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Former Trump Impeachment Manager Rep. Val Demings to Challenge Sen. Marco Rubio in 2022

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Val Demings has plans to take on Marco Rubio in the Florida Senate race in 2022.

What We Know:

  • Democratic Rep. Val Demings is a former Orlando police chief who rose to national prominence for being Donald Trump’s impeachment manager. Demings would provide Democrats with a top-tier candidate in one of the United State’s swing states. Demings was also considered to be Joe Biden’s running mate as vice president. She almost ran for governor but felt she could be most effective running against Marco Rubio.
  • Demings first hinted at her plans on The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart. She revealed that people are asking her to run for Senate because they feel underrepresented and unheard. Demings is expected to make her final decisions in the upcoming weeks. Democrats believe that with Demings as a candidate, she can speak on issues of policing and criminal justice reform. A democratic advisor stated, “Val is an impressive and formidable candidate whose potential entrance would make the race against Rubio highly competitive.”
  • Rubio is a two-term senator who was first elected in 2010. He was re-elected in 2016 after he also ran for president that year. On the other hand, Demings was first elected to the House that same year.
  • She represents the 10th Congressional district and sits on the Judiciary, Intelligence, and Homeland Security committees. Demings was a law enforcement officer with the Orlando Police Department for 27 years. She served as chief of police from 2007 to 2011. Her husband, Jerry Demings, also served as chief of Orlando’s police. He currently serves as the Mayor of Orange County, which is one of the fastest-growing localities in Central Florida.

While other Democrats have declared their candidacies in the race, Demings is notably the most high-profile contender to take on Marco Rubio.

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Coronavirus

Altruistic COVID-19 Vaccine Intentions Solidified by White House

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A nurse prepares to administer the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine under the COVAX scheme against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Eka Kotebe General Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 13, 2021. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

Previously, President Joe Biden announced plans to share extra COVID-19 vaccines with foreign countries. The White House unveils intended destinations for all 80 million doses.

What We Know:

  • In May, Biden promised to export 80 million vaccines by the end of June. The US has an excess supply of COVID-19 vaccines, making vaccine diplomacy possible. However, challenges emerge on diplomatic and logistical fronts. Diplomatic challenges include which countries to supply vaccines since infections are intensifying across the globe. Another difficulty is determining quantity allocation. Logistically, transporting condition-sensitive vaccines poses challenges.
  • President Biden stated the US will not operate by trading doses for influence, referencing perceived favor-securing practices by both China and Russia. The United States and other wealthy countries faced criticism early this year for racing ahead with vaccine rollouts while other countries struggled.
  • 41 million of the 80 million doses go to COVAX, a humanitarian program directed in part by the World Health Organization. COVAX’s goal is fair vaccine distribution of 2 billion vaccines by the end of 2021, so far dispensing 88 million.
  • The issue of vaccine discrepancies, targeted by COVAX, is evident when comparing national wealth. Upper-middle-income and high-income countries make up 85.61 percent of the total administered COVID vaccines while low-income countries make up only .029 percent.
  • Accordingly, from the US supply, COVAX settled upon sending 14 million vaccines to Latin American and Caribbean countries, 16 million to Asian countries, and 10 million to African countries. Another 14 million will be distributed to regional priorities, specifically low-income countries. These include Colombia, Argentina, Haiti, other Caribbean countries, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Panama, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Cabo Verde, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen, Tunisia, Oman, Ukraine, Kosovo, Georgia, Moldova, Bosnia and West Bank and Gaza.
  • All 80 million of the vaccines are accounted for, however, distribution lags. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki attributes the slow down to transportation issues as well as language barriers.

While all 80 million vaccines may not depart by the end of June, they are on track to arrive shortly thereafter. The 500 million Pfizer vaccines bought by the US to donate will systematically depart.

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Business

Supreme Court Favors Nestle and Cargill in Child Slavery Lawsuit

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The U.S. Supreme Court sides with food corporations Nestle and Cargill in child slavery lawsuits.

What We Know:

  • The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of the two corporations on claims brought up by six men who use to work for them. The six men say that they were taken from Mali as children and were made to work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast. The group reports that they had to work between 12 to 14 hours a day on the farms; they were hardly paid for their work and had armed guards watch them as they slept, to prevent them from escaping.
  • The group’s case had been dismissed twice before reaching the US. Appeals of the 9th Circuit. They argued the case back in December and former President Donald Trump, supported both corporations. The men were suing the corporations for a case action suit that included all the child workers that the corporations used in the past. They also claimed that corporations “aided and abetted” their child workers and purchased cocoa beans from other farms that did the same.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the 9th Circuit shouldn’t have allowed this case to be tried on U.S. land, as the claims happened overseas. The 9th Circuit allowed the case to be held because the corporations supposedly made “major operational decisions” in the country. He also said that the six men failed to provide enough evidence to sue under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), proving that the companies committed labor abuse on overseas farms.
  • West Africa contributes to almost 70% of the cocoa distributed throughout the world, and the U.S. receives a majority of it. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, about 1.56 million children work on cocoa farms in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
  • Paul Hoffman, the group’s lawyer, says that his clients are disappointed, but they aren’t giving up. He says the group will see if a lower court will amend the lawsuit and hopefully this meets the court’s requirement for ATS. Hoffman also believes that Nestle and Cargill were aware of what went on at the farms and they should be held accountable for not putting an end to it. However, neither corporation owns a cocoa farm in the Ivory Coast and only provided equipment and service to them.

Both corporations have maintained their innocence and said to be doing their parts to prevent child slavery from happening within their industry.

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LGBTQIA+

Supreme Court Supports Catholic Adoption Agency’s Right to Deny LGBTQ Couples

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(Shawn Thew — EPA / Shutterstock)

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court sided with Catholic Social Services (CSS) in their lawsuit against the city of Philadelphia for terminating their contract to screen foster parents due to CSS’s refusal to consider same-sex couples.

What We Know:

  • Philadelphia has custody of 5,000 children that have been abused or neglected. They have 30 contracts with private agencies to provide various services for these children, such as foster care, placement, and group homes. The contracts ban discrimination against LGBTQ couples in screening for foster parents, which CSS has a policy against due to religious reasons.
  • CSS’s lawyer argued that the city was trying to prevent CSS from doing work it has done for “two centuries.” Neal Katyal, the lawyer for the city’s representation, pointed out that despite the cancellation of their screening contract, CSS was still be receiving millions for other programs they were in contract with.
  • Justices were divided 6 to 3 on the reasoning of the decision. Chief Justice John Roberts penned the opinion of the majority, stating that Philadelphia violated the First Amendment. Longstanding precedents in the court consider laws that are neutral to religion and generally applicable to be constitutional.

Roberts wrote, “As an initial matter, it is plain that the city’s actions have burdened CSS’s religious exercise by putting it to the choice of curtailing its mission or approving relationships consistent with its beliefs.”

  • His opinion was more narrow in scope than conservatives were hoping for. LGBTQ supporters were concerned this ruling would strike down a 1990 precedent.
  • The 1990 precedent, Employment Division v. Smith, protects neutral and generally applicable laws that “burden religion.” This provides leeway for states and cities to forbid discrimination. Justice Samuel Alito felt as though Robert’s narrow reasoning was rendering the court’s decision temporary. In reference to Employment Division v. Smith, Alito said, “This severe holding is ripe for reexamination.”

The decision overrules the opinion of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with Philadelphia. Diana Cortes, Philadelphia City Solicitor, responded, “With today’s decision, the Court has usurped the city’s judgment that a non-discrimination policy is in the best interests of the children in its care, with disturbing consequences for other government programs and services.”

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