moving forward
April 7, 2020

South Korea has received international praise for its swift and so-far successful response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, so it's not shocking to hear the country is planning to go through with its parliamentary elections next week as scheduled while places like the United States are postponing their own elections for safety reasons.

Life is slowly returning to a new normal in South Korea, but the government is averse to taking any chances, and next Wednesday's voting is going forward with precautions, reports Quartz. The National Election Commission said it will regularly disinfect all 14,330 polling stations and run temperature checks at the door, sending anyone with a temperature above 99.5 degrees to a special voting booth. Voters, who will be asked to stand more than 3 feet away from each other in line, will also receive hand sanitizer and special gloves when they enter booths.

Not everything's been figured out, though. People recovering from less severe cases of COVID-19 in special patient centers will be able to vote from there, but the country is still trying to figure out how 46,000 people who are under a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon re-entering South Korea after April 1 will be able to participate. Cho Jung-hwan, an NEC official, said it will be "difficult" to figure out a solution to that problem, as well as the fact that many Koreans living abroad can't vote at consulates or embassies overseas. "We are still trying to figure out some kind of middle ground in this clash between the right to vote and the right to public health," Cho said. Read more at Quartz. Tim O'Donnell

August 19, 2019

The fourth highest-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives now supports opening an impeachment inquiry.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the assistant speaker of the House, on Monday announced he is in favor of "moving forward" with an impeachment inquiry, in a statement saying, "This is not a position I've reached lightly."

Luján went on to say that he was "alarmed" that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report stated that President Trump's campaign welcomed Russian interference in the 2016 election, as well as the report's outlining of instances of potential obstruction. Mueller did not establish a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia and made no determination about whether Trump criminally obstructed justice.

Luján is currently running for Senate to replace Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), and Politico's Burgess Everett notes that he had been facing criticism in his Democratic primary on the issue of impeachment. Luján is the highest-ranking Democrat in the House to back an impeachment inquiry, Politico reports, and the 127th House Democrat to do so.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has continuously resisted calls for an impeachment inquiry, saying in July, "We will proceed when we have what we need to proceed — not one day sooner," NBC News reports. Even so, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has said that an impeachment inquiry is "in effect" already ongoing. Brendan Morrow

May 16, 2019

Missouri is the latest state to advance legislation restricting abortion access.

The Missouri Senate on Thursday passed a bill banning abortion at eight weeks, The Associated Press reports. The bill provides exceptions in cases of medical emergencies, but not in cases of rape or incest. The legislation was passed in a 24-10 vote, and it now needs approval in the House, where Republicans have the majority.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) has indicated he will sign the bill into law, saying it will make Missouri "one of the strongest pro-life states in the country." If the bill is passed, doctors who perform abortions after 8 weeks would face between five and 15 years in prison.

This comes after Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed into law the nation's most restrictive abortion law, which outlaws nearly all abortions except in cases of a "serious health risk" or if the "unborn child has a lethal anomaly."

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) last week also signed a bill into law banning most abortions after doctors can detect a fetal heartbeat, which typically occurs at about six weeks. These bills are expected to face legal challenges, and Ivey said upon signing the Alabama law that while it may be "unenforceable" in the "short term," it presents the Supreme Court with an "opportunity" to "revisit" Roe v. Wade. Brendan Morrow

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