A Dallas voter waving an American Flag during a rally
Rozena Crossman

PARIS — Watching the non-stop coverage of the U.S. election, a line from Shakespeare kept flicking at my mind. It's a grim image from that tragic tale of love, hate and disinformation, Romeo and Juliet: "A plague o" both your houses! They have made worms' meat of me." Now, the graphic allegory was unfolding on my computer screen in real time: No matter which candidate wins — and with plagues of our own spreading all around — we risk making worms' meat of democracy.

After growing up in Massachusetts, I've lived abroad ever since reaching voting age, and always dutifully sent my absentee ballot from Canada or France. It used to be a moment of clarity and civic pride, but dropping my vote in the mail, and waiting for the results, has felt very different in 2020.

The Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, is of course far better than the alternative. But after five decades in Washington and two weeks shy of his 78th birthday, he hardly inspires — and apparently didn't excite enough voters to provoke the predicted Democratic landslide across the country in the face of Republican mismanagement of the pandemic.

But make no mistake, this election season's real plague is President Donald Trump. An election night report from the international election observer body, OSCE, gave an assessment usually reserved for countries with scant experience in representative democracy: "Baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies, notably by the incumbent president, including on election night, harm public trust in democratic institutions."

President Donald Trump upped the ante further Thursday night as challenger Joe Biden approached victory, launching a diatribe of falsehoods from the White House that combined the petulance of an 8-year-old sore loser and a demagogue's tactics for inciting civil war.

This election season's real plague is President Donald Trump.

The damage for a country that maintains its superpower status is bound to spread abroad. Other powers often criticized by Washington for their substandard democracies seem to be reveling in America's current upheaval. As Trump demands the vote counting to stop, as his social media posts are published with disinformation warnings on Twitter and Facebook, China's Xi Jinping and Russia's President Vladimir Putin are given more ammunition. "Xi and Putin have held onto power by convincing their citizens that their systems of government are superior to the democracies of the West," reads a recent article in the Hong Kong-based South Morning China Post.

Even other democratic nations are shaking their heads in disbelief. An op-ed in Foreign Policy by Barkha Dutt, a New Delhi-based journalist, is titled "India Would Have Counted the Votes Already." Meanwhile, French daily Le Monde published an editorial Wednesday entitled "The United States, A Democracy In Danger," while Berlin-based Die Welt describes "a certain weariness with the institutions of the republic, just like in Ancient Rome."

The very principles that the United States has been so used to boasting about, the system of government it has so zealously prosthelytized, are now being undermined by the way we've conducted the most basic function of an open and modern society. I've always rolled my eyes at my fellow Americans who describe our country as the "leader of the free world." With any remnant of that status vanishing, we're all holding our breath to see what comes next.

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

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