Weekend Review: China Forms World’s Largest Trading Alliance
On Sunday, fifteen countries including China cemented a pact to form the largest global trading bloc to date, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The deal took more than eight years to negotiate and was signed virtually to adhere to pandemic safety measures.
This partnership includes many Southeast Asian countries, as well as South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Many hope that the deal will help in the overall global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by lowering tariffs over time.
RCEP countries represent more than a third of the world’s population and economy. India was reportedly in talks to join the partnership but dropped out. The country is reportedly still welcome to join RCEP.
Million MAGA March underwhelms
On Saturday, thousands of President Trump’s supporters rallied in D.C. to protest election results and insist that he be allowed a second term. Attendees waved Trump flags and carried signs that read “stop the steal” and “four more years” to show their disapproval of the election of Joe Biden.
In spite of several challenges to the election from Trump team of lawyers, no evidence of a fraudulent win has been provided to the courts. This fact has not slowed an ongoing effort by the Trump administration to delegitimize the election results by simple word of mouth.
The march was a sign that Trump’s strategy could be working, but it did not live up to its name — the Million MAGA March. Trump was fairly pleased with the display and was driven by on his way to the golf course.
Of course, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany took to Twitter to spread false information about the event.
Later on Saturday, clashes between Trump’s supporters and D.C.’s regular protesters erupted into fistfights. At least one person was stabbed and police made more than 20 arrests. Trump used Twitter to attack the “radical left” and “ANTIFA SCUM” he singularly blamed for the skirmishes.
So far, Trump has failed to concede to Biden and it is beginning to seem that will not happen. He has been encouraging his supporters to take to the streets to defend his second term.
However, Trump acknowledged that Biden won the election, perhaps by mistake, as he baselessly claimed that multiple entities manipulated the results.
The Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees released a joint statement on Thursday to defend the integrity of the election.
They wrote, “The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result.”
Wolf’s appointment to DHS and DACA changes invalidated by federal judge
On Saturday, a federal judge decided that fairly recent changes to rules which limited applications and renewals for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are invalid because acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was never legally appointed to his position. The judge found that Wolf therefore lacked the authority to make the changes.
In July, Wolf wrote a memo that was meant to override all other DACA memos, in spite of never being confirmed to his position. With the support of the White House, he declared that new DACA applications would not be considered. Furthermore, renewals would be reviewed yearly on a case-by-case basis.
In August, the Government Accountability Office also found Wolf’s appointment to be invalid. Trump has a renewed push to get Wolf’s position confirmed by the Senate prior to Inauguration Day, but a vote is not on the Senate agenda so far.
Coronavirus surging in US
As of Sunday morning, Johns Hopkins University reported a total of 10,908,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US. There have been approximately 245,000 deaths since February. For reference, Harvard Health reports that about 24,000 people die from the flu each year in the US.
The US was declared the global epicenter for the pandemic in the spring. It remains the country with the highest reporting of new daily cases.
Now, the number of daily cases and subsequent deaths are again increasing in most states. Many state governments are considering imposing stricter lockdown measures just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Chances are high that some Americans will make plans in spite of those measures.
Experts are concerned that some areas will again face a shortage of medical supplies and hospital beds. Other areas face the challenge for the first time.
How people behave in regards to mask-wearing and social-distancing during the holidays will greatly influence the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, Pfizer has announced progress in delivery of a vaccine by the end of 2020. That does not mean it will be available to the public any time soon, though. Obstacles remain, such as cold storage and the best method to mass distribute a vaccine needed by the world.