2020, the most active hurricane season ever
After moving over South America, tropical storm Eta brought sustained winds of 65 mph to the Florida Keys late on Sunday night, according to the Associated Press.
Over the weekend, Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida officials declared a state of emergency in eight counties and encouraged residents to prepare for flooding.
According to The Weather Channel, Eta is the first named storm to hit Florida this season, and the 12th to make landfall in the United States.
The New York Times reported that the last named storm to hit the U.S. was a category two hurricane that made landfall in Louisiana on Oct. 28 — just before the U.S. election — and caused widespread power outages throughout Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and the Carolinas.
Eta tied the record number of Atlantic hurricanes in one season set 15 years ago in 2005 — the year when Hurricane Katrina brought 125 mph winds to Louisiana, killed 1,200 people and contributed to over $100 billion in damage, as estimated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Eta is the third strongest November hurricane to date, and the first to reach category four in more than 10 years.
According to the Associated Press, there were no reported deaths in Florida on Monday.
Last week, before coming to the U.S., Eta made landfall in Nicaragua as a category four hurricane with winds up to 140 mph, according to a tweet from the National Hurricane Center, and weakened as it moved inland through Honduras. The storm dumped more than 18 inches of rain on the coastal areas of Nicaragua and Honduras before heading back out toward Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico.
Eta devastated South American homes and left dozens dead in Panama, Guatemala and Mexico.
On Monday night, Theta, the 29th Atlantic hurricane of 2020, formed over the Northern Atlantic ocean, making the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season the busiest to date. This is the eighth letter in the Greek alphabet used to name an Atlantic storm after Hurricane Wilfred formed in September.
Trump appoints his fourth Secretary of Defense on Twitter
On Monday, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he had fired the United States Secretary of Defense and leader of the Pentagon, Mark Esper.
“I am pleased to announce that Christopher C. Miller, the highly respected Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (unanimously confirmed by the Senate), will be Acting Secretary of Defense, effective immediately,” Trump tweeted.
In a follow-up tweet, the president posted that “Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service.”
According to the New York Times, Secretary Esper had known his position was in danger since June when he disagreed with Trump and said the military should not be used to control domestic protests. Esper even had a letter of resignation prepared, but had ultimately hoped to remain in Trump’s cabinet to help smooth out his last few months as president.
The White House notified Secretary Esper that he had been fired minutes before Trump posted his tweet.
In a letter from the Secretary of Defense to the president following his termination, Esper wrote “It has been a distinct honor to once again serve our great nation and fellow citizens, this time as the 27th Secretary of Defense for the world’s premier military force.”
“I have served these last few years as both Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Army in full faith to my sworn oath to support and defend the Constitution, and to safeguard the country and its interests, while keeping the Department out of politics and abiding by the values Americans hold dear.”
“I first took this oath 38 years ago as a Cadet at the United States Military Academy, and many times more since then. I have lived my professional life in accordance with the West Point motto of ‘Duty, Honor, Country’ and have put service to nation above self as a 21-year active duty, Reserve and National Guard Army officer — in both war and peace, at home and abroad — and as a public servant in the executive and legislative branches of government on multiple occasions,” Secretary Esper said.
The Pentagon chief went on to list several of his achievements over the last 18 months, including strengthening connections with America’s allies to increase military readiness around the world, taking “major strides” to care for military personnel and their families and improving “diversity, inclusion and equity in the Armed Services.”
Finally, Secretary Esper wrote, “I serve the country in deference to the Constitution, so I accept your decision to replace me,” and then thanked members of the military and the American people for their “great work” and support to him and his leadership team.
Trump’s new Secretary of Defense, Christopher C. Miller, is the director of the National Counterterrorism Center and a former Army Green Beret who served overseas in Afghanistan. He will be the fourth Secretary of Defense in the president’s four year administration.
Senate races (plural) head to runoff in January
Last Tuesday, the state of Georgia held two elections for their seats in the United States Senate, which both resulted in a runoff to be scheduled for January 2021, according to NPR.
Fast Company writes that each U.S. state is represented by two senators that serve for six years each, and are usually elected at different times. Under normal circumstances, one third of U.S. senators finish their six-year term every two years, with no state electing both of their senators in the same year.
However, in December 2019, Sen. Johnny Isakson decided not to complete his six-year term, and stepped down three years before his seat was up for election. Sen. Kelly Loeffler was appointed to fill Sen. Isakson’s seat until the federal election was held last week.
While Sen. Loeffler ran against three other candidates — Raphael Warnock, Doug Collins and Deborah Jackson — to hold onto the senate seat she took over from the indisposed Sen. Isakson, Georgia held another, regularly occurring senate race between the incumbent Sen. David Perdue and Jon Ossoff.
In both of the state’s senate races, no candidates received a majority of the total votes, which automatically triggered a runoff election between the two most popular candidates of each race.
In his race against Ossoff, Sen. Perdue won 49.7% of the vote and his competitor won 48%. However, neither candidate secured a majority. Sen. Perdue and Ossoff each had over two million votes cast for them, with the remaining ballots being cast for written-in candidates.
In her race, Sen. Loeffler came in second to Warnock with almost 26% of the vote. With just over 39%, Warnock didn’t secure a majority of the vote either.
The two senate runoffs in Georgia — between Sen. Perdue and Ossoff, and between Sen. Loeffler and Warnock — will be held on Jan. 5, 2021, according to WTOC 11 Savannah. Early in-person voting for these races will begin Dec. 14.
After the runoff was scheduled, Ossoff wrote in a letter to Sen. Perdue that “Georgians deserve to hear their candidates for U.S. Senate debate these issues publicly.”
Ossoff challenged the incumbent to “three live, in-person debates sponsored by media organizations” throughout the state of Georgia before the January runoff.
“Georgians deserve nothing less,” Ossoff said.
New York sends the most diverse delegation to the U.S. House in state history
In 2021, the state of New York will send their most diverse delegation to the United States House of Representatives in state history after adding three African American members, two of whom are openly gay men, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Change is here in New York,” said one of the Congressmen-elects, Mondaire Jones, who will represent New York’s 17th district. “I’m proud to be part of a delegation that reflects the lived experiences of New Yorkers.”
In total, seven of the members of New York’s delegation in 2021 will be African American.