Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Mike Pence spent Labor Day campaigning in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, key swing states — but President Donald Trump stayed in the White House and vented, calling Biden “stupid” and lashing out at senior military officials over a report that Trump called American war dead “losers” and “suckers.” He also denied ever suggesting a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready preelection, then proceeded to say exactly that. The idea of an early vaccine has become increasingly politicized, with Harris saying she “would not trust” Trump’s word on a vaccine and Trump accusing her of “dangerous” anti-vaccine sentiment.
Alexei Navalny’s condition has improved enough that doctors have brought him out of an induced coma. The 44-year-old firebrand, long a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, became ill last month and was evacuated to Berlin, where toxicology tests revealed he’d been poisoned by a nerve agent considered a hallmark of Kremlin retribution. Doctors say it’s too early to give a long-term prognosis for Navalny, but Chancellor Angela Merkel is considering sanctioning a massive Russia-to-Germany pipeline project in retaliation. Another blow to Putin: His vaunted COVID-19 vaccine was largely rejected by teachers, who were given early access but say they don’t trust that it’s safe.
Maria Kolesnikova was one of three women — including now-exiled electoral challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya — who joined forces to try to unseat authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko, setting off weeks of protests. Now there are conflicting reports as to her whereabouts: Witnesses saw her bundled into a van by masked men, but alleged attempts to forcibly deport her to Ukraine appear to have failed, with one source saying she ripped up her passport to prevent being taken over the border. Some say Kolesnikova’s still detained in Belarus, where efforts to oust Lukashenko continue after his disputed victory in last month’s election.
4. China Vies to Control Global Data Security Rules
Beijing launched a new initiative today aiming to set international rules for data security “that reflect the will and respect the interests of all countries.” It’s an apparent attempt to counter Washington’s increasingly aggressive campaign against Chinese tech companies like Huawei and ByteDance over security concerns. A month ago, the U.S. announced its Clean Network program, which specifically excludes Chinese companies from global internet infrastructure, and about 30 countries have signed on. Meanwhile, President Trump floated the idea of “decoupling” the Chinese and U.S. economies, severing financial links between the two sparring nations.
Three London bridges were recently closed to cars amid worries about the safety of the city's infrastructure. India has surpassed Brazil in COVID-19 case numbers, putting it second only to the United States. And an Irish lacrosse team has pulled out of an international tournament to give its spot to a Native American team in a gesture of solidarity.
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1. Gender Reveal Party Inventor: ‘For the Love of God, Stop’
Jenna Karvunidis is often credited with starting the gender reveal party craze in 2008 via a pink frosting-filled cake. But now she’s asking people to cut it out after yet another wildfire — the 8,600-acre El Dorado fire currently engulfing California — was started by such a party’s pyrotechnics. A similar stunt sparked an $8 million wildfire in Arizona in 2017. “Stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid’s penis. No one cares but you,” Karvunidis wrote on Facebook. “Toxic masculinity is men thinking they need to explode something because simply enjoying a baby party is for sissies.”
Man, you can recycle everything these days. China’s successful launch and return of a reusable spacecraft is shrouded in mystery — though one official compared it to an experimental American model of reusable space plane — but it appears to have been successful. Another question mark: Space surveillance found that the rocket released an object into orbit, but there’s no indication of what it might be. Previous missions have released small monitoring satellites. The new craft is designed to be used more than 20 times and could cut launch costs by 80 to 90 percent.
3. Gen Z Teens Don’t Want Your Stinkin’ Summer Job
Maybe all those millionaire teen YouTubers don’t count. Gen Zers are far less likely than previous generations to have jobs as teenagers: Just 18 percent did in 2018, compared to 27 percent of millennials when they were the same age, and 41 percent of teen Gen Xers, OZY reports. That’s partly because low-paid jobs like burger flipping are now occupied by adults. It’s also because teens today are less likely than previous generations to have driver’s licenses and are more likely to prioritize education — and be picky about wanting to feel fulfilled by work if they do take it.
4. Fans Gather to Hear Rare Chord Change in Slow Concert
It was something to take note of. John Cage’s experimental composition “As Slow as Possible” was written to take 639 years to play: Its ongoing performance at St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt, Germany, began in 2001 and is forecast to last well into the 27th century. Fans gathered there (and via an online livestream) over the weekend to experience the piece’s first chord change in nearly seven years, which required adding two new organ pipes. The next chord change isn’t expected until February 2022.
5. French Open Will Allow Crowds Despite COVID-19 Surge
When the clay-court tennis tournament kicks off at the end of this month, spectators will be allowed into the stands, with just 5,000 masked people — the legal maximum according to French pandemic restrictions — allowed at each of the two main courts. Cases in France have gone up in recent weeks, and more than 30,000 people there have died of COVID-19. Not taking any chances is world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty: The Australian has opted out of defending her French Open title due to worries about travel and the pandemic’s effects on her training schedule.