1. Trump Accepts Nomination Before White House Crowd
Barbarians are at the gate. That’s how President Donald Trump portrayed the choice confronting American voters on Nov. 3. Accepting the Republican nomination last night, he warned that Democratic rival Joe Biden would “give free rein to violent anarchists, agitators and criminals.” Despite Trump’s thinly veiled reference to civil rights demonstrations, his only Black Cabinet member, Ben Carson, said that people calling the president racist “couldn’t be more wrong.” Not addressed was the scale of the pandemic that’s killed 180,000 Americans, while Trump basked in the applause of a tightly packed, largely unmasked Rose Garden audience.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced he’ll step down for health reasons, ending his nation’s longest-running premiership. The 65-year-old leader, known for his “Abenomics” policies that brought Japan out of its last financial slump, has long suffered from ulcerative colitis, which forced him to end his first term as prime minister in 2007. While it appears Abe’s economic policies will continue, Japan’s Topix index slid 1.6 percent on the news. Members of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who were informed of his decision today, are expected to hold an intraparty election to choose Abe’s successor.
It was mercifully quick. But Hurricane Laura and tornadoes it spawned left buildings flattened, coastal areas submerged and six people in Louisiana dead, mainly from falling trees. As the storm smashed into the Gulf Coast yesterday, it also cut power to 910,000 homes in four states, damaging buildings in Texas and toppling trees as it moved north through Arkansas and weakened into a tropical storm. But meteorologists warn that there’s still danger of new tornadoes in Mississippi and Arkansas, and if the storm turns eastward, it could threaten the more populous Eastern Seaboard.
4. In Sudden Switch, Fed to Embrace Higher Inflation
Has it gone to the dark side? Admitting it might seem “counterintuitive that the Fed would want to push up inflation,” U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell announced Thursday that the central bank would be doing just that. It will let inflation creep above its longstanding 2 percent target to compensate for lower stretches, meaning interest rates will remain low for the foreseeable future, even amid strong job markets that normally trigger rate increases. The sudden policy shift from the normally deliberative body surprised analysts and encouraged investors, with both stock indexes and bond yields rising.
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Have gun, will contract. As at least 11 U.S. cities are downsizing or replacing their police forces, that’s leaving a huge security vacuum with property and lives to protect. And it’s not just wealthy homeowners and businesses rushing to hire private security firms, OZY reports. Even city governments are using them as a way to provide safety without visible badges. But there are huge downsides: Many of those hired are retired officers or veterans who could have itchy trigger fingers, and private companies lack the kind of oversight that comes with official police departments.
We’re going to need a dance challenge on aisle 37. Walmart is vying for a piece of the tech universe, teaming with Microsoft to bid against Oracle for ownership of TikTok’s U.S. operations before President Trump bans the platform. The Arkansas-based retailer, which previously signed up for a Google-led bid, wanted to be the lead investor, but wasn’t tech enough to satisfy government data security concerns. TikTok’s expected to choose a buyer in the next day or so, potentially sending its English-language spinoff toward a Walmart-influenced e-commerce focus or a more data-centric future under Oracle.
They don’t mean what they’re saying. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sparked an uproar after quietly changing guidelines Monday to say those exposed to coronavirus “do not necessarily need a test” unless they’re symptomatic. Yesterday Director Robert Redfield said “testing may be considered for all close contacts” of even probable infections, but critics noted the CDC website still has the new guidance, which Dr. Anthony Fauci rejects and many states say they won’t follow. Meanwhile, the government says it plans to buy 150 million COVID-19 tests that provide results in 15 minutes.
Are they laughing, too? Thieves broke into a small art museum in the Netherlands, making off with Two Laughing Boys With a Mug of Beer by Frans Hals, police said Thursday. The 1624 painting, thought to be worth $18 million, has the distinction of having been stolen twice before, in 1988 and 2011. It was returned both times, but the latest burglary from Leerdam’s Hofje van Mevrouw van Aerden highlights a particular problem with keeping valuable works in small museums. While the thieves tripped an alarm at 3:30 a.m., they escaped before the police could arrive.
“Only world wars have stopped the Tour de France.” Those hopeful words by the race’s director back in March are echoing today as cyclists face something more daunting than mountain inclines. Even French Prime Minister Jean Castex was peppered with questions about the wisdom of beginning the race Saturday in Nice, a COVID-19 hot spot. Castex’s defenses — that it’s an open-air event and the virus spreads in places with no organization but “the Tour has an organizer” — have done little to reassure those worried about its resurgence in France, where Parisians must now wear masks outdoors.
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