Lawsuit seeks to block counting of military ballots in Wisconsin:
A wooden gavel and block is seen inside the Senate Hart Building in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (Carlos Bongioanni/Stars and Stripes)
Last week, Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R), the chairwoman of Wisconsin’s Assembly's elections committee, received three military ballots under fictitious names that were allegedly sent to her by Kimberly Zapata, a Milwaukee election official. Election officials have criticized Brandtjen for spreading false claims about the system, and Zapata later told prosecutors she was trying to alert Brandtjen about an actual weakness in the state's voting system that should be addressed. Days later Zapata was fired and charged with a felony and three misdemeanors. Unlike most states, Wisconsin allows military members to cast ballots without registering to vote or providing proof of residency. Military ballots make up a tiny fraction of votes in Wisconsin — about 1,400 so far for Tuesday's election. Now Brandtjen is suing to prevent the immediate counting of military ballots in her state. She and her allies are using the incident to argue that military ballots should not be counted unless election officials can show they complied with a state law requiring them to maintain lists of all eligible military voters. Brandtjen's attorney, Erick Kaardal of the conservative Thomas More Society, said state officials have handled elections in a way that is "conducive to vote fraud."
US faces highest flu hospitalization rate in a decade with young kids and seniors most at risk:
A nurse administers a flu vaccination shot to a woman at a free clinic held at a local library on October 14, 2020 in Lakewood, California. Mario Tama | Getty Images
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the US is facing its highest flu hospitalization rates in over a decade with children and the elderly being most at risk. Flu and respiratory syncytial virus abated during the COVID-19 pandemic due to mitigation measures such as masks and social distancing, but now the viruses are staging a major comeback. At least 1.6 million people have fallen ill with the flu so far this season, 13,000 people have been hospitalized, and 730 have died, according to CDC data. In the Southeastern US, about 20% of respiratory samples are testing positive for H3N2, a strain of the flu associated with more severe illness in children and the elderly, Dr. Jose Romero said. Mitigation measures implemented during Covid left large portions of the US population uninfected with other common respiratory viruses, consequently allowing these viruses to now be surging as young children in particular lack immunity from prior infections. The federal government is prepared to send medical teams and provide supplies from the strategic national stockpile if hospitals are stretched beyond capacity, according to Dawn O’Connell, a senior official at the Health and Human Services Department. No state has requested such support so far, O’Connell said.
US Congress split on making daylight-saving time permanent:
Employees with the Architect of the Capitol wind the Ohio Clock in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, US, January 21, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A push in the US Congress to make daylight-saving time permanent, which was unanimously passed by the Senate earlier this year, has stalled in the House, with a key lawmaker telling Reuters they have been unable to reach consensus. US Representative Frank Pallone, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee that has jurisdiction over the issue, said in a statement to Reuters the House is still trying to figure out how to move forward. "We haven’t been able to find consensus in the House on this yet. There are a broad variety of opinions about whether to keep the status quo, to move to a permanent time, and if so, what time that should be," Pallone, a Democrat, said, adding that opinions breakdown by region, not by party. Legislative aides told Reuters they do not expect Congress to reach agreement before the end of the year. Supporters in the Senate would need to reintroduce the bill next year if it is not approved by the end of the year. Supporters of the change argue that if approved, the so-called Sunshine Protection Act would allow children to play outdoors later, and reduce seasonal depression. It would also prevent a slight uptick in car crashes that typically occurs around time changes -- notably crashes with deer. Critics, including the National Association of Convenience Stores, say it will force many children to walk to school in darkness during the winter, since the measure would delay sunrise by an hour in some places.