In a twist of fate that may affect everything from the election to the stock market, President Donald Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump have contracted the virus that’s killed 205,000 Americans. They were diagnosed shortly after aide and recent traveling companion Hope Hicks tested positive. The president, despite flouting health experts’ advice on coronavirus safety, is at high risk of serious illness due to his weight and age. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately,” he tweeted early today, before oil prices and U.S. stock indexes dropped sharply in overnight futures trading.
It’s bigger than the state of Rhode Island. Yet Harris County, Texas, with nearly 5 million inhabitants, will have only one place for voters to drop off absentee ballots under restrictions imposed yesterday by Gov. Greg Abbott. Each county may have just one site, hitting urban counties like Democrat-heavy Harris — which previously had 12 drop-off locations — disproportionately hard. Charging voter suppression, Democrats are suing to reverse the decision. Meanwhile, in swing state Pennsylvania, a state Supreme Court decision may invalidate thousands of “naked” ballots missing their inner secrecy envelopes.
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3. Israel, Lebanon Begin First Talks in 30 Years
It would be a minor matter for most nations. But with Turkey and Greece at each other’s throats over natural gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, it’s significant that Israel and Lebanon, which remain belligerents in an unending war, are sitting down to negotiate a maritime dispute. Their disagreement is also about offshore natural gas deposits, much needed amid Lebanon’s economic crisis, in waters claimed by both nations. In talks mediated by the U.S., the Levantine neighbors have agreed to a framework for further negotiations — their first in three decades — but insist that the talks won’t include any peace overtures.
4. With No GOP Agreement, US House Passes Stimulus
It won’t make any rent payments, but it might win some votes. The Democrat-controlled House yesterday passed a $2.2 trillion pandemic relief package with little hope of approval in the Republican-run Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it “outlandish.” The Trump administration has proposed $1.6 trillion, but daily discussions with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have failed to close the gap. The impasse comes as today’s unemployment report is expected to show the slowest job growth since May — and at a predicted 8.2 percent rate, the worst preelection joblessness since World War II.
Don’t let 2020 test your ability to process bad news — let the OZY News Quiz do that instead, so you can put this week behind you.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’: Feminist legend Gloria Steinem joins Carlos today to share her advice on building a movement and discuss the unrepresented Black feminist leaders who fought alongside her. Be sure to tune in today to catch her unexpected take on President Trump. Subscribe to the OZY YouTube channel to be notified when it's live, and remember — new subscribers will be entered for a chance to win an invitation to a Zoom taping with a celebrity guest!
It’s a question the rest of the world is asking — and one that those of us in America wish we could better answer. Enter the BBC’s Katty Kay and OZY’s Carlos Watson, two people exceptionally positioned to give listeners across the world unique and fresh insight into these 50 states. They dissect American identity, racial bias, politics, recession and public health in a groundbreaking new podcast from OZY and the BBC: When Katty Met Carlos. Episode two is being released today — subscribe now on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, the iHeart Radio app or wherever you get your podcasts.
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He’s killed a grizzly, prospected for gold and bought his own fishing boat at age 14. Now he’s hunting a Senate seat in America’s 49th state. Independent Al Gross has pulled to within a toss-up in the OZY/0ptimus forecast model against Alaska’s incumbent Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan. Gross, who’s supported by Democrats, could boost their chances of wresting control from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell next month. Flipping Alaska, a longstanding red bastion, is a tall order, but it’s forcing Republicans to play defense there and in other newly competitive states, siphoning resources from battlegrounds like Florida and Arizona.
2. Amazon Says Nearly 20,000 US Workers Caught Virus
They actually expected more. Amazon announced Thursday that 19,816 of its U.S. workers have tested positive for COVID-19. While that may sound bad, the company said that with a workforce of 1.3 million — who are being screened regularly by Amazon’s in-house labs — it would have expected nearly 34,000 cases, considering the infection rate of the general population. The online retailer’s stock seems quite healthy, though: It jumped 1.6 percent yesterday, while one noted analyst believes the pandemic-haven stock remains greatly undervalued by investors.
2020 might be horrible, but at least the sun’s not exploding: That won’t happen for a few eons. Yesterday NASA and the European Space Agency provided some cosmic schadenfreude with a time-lapse video of a supernova at the edge of spiral galaxy NGC 2525 — a safe 70 million light-years away. The Hubble Space Telescope began capturing images of white dwarf star SN2018gv in February 2018, watching it go from emitting 5 billion times more light than our puny sun to practically disappearing in a year. Such observations help astronomers measure distances in the universe and chart its expansion.
Was Vice President Mike Pence’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference disrupted by a secret agent from Kazakhstan? No, but the reality revealed yesterday in a new movie trailer was perhaps more insidious: The man wearing a fat suit and Trump mask who barged in carrying a woman and telling Pence “I brought a girl for you!” was comedic actor Sacha Baron Cohen. Even more astounding in Hollywood circles was that Cohen was working on a secret film amid the pandemic: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, a sequel to the 2006 hit, will be released Oct. 23 on Amazon.
Tests don’t protect you. That’s the lesson the NFL has learned from its first pandemic postponement, after nine Tennessee Titans players and staff tested positive for COVID-19. One problem with the league’s quick tests is that people can still test negative for up to seven days after exposure while the virus incubates, meaning some Titans could have been infectious during Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. Now, rather than simply relying on daily testing to prevent the virus’s spread, more masking and distancing will be enforced, including limits on weight room use and in-person meetings.