The Philadelphia Inquirer

How a less-racist brand of Trump populism could bring a GOP dynasty unless Democrats do something: Will Bunch

When the first election returns started coming in from Texas’ Zapata County — a hot, dusty corner of the Rio Grande Valley with oil rigs and a large Latine population — some online voting fraud sleuths thought there’d been a voting machine glitch, or worse. How could a county that had voted nearly 2-1 for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton show President Donald Trump narrowly ahead?The reality is that baffled, faraway Twitter posters and their assumptions about Texas’ Hispanic vote hadn’t encountered actual voters like 72-year-old retired social worker and teacher Maria Elia Ramos of Rio Grande ...

This scientist paved the way for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

PHILADELPHIA — When Drew Weissman first started injecting mice with genetic molecules called messenger RNA, it did not go well.Many of the animals became overwhelmed with harmful inflammation, and some died.But Weissman solved that problem with a bit of clever biochemistry 15 years ago, working with then-colleague Katalin Karikó at the University of Pennsylvania. Now their work forms the backbone of two vaccines for COVID-19, including the one for which dramatic early results were announced this week.The vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and the German firm BioNTech SE, where Karikó now works, appea...

From hanging chads to deadlocks, presidential elections that took weeks and months to decide

PHILADELPHIA — For the nation’s overwrought nervous system, the 2020 presidential campaign was akin to a punitive marathon. And now the finish line has been moved back.In most presidential elections, the results become clear within hours of the polls closing, the losers graciously concede, the winners thank everyone and then celebrate, and the public accepts the results long before the Electoral College formalizes them in December.That obviously hasn’t been the case in 2020.Ballots are still in question, legal challenges are underway, and it’s not clear yet when the outcome in the race between...

Will Bunch: Trump's politicized Supreme Court has lost legitimacy. 2021's Dems, do something!

We’ve just seen one of the worst weeks in the 230-year-plus history of the U.S. Supreme Court. And that is really saying something, when you think about its other low points including the 1857 Dred Scott ruling, which held Black people as inferior and denied them U.S. citizenship, or 1896’s Plessy v. Ferguson that allowed segregation, or the high court’s more recent jags that have prized corporate citizenship and eroded voting rights.And yet it is becoming increasingly difficult to have faith in the Supreme Court’s independence — and, thus, its legitimacy — after a day that should be known as ...

These cities are among most vulnerable in US to COVID-19 mental health consequences, report suggests

PHILADELPHIA— Camden, N.J.; Allentown, Pa.; and Reading, Pa., have been identified as cities where COVID-19 vulnerability and poor mental health overlap, according to a new report published this month by Mental Health America and the Surgo Foundation, a health nonprofit focused on data science.Worsening mental health due to COVID-19 has become an area of serious concern to health officials. A recent report by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention found that 40% of Americans surveyed said they struggled with at least one adverse mental health condition during the pandemic. Symptoms...

Stress from COVID-19 has led to a surge in teeth grinding: dentists

PHILADELPHIA — When Kate Faith was laid off in March at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, her stress levels skyrocketed. She worried about making ends meet as a single parent to her 1-year-old daughter and about her family and friends catching the virus. The 37-year-old’s sleep worsened, and the additional stress caused Faith’s longtime habit of grinding her teeth and clenching her jaw to intensify.“I’ve been dealing with clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth on and off since college, but because I have a night guard, I usually just work through it,” said Faith, who lives in South Philad...

Trump said he was 'immune' to the coronavirus. Here's what the science says

Twitter on Sunday slapped a warning on President Donald Trump’s tweet that he can’t get or give the coronavirus, saying the post violated rules “about spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.”Is there any evidence that the president is immune? And even if he is, could he still be infectious? Let’s look at what is known — and unknowable.It means your immune system produces proteins, called antibodies, against a specific disease. Natural immunity can be acquired either by getting the disease or through vaccination, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Co...

Here's why the Gulf is getting hammered in this hurricane season — but the East Coast has been spared

PHILADELPHIA — When Hurricane Delta smashed ashore along the Louisiana coast at 6 p.m. Friday it became the 10th tropical storm to make landfall in the United States in 2020, breaking a record that had survived more than a century.It was the seventh storm to land on the Gulf shores, which have been a tropical-storm punching bag in this ultra-busy and peculiar season. It also was the second significant hurricane in six weeks to target the same region of southwestern Louisiana. Its predecessor, Hurricane Laura, was blamed for 14 deaths.By comparison, the Atlantic Coast has been showered with luc...

Philly firefighters are getting a do-over for a controversial Trump endorsement

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia's firefighters union is calling a do-over of its controversial endorsement of President Donald Trump last week that set off a series of protests by its members. Many members of Local 22 of the International Fire Fighters and Paramedics Union see the endorsement process as flawed and inflammatory. Some are calling for the union's leaders to resign. And the endorsement may be yanked away from Trump just before Election Day. Local 22 president Mike Bresnan canceled a union meeting Tuesday and then told his 4,700 members they will be mailed a ballot asking if they support...

Judge considers Trump campaign lawsuit based on his claim that 'bad things happen in Philadelphia'

PHILADELPHIA — President Donald Trump’s campaign challenged Philadelphia’s new satellite election offices in court Tuesday, arguing that its representatives should have the right to observe what happens inside the locations where voters can request and submit mail ballots.Trump campaign lawyer Linda Kerns accused the City Commissioners, who run elections, of twisting Pennsylvania state law to open the satellite offices and allow voting to happen outside of public view.“No one’s asking to interrupt the process,” Kerns said. “All we’re asking to do is to shine a light on it.”The Trump campaign s...

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