electoral College Tie? | America 2020

In mid-July, with many polls showing a blowout lead for Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the presidential race, Fox News host Chris Wallace pressed his television show guest, President Donald Trump, to “give a direct answer” on whether he would accept the outcome of November’s presidential election. Trump demurred. “I have to see. Look … I have to see,” the president replied. “No, I’m not going to just say yes.”

Trump’s reply angered many critics, who called it anti-democratic, and it served to inject another layer of uncertainty into an election process that’s also been shaken by COVID-19, the administration’s attacks on the U.S. Postal Service, and persistent Russian meddling, among other issues. But there’s another, rarely discussed Election Day scenario that could potentially thrust the country into extended political turmoil: a tied Electoral College.

“I don’t think that we’re prepared for a contingent election at all,” says Robert Alexander, a professor of political science at Ohio Northern University and an expert on the Electoral College. “As tumultuous and chaotic as the last several years have been, I can only imagine that would be amplified in the weeks following a tie vote in the Electoral College.”

Cartoons on the 2020 Election

Recent American history, of course, has produced two highly unusual presidential elections. In 2000, more than one month after votes had been cast, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately halted Florida’s infamous recount effort, confirming a tiny electoral vote victory for George W. Bush.

Just four years ago, Trump lost the popular vote to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes, but he still won a comfortable Electoral College margin (304 to Clinton’s 227).

But the Electoral College hasn’t actually been tied since 1800, when a new party nominating system resulted in a split between then vice president Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, with each man receiving 73 electoral votes. (After 36 ballots, Congress finally settled on President Jefferson, with Burr going on to serve a term as his vice president.)

This year, under one scenario modelled by the political website 270toWin, the country’s 538 electoral votes could end up evenly divided if swing states Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire and Virginia turn for Biden while Arizona, Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Georgia and Ohio vote for Trump. This scenario also hinges on Biden winning four out of a possible nine combined votes from Maine and Nebraska’s unique “congressional district method,” where those two states each allocate two electoral votes to the overall state popular vote winner and one electoral vote to the winner in each congressional district. Maine, with four electoral votes, is projected for Biden; Nebraska, with five, is a safe bet for Trump.

Still, an overall 269-269 tie remains decidedly unlikely, but it is possible.

“Close elections are actually the rule when it comes to the Electoral College,” says Alexander, who points out that about half of all Electoral College decisions have been decided by 75,000 voters or fewer. “It would take

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Newt Gingrich: Rep. Kevin McCarthy and the House GOP’s ‘Commitment to America’

When Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and the House Republicans unveiled their Commitment to America this week, they were operating in the best tradition of the modern House GOP.

In 1994, we unveiled the Contract with America. It gave our candidates a clear outline of positive ideas they could advocate. The momentum of having a positive, problem-solving GOP carried us to the first House Republican majority in 40 years.

We promptly kept our word, and in the first 100 days voted on every item in the Contract. That clarity and proof that we could be trusted turned a 40-year period of Democratic control of the House into a 12-year Republican majority.

After four years of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her radical ideas, the House GOP came roaring back with Speaker John Boehner and his Pledge to America.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY: AMERICA, IF REPUBLICANS TAKE THE HOUSE IN NOVEMBER, HERE’S THE AGENDA WE’LL COMMIT TO

Kevin McCarthy was a member of the working group that produced that second great commitment to action. With Republicans emphasizing “where are the jobs?” Boehner led them to an even greater victory than we had in 1994 (we won 54 seats; the 2010 House Republicans won 63 seats).

Now, in that tradition, Leader McCarthy has launched a Commitment to America.

This new House Republican commitment is a bold contrast with the radicalism in Speaker Pelosi’s HR 6800 (which I have outlined in a series of free podcasts) and the radicalism of the Kamala Harris-Joe Biden ticket.

FREEDOM CAUCUS PUSHING MCCARTHY TO BACK LONG-SHOT EFFORT TO REMOVE PELOSI AS HOUSE SPEAKER

As leader McCarthy recently told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, “we’re going to rebuild the biggest economy we have ever seen, add 10 million new jobs, and restore our way of life.”

On COVID-19, McCarthy told Sean Hannity: “We’re going to end COVID. We are going to defeat this virus and keep America healthy. We are going to create a safe and effective vaccine. We are going to triple our rapid COVID testing, and we will protect pre-existing conditions. We are going to modernize our stockpile because Joe Biden and Obama … left us in a tough situation.”

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At a time of rising violence, the House Republicans reject the Left’s failed policies. McCarthy pointed out: “We don’t defund the cops. We add 1.75 billion dollars for more police training, teaching them when to use their weapon and what type of weapon to use, we will expand community policing and more importantly, 500,000 body cameras.”

McCarthy recognizes that more than health and safety are at risk in this election. He pledged, “we will protect our rights under the constitution, free speech. religious freedom, the unborn.”

All of this will be paid for by repeating the economic successes – which by February of this year had given the United States the highest employment rate in its history. As McCarthy said:

“We will come and rebuild the biggest economy. We’ve done it once and

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A Record Number of Women Are Running for House in 2020 | America 2020

A record number of female nominees are running for the House in the 2020 general elections, exceeding the historic number set in the 2018 midterms that brought in a wave of women – mostly Democrats – to Congress and switched party control.

With the conclusion of the regular 2020 primary season following Tuesday’s primaries in Delaware, 298 women advanced to general elections with a large majority of them running as Democrats, according to an analysis by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Of the total number of female House nominees, 204 are Democrats, while 94 are Republicans, with both parties shattering their previous records. The number, however, could slightly grow with a few remaining primaries happening on Election Day.

Political Cartoons on Congress

It’s a sizable uptick from 2018 when there were record-high numbers of women seeking House seats with 234 nominees. The number of female nominees in 2020 is likely to again bolster the ranks of women serving in Congress which has historically been overwhelmingly run by men despite women representing more than half the U.S. population. There are a number of female nominees, however, who will face steep hurdles in November since they’re running in districts that are considered swing seats or ones that dramatically tilt towards one party.

Women played a pivotal role in delivering Democrats control of the House in 2018 for the first time in eight years. Two years ago, Democrats had a record-high of 182 female nominees running for Congress.

And in 2020, a historic number of at least 130 Black women ran for the House and Senate, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. The record number of Black candidates, who are largely Democrats, are running at a time when the country faces a reckoning over race and ongoing protests around the country against police brutality and systemic racism.

Republican women, meanwhile, have seen their numbers dwindle in recent years. There are only 13 women currently in the House GOP conference since a handful of incumbents lost to Democratic candidates two years ago.

But House Republicans made a significant push to recruit a record number of female candidates, though they still face challenges – particularly financial – when trying to navigate and win contested primaries. This year, the GOP surpassed its previous record of female House nominees which was 53 in 2004, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

Women fell just short of the 2018 record set in the Senate, which had 23 nominees. This year, there are 20 female nominees for the Senate: 12 Democrats and eight Republicans. The current composition of women in the upper chamber includes nine Republicans and 17 Democrats.

The number could again change after Georgia’s special election for the Senate on Nov. 3. Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was appointed to former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s seat last year, is running for a full term and competing in a jungle primary which will feature all Senate candidates regardless

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