In case you missed it: Week of Oct. 18


FDA approves COVID-19 treatment 

A bottle containing the drug Remdesivir is held by a health worker at the Institute of Infectology of Kenezy Gyula Teaching Hospital of the University of Debrecen in Debrecen, Hungary, Thursday Oct. 15, 2020. On Thursday, October 22, Gilead Sciences announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its drug, Remdesivir, as a treatment for COVID-19. (Zsolt Czegledi/MTI via AP)

On Thursday, the biotechnology company Gilead Sciences announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its drug, Remdesivir, as a treatment for COVID-19 according to U.S. News

So far, Remdesivir — the same antiviral drug that President Donald Trump was treated with when he tested positive for COVID-19 — is the first and only treatment for the virus approved by the FDA. It will be used only in cases of the virus where the patient is hospitalized and at least 12 years old — or who meet certain weight requirements. 

According to Gilead, Remdesivir proved to be a legitimate treatment for COVID-19 in three randomized controlled trials, including one done by the National Institute of Health, where it was concluded that the drug could cut a patient’s recovery time on average by five days. 

According to Gilead Chief Medical Officer Dr. Merdad Parsey, Remedesivir — also known as Veklury — is now authorized in about 50 countries, at least temporarily. 

We now have enough knowledge and a growing set of tools to help fight COVID-19,” Parsey said. 

Democrats boycott nomination vote to no avail 

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, left, speaks with Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., during a Senate Judiciary Committee Executive Business meeting, including the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to serve as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Caroline Brehman/Pool via AP)

Senate Republicans changed the rules of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday to advance President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justice nomination to a full senate vote, despite the Democratic members of the committee boycotting the vote, according to the Associated Press

Normally, the rules of the Senate Judiciary Committee stipulate that at least two members of the minority party — currently the Democrats — must be present in order to move forward with a nomination. Mike Davis, an advisor to senate Republicans, told the Associated Press that the committee was “well within its normal practice to hold the vote” without Democrats there. According to Davis, it has been customary for the Senate Judiciary Committee to move forward on business as long as all of the members of the majority party are present. 

On Thursday, Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris of California denounced the Supreme Court justice nomination process on Twitter

“My Democratic senate colleagues and I boycotted the Supreme Court nominee committee today. Let’s be clear: This nomination process is a sham and shows how Republicans will stop at nothing to strip health care from millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions,” Sen. Harris said. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said, on Wednesday, the evening before the Senate Judiciary Committee vote, that the committee would not be able to move forward business without the minority members present. 

“We’re not giving them the quorum they need to provide [a vote],” Sen. Schumer said. “The rules require it.” 

According to the leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the Republican members of the committee are merely playing by the rules that Democratic senators left in place. 

Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., arrives for a Senate Judiciary Committee business meeting, Thursday morning, Oct. 22, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington, where the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, will have a committee vote. A vote by the full Senate could come next Monday, just a week before the election. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“The nomination process took a dark turn in 2013 when the Democrats changed the rules of the senate for district and circuit court nominees requiring a simple majority vote. My Democratic colleagues chose to engage in a partisan filibuster of Justice [Neil] Gorsuch for the first time in U.S. history requiring the changing of the rules regarding Supreme Court nominations,” Sen. Graham said. 

On boycotting Thursday’s vote, Sen Graham said, “I believe it does a disservice to Judge Barrett who deserves a vote, up or down.” 

NPR reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is in charge of the Senate’s schedule, plans to arrange for a full senate vote to the Supreme Court next week. 

According to the Associated Press, President Trump wants his nominee to take her seat on the Supreme Court before Nov. 3, in order to settle any potential disputes over the results of the upcoming Presidential Election. 

Iran and Russia deny claims of ‘influencing public opinion’ in U.S. Elections 

In this Oct. 20, 2020, file photo an election worker pulls a stack of returned ballots from a sorting machine at the King County Elections office Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Renton, Wash. U.S. officials said Thursday, Oct. 22, that Russian hackers have targeted the networks of dozens of state and local governments in the United States in recent days, stealing data from at least two servers. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

On Wednesday night, Iranian Spokesman to the United Nations Alireza Miryousefi denied the United States Director of National Intelligence’s claims that Iran used obtained voter registration information to ‘intimidate voters and incite social unrest,’ according to NBC News. 

“Unlike the U.S.,” Miryousefi said, “Iran does not interfere in other countries’ elections.” 

On Thursday, Iran summoned Swiss diplomats, who will represent the U.S., to the capital city of Tehran to work out the “baseless” accusations. 

The Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, first made allegations against the foreign government earlier, on Wednesday. 

“We have already seen Iran sending spoof emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President Trump,” Ratcliffe said. “Additionally, Iran is distributing other content to include a video that implies that individuals could cast fraudulent ballots, even from overseas.” 

“These actions are desperate attempts by desperate adversaries,” Ratcliffe said. 

The Associated Press reported that “threatening” emails were sent to Democratic voters in multiple contested states, pretending to be sent from the self-proclaimed “western chauvinist fraternity,” the Proud Boys. 

Ratcliffe also mentioned that the intelligence community is aware that the Russian government has also obtained voter information but has not taken any action against the U.S. election. 

Spokesperson to the Russian government, Dmitry Peskov, said that the accusations are “absolutely groundless. They are not based on anything.” 

Judge drops third degree murder charges against Chauvin 

On Thursday, a Minnesota judge ruled that the trial of the four former Minneapolis police officers charged with the murder of George Floyd in May will move forward without the third degree murder charges against one of the former officers, Derek Chauvin, according to ABC 5 KSTP

The dismissal of the third-degree murder charge will hang for five days to allow for the state to appeal the judge’s decision. The second-degree murder charges against Chauvin, as well as the aiding and abetting charges against the other three former police officers, will stand. 

As of right now, all four former officers will be prosecuted in the same trial in March. 

Halloween town cancels Halloween 

Coronavirus-themed Halloween decorations are displayed on a lawn in Tenafly, N.J., Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. The City of Salem, Massachusetts announced in a press release that all city-sanctioned Halloween night festivities would be canceled. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The City of Salem, Massachusetts announced in a press release on Wednesday that all city-sanctioned Halloween night festivities will be canceled, including the town’s usual Halloween firework celebration. 

“Trick-or-treating is not a city event. The decision to trick-or-treat is one that individual families should make on their own. Those who choose to engage in trick-or-treating should comply with the public health guidance issued by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. If trick-or-treating, families should not congregate with other family groups, should keep a face covering on at all times and should stay six feet away from others. Anyone choosing to trick-or-treat should be out no later than 8:00 p.m.,” the press release said. “Residents of other communities should not trick-or-treat in Salem.” 

The city also announced that it will be tripling municipal fines “for the period of October 30th through November 1st, including fines for noise violations, resident parking violations, and public intoxication.” 

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