Just days after leaving the hospital and still coughing, President Donald Trump announced that he’ll hold in-person rallies in Florida and Pennsylvania over the weekend after being cleared by his personal doctor. No tests have been released to indicate that he’s no longer contagious. Organizers for next week’s debate decided against an in-person event, and Trump’s team swiftly pulled out, spurring rival Joe Biden to schedule a solo town hall for the same night. Meanwhile, Sen. Mitch McConnell admitted he hasn’t visited the White House since early August due to the administration’s approach to coronavirus safety protocols.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been a target of right-wing hatred — including a tweet from President Trump to “Liberate Michigan” — for her statewide mask requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as her support for gun control. Now more than a dozen men connected to right-wing militia the Wolverine Watchmen have been charged with plotting to kidnap her and “try” her on charges of treason ahead of the November election. Their preparations included pooling money to buy explosives and surveilling her house. Six of the men could face life in prison if convicted.
3. Louisiana Prepares for Sixth Major Storm Since June
Hurricane Delta — named for a Greek letter because there have been so many storms this season that meteorologists ran out of names in the usual alphabetical system — is expected to hit the Gulf Coast with 100-mph winds today. Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas are bracing for flooding and possible tornadoes. Two months ago, Hurricane Laura devastated the Bayou State, killing 28 people, and Delta is expected to batter still-recovering areas. Scientists warn that the number of storms isn’t even the problem: Hurricane seasons are also expected to keep intensifying as the global climate crisis worsens.
Buoyed by a post-pandemic return to work — and the increasing confidence of investors that Joe Biden may win the U.S. election — China’s renminbi rose by as much as 1.2 percent today, the largest jump in four and a half years. A potential Biden administration, which is also gaining the confidence of U.S. markets, would be expected to be less antagonistic toward China. Meanwhile, key economic sectors are rebounding within the country, including holiday travel, which this past week rose to 80 percent of last year's pre-pandemic level.
The COVID-19 treatments President Trump received were developed with fetal tissue derived from abortions, a practice his administration suspended federal funding for in 2019. The U.S. Justice Department has sued Yale University for allegedly discriminating against white and Asian American applicants. And the World Food Program has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
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They’re getting boulder. Bennu, a near-Earth asteroid about a third of a mile wide, is currently the subject of intense scrutiny as NASA probe OSIRIS-REx prepares for a mission to collect material from it later this month. Scientists say they’re expecting to find evidence of ancient rivers and perhaps carbonate organic molecules — aka the building blocks for life on Earth, which may initially have come here from asteroids. One wrinkle: There’s a slight chance Bennu may collide with Earth in the 2100s, so we’d better learn as much as we can about it now.
It’s rising from the ashes in Phoenix. After a pandemic-mandated pause this spring, Waymo has restarted its driverless car service in the Arizona city, with about 400 self-driving minivans available via its hailing app. But while the vehicles were previously equipped with backup human drivers just in case, they’re now totally solo (though Waymo says they will be cleaned regularly). Still, expansion is expected to be just as complex as it was before coronavirus hit: The company is reportedly testing vehicles from California to Michigan, but has no broader rollout date as of now.
3. How China and Russia Are Using Vaccine Diplomacy
Walk softly and carry a big shot. Despite controversy over what to many seemed a premature approval of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, it’s now using the shot to sow international goodwill, striking deals to supply Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia and others, OZY reports. Likewise, China promised free doses to Bangladesh, and is testing its shot around the world, positioning itself as a global scientific leader. Left behind in all this is the U.S., which hasn’t offered vaccines to any other nations despite President Trump’s insistence that he’s “fighting for” coronavirus sufferers “all over the world.”
4. Poet Louise Glück Wins Nobel Prize in Literature
The former U.S. Poet Laureate has become the first American woman to win the Nobel (and its $1.12 million cash bonus) since Toni Morrison in 1993. At 77, the notoriously camera-shy Glück has already won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. In a brief interview with the Nobel Organization — which praised her “unmistakable poetic voice ... with austere beauty” — Glück recommended that of her 12 collections of poetry, new readers skip her first book “unless they want to feel contempt.” The prize ceremony will be held virtually this year due to the pandemic.
5. Chess Tournament Continues Under Virus Precautions
Grandmaster Magnus Carlsen is taking part in his first in-person chess tournament since the pandemic halted most sports, extending his unbeaten streak to 125 games. The Altibox Norway elite tournament in Stavanger has put pandemic precautions in place, paring down from 10 competitors to six, and while the players aren’t masked they are tested every day, sit three feet apart and are forbidden to use traditional opening handshakes. Meanwhile, the U.S. chess championships, which began yesterday, will take place entirely online this year.