Voters in Switzerland rejected a proposed limit on immigration from European Union countries in a national referendum Sunday. The freedom-of-movement proposal put forth by the populist Swiss People’s Party was defeated, with only 38% of voters approving the measure. The intent of the People’s Party was to prioritize access to jobs, social protection and benefits to Swiss citizens over those from the 27 countries of the EU, of which Switzerland is not a member.  Critics of the proposal maintained that would have been disadvantageous to Swiss citizens wanting to live or work in any EU member countries. The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the result, saying that it upheld “one of the core pillars of our relationship: the mutual freedom to move, to live and to work in Switzerland and the EU.” About 1.4 million EU citizens live in Switzerland, a country of roughly 8.2 million, while some 500,000 Swiss live in EU member countries. Regarding domestic issues included in the ballot, more than 60 percent of voters favored extending parental leave to fathers, which like maternity leave affords parents 80 percent of their salary, up to 196 Swiss francs per day. The $6.5 billion fighter jet purchase, an issue debated for about a decade, received a yes vote with only 50.1% in favor. Swiss voters rejected an attempt to make it easier to shoot wolves considered a threat to livestock. The turnout of about 60% in Sunday’s referendum was considerably higher than in most recent referendums. 

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U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called Sunday for the Republican-controlled Senate to delay confirmation of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, saying voters “are not going to stand for this abuse of power.” Biden said the Senate should delay action until after he or Trump is inaugurated in January for a new four-year term. But Trump has said that moving forward with his choice of Judge Amy Coney Barrett is his constitutional duty, even though no Supreme Court nominee has ever been put forth so close to a presidential election.Biden’s comments come as Democrats and Republicans moved to use the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to energize voters in the Nov. 3 election.”The Senate has to stand strong for our democracy,” Biden said at a brief news conference in his home state of Delaware. He said the Senate moving ahead on the Barrett nomination “would be an irreversible step toward the brink. And a betrayal of a single quality that America is born and built on: The people decide.”  Should he win the election, Biden said the Barrett nomination should be withdrawn so he can make a pick. President Donald Trump walks with Judge Amy Coney Barrett to a news conference to announce Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House, Sept. 26, 2020, in Washington.Despite Biden’s plea that the Senate “must not act on this nomination,” there is no indication that Republicans intend to delay the confirmation process. The Associated Press reported Sunday that three days of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee could open Oct. 12. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not yet said whether the Senate will vote before the election.

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With just 36 days to go before the U.S. presidential election, battle lines are being drawn over President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called on Republican senators not to confirm her before the November 3 election to allow U.S. voters to have a say, a view key Republican leaders dismiss. Michelle Quinn reports

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The nation’s largest electric utility has temporarily shut off power to thousands of northern California residents to prevent wildfires sparked by electrical equipment as the state braces for potentially strong winds and extreme fire weather conditions.Pacific Gas & Electric shut off power Sunday to about 11,000 customers mostly in the Butte County area, said Angela Lombardi, a company spokeswoman. Another 54,000 customers could see their power shut off later in the day because of the hot, dry weather and high winds in the forecast, she said, adding residents in a total of 16 counties could be affected.The shutoffs are only called “as a last resort,” Lombardi said. “PG&E meteorologists are continually evaluating and monitoring the weather.”The shutoffs come as fire-weary California prepared for a new siege of hot, dry weather with potentially strong winds that could cause power lines to arc and spark new blazes in parched vegetation that’s ready to burn.  Red Flag warnings for extreme fire weather conditions were issued for the northern and central areas of the state from late Saturday to Monday, the National Weather Service said.  A new wildfire broke out Sunday in Napa County, prompting the evacuation of residents before dawn. The swift-moving fire is near several wineries and has burned 1.6 square miles (4.1 square kilometers), the San Francisco Chronicle reported.Amy Bordeau, of Calistoga, told the newspaper she woke up to fire alerts and social media messages from worried friends and grabbed the same bag she recently used when evacuating from another fire.”It’s a bit traumatizing,” she said. “I feel like I’m constantly fight or flight.”So far this year, more than 8,000 California wildfires have scorched 5,600 square miles (14,504 square kilometers), destroyed more than 7,000 buildings and killed 26 people. Most of the loss has occurred since a frenzy of dry lightning strikes in mid-August ignited a massive outbreak of fires. The causes of other fires remain under investigation and authorities said one was caused by a pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal event.PG&E has said it is striving to narrow the scope and shorten the length of power cuts after being sharply criticized for intentional outages last year that affected millions of people and sometimes lasted for days.Lombardi said the utility hopes to be able to inspect equipment once the windy weather subsides Monday. After that point, the company aims to subsequently restore power to customers within 12 daylight hours, she said.The shutoffs are part of a safety program that aims to prevent disasters. Wildfires sparked by PG&E equipment include the wind-driven 2018 Camp Fire that destroyed much of the Sierra Nevada foothills town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

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Lawyers for TikTok pleaded with a U.S. federal judge on Sunday to delay the Trump administration’s ban of the popular video sharing program from app stores set to take effect at the end of the day, arguing the move would infringe on First Amendment rights and do irreparable harm to the business.The 90-minute hearing came after President Donald Trump declared this summer that TikTok was a threat to national security and that it either sold its U.S. operations to U.S. companies or the app would be barred from the country.TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is scrambling to firm up a deal tentatively struck a week ago in which it would partner with tech company Oracle and retailer Walmart and that would get the blessing of the Chinese and American governments. In the meantime, it is fighting to keep the app available in the United States.The ban on new downloads of TikTok, which has about 100 million users in the U.S, was delayed once by the government. A more comprehensive ban is scheduled for November, about a week after the presidential election. Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said he would make a decision by late Sunday, leaving TikTok’s fate hanging.In arguments to Nichols, TikTok lawyer John Hall said that TikTok is more than an app but rather is a “modern day version of a town square.””If that prohibition goes into effect at midnight, the consequences immediately are grave,'” Hall said. “It would be no different than the government locking the doors to a public forum, roping off that town square” at a time when a free exchange of ideas is necessary heading into a polarized election.  TikTok lawyers also argued that a ban on the app would stop tens of thousands of potential viewers and content creators every month and hurt its ability to hire new talent. In addition, Hall argued that a ban would prevent existing users from automatically receiving security updates, eroding national security.  Justice Department lawyer Daniel Schwei sought to undercut TikTok lawyers’ argument, saying that Chinese companies are not purely private and are subject to intrusive laws compelling their cooperation with intelligence agencies. The Justice Department has also argued that economic regulations of this nature generally are not subject to First Amendment scrutiny. Plaintiffs can’t claim a First Amendment right in hosting TikTok itself as a platform for others’ speech because merely hosting a platform is not an exercise of the First Amendment, the Justice Department contends.  “This is the most immediate national security threat,” Schwei argued. “It is a threat today. It is a risk today and therefore it deserves to be addressed today even while other things are ongoing and playing out.”Schwei also argued that TikTok lawyers failed to prove it would suffer irreparable business harm.The Justice Department laid out its objections to TikTok’s motion for a temporary injunction in a brief under seal, but it was unsealed in redacted form to protect confidential business information.Trump set the process in motion with executive orders in August that declared TikTok and another Chinese app, WeChat, as threats to national security. The White House says the video service is a security risk because the personal information of its millions of U.S. users could be handed over to Chinese authorities.Trump has said he would approve a proposed deal in which Oracle and Walmart could initially own a combined 20% of a new U.S. entity, TikTok Global. Trump also said he could retract his approval if Oracle doesn’t have “total control.”The two sides of the TikTok deal have also appeared at odds over the corporate structure of TikTok Global. ByteDance said last week that it will still own 80% of the U.S. entity after a financing round. Oracle, meanwhile, put out a statement saying that Americans “will be the majority and ByteDance will have no ownership in TikTok Global.”Chinese media have criticized the deal as bullying and extortion, suggesting that the Chinese government is not happy with the arrangement. ByteDance said Thursday it has applied for a Chinese technology export license after Beijing tightened control over exports last month in an effort to gain leverage over Washington’s attempt to force an outright sale of TikTok to U.S. owners.  China’s foreign ministry has said the government will “take necessary measures” to safeguard its companies but gave no indication what steps it can take to affect TikTok’s fate in the United States.TikTok is suing the U.S. government over Trump’s Aug. 6 executive order, saying it is unlawful. So are resulting Commerce Department prohibitions that aim to kick TikTok out of U.S. app stores and, in November, essentially shut it down in the U.S., it claimed.The Chinese firm said the president doesn’t have the authority to take these actions under the national security law he cited, that the ban violates TikTok’s First Amendment speech rights and Fifth Amendment due-process rights, and that there’s no authority for the restrictions because they are not based on a national emergency.

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U.S. lawmakers have battled through a tumultuous political year on Capitol Hill that has included a Senate impeachment trial, a pandemic and the largest aid package in U.S. history.  With President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett Saturday to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lawmakers now face a historic confirmation battle just weeks before the November 3 presidential election.  A Senate vote would not only cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the court, it will also likely galvanize voters of both parties, many of whom will be participating in early voting as the confirmation process gets under way. Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham said Saturday the hearings would begin Monday, October 12.  The Supreme Court nomination could be a boost for Trump, who currently lags behind Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in polls in most key states. Trump has made appointing conservative judges who could overturn key decisions on abortion rights and gay marriage a centerpiece of his appeal to voters. In 2016, one quarter of voters who backed Trump said a president’s ability to nominate Supreme Court justices was an important factor in their vote.  “President Donald Trump campaigned in 2016 and he’s campaigning again promising to appoint judges to federal courts and justices to the U.S. Supreme Court who are textualists and who are originalists who interpret the law based on what it says, rather than on the basis of what they might wish that it said,” Republican Senator Mike Lee told ABC’s This Week on Sunday.But the nomination will also mobilize Democratic voters who say Republicans’ willingness to move forward with the confirmation so close to the election reveals their hypocrisy.  In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not take up President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, saying, “All we are doing is following the long-standing tradition of not fulfilling a nomination in the middle of a presidential year.”McConnell told Fox News on Friday there was nothing inappropriate about President Trump’s nominee receiving a confirmation hearing this election season because Republicans have control of the Senate.  Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) pays his respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, Sept. 23, 2020.“It would evidence the fact that she wants to be fair in addressing this,” Durbin told ABC’s This Week. “Why? Because this president has been outspoken and outrageous to think that he would not accept the verdict of the election and that he would make it clear that he’s filling this vacancy on the Supreme Court to make sure it tips his way if there’s any election contest. That is an outrage. No president has ever said that in our nation’s history.”  McConnell appears to have secured enough votes to confirm Barrett even though Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have said they would not vote on a Supreme Court nominee ahead of the election.  Congressional Democrats have few options to stop the confirmation process. But they are using the nomination to highlight key issues in the coming election, including a warning that Barrett could help overturn the Affordable Care Act.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested Trump is rushing the nomination not only to seat Barrett ahead of Election Day but to ensure she is place when the Supreme Court is expected to hear a case on the Affordable Care Act on November 10.  “This is unfortunate that the president would be so disrespectful and rush into this,” Pelosi told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday. “But nonetheless, that’s what it is, that vote, the antidote to his whatever he does is to vote, vote, vote, vote for affordable care. Vote for your preexisting condition. Vote for your safety. Vote for your health.”  FILE – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.Senator Durbin acknowledged on Sunday that Democrats do not have a “silver bullet” for slowing debate on Barrett.  “We can slow it down perhaps a matter of hours maybe days at the most, but we can’t stop the outcome,” Durbin told ABC’s This Week. “There’ve been two Republicans who have spoken out already — Senators Murkowski and Collins — that said they won’t support this procedure before the election. If two others decide during the course of the debate to stand up and take the same position. Then we could have a different timing, perhaps a different outcome.”  Graham told Fox News he expected to have the nomination cleared out of the Senate Judiciary Committee by October 26, giving McConnell the opportunity to schedule a full vote on the Senate floor just days before the election. 

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U.S. President Donald Trump said Sunday he will demand that his Democratic challenger in the November 3 national election, former Vice President Joe Biden, take a drug test before or after their debate this Tuesday night, suggesting that Biden’s uneven performance in previous political debates this year was because he was drugged. Trump’s unorthodox accusation, which he leveled previously in recent weeks, came as he continues to trail Biden in national polling, as he has for months. Trump is facing the possibility of becoming the third U.S. president in the last four decades to lose a bid for re-election to a second four-year term. “I will be strongly demanding a Drug Test of Sleepy Joe Biden prior to, or after, the Debate on Tuesday night,’ Trump said on Twitter. “Naturally, I will agree to take one also. His Debate performances have been record setting UNEVEN, to put it mildly. Only drugs could have caused this discrepancy???” I will be strongly demanding a Drug Test of Sleepy Joe Biden prior to, or after, the Debate on Tuesday night. Naturally, I will agree to take one also. His Debate performances have been record setting UNEVEN, to put it mildly. Only drugs could have caused this discrepancy???
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) FILE – Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., listens as former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the second of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN, July 31, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit.At times, he fared poorly in debates with 10 candidates lined up on a debate stage behind podiums. But he seemed to regain his footing in a strong performance in a one-on-one encounter in March against Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Biden’s last opponent before Sanders dropped out of the race and conceded the Democratic presidential nomination to Biden. Last month, Trump said, “I mean, you saw some of those debates with the large number of people on the stage. He was — I mean, I used to say, ‘How is it possible that he can even go forward?'” “Frankly, his best performance was against Bernie. We’re going to call for a drug test, by the way, because his best performance was against Bernie.”  FILE – Former Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate at CNN Studios in Washington, March 15, 2020.“It wasn’t that he was Winston Churchill because he wasn’t,” Trump concluded, “but it was a normal, boring debate. You know, nothing amazing happened. If you go back and watch some of those numerous debates, he was so bad. He wasn’t even coherent. And against Bernie, he was.” The 74-year-old Trump has often questioned the mental acuity of the 77-year-old Biden. But Biden has just as frequently laughed off Trump’s accusations, saying, he will match Trump and more in a debate. “Watch me. Mr. President, watch me,” Biden told ABC News in an interview. “What we say, what we do, what we control, what we know, what kind of shape we’re in. Come on.” But Biden acknowledged there are “legitimate questions” to be asked about the mental state of the two candidates. In a pre-recorded interview aired Sunday on CNN, Biden’s wife, Jill, said, “He’s ready. One of the things I’m excited for is when the American people see Joe Biden up there on that stage.” In this image from video, Jill Biden, wife of Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)”They’re going to see what a president looks like. You know, someone who is, like I’m saying, calm, steady, strong, resilient.” Jill Biden said there is “night and day between the two candidates. So, I can’t wait for the American people to see Joe, to see that statesman up there in front of the American public.” Trump’s renomination for a second term in the White House was all but a foregone conclusion and he has not debated a political opponent since 2016. He faced off against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton three times before he won the election. He and Biden are debating three times in the next month, starting with Tuesday’s 90-minute session moderated by Fox News journalist Chris Wallace in the midwestern city of Cleveland, Ohio. FILE – Fox News’ Chris Wallace moderates the third and final 2016 presidential campaign debate between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at UNLV in Las Vegas, Oct. 19, 2016.Wallace has picked six topics for discussion in 15-minutes segments: “The Trump and Biden Records;” “The Supreme Court,” with Trump’s appointment of conservative jurist Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg;  “COVID-19;” “The Economy;” “The Integrity of the Election,” and “Race and Violence in Our Cities.” The topics reflect the news of the day in the United States, although progressive critics say that Wallace’s description of race and violence in the U.S. mirrors Trump’s contention that protests against police abuse of minorities in recent months have been led by “thugs,” rioters and anarchists. Democrats supporting Biden say instead the discussion ought to be about systemic racism in the U.S. and the country’s national reckoning over race relations brought to the fore by the May death of a Black man, George Floyd, while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the deaths of other Blacks at the hands of police. Five weeks ahead of the election, Biden is maintaining a 7-percentage-point lead over Trump, according to a compilation of polls by the Real Clear Politics web site, although Biden’s lead is narrower in key battleground states that are likely to determine the overall outcome. Biden has a 10-point advantage among likely voters, 54%-to-44%, in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll released Sunday, while a New York Times-Sienna College poll shows Biden’s lead at 49%-41%. 

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Belarusian police detained dozens of protesters on Sunday during a march in Minsk and security forces in Homel used tear gas against demonstrators, as a groundswell of opposition to Alexander Lukashenko, who claimed victory in the country’s presidential election more than a month ago, continued for the 50th day. The protests in Minsk, Homel, and other cities came after Lukashenko, in power since 1994, was inaugurated on September 23 in a secretive ceremony that prompted European Union members and the United States to issue statements that they did not recognize his legitimacy. A spokesman for the Homel Regional Executive Committee’s Main Department of Internal Affairs said “technical devices” were used to cause a loud explosion and a flash of light and tear gas was used “because some people behaved inappropriately,” RFE/RL’s Belarus Service reported. Tens of thousands of people, waving red and white opposition flags, marched through Minsk in the latest demonstration since Lukashenko was declared the winner of the August 9 presidential election. Protesters were planning to hold an “inauguration of the people” in support of Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the exiled opposition candidate, who is now in Lithuania. Tsikhanouskaya, who joined the presidential race at the last moment after her husband’s own bid was ended after he was jailed, said she won the August 9 poll with 60 to 70 percent of the vote. She called for Belarusians to demonstrate on September 27 for the “goal of new, honest elections and, as a result, an official, lawful inauguration.” In Minsk, dozens of protesters on September 27 were rounded up and forced into police vans by riot police in balaclavas. Rallies were also reported elsewhere in Belarus, including in Mogilev, Hrodna, Lida, and Homel. The protests came a day after security forces in Minsk detained more than 100 protesters during a women’s march. Hundreds of thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets for seven weeks, calling for Lukashenko to step down and new elections to be held. Lukashenko has directed a brutal postelection crackdown in response to protests, including thousands of arrests, beatings, and other mistreatment of peaceful protesters, and the expulsions of foreign journalists. He has denied accusations that the presidential election was rigged. Meanwhile, most figures in the opposition’s Coordination Council, a body established to facilitate dialogue and a peaceful transfer of power, have been forced into exile or detained. In Lithuania, leading writers, artists, and scientists on September 27 appealed to French President Emmanuel Macron to support protesters in Belarus. Macron begins a two-day visit to Lithuania and Latvia on September 28. “Men and women of Belarus are subjected to inhuman torture. And this is happening in 21st century Europe!,” said a poster designed as an open letter to Macron and signed by more than 40 leading Lithuanian cultural figures. “We trust that you, who represents France, where human rights were born, will also hear the painful cry of the Belarusian people for their freedom,” the appeal says.  

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