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Rumors Of War

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Rumors of War

A collection of stories about one of the most uncertain, anxious moments in our nation’s history

Election Day 2020 will be either a short night or a long month. We’ll know right away if there’s a Biden blowout—look to Florida, Arizona, and the way things are trending in the upper Midwest — but anything narrower could wind up in the courts or in recounts. Absentee and mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin won’t be counted until polls open, adding to the potential for a lengthy period of uncertainty about who will preside over the United States come 2021.

No matter who wins, though, when America finally gets an answer, only part of the country will be…


Rumors of War

Our First Amendment right has been systematically dismantled — just when we might need it most

Nobody sets out to be a political prisoner. But as Lillian House sat in a 7-by-14-foot cell, listening to the faint hum of chanting supporters in the distance building to a roar as they approached the Denver County Jail to demand her immediate release, the 25-year-old Etsy seller realized maybe that’s what she’d become.

House, who is white, stands six feet tall and has green eyes and straight brown hair. Though she’s most often seen in a red T-shirt promoting the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), House has a keen eye for fashionable vintage wear from previous decades, and…


Rumors of War

We game out all the scenarios, from a surprisingly peaceful transfer of power to violence in the streets

In his inaugural address four years ago, President Donald Trump declared a crusade against the “carnage” he said his predecessors had wrought on the nation, lining their own pockets while creating a nation of “forgotten men and women.” Five hours later, fired up and triumphant, Trump filed for re-election, the earliest incumbent to do so in memory. So it was that Trump set the stage for what a lot of people thought was him governing, but in effect has been the most foreboding, nerve-frazzling — and by far the longest — re-election campaign in modern U.S. history.

Just a week…


Rumors of War

Hate crimes and domestic terrorism are real risks surrounding the election

Seven days after President Trump told the Proud Boys, a hate group that espouses a self-described “Western chauvinist” ideology, to “stand back and stand by” on national television, the United States Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about groups like it.

“I am particularly concerned about white supremacist violent extremists who have been exceptionally lethal in their abhorrent, targeted attacks in recent years,” wrote Chad Wolf, the interim DHS chief, in an October 6 report detailing the agency’s top security concerns. Domestic violent extremism, the agency concluded, is one of the country’s greatest national security threats. Just two days…


Rumors of War

I’m a conflict analyst and war reporter. The state of America right now makes me anxious.

Wars happen quickly. One minute you’re on the subway going to work or impatiently standing in line in a bank, and the next a conflict is outside your doorstep. Over the past three decades, I’ve seen the terrifying velocity of war in the Balkans, in Africa, and in the Middle East.

No one ever believes it will happen; that war will come to their community, so no one ever prepares. Worse, the international organizations meant to prevent war do little to ensure mechanisms that support conflict prevention are in place. …


Rumors of War

A lot can go haywire in the months before a new Congress and president are sworn in

In most countries, power changes instantly after an election. The winners take it, and the losers cede it. That’s not the case in the United States. Instead, because we have a presidential system where executive officials hold discrete terms and the legislative branch is never dissolved — as it is in most parliamentary systems — there is a lengthy period after a federal election occurs before the winners are seated.

In fact, in the United States, a new Congress isn’t seated until two months after Election Day, and the president remains in office for 10 long weeks. This means bills…

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