The unprecedented wildfires raging across 12 western U.S. states have killed at least 16 people and forced more than 10 percent of Oregon's population to evacuate. After unfounded rumors that some blazes were deliberately set by far-left activists, officials pleaded with the community to stop sharing unverified information. One police chief bluntly said, “The rumor it was set by Antifa is 100% false information.” Six of the top 20 wildfires in California history have occurred this year, and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called the fires, which are exacerbated by climate change, “a bellwether of the future” — even as activists argue that climate change hasn’t yet been addressed in this year’s presidential campaign.
2. India, China Agree to Disengage at Himalayan Border
Over the past several months, troops representing the two heavyweights have skirmished at their shared frontier, known as the Line of Actual Control. But now India and China’s foreign ministers say it’s in neither’s interest to escalate the fighting and they’ll disengage, allowing both to focus on the ongoing fight against COVID-19 and their individual economic situations. Elsewhere in the Himalayas, China and Nepal are gearing up to announce the results of their recent separate missions to measure Mount Everest. A 2010 compromise stipulated that they make a joint announcement about the official height of the world’s highest mountain.
President Donald Trump had hoped to exclude undocumented immigrants from population counts used to reapportion seats in the House of Representatives — a distinct departure from census policy, and totally illegal, according to the three-judge panel that blocked the plan yesterday. The Supreme Court had previously blocked the president’s attempt to add a question about citizenship status to the census. Early this year, delivery of a census count was delayed until April 2021 because of the pandemic, but the White House later reversed that decision, demanding numbers by the original deadline of Dec. 31, 2020.
4. ‘Skinny’ Coronavirus Aid Bill Fails in US Senate
A pared-down $300 billion GOP bill was struck down by Senate Democrats, garnering just 52 of the 60 votes needed and making it less likely that any relief for floundering businesses and the millions still unemployed will pass before Election Day. Republicans previously rejected a Democratic bill proposing $3.4 trillion in aid. This so-called “skinny” version included small enhancements for unemployment benefits and liability protection for businesses, but not another round of White House-approved $1,200 stimulus checks. Meanwhile, 1 in 10 Americans are suffering from food insecurity and 5.4 million are in danger of eviction.
The NFL season opener was marked by protests as the Houston Texans remained in the locker room during the national anthem and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before joining the Kansas City Chiefs for a moment of silence. Indigenous tribes in Peru are attempting to treat COVID-19 with traditional remedies. And the CEO of mining company Rio Tinto will step down after the company destroyed two culturally significant ancient rock shelters in Australia.
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1. Who Will Win the White House? Here Are the Odds
As the 2020 election enters its final weeks, you can follow along with OZY’s new polling model, a custom-made analysis we created with polling firm 0ptimus. Right now, Joe Biden has an 81 percent chance of winning, according to our numbers, while Democrats have a 76 percent chance of taking the Senate — but keep checking back, as the numbers will update daily. Biden and President Trump will both visit Shanksville, Pennsylvania, today to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and the Biden campaign will pause its TV ads out of respect.
2. Citigroup Becomes First Big Bank to Name Female CEO
Let’s raise a glass (ceiling). Jane Fraser, 53, will take over as head honchesa of the nation’s fourth largest bank in February, making her the first woman to run any Wall Street bank. That would also make her the 39th woman to run a Fortune 500 company, an all-time high for female representation in that index. While women are often elevated to leadership positions at moments of crisis, when failure is all but certain — aka the glass cliff — Citigroup is thought to be in a relatively strong position after years of overhauls, giving its new Scottish leader a fighting chance.
3. CDC: Dining Out Is One of the Riskiest Pandemic Activities
Is this what you ordered? A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found that those who tested positive for COVID-19 were about twice as likely to say they’d eaten at a restaurant than those who tested negative. Other activities, like going to salons and gyms, were roughly equivalent for both groups. Eating and drinking are a particular risk, according to experts, possibly because they require people to go unmasked and thus expose themselves more to contracting the virus. Most U.S. states have reopened restaurants, though largely at reduced capacity to allow for social distancing.
4. Dame Diana Rigg, Star of ‘The Avengers,’ Dies at 82
The acclaimed British actress got her start at the Royal Shakespeare Company before moving on to espionage, starring as the iconic catsuited Emma Peel in 1960s spy series The Avengers and later as James Bond’s eventual wife (spoilers!) in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In recent years, Rigg played the memorable Lady Olenna Tyrell on Game of Thrones, garnering a new generation of fans. The Tony-winning actress, who was diagnosed with cancer six months ago, died in her sleep — but will appear in one more film, Last Night in Soho, set to be released in 2021.
5. NFL’s Josh Bellamy Arrested Over Alleged COVID-19 Fraud
Tough week. Former wide receiver Bellamy, who was on the New York Jets reserve list due to an offseason shoulder injury, was released from the team Tuesday. Then yesterday Bellamy, 31, was arrested for allegedly taking part in a $24 million scheme to defraud a U.S. government COVID-19 relief fund. Bellamy is accused of receiving $1.2 million for his company and then spending tens of thousands at casinos and luxury stores like Dior and Gucci. The Jets organization says it didn’t know about the fraud when Bellamy was booted from the team.