1. Fires Push Climate Change Into Campaign Discourse
With smoke from spreading West Coast fires wafting across the nation, President Donald Trump visited California, where he blamed the deadly blazes on poor forest management rather than climate change — which he's long dismissed as a hoax. While Gov. Gavin Newsom gently disagreed, presidential challenger Joe Biden, speaking in Delaware, labeled the president a “climate arsonist.” Biden has proposed a $2 trillion green energy initiative to fight climate change. Meanwhile, Americans in states across the west have been advised to stay inside, as the smoky air endangers human health while it darkens residents’ days.
2. Whistleblower Exposes ‘Medical Neglect’ at ICE Facilities
Yesterday, a 27-page complaint filed with the Department of Homeland Security’s internal watchdog detailed the recollections of Dawn Wooten, a Georgia ICE detention facility nurse who claims she saw symptomatic detainees denied COVID-19 tests. The allegations of medical malfeasance, which ICE denied, included the performance of numerous hysterectomies, many on women who didn’t understand explanations for the procedures, at the hands of a doctor known as “the uterus collector.” Wooten accused LaSalle Corrections, the prison’s private operator, of retaliating against those who complained, putting immigrants in solitary confinement for objecting to their treatment and demoting the nurse for questioning their practices.
Even if a COVID-19 vaccine can be engineered, manufacturers won’t be able to produce enough to inoculate the whole planet until 2024, warns Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla, who runs the world’s largest vaccine producer. That’s because pharmaceutical companies haven’t stepped up production capacities enough to produce the 15 billion shots that will be necessary to give everyone what may well be a two-dose inoculation. Meanwhile, researchers working on a vaccine at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., say their shot could also protect against strains of the common cold.
4. US Blocks Chinese Goods Over Human Rights Allegations
The Trump administration has added five new Chinese entities to an existing imports blacklist, saying the products — which include apparel and computer parts — are made with forced labor in Xinjiang. Multiple human rights groups say Uighurs and other mainly Muslim minorities are being detained there in what American officials called “concentration camps.” The move also blocks U.S. companies from selling high-tech hardware to Chinese firms that assist with surveillance in Xinjiang and otherwise contribute to oppressing minorities there. U.S. authorities said a complete region-wide ban on exports is still a possibility.
Wisconsin’s Supreme Court has ruled that the Green Party is ineligible to appear on state ballots, which could have required a costly, rushed reprinting process. Hurricane Sally is expected to batter the U.S. with 100-mph winds today. And the deal between Oracle and TikTok must undergo a national security review by the U.S. Treasury Department before it can go through.
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1. Astronomers Report Possible Sign of Life on Venus
It’s far from a smoking gun. But researchers say they’ve detected the chemical signature of phosphine on the cloudy, inhospitable planet, a gas that on earth is only formed via industry or by microbes, particularly in pond scum and penguin poop. The international research team was careful to clarify that they’re not saying they’ve found life on Venus, particularly since its atmosphere is 90 percent sulfuric acid — just that they haven’t found any other explanation for the phosphine gas and will start looking for more gases on Venus that are associated with biological processes.
Google announced its intention to become carbon neutral 13 years ago, and says it has since offset all the carbon the company has ever emitted. But now it’s committed to 100 percent renewable energy sourcing by 2030, while Facebook says it’ll meet that goal this year. The social network also committed to net-zero emissions — including its suppliers and users — by 2030. The two join Microsoft and Apple, which set similar 2030 goals for carbon neutrality in January and July, respectively. Amazon, meanwhile, has given itself until 2040 to reach net-zero emissions from its energy-intensive delivery empire.
3. Who Might Decide a Contested Presidential Election?
With this election more dependent on vote-by-mail than any before, there’s a distinct possibility that the count and resolution will stretch days past Nov. 3 — or maybe even weeks. And in that gap, there’s a select cast of characters that will shape one of the biggest tests of American democracy, OZY reports in this week’s magazine. From entertainers like Cardi B to foreign spy chiefs like Igor Kostyukov to jurists like Chief Justice Patience Roggensack of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, find out everything you need to know about the people guiding America through what could be its darkest hour.
4. JK Rowling’s New ‘Troubled Blood’ Called Transphobic
Already under fire for many transphobic statements, the Harry Potter author is facing renewed criticism for her latest detective novel, Troubled Blood, penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. While the book itself is only out today, an early review in The Telegraph called out a subplot involving a “transvestite serial killer,” inspiring Rowling’s critics to call her out for pushing anti-trans sentiments in her work as well as her tweets. Many pointed out that an earlier book in the series involves a murderous transgender character as well.
5. MLB Banning Alcohol, Hugging From Postseason Celebrations
This season refuses to fizz out. More Major League Baseball teams will make the 2020 playoffs, thanks to the pandemic-expanded 16-team format, but post-game celebrations should look a little less champagne-soaked. While plans are still being finalized, reports indicate that the league’s guidelines for postseason-clinching behavior include social distancing, masks … and no alcohol, presumably to cut down on tipsy impulses that would further expose team members to COVID-19. Such staid observances could begin as soon as this week, as teams like the top-ranked L.A. Dodgers expect to notch the requisite number of wins.