Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) suspended all campaign travel through at least Sunday after two people who traveled with the campaign, including her communications director, tested positive for COVID-19. Neither Harris nor Joe Biden have tested positive; the pair last campaigned together Oct. 8.
The news came just ahead of opposing town halls held by Biden (Philadelphia) and President Trump (Miami). Headlines include President Trump declining to
disavow the QAnon conspiracy theory (watch) and Biden evading a question on court packing—see highlights from both here. Separately, Steve Scully, who was set to host the second debate between the pair before it was canceled, was suspended for falsely claiming his Twitter account was hacked.
There are 18 days until the Nov. 3 election, but the US has already seen a surge in early voting, largely fueled by wider use of mail-in ballots. More than 14.5 million votes have been cast ($$, WSJ)—12.5 million by mail and the remainder in person—with seven states already exceeding the total mail-in ballots received in 2016. During the previous presidential cycle, 58 million ballots were cast early (33 million by mail), or roughly 40% of the total. By Monday, at least 30 states will have begun their early voting period. See this primer on how mail-in ballots work.
Biden has maintained a wide lead in national polling, with closer margins in swing states. According to analysts, the most likely tipping point states—states with the tightest races that ultimately yield the decisive electoral votes—are Pennsylvania (Biden currently polling at +7.0), Florida (Biden +2.7), Wisconsin (Biden +6.3), and Michigan (Biden +7.2). See polling data here.
Some estimates project 150 million people will vote, or 65% of eligible voters. That figure would be the highest voting rate since 1908.
University of Oxford researchers announced yesterday the development of a new, highly accurate COVID-19 test capable of returning results in just five minutes. The unique approach does not require any chemical purification or amplification, instead relying on a fluorescent DNA strand that attaches to viral particles. The signal is then interpreted by using a trained machine learning algorithm (see paper). The test is expected to be
available for use in 2021. Existing tests, known as rapid antigen testing, yield fast results but struggle to identify cases where viral loads are low. See a comparison here.
Separately, COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Midwestern states, with hospitalizations hitting a record high for a 10th consecutive day. Public health officials warned the rise may not peak until mid-November. Overall the US has reported 7.98
million cases as of this morning, with 217,700 deaths. See rolling averages here and here.
Worldwide, new cases have surged to an all-time high, surpassing 330,000 globally per day.
Historic Tax Fraud Case
Federal prosecutors revealed yesterday they charged Texas-based technology executive Robert Brockman with hiding more than $2B from the IRS over the course of two decades. The charges represent the largest tax fraud case against an individual in US history. The 79-year-old Brockman is accused of establishing a web of offshore companies to funnel money made from investments to banks in Bermuda and Switzerland (see release), forging
documents and falsifying records to carry out the transactions. He also allegedly steered investor funds to his private software company, unbeknownst to his clients.
Officials also revealed they struck a non-prosecution deal with billionaire investor Robert F. Smith—who committed to paying off tuition for graduates during a Morehouse College commencement address last year—in exchange for his help in building the case. Smith will be fined more than $139M.
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>“Jagged Little Pill” tops 74th Annual Tony Award nominations with 15 nods; 12 nominations for “Slave Play” breaks record for most ever for a play (More)
>Fred Dean, Pro Football Hall of Famer and four-time Pro Bowler, dies at 68 from coronavirus complications (More)
>Houston Astros win back-to-back games over Tampa Bay Rays to force Game 6 in American League Championship Series(More) | Atlanta Braves take 3-1 lead over Los Angeles Dodgers in National League Championship Series(More)
Science & Technology
>YouTube limits, but doesn't fully ban, QAnon and related conspiracy theories (More) | A deeper look at the conspiracy theory and the role of social media (More)
>"Mini-brains" developed that can help autonomous robots sense pain, initiate self-repair processes (More)
>A cell's nucleus is key to helping cells escape tight places, a pair of studies find; deformation of the organelle triggers a chemical response that spurs cell movement (More)
>Twitter briefly suspends Trump campaign account after it posts a video drawn from disputed NY Post report(More) | Original story has drawn heavy scrutiny over lack of confirmation around the origin of documents, lack of third-party verification; see list of issues here (More) | Senate to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (More)
>Senate Judiciary Committee sets formal vote on nomination of Amy Coney Barrett for Oct. 22 (More) | Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) nixes idea of $1.8T stimulus (More) | Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) criticizes President Trump in leaked constituent call (More)
>Former Mexican defense secretary Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos arrested in Los Angeles Airport on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering (More)
'We Were Bulletproof'
NYT | Hannah Beech. The story of Johnny and Luther Htoo, who—as children believed to hold magical powers—led Myanmar's God's Army. (Read, $$)
A New Tool to Control the Virus
Washington Post | Staff. This rich visualization shows how scientists may be able to use variations in the virus's genetic code to track and contain it. (Read)
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Historybook: Marie Antoinette is executed (1793); Author Oscar Wilde born (1854); The Walt Disney Co. is founded (1923); HBD actress Angela Lansbury (1925); RIP Tony, Academy, and Emmy Award-winning actress Shirley Booth (1992).
"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."
- Walt Disney
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