Keeping Score: Congressional Republicans Deny Election Results; Dr. Biden Defends Herself

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in in this biweekly round-up.


Lest We Forget 

+ “Anybody who thinks the election went well… Like that idiot [Chris] Krebs who used to be the head of cybersecurity, that guy is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.”

Joe DiGenova, a Trump campaign lawyer who, along with the campaign, is now being sued by Krebs for defamation.

+ “The body doesn’t know if a trauma happened 20 years ago. When you’re triggered, your body experiences the trauma as if it’s happening right now. So what happened on Saturday isn’t just about what happened on Saturday. What happened on Saturday was also about what happened in 2008, when I was kicked on the street. What happened in 2001, 2, 3, 4, 5 when I was harassed on a train, or walking down the street, when I was beaten up by groups of kids when I was a kid myself. So what happened on Saturday triggered all of that.”

Actor and activist Laverne Cox via Instagram live, following a transphobic attack in Griffith Park, Los Angeles.

+ “If ever there were a moment to end the Hyde Amendment, this is it… Abortion bans, including insurance coverage bans, perpetuate systems of oppression, anti-Black racism, and white supremacy that target people of color, especially Black women, and limit their ability to thrive in their own communities. Reproductive justice is a racial justice issue, and there can be no racial justice, economic justice, or gender justice so long as the Hyde Amendment remains.”

—Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) in an op-ed discussing the dangers of the Hyde Amendment, which limits federal funding of abortion for those enrolled in Medicaid programs.

+ “Even before the pandemic began, child care and long-term care solutions were often unaffordable and inaccessible, and women were filling the gaps at tremendous cost to their own economic potential… Women’s COVID-forced exodus from the economy is a blow to decades of progress toward gender equality—and there is little evidence that progress will recover soon.”

—Melinda Gates in a New York Times op-ed.

+ “Together, we demand an answer for history,” read one sign at a #MeToo protest in Beijing, China on Wednesday, Dec. 2. The public outrage is in light of alleged sexual harassment by TV celebrity Zhou Xiaoxuan against an intern.

+ “I had a permanent smile on my face as I watched each wall come down. I took a sledgehammer and started bashing in the walls. I felt a feeling of triumph, of closure, and rebuilding to make it better. It was a shift to me that as a woman-owned business we got hired to take down Harvey Weinstein’s offices.”

—Barbara Kavovit on leading the literal tear-down efforts of a former Weinstein Company office.

Milestones

+ The Electoral College officially cast more than the 270 votes necessary to elect Joe Biden as the next U.S. president.

+ COVID-19 vaccine distribution began for American health care workers on Monday, Dec. 14, after Pfizer’s promising trial results resulted in FDA approval.

+ A Wall Street Journal opinion article—in which the writer argues that future first lady Dr. Jill Biden, referred to as “kiddo,” should drop the “Dr.” before her name—was met with outrage. Click here to read Dr. Biden’s Ed.D. dissertation.

+ The United Kingdom altered their blood donor criteria to allow gay and bisexual men to donate, even if they’ve had sex within the last three months, so long as it was with one partner.

+ Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) blocked a congressional initiative to dedicate new Smithsonian national museums to Latinx Americans and women.

+ Forty-year-old Brandon Bernard was executed in Indiana on Thursday, Dec. 10 for a crime committed over 20 years ago by him and four other gang members in Texas. According to CNN, no other person has been executed at such a young age—for a crime they committed as an adolescent—in nearly 70 years. The federal government recommended the death penalty this fall, under attorney general William Barr, following a 17-year hiatus.

The Trump administration is on track to shatter records for federal executions within his final months in office. There are scheduled to be 13 total executions since the first occurred in July. This contrasts the three total executions carried out between 2001 and 2003. Axios reported that “in the last five months, more federal executions have taken place than in any year since the 1920s.”


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+ A New York federal judge ordered the Trump administration to end suspension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, meaning applications and renewals requests can once again be submitted.

+ Donald Trump’s campaign raised over $207.5 million since Election Day, claiming that donations would aid the RNC in overturning presidential election results. However, 75 percent of contributions are subject to be put towards Trump’s future political ambitions, according to the fine print.

+ A pro-Trump gathering in D.C. became violent on Saturday, Dec. 12, with multiple victims hospitalized due to stabbings.

+ Oglala Lakota activist Debra White Plume died on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at age 66, after a lifetime of advocating for Indigenous communities in South Dakota.

+ Nineteen-year-old Aiden Ellison was shot in an Oregon hotel parking lot, allegedly for playing his music too loudly. However, the Ashland police chief is investigating whether the homicide “was driven by race.”

+ Oscar-nominated actor Elliot Page, star of the Netflix series Umbrella Academy, came out publicly as transgender and nonbinary on Tuesday, Dec. 1. His pronouns are he/they, and Netflix announced they will be changing Page’s name in film credits accordingly.

(Given the media’s less-than-perfect track record in covering well-known celebrities who come out as trans, the media’s respectful handling of Elliot Page’s coming out was a welcome change.)

+ The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and Montana attorney Kurt Alme are developing a plan to find missing Indigenous people, many of whom are murdered. The goal is to set an example for other states and communities to follow suit.

+ Bank of America officially refused to fund drilling and exploitation of the Arctic for fossil fuels, becoming the final major bank in the U.S. to do so. 

+ Musician FKA twigs is suing actor Shia LaBeouf for being abusive towards her during their previous relationship, including various forms of assault.

+ ParityBOT, a Twitter bot developed by Areto Labs, counteracts online abuse by sending human-written positive tweets to women political candidates. Meanwhile, YouTube will begin asking users “Is this something you really want to share?” before posting something that their algorithm deems offensive, and Facebook will take down misinformation involving the coronavirus vaccine.

+ A British court ruled that transgender children under 16 are “unlikely to be mature enough to give informed consent to be prescribed puberty-blocking drugs,” thus preventing them from consenting to hormonal treatments.

+ Former IBM computer scientist Lynn Conway was fired in the 1960s for seeking gender affirmation treatment as a transgender woman. This November, 52 years later, Conway met with their employees so IBM could issue a formal apology.

+ The lower house of the Argentine moved forward with passing a bill that would legalize elective abortion procedures up to 14 weeks. Argentina will be one of only four Latin American countries to grant women the right to choose.

+ The Trump administration is increasing the difficulty of the U.S. citizenship test. Their changes include doubling the length of the exam, and including more difficult phrasing that hinders English language learners.

+ TIME awarded its first ever Kid of the Year, 15-year-old Coloradoan Gitanjali Rao, for her technological innovations. She was chosen from a list of five finalists between ages 8 and 16, and interviewed by actress Angelina Jolie.

+ Deborah Gonzalez will become Georgia’s first Latinx district attorney after winning the runoff for the Western Judicial Circuit on Tuesday, Dec. 1. She is also the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected district attorney in the U.S.

+ President-Elect Biden nominated California attorney general Xavier Becerra as next Health and Human Services secretary. If confirmed, he would be the first Latino to serve in said position, bringing along his extensive experience defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

+ The U.S. House voted 228-164 to decriminalize cannabis, advancing the bill to the Republican-majority Senate. The vote follows a string of five state-level legalizations in the November election.

+ Proposed by the U.S. administration, habitat protections for coral reefs would mark a huge step forward in preserving coral species despite the worsening climate crisis.

+ Betsy Wade died at 91 on Thursday, Dec. 4 after a 45-year career working for The New York Times. She was the first woman to edit news for the Times, pursuing legal action for sex discrimination against herself and female colleagues.

+ Timnit Gebru, a Google artificial-intelligence scientist that is well-respected within the company and one of only a few Black women employees, was fired as co-leader of Google’s Ethical Artificial Intelligence Team. Gebru was notified following an email she sent to the company regarding its poor treatment of minorities.

+ Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) was elected chair of the Appropriations Committee by House Democrats. DeLauro was up againast Rep. Marcy Keptur (D-Ohio) until she dropped out of the race and endorsed DeLauro against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.).

+ Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) subpoenaed BuzzFeed News in hopes of tracking down their confidential sources. Editor-in-chief Mark Schoofs said the outlet “emphatically rejects any requests for information about possible sources and methods of our reporting.”

+ The first female lieutenant general of Afghanistan, Suhaila Siddiq, also known for her surgical talent, died on Friday, Dec. 4 after suffering from Alzheimer’s and COVID-19 complications.

+ A Swedish daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, handed the reins to young environmental activist Greta Thunberg for one day on Sunday, Dec. 6, giving her a platform to shed light on the effects of climate change.

+ A statue of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was taken down by the Virginia Military Institute on Monday, Dec. 7 after a vote by the school’s board in late October.

+ Several members of the gaming industry came forward with allegations of harassment and sexual assault beginning in June. The New York Times reports:

Gamers began sharing their stories after a Twitter user who posts as Hollowtide tweeted about an unnamed “top” player of the online game Destiny on Friday night, referring to the person as a “scum lord.” Three female streamers, JewelsVerne, SheSnaps and SchviftyFive, saw the post and decided to come forward about their experiences with the gamer in question, who is known online both as Lono and SayNoToRage. The women posted their allegations, including nonconsensual touching, propositioning for sex and harassment, on Twitter using their streamer handles. 

Nearly six months later, livestreaming platform Twitch announced new site guidelines and filters.

+ Newly-elected Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced an end to cash bail and the death penalty, among other reforms, during his first week in office.

+ Over 100 Republican members of Congress signed onto a Texas lawsuit filed with the Supreme Court, hoping to overturn the election after every state has already certified their results.

+ Voting rights organizations warn that Georgia is disproportionately suppressing Black and Latinx voters by reducing the number of early voting sites ahead of the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs.

How We’re Doing

+ After individually surveying congressional Republicans, The Washington Post found that only 27 out of 249 were willing to acknowledge Joe Biden as president-elect.

+ Research by Climate Central found that low-income housing is three times as likely to flood by 2050 due to the climate crisis. 

+ According to a survey of tipped workers in several states, the pandemic has negatively impacted their sense of security on the job. Not only do they fear that employers and customers are jeopardizing employees’ health by not following COVID-19 guidelines, but workers are also subject to higher levels of sexual harassment.

+ The percentage of American adults willing to take a COVID-19 vaccine, were it to become available at the time of the survey, has increased by nine percent since September. The most recent survey, conducted Nov. 18-29, indicates 31 percent would probably get the vaccine, and 29 percent would definitely get the vaccine.

(Pew Research Center / Instagram)

+ A study of young Zimbabwean women showed that after just one educational session on menstrual hygiene, more than four in five participants felt better equipped to handle their menstrual cycles. 

+ Women, particularly women of color, are subject to violating sex determination tests in sports competitions. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, they have been occurring for nearly 80 years, and disproportionately regulate female athletes. Annet Negesa, a successful Ugandan runner, even had her internal testes removed without informed consent.

+ Trends show that rather than inducing a baby boom as expected, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to higher rates of egg-freezing, likely to counteract uncertainty.

+ In a Pew Research Center survey, President Donald Trump was unable to secure 25 percent confidence in any of the 13 participating countries. While 23 percent of Australians respondents expressed confidence in his leadership, only 10 percent of Germans did. Confidence has decreased in most countries since the first survey was conducted in 2017.

+ “Nearly nine in 10 Americans believe ‘there is still stigma around HIV,’ and 88 percent of Americans agree that ‘people are quick to judge those with HIV,’” according to a recent GLAAD report on HIV stigma and education.

HIVStigma - % of Total National Adults
(Graphic by GLAAD)

+ The world’s wealthiest one percent currently emit more than double the greenhouse gases emitted by the poorest 50 percent, according to the UN Environment Program. The richest members of the population must cut their carbon footprints 30-fold to slow the worsening climate crisis.

+ The International Federation of Journalists found that 42 media workers were killed on the job in 2020, in addition to at least 235 currently imprisoned as a result of their reporting work.


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About

Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is an incoming freshman at Tufts University. She is a former Ms. research and editorial fellow, and assistant editor of social media. You can find her on Twitter at @sophie_dk_.