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From politics to the pandemic: How women changed the course of 2020 – NBC News

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As 2020 goes down in history, it will be remembered for more than just the year that the coronavirus pandemic changed the world as we know it. The year 2020 will also be remembered for the women from many different walks of life who made a profound impact and great progress, from female politicians and women making strides in corporate America to frontline nurses providing care and relief in these very challenging times.

Dec. 29, 202011:38

“In a year like no other — and truly like no other — I would like to reflect on the triumphs and challenges of women who shattered ceilings, demanded more and paved the way for a brighter year ahead despite all odds,” said Mika Brzezinski, Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host.

In a virtual roundtable interview this month, Brzezinski spoke with Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent and Weekend TODAY co-anchor, Susan Del Percio, senior advisor to The Lincoln Project, Errin Haines, editor-at-large for “The 19th” and Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, associate professor at Boston University School of Medicine and MSNBC medical contributor. The women reflected some of these monumental moments for women – especially women of color – and what this means for the future.

Women and the election cycle

In politics, this year was unique in the sense that in the election cycle, women on both sides of the aisle broke records across the country, winning no less than 141 seats in Congress. Furthermore, Vice President-elect Sen. Kamala Harris made strides as the first female, Black, South Asian-American elected to the nation’s second highest office.

RELATED: Inside the movement that swept Republican women into Congress

“It is an extraordinary year,” Haines said, mentioning that many women of color had to continue to fight throughout history to have a voice and be represented. “Women have helped to usher in the most diverse Congress in history,” Haines said. Given the particularly challenging year, it was notable that women were able to pull this off despite this time of suffrage and setback. That said, Haines explained that while women are making great progress in politics, they still have a long way to go. “We know that women still are not represented in line with their demographic numbers in this country,” she said. Haines believes that it will be quite interesting to see how gender factors into policy in the months and years ahead.

Welker added that women winning more seats in Congress and the first female and Black vice president elected sends a message to little girls that they can do this too and have a voice. Now, the world will watch to see what these women will do with their elected offices. Will they address critical issues that are impacting women? Will there be policies that are directly targeted to women to help them get back into the workforce? Will they address issues impacting communities of color that have been disproportionately hit by the Covid-19 pandemic? Welker has confidence that these women in positions of power will pave the way for more milestones as they work to make an impact.

Impact of incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden

Incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden was also celebrated as a woman of 2020, rising above challenges and stereotypes. In Dr. Biden’s case, she was unintentionally part of a controversy brought on by an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal that questioned whether she should keep the honorific doctorate title before her name.

RELATED: WATCH: Mika to WSJ, ‘You owe Dr. Jill Biden an apology’

Dr. Biden will be the first first lady to continue her own professional career while in the White House. “Dr. Biden will send a message to so many women, not just young women but to women in their 40s, 50s and beyond that it is OK to keep working and that you are not defined by your spouse,” said Del Percio.

Kristen Welker moderating the last presidential debate

Brzezinski also touched on Welker’s historic moment moderating the last presidential debate on Oct. 22, saying she was “spot on from start to finish.” Welker hoped that other young women and girls who found something inspirational in the debate recognized it as a team effort bolstered by many strong, supportive women. “It was a real sisterhood and helped me to find strength in that moment and ask questions on behalf of the American people,” Welker said.

In 2020, female voters turned up to the polls to make an impact. According to NBC News exit polls, some 91 percent of Black women voted for Joe Biden, thanks in part to leaders like Stacey Abrams and LaTosha Brown, co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund.

“Black women have been working to perfect this democracy, even before they had access to the franchise with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They have been working to bring about a freer and fairer America not only for themselves… but for their communities, this democracy, for this country,” Haines said. “What these Black women know is that the future of the Senate can have an impact on their daily lives, and they vote with that in mind.”

Del Percio nodded to the power of women and in particular, women of color. “This is a force to be reckoned with,” she said.

Top women in the fight against Covid-19

In the battle against Covid-19, women also showed up and made a big difference, especially those in health care. Sandra Lindsay, a Black nurse at a Queens hospital, became the very first person to be vaccinated in the U.S. The critical care nurse wanted to help other women and communities of color who might be hesitant to get vaccinated.

Some 70 percent of the world’s healthcare workers are women, according to the World Health Organization. “In this pandemic, women have been frontline care takers as healthcare workers and at home. Because of their greater numbers as healthcare workers, they also make up 79 percent of healthcare workers with Covid-19,” Dr. Bhadelia said. “I cannot thank my fellow healthcare workers enough for working tirelessly these past months to care for our patients.”

Strides for women in the corporate world

Despite the economic crisis that emerged from the pandemic, this year was also one where diversity of female employees in corporate America improved. “Women are now running more Fortune 500 companies than ever before, and for the first time in 20 years, all S&P 500 boards have at least one woman,” Brzezinski said.

Dec. 9, 202007:06

In celebration of these great milestones, Know Your Value partnered with Forbes for a special project called 50 over 50, to elevate women who have shattered age and gender norms, founding success later in life. Many of these women are also paying it forward to help other women.

RELATED: Nominate a woman for Know Your Value and Forbes’ 50 over 50 list HERE!

While 2020 will be remembered for the trials and tribulations brought on by Covid-19, it also marks the year that women overcame formidable challenges and made positive gains by lifting each other up and setting the stage for a brighter year ahead.

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Essential Politics: Remaking California's political maps – Los Angeles Times

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This is the July 26, 2021, edition of the Essential Politics newsletter. Like what you’re reading? Sign up to get it in your inbox three times a week.

In a summer filled with public health worries, a state budget surplus and a historic gubernatorial recall election, there’s been little time to talk about what might end up being California’s most consequential political news of 2021.

That’s redistricting, the once-a-decade requirement to draw new maps for congressional, state and local representation — a process that itself is being dramatically reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With big developments on the horizon, let’s set the stage for what to watch.

The census delay’s domino effect

California’s embrace of independent redistricting — wherein maps are drawn by citizen commissioners rather than the elected officials who serve in those jurisdictions — has relied on robust public input and timely access to accurate, comprehensive data about the number and location of the state’s residents.

An unprecedented delay in obtaining census data has thrown everyone a curveball. Federal officials are delivering the information more than four months late, sparking demand for changes to the established timelines for local redistricting efforts and the maps to be drawn by the 14-member California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Census officials have now promised a full set of data, though not in a user-friendly format, on Aug. 16.

California uses a statewide repository for organizing the needed census data and adding additional information on voters and elections, thus producing the information the statewide citizens panel needs to revise congressional, legislative and state Board of Equalization maps. Local commissions in a number of California communities draw maps for city councils, boards of supervisors, school districts and more.

So the question is this: How long do the state and local panels need to pull this off? And is the delayed process a legitimate threat to holding California’s primary election on June 7, 2022?

The debate over the deadline

Almost two weeks ago, the state citizens redistricting commission decided it wants to move its deadline for producing the final maps to Jan. 14, 2022 — a time frame that would probably be longer than the one given to the 2011 commission, the state’s first independent panel after voters stripped legislators of their power to draw the districts.

The argument, over a series of meetings, was that community groups would struggle to offer thoughtful input if the redistricting deadline is during the end-of-the-year holidays. But the state association of elections officers quickly sounded an alarm, noting that candidates and local officials could be left scrambling. One notable concern is that the maps could be challenged in court — as they were in 2011 — and lead to even further delays in preparing for the primary.

But moving the June 7 primary also presents problems, given the way election returns often take weeks to complete, and planning for the November general election would also be affected if the primary election is moved into late June.

Redistricting: What to watch for

The California Supreme Court, which extended the timeline for statewide redistricting last year once the census delays became apparent, now must consider the request from the state commission to allow them an extra two weeks to draw the maps, until Jan. 14, 2022. There’s no sign on when the justices might act, though sooner would be better.

Officials who oversee the statewide redistricting database have said initial census data will be made public as soon as Aug. 23 — this will allow anyone who wants to tinker with population and geography to do so. But the data needed to draw the official maps probably won’t be ready until late September, due to a 2011 law that requires California prison inmates to be counted in the communities where they last lived and not as residents of the communities where their prisons are located.

When the California Legislature reconvenes in mid-August, lawmakers may want to modify election deadlines to account for the delayed maps. They also will be asked to extend the deadline for local redistricting commissions to produce maps. Those panels, under existing rules, will have even less time unless the Legislature intervenes.

We know the maps will change, in some cases, quite a lot from those drawn a decade ago. And we know California will lose one seat in the House of Representatives, the first rollback in history of the state’s delegation in Washington.

Voters, of course, simply want to know that the elections for those posts are fair, conducted under well-established procedures and using political maps that have been smartly — and fairly — laid out.

‘California Politics’ launches Aug. 13

As the state’s redistricting challenges come into focus, the gubernatorial recall moves into full campaign mode and the Legislature heads into the home stretch for its work this year, we’ll be launching The Times’ newsletter devoted solely to California politics.

This is my final edition of Essential Politics. I look forward to joining the ranks of its readers to catch weekly updates from David Lauter, Noah Bierman and Laura Blasey, my colleagues in our Washington, D.C., bureau.

If you want to keep track of the political ups and downs of the Golden State, sign up for the new newsletter here.

Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.

National lightning round

— Lawmakers racing to seal a bipartisan infrastructure deal early this week are hitting a major roadblock over how much money should go to public transit, the group’s lead Republican negotiator said Sunday.

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday named a second Republican critic of Donald Trump, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, to a special committee investigating the Capitol riot and pledged that the Democratic-majority panel would “get to the truth.”

Former President Trump, again upending American political norms, is moving to remake Congress and the Republican Party in his own image.

— The Border Patrol’s approach to missing migrants has evolved amid an increase in migration and deaths.

Thomas Barrack, a prominent L.A. investor, awaits trial on charges of obstruction of justice and acting as an agent of the United Arab Emirates.

Today’s essential California politics

— Conservative talk radio host Larry Elder will appear on the recall election ballot, while Kevin Faulconer will not be described as a “former San Diego mayor” on official election paperwork, two California Superior Court judges ruled last week.

— Facing criticism from recall supporters for California’s rise in gun violence and retail theft, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday called for more accountability and enforcement but insisted the state is on the right path on criminal justice.

— With the renewed spread of COVID-19, Newsom faces a delicate decision over whether to again impose statewide mask requirements in indoor public places and risk upsetting Californians just weeks before they decide if he should be recalled from office.

— An appeals court Friday ruled that state leaders violated the rights of parents by forcing private schools to stay closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stay in touch

Keep up with breaking news on our Politics page. And are you following us on Twitter at @latimespolitics?

Did someone forward you this? Sign up here to get Essential Politics in your inbox.

Until next time, send your comments, suggestions and news tips to politics@latimes.com.

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Analysis: Politics might not be a sport, but Texas sports are political – The Texas Tribune

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Kais Saied: The political outsider accused of a coup – Al Jazeera English

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President accused of attack on Tunisian democracy after sacking the country’s prime minister and suspending parliament.

Tunisia’s president described his election victory in 2019 as ‘like a new revolution’ – and on Sunday night he brought huge crowds of supporters onto the streets by sacking the government and freezing parliament in a move his foes called a coup.

Kais Saied, a 63-year-old political independent and former constitutional lawyer with an awkward public manner and a preference for an ultra formal speaking style of classical Arabic, is now at the undisputed centre of Tunisian politics.

Nearly two years after his election and a separate vote that created a deeply divided parliament, he has sidelined both the prime minister and parliament speaker with a move seen by critics as an unconstitutional power grab.

However, as tens of thousands of people flooded the streets of major cities to celebrate, Saied appeared to be riding a wave of popular anger against a political elite that has for years failed to deliver the promised fruits of democracy.

While the parliament speaker, Rached Ghannouchi, has been tainted with the messy compromises of a decade of democratic politics since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, Saied entered the scene in 2019 as a comparative newcomer.

Presenting himself in his campaign as an ordinary man taking on a corrupt system, he fought the election without spending money and with a bare-bones team of advisers and volunteers – winning the backing of leftists, Islamists and youths alike.

His supporters said he spent so little on the election that it cost only the price of the coffee and cigarettes he consumed meeting Tunisians and presented him as a paragon of personal integrity.

People celebrated in the street after Tunisian President Kais Saied announced the dissolution of parliament and Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi’s government [Fethi Belaid/AFP]

Once elected, he appeared for a while shackled by a constitution that gives the president direct power over only the military and foreign affairs while daily administration is left to a government that is more answerable to parliament.

Saied has made no secret of his desire for a new constitution that puts the president at centre stage – prompting critics to accuse him of wanting to emulate Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in stripping his foes of power.

Power struggle

As president, Saied quickly feuded with the two prime ministers who eventually emerged from the complex process of coalition building – first Elyes Fakhfakh and then Hichem Mechichi.

However, the biggest dispute has been with the moderate Islamist Ennahda party and its veteran leader Ghannouchi, a former political prisoner and exile who returned to Tunisia in 2011.

Over the past year, Saied and Mechichi, backed by Ghannouchi, have squabbled over Cabinet reshuffles and control over the security forces, complicating efforts to handle the pandemic and address a looming fiscal crisis.

As protests erupted in January, however, it was the government and the old parties of parliament who faced the public’s wrath – a wave of anger that finally broke last week as COVID-19 cases spiked.

A failed effort to set up walk-in vaccination centres led Saied to announce last week that the army would take over the pandemic response – a move seen by his critics as the latest step in his power struggle with the government.

It set the stage for his announcement on Sunday following protests targeting Ennahda in cities around the country.

People came out on the streets to celebrate the government’s removal but mahy demonstrators also want social and economic reform [Zoubeir Souissi/Reuters]

During the 2011 revolution, his students and friends said, he used to walk the narrow streets of Tunis’ old city and the grand colonial boulevards downtown late at night, discussing politics with his students.

Saied was one of the legal advisers who helped draft Tunisia’s 2014 democratic constitution, though he soon spoke out against elements of the document.

Now, some of the main political inheritors of Tunisia’s revolution are casting him as its executioner – saying his dismissal of government and freezing of parliament are an attack on democracy.

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