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University of Michigan bows out of hosting second presidential debate

The second presidential debate is moving from the University of Michigan to Miami, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Tuesday, amid concerns over bringing the event to campus amid the coronavirus pandemic. The commission said the school has concluded it is “not feasible” to host the debate as planned in October, and University of Michigan…

University of Michigan bows out of hosting second presidential debate

The second presidential debate is moving from the University of Michigan to Miami, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced Tuesday, amid concerns over bringing the event to campus amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The commission said the school has concluded it is “not feasible” to host the debate as planned in October, and University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel cited public health guidelines in making the call.

“Given the scale and complexity of the work we are undertaking to help assure a safe and healthy fall for our students, faculty and staff and limited visitors — and in consideration of the public health guidelines in our state as well as advice from our own experts — we feel it is not feasible for us to safely host the presidential debate as planned,” Mr. Schlissel said.

The second presidential debate is now slated to take place at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, on Oct. 15.

The first debate is scheduled for Sept. 29 at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, and the third debate is scheduled for Oct. 22 at Belmont University in Tennessee.

The single vice presidential debate is set to take place on Oct. 7 at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden’s campaign agreed this week to participate in three presidential debates, which is standard for election years.

President Trump’s team has been pushing for more debates, saying Mr. Biden’s campaign is afraid to send the former vice president out for unscripted events.

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GOP Michigan Senate challenger John James: Amy Barrett is ‘highly qualified’

FLINT, Mich. — Republican John James shed some light Saturday on how he feels about President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, saying Judge Amy Coney Barrett embodies many of the qualities needed in a justice. Mr. Trump announced Saturday he was nominating Mrs. Barrett to fill the seat on the Supreme Court left vacant…

GOP Michigan Senate challenger John James: Amy Barrett is ‘highly qualified’

FLINT, Mich. — Republican John James shed some light Saturday on how he feels about President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, saying Judge Amy Coney Barrett embodies many of the qualities needed in a justice.

Mr. Trump announced Saturday he was nominating Mrs. Barrett to fill the seat on the Supreme Court left vacant following the passing this month of liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The pick marks the beginning of what is expected to be a nasty partisan battle on Capitol Hill.

It also is reshaping high-profile Senate races across the country, including here in Michigan where Mr. James is challenging Democrat Sen. Gary Peters in a contest that will help determine which party controls the upper chamber next year.

“I believe that President Trump selected someone who he believed would be a dispassionate, impartial, textualist justice, someone who would interpret the law and not legislative from the bench,” Mr. James told The Washington Times minutes after Mr. Trump’s announcement at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. “I believe once we go through the constitutional process in the Senate we will learn more, but all initial indications show that Judge Amy Coney Barret is highly qualified and deserves a hearing.”

“Based on what I know right now, I believe she would be an impartial jurist, which is exactly what we need, to make sure that we uphold our Constitution, respect our separation of powers and make sure that we get out of the partisanship,” he said.

Mr. Peters said the Supreme Court opening should be filled after voters have their say in the November election.

“As I have said before, I do not support the Senate moving forward on a Supreme Court nomination until after Inauguration Day,” he said. “I will vote against confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a lifetime appointment on our nation’s highest court.”

Mrs. Barnett, if confirmed, will tilt the court toward a 6-3 conservative majority. The 48-year-old served on the federal appeals court judge since 2017 and is a favorite of social conservatives and the religious right.

It is a nightmare scenario for Democrats, who are scrambling to gum up the works and do whatever they can to scuttle the lifetime appointment.

The GOP’s decision to plow ahead with the confirmation hearings has enraged Democrats, who say the GOP-controlled Senate should delay the confirmation until after the election just as they did in 2016.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, is leading Mr. Trump in most national and swing-state polls.

In Michigan, Mr. James has been attacked for being wishy-washy on the issues — including whether he agrees with the GOP’s rush to confirm a justice before the election.

Mr. James likely will not get a chance to cast a vote on the Barrett nomination, but the court battle has provided a glimpse into his judicial philosophy.

Prior to Saturday’s announcement, Mr. James said he would “fairly and honestly evaluate every Supreme Court nominee, regardless of which political party nominates” and cast Mr. Peters as an obstructionist.

Mr. Peters, meanwhile, has been adamant the Senate honor Ms. Ginsburg’s dying wish that she would not be replaced until after the next president is inaugurated in January.

“Jamming the Supreme Court nomination through now will without question further divide our country and disregard the fact that the American people are now voting or soon will be in many states,” Mr. Peters recently said on the Senate floor.

The latest polls show the Senate race here is tightening and that Mr. James is well within striking distance. It has added to Democrats’ fears that they could be in for another disappointing night in a presidential election year.

Mr. Peters is one of two Democrats running in states that Mr. Trump won four years ago. The other is in Alabama, where Sen. Doug Jones’ re-election prospects against Republican Tommy Tuberville are dim.

The Supreme Court vacancy has added to the chaotic nature of a campaign that has been reshaped by the coronavirus, and Mr. Trump’s response to it.

It also has fed into the ongoing debate over the GOP’s legal push to do away with Obamacare, voting rights, and the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling finding a constitutional right to abortion could be undone.

“The court’s ultimate decision will effectively determine the date of healthcare for millions of Michiganders and Americans,” Mr. Peters said on the Senate floor. “Women may lose their right to their reproductive freedom.”

Mr. James, meanwhile, said the Barrett nomination is going to show that Mr. Peters’ attempt to cast himself as a bipartisan operator is bogus.

“Senator Peters does not consider the qualifications, he votes party lines,” Mr. James said.

David A. Dulio, a political science professor at Oakland University, said it remains to be seen who will benefit more in the Senate race here from the court battle.

“Evangelicals in West Michigan will love the pick,” Mr. Dulio said. “That could energize some who might be on the fence about Trump (and/or James) to come out and vote.

“Of course, it could also energize the left; although, I think the potential voters who would be fired up by the confirmation or the pick itself are already planning to vote,” he said.

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Michigan Muslims find innovative ways to celebrate a ‘COVID Eid’ |NationalTribune.com

Eid al-Fitr in the US state of Michigan this year is going to be very different, said Mahmoud Al-Hadidi, a physician and chairman of the Michigan Muslim Community Council. There will be no mass prayers in the mosques, no communal breakfasts, no carnival and no evening parties. Even family gatherings will be limited. More: Praying…

Michigan Muslims find innovative ways to celebrate a ‘COVID Eid’ |NationalTribune.com

Eid al-Fitr in the US state of Michigan this year is going to be very different, said Mahmoud Al-Hadidi, a physician and chairman of the Michigan Muslim Community Council.
There will be no mass prayers in the mosques, no communal breakfasts, no carnival and no evening parties. Even family gatherings will be limited.
More:

Praying in time of COVID-19: How world’s largest mosques adapted

Why is Ramadan so important for Muslims?

How do we keep faith under a lockdown? | Start Here

“Usually we have a huge party at my house with 400 to 500 people,” Al-Hadidi told Al Jazeera.
“I’m not gonna be doing that this year,” Al-Hadidi said. “I’m going to be with my immediate family, and we’re staying at home.”
But the curbs on mass social gatherings put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus, expected to last through at least May 28, have not dampened the holiday spirit. And residents of southeast Michigan, home to one of the largest Muslim communities in the United States, say they have found innovative ways to welcome the three-day holiday marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, while adhering to social-distancing measures.
“We are determined to celebrate and be happy despite all the circumstances, we will adapt,” Al-Hadidi added.
Thousands are expected to tune in on Sunday morning for a live Eid sermon that will be aired on local television and streamed on social media. Later in the day, cars will be able to line up outside several mosques to enjoy live music and to receive gift bags for children, in this year’s first-ever drive-thru Eid event.

Thousands attending the Ramadan Suhoor Festival in Dearborn Heights, Michigan last year [File: Carlos Osorio/AP Photo] 

Like most Muslims around the world, those of southeast Michigan, a community of over 250,000, traditionally celebrate Eid by visiting friends and relatives in their homes or attending large gatherings where people eat and socialise together.
“Normally we go to the mosque for prayer and breakfast, and at night we go out for dinner,” Lama Samman Nasry told Al Jazeera, “we spend most of the day out of the house.”
Samman Nasry – a resident of the Detroit suburb Franklin who works as a manager at an urgent care clinic and is the mother of four children – said she will be one of dozens who will be volunteering to hand out presents and food, hoping to help spread some joy.
“It’s going to be a quieter celebration,” she said. “It will be a different kind of celebration, definitely.”
Michigan has been one of the hardest-hit states during the coronavirus pandemic, with over 53,000 cases of COVID-19 and over 5,000 deaths – the fourth-highest death toll in the country, according to Johns Hopkins University statistics.
The state also imposed one of the strictest stay-at-home orders, which prompted small groups of protesters, some armed, to demonstrate at the state capitol.
On Thursday, Michigan’s governor Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced steps to reopen the state’s economy and presented timelines for the resumption of some businesses and allowing some social gatherings.
“We’ve taken significant steps forward to re-engage our economy safely and responsibly over the past few weeks. Now we are going to take some time to ensure that these new measures are working,” Whitmer said during Thursday’s news briefing.
On Friday, US President Donald Trump said that he has deemed houses of worship as “essential” and called on governors across the country to allow them to reopen this weekend despite the threat of spreading the coronavirus.
“These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united,” he said at a news conference at the White House.
“The people are demanding to go to church and synagogue, go to their mosque,” he said.
Trump said that if governors do not abide by his request, he will “override” them. It remains unclear what authority he has to do so, and how governors – including Michigan’s – will respond. 
Meanwhile, Firas Bazerbashi, a physician, says most residents in Michigan are fully aware of the health risks and will forego the customary community celebrations. He added that after weeks of quarantine, people have learned to replace family visits with phone calls and Zoom sessions, despite a renewed need to be physically close to family.
“It will be remarkably different,” Bazerbashi told Al Jazeera. “It’s really hard to be isolated from family and friends and being disconnected from the community.”
“We are mentally prepared to have a COVID Eid, but it is still very challenging,” he said.
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