September 15, 2020

Several legal advocacy groups filed a whistleblower complaint Monday alleging that an unusually large number of hysterectomies are being performed on detained migrant women at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Ocilla, Georgia, run by the private prison firm LaSalle South Corrections to house Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees. A nurse who worked full-time at the facility until July and several migrant women interviewed by one nonprofit, Project South, said the women did not know why they were being sterilized.

"When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp," said one detainee who had spoken with five women given hysterectomies — removal of all or part of the uterus — between October and December 2019. "It was like they're experimenting with their bodies."

The nurse, Dawn Wooten, said female detainees at ICDC are often sent to one outside gynecologist in particular. "Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy — just about everybody," Wooten said. "Everybody's uterus cannot be that bad," she added. "We've questioned among ourselves like goodness he's taking everybody's stuff out. ... That's his specialty, he's the uterus collector. I know that's ugly ... is he collecting these things or something? ... Everybody he sees, he's taking all their uteruses out or he's taken their tubes out. What in the world."

The complaint, filed with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General, also details allegations of filthy conditions in cells, a critical shortage of personal protective equipment, and secrecy surrounding COVID-19. Wooten says there's "a silent pandemic" at ICDC.

LaSalle Corrections told The Intercept it "is firmly committed to the health and welfare of those in our care" and "deeply committed to delivering high-quality, culturally responsive services in safe and humane environments." ICE said it does not comment on matters before the Inspector General's office but "in general, anonymous, unproven allegations, made without any fact-checkable specifics, should be treated with the appropriate skepticism they deserve." Peter Weber

3:50 p.m.

Polling concerning the new Supreme Court vacancy is starting to roll out, and the early indication is most Americans would prefer that the winner of the general election on Nov. 3 select a nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Sunday shows 62 percent of Americans oppose President Trump's plan to nominate and confirm Ginsburg's replacement as soon as possible, regardless of whether it happens before the election. The poll naturally came with partisan leanings — 80 percent of Democratic voters said the nominee should be chosen by the next president — but half of Republicans agreed as well, suggesting there may be some divide over how voters want the GOP-led Senate to approach the situation. As things stand, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is aiming to go through with a confirmation vote.

The survey also hints that the vacancy could affect the election, with 30 percent of voters responding that they're now more likely to vote for the Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, and 25 percent are more likely to vote for another term for President Trump.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online between Sept. 19-20, gathering responses from 1,006 American adults. The margin of error is four percentage points. Read more at Reuters. Tim O'Donnell

2:42 p.m.

A number of Republican senators have attempted to differentiate between the current effort to confirm a new Supreme Court justice to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the scenario in 2016 when the Republican-led Senate blocked then-President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland.

Back then, the argument was that it was too close to the general election to confirm a lifetime nominee. One of the senators who supported that argument was Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.). On Sunday during Meet the Press, NBC's Chuck Todd read a series of Barrasso's own previous quotes on the matter back to him, and also showed an old clip of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) saying he would support waiting to confirm a nominee until after the election if there was a vacancy at the end of President Trump's term.

Todd's point was that neither Barrasso nor Graham ever mentioned — as they do now — that they believe the election year argument only applies in cases where the Senate and the president hail from different parties, which is how some Republicans are explaining why supporting a vote for Trump's eventual nominee, even though the 2020 general election is only weeks away, isn't hypocritical.

In his response, Barrasso repeatedly emphasized the argument about party congruity, but didn't directly address Todd's assertion that the GOP didn't make the distinction four years ago. "Should viewers just not believe anything you're saying today because whatever you're saying today will change depending on the politics of the moment?," Todd asked his guest. Tim O'Donnell

1:47 p.m.

Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) announced she tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday morning, making her the latest lawmaker to contract the virus.

Hayes, who said she is largely asymptomatic save for "breathing issues which are being monitored," will quarantine for 14 days. In a Twitter thread, the congresswoman explained how difficult it was for her to get a test, perhaps contradicting assumptions about access to testing on Capitol Hill.

Hayes said she had to go to two urgent care centers on Saturday before she finally secured an appointed at a third site for Sunday morning. Her experience, she writes, shows why the U.S. needs to implement a "coherent" and efficient national testing strategy. Tim O'Donnell

1:02 p.m.

Hours before the news of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's passing broke Friday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee before the November election. At the time, the question was hypothetical, but now that it's reality Murkowski is sticking to her word.

On Sunday, the senator — considered a centrist — became the second Republican in the upper chamber after her colleague Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) to oppose confirming Ginsburg's replacement before Nov. 3. Murkwoski explained she didn't support former President Barack Obama's attempt to fill a vacancy in 2016 since it was too close to that year's election, and she's applying the same standard to this situation, which has an even smaller window.

Observers have pointed out that Murkowski didn't specify whether she'd be opposed to voting during the so-called lame-duck session in the weeks after the election, but in her comments before Ginsburg's death, she did suggest "the people" should have a say in an appointment. Collins, for her part, said whoever wins the presidential contest should fill the seat.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) still could have the numbers he needs to push a vote through, but all eyes are on a few other GOP senators, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), to see if they'll follow Collins and Murkowski. Tim O'Donnell

12:03 p.m.

The Emmys this year won't look like ever before — but that doesn't mean there won't be the usual amount of shock upsets.

Pundits are generally in agreement about who will take the top prizes at Sunday's virtual Emmys. But what surprises could be in store? Here are some possibilities.

1. Ozark wins drama series - Critics largely see this top Emmy going to HBO's Succession, but some think Netflix could score an upset with Ozark, which debuted its third season in March. It could get a boost after, Deadline writes, many "housebound viewers finally discovered the series" in COVID-19 lockdown.

2. Insecure wins comedy series - The favorite here is easily Schitt's Creek, but what about Issa Rae's Insecure? Variety's Adam B. Vary is predicting a massive upset, writing that Insecure "feels like the right winner, both in quality and in capturing the current moment."

3. Issa Rae wins lead comedy actress - On that note, could Rae herself surprisingly defeat the heavy favorite, Schitt's Creek star Catherine O'Hara? Vanity Fair says Rae "may be the underdog victor."

4. Ramy Youssef wins lead comedy actor - Schitt's Creek star Eugene Levy is poised to win here. But Ramy's Ramy Youssef surprised at the Golden Globes in January by taking the best comedy actor trophy. He wasn't competing against Levy, but still, could he do so again?

5. Zendaya wins lead drama actress - Zendaya wasn't even originally expected to be nominated in this category, but as Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Colman, and Laura Linney duke it out, some see her swooping in for a shock victory.

6. Jason Bateman wins lead drama actor - This category seems like a battle between Succession stars Jeremy Strong and Brian Cox, but if they split the Succession vote, could Ozark's Bateman, who last year won a surprise directing Emmy, emerge victorious?

Expect the unexpected - more so this year than ever - when the Emmys kick off at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on ABC. Brendan Morrow

11:17 a.m.

ActBlue, the Democratic Party's donation-processing site, received a record $91.4 million in the 28 hours following the announcement of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death on Friday, executive director Erin Hill said in a statement. That figure was the result of 1.5 million contributions, indicating the looming battle over confirming Ginsburg's replacement on the high court will be a priority for both parties as the November election nears.

Donors set the single-day donation mark by pouring in $70.6 million on Saturday, surging past the previous one-day high of $41.6 million. The 1.2 million contributions on Saturday also set a daily record since ActBlue launched 16 years ago.

The hourly record was set consecutively Friday evening after the news broke, first during the 9 p.m. ET hour and again during the 10 p.m. hour at $6.2 million and $6.3 million, respectively. The previous record was $4.3 million in one hour. As the pattern suggests, the number of contributions made during the 10 p.m. hour was record-breaking, as well. Read more at Axios. Tim O'Donnell

8:38 a.m.

President Trump said Saturday that he has given his "blessing" to a deal that will keep the popular social media app TikTok operating in the United States, but the decision appears perplexing to some observers.

Despite Trump's approval, the deal itself is not done, but the current framework consists of U.S. tech company Oracle joining up with Walmart to form a new entity called TikTok Global, for which they'd pay TikTok's Chinese parent company, ByteDance, $12 billion. The two companies plan to own a combined 20 percent of TikTok Global, while ByteDance is expected to retain most of the remaining 80 percent. Per NPR, TikTok Global will still be presented as majority-American owned since 40 percent of ByteDance is owned by U.S. investors.

The negotiations to sell TikTok were spurred by Trump's threat to ban the app in the U.S. over national security concerns as tensions between Washington and Beijing remain high. It seems that the Trump administration is satisfied those concerns will be addressed in the Oracle deal, but Chris Kelly, the former chief privacy officer at Facebook, told NPR the Chinese government will likely still have "substantial" ability to pressure ByteDance under the future framework and the interactions "could stretch into personal data pretty easily," which has been Washington's primary worry.

On a similar note, Trump previously signed an executive order in August requiring ByteDance to completely divest from U.S. TikTok operations, which likely won't be the case under the proposed deal. "They're really moving the goalpoasts here," a former Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States official told NPR on condition of anonymity. "ByteDance is still the biggest dog in this deal. The foreign control issue does not go away." Read more at Bloomberg and NPR. Tim O'Donnell

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