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US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death ignites fierce Senate battle

Americas|: Washington: US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death on Friday kicked off a monumental battle in Congress as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invited President Donald Trump to promptly nominate a replacement, ignoring pleas by Democrats to await the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election. "President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate," McConnell proclaimed on Friday night, without providing a time frame for action by the Senate. That confirmed McConnell's prior insistence that he would do so in an election year, despite stonewalling President Barack Obama's efforts to nominate a successor to Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, 10 months before that year's presidential election. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer urged McConnell to await the results of the elections that are less than two months from now. He quoted McConnell's 2016 words on Twitter, saying "The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president." Trump is seeking a second four-year term and has been trailing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in public opinion polls. The long-term direction of the nation's highest court is at stake. The closely divided court currently had five justices with conservative bents and four liberals. If Trump were to choose a conservative judge to replace the liberal Ginsburg, as expected, the court's conservatives would have more heft with a 6-3 majority. Democrats are trying to gain control of the White House and the Senate, which has the power to confirm the president's nominees for the Supreme Court. Since becoming Senate majority leader in 2015 McConnell has focused most of his attention and wielded his power to fill the federal courts with conservative judges nominated by Trump. One senior Senate Republican aide said of McConnell, "No way he lets a (Supreme Court) seat slip away." The aide added that a major question will be whether McConnell, in tandem with Trump, attempts to fill the vacancy before the Nov. 3 election or sometime before Jan. 20, when the next president will be sworn-in. It can take several weeks to months between the president's nomination of a Supreme Court justice and a Senate confirmation vote as the nominee must go through a thorough vetting process by the Senate and often makes visits with individual senators to build support for the nomination. Then, lengthy confirmation hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee normally follow culminating with a recommendation on whether the nominee should be confirmed and placed onto the court. The last Supreme Court opening was filled in October, 2018 by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. His confirmation faced strong opposition from Senate Democrats and included bitter hearings amid allegations, which he denied, of sexual misconduct decades earlier. The Senate is currently controlled by 53 Republicans, while Democrats hold 45 seats. Two independents align with Democrats on most votes. Among the 53 Republicans are some moderates, including Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. Collins is in a tough race for re-election this year in her home state of Maine, which has been trending Democratic. Ginsburg's death could have an impact on Collins' re-election effort and her posture on whether filling the high-court seat should await the outcome of the 2020 presidential race.

GulfNews World

COVID-19: Canada, US travel ban extended to October 21

Americas|: Ottawa: Canada and the United States on Friday extended a ban on non-essential travel between their two countries to October 21 in order to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, Ottawa announced. The world's longest border has been closed to nearly everything but goods trade since March 21, with the travel ban extended several times since then. ALSO SEE Palestine: Cafes in blockaded Gaza let people time travel to Dubai, Maldives and many other dream cities Photos: Gulf News reader shares his travel pictures in the UAE, Egypt, Jordan and the US COVID-19 guidelines: Smooth travel through Dubai International Airport Photos: Gulf News reader shares his favourite travel destinations in the UAE, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Australia UAE: 10 time-travel movies or series perfect for the weekend "We are extending non-essential travel restrictions with the United States until October 21st, 2020," Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said in a Twitter message. "We will continue to base our decisions on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe." Both Canada and the United States have seen an uptick in new Covid-19 cases in recent weeks. Canada recorded almost 700 new cases on Friday while the US reported 44,000. Nearly 200,000 people in the US and more than 9,200 in Canada have died of Covid-19 illnesses. Travel between Canada and the United States, which usually sees 400,000 border crossings per day, has fallen off by 95 percent since the pandemic restrictions were put in place.

GulfNews World

US: Dentist jailed after extracting tooth while on hoverboard

Americas|Offbeat|: Washington: An American dentist who extracted a tooth from a sedated patient while balancing on a hoverboard has been sentenced to 12 years in jail for crimes including illegal dentistry, fraud and reckless endangerment. Seth Lookhart, 35, sent phone footage to friends that showed him taking a patient's tooth out while standing on the two-wheeled hoverboard before riding away as he stripped off his gloves and held his hands up in triumph. ALSO SEE IPL in UAE: Steve Smith, Jofra Archer, Eoin Morgan and David Warner arrive in UAE UAE: 10 time-travel movies or series perfect for the weekend From Anil Kapoor to Hrithik Roshan, Bollywood stars send birthday wishes to Shabana Azmi COVID-19: UAE announces new protocols for weddings, funerals, social events The Alaska State Department of Law said that Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton stressed that the hoverboard incident was not the most serious aspect of the case. "Lookhart almost killed many patients by performing anesthesia thousands of times without training or consent, on patients outside his scope of training and expertise, while stealing money from Medicaid and embezzling from his bosses," the state said in a statement. CNN in a report published Friday quoted Lookhart as saying "looking back, I can't say exactly when I began to go off course. "I could have and should have maintained better discipline and focus." Prosecutors asked the court to order Lookhart to pay back more than $2 million embezzled from state health funds.