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Calciatori derubati: da Castillejo a Icardi, da Hamsik a Insigne, rapine d’alto bordo

Calciatori derubati: da Castillejo a Icardi, da Hamsik a Insigne, rapine d’alto bordo

Ville, orologi, tanta paura. Tra chi reagisce e chi no, le disavventure capitate a giocatori di serie A


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Professor put on leave for saying she hopes presidential supporters get COVID-19 and die
A college professor in West Virginia has been placed on leave after telling her students that she hopes supporters of a “certain person” running for president get coronavirus “and die before the election.” Video posted on social media identifies the teacher as Jennifer Mosher, a biology professor at Marshall University who made the inflammatory comments...
nypost.com
Christian Extremists Compare RBG to Hitler, Celebrate Death of 'Mass Murdering Hag'
Right-wing Christian speakers have described Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death as an opportunity to shift the balance on the Supreme Court, potentially putting the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in jeopardy.
newsweek.com
A healthy sex life boosts long-term survival hopes for heart attack victims
People who have had heart attacks can boost their chances of long-term survival by returning to normal levels of sexual activity, a new study shows.
edition.cnn.com
Tiger Woods called 'dumb-dumb' during mic'd up tournament
Who knew Rory McIlroy was such a fan of Domino's pizza and that Justin Thomas was the king of trash talk?
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Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas beat Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose to win mic'd up tournament
Who knew Rory McIlroy was such a fan of Domino's pizza and that Justin Thomas was the king of trash talk?
edition.cnn.com
The Energy 202: Landmark Supreme Court climate ruling more vulnerable than ever with Ginsburg's death
A 2007 decision gave the federal government the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Now with President Trump poised to add another justice, some conservatives are itching for the court to take some of that power away.
washingtonpost.com
The Finance 202: Mnuchin, Kudlow split points to leadership vacuum behind coronavirus stimulus stalemate
The Treasury secretary wants new spending that the White House economic adviser said the economy could live without.
washingtonpost.com
President Trump praises his COVID-19 response at largely maskless outdoor rally
President Trump praised his administration's COVID-19 response at an outdoor rally Tuesday night, despite the U.S. passing 200,000 virus-linked deaths. His political opponents, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris, are pushing back and accuse him of downplaying the deadly virus. Ben Tracy reports.
cbsnews.com
Hear why Cindy McCain endorsed Joe Biden
Cindy McCain, the widow of longtime Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. CNN's David Chalian explains why this could have an impact on the US election.
edition.cnn.com
On This Day: 23 September 2009
Emmy Award-winning comedy drama "Modern Family" premiered in the U.S.. (Sept. 23)       
usatoday.com
Corales Puntacana Championship a good chance to take long odds
After taking a beating at Winged Foot, many of the world’s top players skipped the trip to the Dominican Republic for the Corales Puntacana Resort & Golf Club Championship. The only top-10 player from last week’s U.S. Open in the field is Will Zalatoris and he is the favorite at BetMGM at 12/1. Zalatoris currently...
nypost.com
There's a pandemic, but Southern California home prices are at record levels
Southern California home prices rose 12% in August, as people sought to take advantage of rock-bottom interest rates despite the coronavirus pandemic.
latimes.com
UFC on ESPN 16 official poster released for rescheduled Holly Holm vs. Irene Aldana fight
Check out the official poster for UFC on ESPN 16: Holly Holm vs. Irene Aldana.        Related StoriesUFC on ESPN 16 official poster released for rescheduled Holly Holm vs. Irene Aldana fight - EnclosureYoussef Zalal excited to show off his Dutch kickboxing style vs. Seung Woo ChoiUSA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie rankings, Sept. 22: Colby Covington's big night 
usatoday.com
Henry Cavill Is a Soft, Swole Sherlock Holmes in Netflix’s ‘Enola Holmes,’ Because We Deserve This
It's been a hard year, so enjoy Sherlock Swolmes.
nypost.com
The luxury air business is booming — as many Californians struggle to breathe
Wealthy consumers are spending big on air filtration systems for their homes and cars as COVID-19 and wildfires rage.
latimes.com
In Arizona, voter outreach groups become lifelines for people hit by COVID-19
Door-knockers are finding a landscape changed by COVID-19. They have become lifelines for communities that could decide the presidential election.
latimes.com
FDA must do more to regulate thousands of chemicals added to your food, petitioners say
The US Food and Drug Administration hasn't regulated the 10,000 chemicals added to your food, according to a petition filed Wednesday by groups representing pediatricians, the environment, public health, as well as food and consumer safety advocates.
edition.cnn.com
FDA must do more to regulate thousands of chemicals added to your food, petitioners say
The US Food and Drug Administration hasn't regulated the 10,000 chemicals added to your food, according to a petition filed Wednesday by groups representing pediatricians, the environment, public health, as well as food and consumer safety advocates.
edition.cnn.com
Why can’t France get rid of racial slurs?
The real reason for so much agitation lies in the desire to keep in place power dynamics rooted in the colonial past.
washingtonpost.com
Sen. Mike Lee: Supreme Court justice confirmations in election years are common — despite Dem complaints
Democrats and their media allies are saying it would unfair for Senate Republicans to fill a seat in this election year when we refused to do so in the last presidential election year. But any close examination of the facts shows that it is perfectly fair and consistent.
foxnews.com
Help! My Relatives Call Every Day to Beg Me to Save My Abusive Dad’s Life.
He used to beat me with a baseball bat. I’m not going to give him my kidney.
slate.com
North Carolina’s all-important 2020 Senate race, explained
Sen. Tom Tillis holds a sign saying “Cops for Trump” as President Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina, on September 19. | Chris Carlson/AP Thom Tillis looks like a weak incumbent in the North Carolina Senate race. But it’s still going to be close. The road to a Democratic Senate majority runs through North Carolina. Democrats hope former state lawmaker and military prosecutor Cal Cunningham can topple Republican Sen. Thom Tillis, who is up for his first reelection since his win in 2014. “North Carolinians know Thom Tillis, and they have very strong negative views about him, about his service, about the things he has chosen to pursue in office on issue after issue of importance to North Carolinians,” Cunningham told me in a recent interview. “He has either capitulated to the partisan pressures or walked in line with corporate special interests.” Everybody I spoke to expects an extraordinarily tight Senate race. The outcome could very well decide which party controls the Senate in 2021, going by the Sabato’s Crystal Ball ratings. Assuming Democrats lose in the Alabama Senate race but win in Arizona, Colorado, and Maine — which forecasters say is a fairly likely scenario — then they just need a win in either North Carolina or Iowa. With one of those toss-up states, by Sabato’s reckoning, Democrats can secure 50 Senate seats. Gerry Broome/AP Cal Cunningham speaks to supporters in Raleigh, North Carolina, on March 3. The last three presidential elections have been decided in North Carolina by less than 4 percentage points; Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter are the only Democratic presidential candidates to win in the modern era. And despite Trump’s triumph here in 2016, Democrat Roy Cooper won that same year, becoming one of two Democratic governors in the South. And 2020 looks as though it’ll be no different. Biden leads Trump by less than a point in the Real Clear Politics polling average; Cunningham is polling 4.4 points ahead of Tillis. That polling gap between Trump and Tillis is one reason for Democratic optimism; if an incumbent senator runs behind his party’s president, he seems to have some problems with the conservative base as well as persuadable voters. But Tillis’s campaign is spending the final weeks of the race trying to erode Cunningham’s advantage by portraying him as a partisan Democrat. North Carolina was already going to be one of the most fiercely contested Senates races of the year. Now, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death and Republicans pledging to replace her in the middle of the campaign, the stakes of a Senate majority have never been clearer. Why North Carolina is one of the swingiest of the swing states North Carolina has, like most southern states, undergone a fundamental political realignment in the last 50 years. Conservative Democrats have mostly left that party behind and many have joined the Republicans. At the same time, young people make up a growing percentage of the electorate, and while they officially register as unaffiliated, they tend to be more progressive in their politics. By voter registration numbers, the state is neatly divided in thirds among Republicans, Democrats, and unaffiliated voters. But most of those unaffiliated voters are actually reliable votes for one party or the other. Instead, according to the political scientists and strategists I spoke with, North Carolina looks more like this: 45 percent Republican voters, 45 percent Democratic voters, and 10 percent truly persuadable swing voters. So any winning coalition in the state starts with turning out as many voters in your 45 percent as you can — and then winning that small percentage of persuadable voters and ticket splitters. Where are those gettable voters? The suburbs. Urban voters overwhelmingly back Democratic candidates (Hillary Clinton won 66 percent of the central city vote in 2016, according to Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer, who writes at Old North State Politics). Rural voters are reliable votes for the Republicans, with Trump commanding a 21-point edge there over Clinton. That leaves the suburbs as the most important battleground. But Bitzer distinguishes between two different kinds of suburbs, which are pivotal in distinct ways. Urban county suburbs are closer to their city centers, contained within the same county borders. These areas were decided by a thin margin in 2016: Clinton won them by 1 point, GOP Sen. Richard Burr took them by 3 points on his way to reelection, and Cooper by 4. These are moderate, sometimes ticket-splitting voters, and they helped Burr and Cooper win those races for their respective parties. The surrounding county suburbs are a little farther out from the city and tend to be more solidly Republican. Trump won 65 percent of the vote in those places and Burr won 63 percent. But even a slight underperformance there by Republicans can make a difference: Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory won 61 percent of this exurban vote, a notch lower than Trump and Burr, when he lost to Cooper. Paired with Cooper’s edge in the urban suburbs, that was just enough to give the Democrat the statewide win. In order to beat Tillis, Cunningham needs similarly strong performances in those areas. The suburbs have been shifting toward Democrats in the Trump era, powering their big wins in the 2018 midterms, and they are an absolute must-have for the party in this state. “If North Carolina’s suburbs are acting like the national narrative, those urban suburbs are probably going to shift and the Republican margin in the surrounding suburbs is going to shrink,” Bitzer told me. Democratic odds would be aided by strong turnout among younger voters and Black voters. Registration by voters in the millennial and Gen Z cohorts has been strong throughout 2020. But Democratic-leaning voters have not always turned out as reliably as Republican voters: A higher percentage of Democratic and unaffiliated voters registered in 2016 but failed to vote compared to Republicans, according to Bitzer’s research. The pandemic is the other X-factor. North Carolina is a state with a robust vote-by-mail and early voting apparatus, so the state’s voters are already comfortable with those procedures. As of late August, 710,000 mail ballots had been requested. At the same point in the 2016 cycle, only 40,000 voters had asked for a mail-in ballot. More than half of the ballot requests so far in 2020 are from Democrats, whereas in 2016 the parties were evenly split. But Bitzer cautioned against reading too much into that data. Mail-in ballots might just be an expression of the hardened opinions of partisan voters who have already made up their minds. These could simply be early votes that would have been made regardless, they’re just coming in early because of Covid-19. “I’m still of an opinion that Covid is the great unknown at this point,” Bitzer said. “It could be the true partisans who are banking their ballots now.” That would leave the persuadable voters to be fought over in the last few weeks of the campaign. Both sides think they have a strategy for winning them. Cal Cunningham is running as a middle-of-the-road Democrat Cunningham has the profile of many Democrats who won competitive races in the 2018 midterms: He’s a veteran and former military prosecutor who served two active-duty tours in Iraq. He served one term in the North Carolina State Senate in the early 2000s, worked for various law firms and a waste reduction company over the years, and he ran for the US Senate in 2010 but lost the Democratic primary in a runoff. Cunningham is also, as he will readily remind reporters and voters, a lifelong North Carolinian. His campaign strategy is neatly captured in how he’s run on Covid-19. In his interview with Vox, he pointed out that the United States is capable of coming together for the national good — just not, apparently, for Covid-19. “If it had been a terrorist attack, there would have been an address to the nation, probably to a joint session of Congress. There would not have been a hesitation to invoke things like the Defense Production Act,” Cunningham said in late August. “There would have been clear communication from the top to every corner of America about how we fight that enemy. Here, we were told it was a hoax.” It was a plea for unity, one that could be effective with moderate voters and not unlike the message often heard from Biden when he’s speaking to that part of the electorate. Cunningham mostly leaves Trump out of it. He said instead that he is “incredibly laser-focused on Senator Tillis and the role a senator should play in a moment like this.” Cunningham contrasted Tillis with Sen. Tom Cotton, a resolute conservative and Trump ally who still warned about the need to prepare for the worst after sitting in on a classified briefing in January about the Covid-19 threat. In Cunningham’s telling, Cotton was an example of a Republican urging vigilance early on, despite the Trump administration’s reluctance to acknowledge the severity of the coronavirus outbreak. “My guy, the person I hold accountable in this race, was not one of them,” Cunningham argued to me. “He has demonstrated an unwillingness and an inability to ask the tough questions when a US senator, in a coequal branch of government, should be doing exactly that.” Gerry Broome/AP Cal Cunningham needs a strong turnout from suburban voters to beat Tillis. So when given the chance, he decided to forgo any more direct criticisms of Trump and instead stayed “laser-focused” on his Republican opponent. That is the strategy that Democratic operatives and independent observers believe will serve him best as he zeroes in on the persuadable 10 percent of the North Carolina electorate. “I think he is playing a classic middle of the road [card], focusing on issues like health care, more so than the ‘I’m not in Donald Trump’s camp’ card,” Bitzer said. “Voters already know that. There’s a clean delineation in this state with the two parties, I don’t think he needs to clear that up.” Cunningham has instead hammered Tillis over health care, both before and during the Covid-19 pandemic. North Carolina is one of 12 states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, leaving more than 200,000 people without access to affordable health insurance. Tillis, who was speaker of the state house from 2011 to 2015, bears significant responsibility for that fact; in 2013, the state legislature passed a bill explicitly forbidding a governor from unilaterally expanding Medicaid. That meant when Cooper became governor in 2017, having run on expanding Medicaid, he was unable to enact his top agenda item. Even though Tillis had left for the US Senate in 2015, his actions as a leader in the North Carolina House are still being felt to this day — and Cunningham wants voters to know that. “North Carolinians, in particular, are more vulnerable than most to the public health crisis. We have one of the highest rates of uninsured because we didn’t expand Medicaid. ... We know why we did that. Tillis proudly takes credit for that,” Cunningham told me. “Today, almost 1.3 million out of 10 million people in my state can’t go see a doctor without having to fear what the size of that bill is because they just don’t have coverage.” Thom Tillis is trying to paint Cunningham as a radical in moderate clothing Tillis is in a weak position for an incumbent. He’s averaging 42.3 percent support in the Real Clear Politics average, well behind Trump’s 46.6 percent average. A Morning Consult analysis of the race found the senator lagging badly behind Trump with rural voters, with conservative voters, and with 2016 Trump voters. He was also performing worse than Trump with suburban and moderate voters. Tillis’s record contains something to annoy both the far right and the rigidly centrist. He voted in favor of Obamacare repeal in the Senate, something Cunningham lumps together with Tillis’s opposition to Medicaid expansion in order to blame the senator for the state’s high uninsured rate. Tillis has been working to convince voters he supports protecting people with preexisting conditions despite the fact that the bill he voted for would have stripped those protections. He also clashed with Trump over the president’s plan for declaring a national emergency along the Mexican border, initially signaling opposition to that plan for fear of the precedent it would set for a future Democratic administration. But he later reversed himself at the last minute and voted to affirm Trump’s plan; Cunningham therefore argues Tillis is unwilling to take principled stands against Trump. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Cal via Getty Images Sen. Thom Tillis is up for his first reelection since his narrow win in 2014. “This race is as much about Tillis’s weakness as anything else,” Morgan Jackson, a Democratic strategist in the state, says. “He’s angering both of these voters at the same time. When he backs the president, he sends a signal to the swing voters that he’s not concerned about their issues. But then when he puts a mask on, that’s a direct repudiation of Trump. “He’s trying to straddle this line, but it’s not working.” There is an argument to be made Tillis has never been a particularly strong statewide candidate. His slim 2014 win was unimpressive compared to some of the other Republican winners that year. Over 2019, Morning Consult found his approval rating with voters was 34 percent and his disapproval rating was 37 percent. But nobody believes a Tillis loss is a foregone conclusion. The state’s voters are too evenly divided for a landslide. “You have to fundamentally respect that North Carolina is a very purple state,” Jackson said. And Tillis’s campaign and his political consultants believe they have an opening to shake up the race. Their plan relies primarily on convincing those moderate voters that Cunningham is not the reasonable Democrat he’s presenting himself as and is instead a stalking horse for a more radical progressive agenda. “Cal Cunningham wants to appear to be part of the Democrats of the past, not of the future,” Paul Shumaker, a Republican strategist supporting Tillis’s campaign, told me. “Cal Cunningham has been given a free pass until the last four weeks.” They have seized on his comments at the first Senate debate in early September, when Cunningham expressed doubts about the veracity of a vaccine approved under the Trump administration. That’s a concern shared by many voters, polls show, but it’s still one that the Tillis camp believes makes Cunningham look like a party-line Democrat. In the same vein, they have been citing his stated rationale for opposing the most recent Senate Republican Covid-19 relief package — that it was a party-line vote. “He’s saying something to get elected, anything to get elected,” Tillis said at the debate. This is the message from Tillis going forward: Cunningham can’t be trusted, and neither can the Democratic Party. The Republican side knows they entered the fall at a disadvantage, after Cunningham had spent much of the spring and summer building up his moderate bona fides with little pushback. But they believe they can turn the race around in the final stretch when that critical 10 percent of persuadable voters will make up their minds. They have some reason to be optimistic. A lot of the unaffiliated voters are formerly Democrats who are too conservative for the modern party. In 2016, Burr was polling just 2 points ahead of his Democratic opponent but ended up winning by 5 points. There could be a hidden Tillis vote, especially if some of the conservatives currently sour on him come around and support him when they’re filling out their ballot for Trump. Tillis’s closing argument will likely rest on the Supreme Court fight, which affirms his importance to Republicans as a swing-state senator. Cunningham will continue focusing on health care and his opponent, but not the president. The two sides have been almost even in fundraising: about $13.7 million for Tillis and $14.8 million for Cunningham. It’s the recipe for a razor-thin race. “That small percentage [of ticket splitters] can decide an election,” Bitzer said. “But it’s a smaller and smaller slice.” Will you help keep Vox free for all? The United States is in the middle of one of the most consequential presidential elections of our lifetimes. It’s essential that all Americans are able to access clear, concise information on what the outcome of the election could mean for their lives, and the lives of their families and communities. That is our mission at Vox. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone understand this presidential election: Contribute today from as little as $3.
vox.com
Crowds begin to gather at Supreme Court to say goodbye to Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Three days of remembrance are scheduled for the second woman to serve on the high court.
washingtonpost.com
Beta remnants move East into Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama
Up to almost 15 inches of rain fell on the southern side of Houston from Beta and produced major flooding in the city.
abcnews.go.com
Happiest States in the U.S. Ranked
West Virginia was ranked the unhappiest state in the U.S.
newsweek.com
ShowBiz Minute: Lennon, TIME, Hart
John Lennon's killer says he sought glory, deserved death penalty; TIME names Gabrielle Union, The Weeknd and Megan Thee Stallion among the 100 most influential people in the world; Kevin Hart inks new multi-platform deal with SiriusXM. (Sept. 23)       
usatoday.com
Jamal Murray is the delight of the NBA playoff bubble
Jamal Murray led the Denver Nuggets to a Game 3 win over the Los Angeles Lakers thanks to a steady hand and shooting prowess that have come to define his NBA bubble breakout.
washingtonpost.com
Attorney for accused killer Kyle Rittenhouse releases video in self-defense claim
An attorney for suspected militia member Kyle Rittenhouse — who is accused of fatally shooting two protesters and wounding a third at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin — has released a video he insisted shows the teen acted in self-defense. Rittenhouse, 17, of Antioch, Illinois, faces six criminal counts, including first-degree intentional...
nypost.com
'America's Forgotten' Illegal Immigration Movie with Joe Biden Clip Has Democrat Filmmaker on Edge
"America's Forgotten" explores the human costs attributed to illegal immigration: "Due to the possible political backlash all credits have been voluntarily withheld by the crew of this film."
newsweek.com
Asteroid to have 'extremely close encounter' with Earth this week
An asteroid will have an "extremely close encounter" with Earth on Thursday, when it flies by the planet at a distance of fewer than 20,000 miles, according to the Virtual Telescope Project.
foxnews.com
Parents say 28-year-old doctor who died after coronavirus battle spent her life helping people
Dr. Adeline Fagan's goal in life was to help people, her parents said.
edition.cnn.com
Used Condoms Being Washed And Resold, Inspectors Say After Raid on Factory
Officials found 324,000 used sheaths ready to be rinsed and reshaped before being packaged and sold to unsuspecting customers.
newsweek.com
How Elon Musk Is Helping Tom Cruise Go To Space
The "Mission: Impossible" star is taking movies to new heights with plans to film one out in the solar system in a ship owned by SpaceX billionaire Musk.
newsweek.com
The unmaking of the Supreme Court
Republicans could be ushering in the end of a Supreme Court as we know it.
washingtonpost.com
Trump Says Cindy McCain 'Can Have Sleepy Joe' After She Explicitly Backs Biden
Cindy McCain said that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden lives by her and her late husband's values.
newsweek.com
The Health 202: Getting a coronavirus vaccine approved before Election Day will be impossible
The FDA is expected to announce stricter standards to shore up public trust.
washingtonpost.com
Harley-Davidson hires its first female CFO, an ex-Tyson Foods executive
Gina Goetter will become Harley-Davidson's chief financial officer starting Sept. 30. She is the first woman to be hired as CFO at the company.       
usatoday.com
The Cybersecurity 202: This was the month cyberattacks turned fatal
In a first-ever case, German police are considering homicide charges after a cyberattack
washingtonpost.com
Chicago again restricts travel to and from Wisconsin, orders 14-day quarantine to limit exposure
Chicago added Wisconsin to its list of states with travel restrictions again. The order will go into effect Friday at 12:01 a.m.       
usatoday.com
How Martin Scorsese helped define Italian American style
Martin Scorsese is, by just about any measure, one of the greatest living directors. He makes dark, and often violent films that combine technical brilliance with larger-than-life characters. Many of them, like "The Departed" and "Taxi Driver," are among the most celebrated in cinematic history. But Scorsese is also a devoted fashion buff whose career offers a fascinating look at Italian American style in movies.
edition.cnn.com
How Martin Scorsese helped define Italian American style
This month marks the 30th anniversary of Scorsese's gangster classic "Goodfellas." Tthe director's popular vision has always been about character, with wardrobe playing a huge role in helping him bring authentic Italian American experiences to the screen. Here's a look at how clothes helped create a cinematic legacy.
edition.cnn.com
Election 101 podcast: The basics of voting by mail
The "I Voted" sticker may look the same, but make no mistake: in 2020, voting will look very different. The best way to make sure your vote is counted is to have a plan.
edition.cnn.com
How to fix Lebanon’s political crisis
Firefighters work at the scene of a warehouse fire at the Port of Beirut on September 11, 2020, in Lebanon. | Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images The Beirut port explosion exposed Lebanon’s deep political rot. The Beirut port explosion on August 4, which killed more than 170 people, wounded thousands, and made 300,000 homeless, encapsulated all that has gone wrong with Lebanon’s 30-year political experiment. The explosion was an accident resulting from years of buck-passing and negligence in Lebanon’s public institutions, which somehow allowed 2,750 tons of explosive material to lie in a warehouse unsecured for six years. Today, many of these institutions are barely functioning, and neither is Lebanon’s economy. The Lebanese pound is in free fall, banks have blocked people from accessing their accounts, unemployment is above 30 percent, and the import-dependent country is increasingly unable to secure the basic goods it needs. Infrastructure is at a breaking point, with daily power cuts lasting as long as 20 hours. Lebanese people are aware that their country is becoming unlivable. What went wrong? And what can be done to fix it? The answers to both questions — like most things in Lebanon — are complicated. A modern country with a deeply unmodern political system Lebanon’s political system is the product of a decades-old power-sharing arrangement among leaders of Lebanon’s 18 religious sects, the most important being the Sunni and Shia Muslims and Maronite Christians. This system, known as confessionalism, parceled out political power according to sectarian quotas, with each sect usually led by one or several members of prominent political families. Lebanon became a middle-income country with a relatively educated population living under a deeply unmodern political arrangement. The ruling factions preserved their positions by providing their constituents with jobs, financial support, and protection from other factions. In return, people provided their votes and loyalty. That system endured until a convergence of regional and internal divisions plunged Lebanon into a 15-year civil war in 1975. Although the war destroyed much of the country and killed some 120,000 people, the confessional system emerged intact when the war finally ended in 1990. Many of the same people who led militias during the war dominated the postwar order. The confessional system is alive and well today, 30 years later. It would not have lasted so long were it completely useless. It has helped mediate sectarian conflict, forced leaders to build consent among their constituencies, and prevented the heavy centralization of power that plunged much of the Arab world into dictatorship. But this particular medicine has side effects. Political elites have used their positions to bleed the economy dry and monopolize control over public institutions. Parliament and many cabinets have been filled with some of the same faces for decades. The speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, has occupied the post since 1992. As members of the traditional ruling class age or die out, their sons often replace them, meaning politics has become a family business for the Gemayels, Hariris, Aouns, and Jumblatts, to name a few. Many politicians have amassed great wealth by taking cuts of public contracts, facilitating bureaucratic processes, or directly siphoning public funds. Public servants are appointed by sect rather than on merit, and national loyalty competes with and often loses out to sectarian loyalty. This has undermined civic life and turned politics into a zero-sum sectarian competition rather than a policy debate. Questions as mundane as where to build a waste incinerator or how to reform public utilities, for example, take on sectarian dimensions over who gets what. Why, then, do people not simply vote this rotten elite out? For one, they have played on sectarian insecurities to perpetuate distrust among the population, casting themselves as saviors of their community. Attempts to unseat a particular leader are quickly seen as attacks on the sect itself, leading to a rallying effect around said leader regardless of their performance. For example, public pressure on a particular leader to resign leads religious and political figures to rally behind them in the name of defending the sect. Thus, pressure on the Christian president is met with resistance from key Christian politicians and the church, while targeting the Sunni prime minister is cast by political and religious figures as targeting the Sunni sect as a whole. Similarly, attempts to pressure the Shia militia Hezbollah to give up its weapons are quickly framed as attacks on the Shia community. The political class has also skillfully used the state to provide constituents with jobs, financial support, and other privileges. And, of course, where persuasion fails there is always coercion. Parties routinely harass and intimidate those who seek reform or even dare to criticize their leaders. All factions are complicit to some degree, but one in particular presents an altogether more difficult problem: Hezbollah. Hezbollah is not solely responsible for Lebanon’s problems. But it’s a huge part of them. Hezbollah maintains a formidable militia with direct support from Iran. It has turned Lebanon and its Shia community into the base of its “resistance” project of open-ended conflict with Israel and the West. Hezbollah runs a state-within-a-state, complete with a military, security forces, and infrastructure; at the same time, it has penetrated Lebanon’s institutions through politics or by cultivating powerful allies. The Lebanese military lacks the will and ability to disarm Hezbollah. Those who present a serious challenge to its armed status are intimidated or killed. Hezbollah is not single-handedly responsible for the sectarian rot and corruption that has infected Lebanon’s institutions, yet it is deeply implicated in it and its perpetuation. The organization’s decades of undermining the state and acting as a law unto itself has made a mockery of public institutions and state sovereignty. In much of the country, Lebanese security forces operate at the pleasure of Hezbollah. Attempts to constrain its military arm are violently repressed. In May 2008, for example, a cabinet decision to dismantle the militia’s independent telecommunications infrastructure was met with a military takeover of much of Beirut. Hezbollah has also been implicated in a string of assassinations of political rivals, most recently through a United Nations tribunal that convicted Salim Ayyash of complicity in the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Hezbollah is a reminder to all Lebanese that might is right. Its intimidation and killing of rivals have fed the lawlessness and impunity that define Lebanese public life. Hezbollah has also extinguished Shia politics through persuasion and force. Its heavy-handedness antagonizes other sects and strengthens sectarian leaders. Hezbollah is also a chief obstacle to reversing Lebanon’s decline. The group does not want serious political reform, a state of laws accountable to empowered citizens and enjoying a monopoly over violence. It also has no tolerance for political challengers from within the Shia sect. Despite its professed radicalism on the “resistance” matter, in the Lebanese context Hezbollah is a status-quo player. The shift to a genuinely pluralistic, sovereign state of laws therefore faces two formidable obstacles: the dysfunctional, corrupt Lebanese regime and its elites, and a powerful militia that is both part of and separate from this regime and cannot live with a truly reformed Lebanon. Lebanese seeking to reform this regime recognize this and tend to fall into two camps. The first camp believes reform is impossible as long as a heavily armed Hezbollah is a law unto itself. Hezbollah’s military superiority means it can simply bully politicians, the security forces, and civil servants, and start wars at will. Hezbollah is also a stain on Lebanon’s international reputation, preventing Western and Gulf Arab countries from lending the country full support. At the extreme, Hezbollah will harass people lobbying for political change — and even kill its rivals if need be. Members of this camp advocate constant pressure on Hezbollah, domestic and foreign, including practicing civil disobedience, lobbying for policies that undermine Hezbollah’s position, and urging the armed forces to take a more confrontational posture against it. If Hezbollah responds with force, so be it. It cannot control all of Lebanon or kill all of its rivals; forcing confrontations saps its energy, isolating it, demoralizing its supporters, and deepening international hostility. It may well be true that reform is impossible until Hezbollah is disarmed. The problem with this approach is that Hezbollah may well get away with mass violence, even with directly seizing the Lebanese state. No one is in a position to stop it, and its Shia constituency may simply rally around it. As for international hostility, there appears to be no appetite for rescuing Lebanon from Hezbollah. Instead, if Hezbollah retains or expands its strategic dominance of the country, Lebanon may end up viewed as a rogue state. Many Lebanese would then blame the country’s isolation and pariah status on Hezbollah, which would lead to severe Sunni-Shia polarization that could derail any reform efforts. The truth is that liberal reformers are (to their credit) not good at organized violence, while Hezbollah has mastered it. This leaves one potential reform strategy, one that circumvents or “outflanks” Hezbollah, so to speak. Proponents of this strategy believe Lebanon’s opposition movement should put the Hezbollah question on hold and focus on building an effective civil society, organizing politically, and broadening support for the movement. The focus is on practicalities, such as an electoral law that creates room for nonsectarian parties; a robust civil society that holds the government to account for governance failures; educating the citizenry about its rights and the technicalities of Lebanon’s economic crises; and building citizen journalism that can circumvent partisan media, scrutinize political elites and corruption, and so on. The demand for a new electoral law through a transitional cabinet (the last one resigned after the port explosion) is central here, followed by parliamentary elections. This camp does not expect a sweeping reformist victory nor sweeping reforms: The establishment has an enormous head start and a resource advantage, and it can draw on older primordial sentiments and fears to counter the newer, less-tested ideals of the opposition. But even a minor electoral victory that lays the foundation for a substantial parliamentary bloc can demonstrate that the old sectarian game is not the only one around. That would be an unprecedented achievement and a good start. A reform strategy that focuses on creating a new political space and civic culture is a prerequisite for transforming Lebanese public life and creating a state of laws and citizens rather than subjects. This strategy tackles problems that transcend sect and party — and while Hezbollah has already reacted with suspicion and occasional harassment and violence against activists, this is an awkward position for the party that takes it outside its comfort zone of violence and sectarian consolidation. It may attract broader support than a purely anti-Hezbollah drive, or at least prove less divisive. The flanking strategy is Lebanon’s best shot at becoming a real state. The United States should provide enough humanitarian relief to avert catastrophe, as well as maintain pressure on local elites to open up the political system and on the military to exercise restraint in dealing with civil unrest in the context of economic calamity and deep popular alienation. Bankrolling the political class’s broken economic model is pointless and would probably undermine reform. Pushing the opposition to single out Hezbollah is understandable given US strategic interest, but this should not be a precondition to US engagement. After all, successful reform is, by definition, bad news for Hezbollah. Of these two reform strategies, I would classify the first as doomed absent a major geopolitical shift that either destroys Iran’s foothold in Lebanon or goes after Hezbollah directly and decisively. This does not seem to be in the cards, and it would be no panacea anyway. The “flanking” strategy is more promising. It is, however, already facing a great deal of resistance from both Hezbollah and an entrenched political class. The situation is so bleak that the Lebanese are tempted to give up altogether. Who can blame them? But that would be abandoning an improbable mission in favor of certain disaster as Lebanon hurtles down the path of state failure. Faysal Itani is deputy director at the Center for Global Policy’s Non-State Actors and Geopolitics unit. He is also an adjunct professor of Middle East politics at both Georgetown University and George Washington University. He tweets at @faysalitani. Help keep Vox free for all Millions turn to Vox each month to understand what’s happening in the news, from the coronavirus crisis to a racial reckoning to what is, quite possibly, the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. 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