He gets points for corralling contagion, if not emissions. Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden, riding high in polls, appeared at a socially distanced drive-in town hall meeting in the swing state of Pennsylvania, pitching the election as a contest between Scranton, where he was born into a blue-collar family, and New York City’s Park Avenue. “All he thinks about is the stock market,” Biden said of President Donald Trump, arguing that Scrantonians need fair wages for health workers fighting the pandemic. Trump, appearing at a Wisconsin rally, accused Biden of “selling out” Midwestern jobs while serving as vice president.
Calling it a “politically motivated attack” on efficiency crucial to the election, a federal judge in Washington state yesterday ordered a stop to mail-delaying U.S. Postal Service changes. Fourteen states sought the injunction against the Trump administration, whose new postmaster implemented policies that included leaving mail behind to maintain delivery schedules. President Trump’s unsubstantiated attacks on postal voting have even alarmed some Republicans. Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy said his party has “traditionally done better at mail-in voting,” and eroding trust in it could hurt Republicans in places like nursing homes, where residents can’t vote in-person.
3. FBI Head Accuses Russians, Says Antifa Aren’t Terrorists
Is he looking to retire? Contradicting President Trump’s campaign talking points, FBI Director Chris Wray told a House committee Thursday that Russia is “very active” in trying to disrupt the U.S. election. Wray said it was the intelligence community’s consensus that the Kremlin is stoking divisions while denigrating Joe Biden — meddling that Trump has repeatedly dismissed. Wray also called this year’s civil rights protests largely peaceful, but said his agency is investigating extremists on both sides, including Trump’s favorite foil, antifa. Unlike his boss, Wray described antifa as a movement or ideology rather than a terror group.
4. Israeli Pilgrims Barred From Virus-Wary Ukraine
They believe in quarantines. On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, members of an ultra-Orthodox sect were stuck at the Ukrainian border Thursday. National authorities fear the contagion possibly brought by Breslover Hasidic pilgrims destined for Uman, where their revered Rabbi Nachman of Breslov is buried. Nearly 30,000 followers celebrated the holiday there in 2019. Ukraine reported some 3,500 new infections Thursday, and Israel, where most pilgrims live, is also seeing a surge. Meanwhile, some worry that more than 1,000 people waiting at border crossings in the rain could face a different health crisis.
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Stop smirking, Elon. Normally sleeping drivers don’t have to be pulled over, but the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Alberta have done just that. In a July incident first reported yesterday, a young motorist faces dangerous driving charges after police stopped a Model S with both front seats reclined. It wasn’t easy: Once flashing lights cleared traffic, the rogue vehicle automatically sped up to 93 mph. Tesla’s near-autonomous capabilities have been probed over several accidents in the U.S. involving inattentive operators. As an RMCP official put it, “They still come with the responsibility of driving.”
Now everyone’s googling Caesar Rodney. One of 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, he was singled out at the "White House Conference on American History" yesterday as President Trump said he’d include Rodney in a planned National Garden of American Heroes. Not coincidentally, a statue of the slave-owning Rodney was removed in Delaware, Joe Biden’s home state, as part of the country’s racial reckoning this summer. Trump blamed that awakening on “liberal indoctrination” in schools and announced a grant to develop “patriotic education” that presumably won’t waste time explaining racism or slavery.
3. In Departure, Moderna, Pfizer Release Vaccine Details
What’s the point if nobody gets the shot? Facing public perceptions that they’re sacrificing safety for speed, two American pharmaceutical companies yesterday released their blueprints for COVID-19 vaccine trials. Their plans don’t support President Trump’s claims that an inoculation will be ready ahead of the Nov. 3 election, but suggest they’ll need at least until the end of the year to prove the vaccines’ safety and effectiveness. Meanwhile, new polls suggest the number of Americans who’d definitely get vaccinated has halved since May, to 21 percent, despite surging global cases that passed 30 million Thursday.
You won’t find many streams in dusty North Africa. Not even the digital kind, as Apple and Spotify are struggling with an established tradition: musicians on YouTube, OZY reports. In April, Apple Music set up shop in Tunisia and Algeria, competing alongside Spotify and Deezer operations that started in 2018. But YouTube has been winning musicians and subscribers since it launched in 2005. One hitmaker, Saad Lamjarred of Morocco, got half a billion views in three months. Meanwhile, the streaming music giants have enjoyed success below the Sahara, where their competition is mainly local — and isn’t owned by Google.
Even a phenomenon needs a break. Citing a sore hamstring that didn’t stop her from winning the U.S. Open last weekend, Japanese American tennis star Naomi Osaka announced yesterday that she won’t be playing in the French Open, which starts Monday. “These 2 tournaments came too close to each other,” the world No. 3 tweeted, saying there wasn’t enough time to transition to clay court play. Meanwhile, her U.S. Open finals opponent, Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, seems to have adjusted well: She knocked out No. 5 Sofia Kenin 6-0, 6-0 to advance to the third round of the Italian Open.