Newsy Headlines The Latest Videos From <![CDATA[Daniel Dae Kim Tackles 2020 Election Divisions In 'Belly Of The Beast']]> Sat, 31 Oct 2020 13:51:00 -0500
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Actor Daniel Dae Kim: "It's not a partisan issue that we're talking about, as much as we're talking about the ways in which our democracy is changing."

Actor Daniel Dae Kim is debuting a new political play called "Belly of the Beast" on Sunday. Focusing on two fictional Trump campaign executives, the play touches on the effects of social media and misinformation on democracy. Kim appears alongside actors Joel de la Fuente, Carrie Preston, Antonia Thomas and Tamlyn Tomita.

Actor Joel de la Fuente: "Because of social media, and the acceleration of the technology around it, we are now in a position where people are having individual realities constructed for them. … It's not really just a question of one party versus another party. It's not a question of person 'x' versus person 'y.' We're talking about a technology that exists that everybody can and is using to affect our ability to make choices." 

The play's spotlight on misinformation and polarization is based on what's happening in real life. A recent Newsy investigation on "perception gaps" found that most people assume they know the beliefs of people from different political parties based on news or social media, rather than actually talking to them. That deepens the political divide. 

Kim: "The issue that we're dealing with is the divisiveness and the polarization. … They are a separate issue from whether you believe left or right. It's about the demonization of the other side, regardless of which of which side you're on." 

Kim, who has campaigned for presidential candidate Joe Biden, acknowledged that the voices of political opponents are important to listen to.

Actress Tamlyn Tomita: "I think there are ambiguities within the piece that we're going 'well, he's fighting for the right thing, or he's fighting for the wrong thing.' But it's all about winning, and in this climate of our country right now, what does that mean to win?" 

Newsy Reporter Casey Mendoza: "Were there ever any worries of negative reactions from audiences who say this play could be too liberal or too conservative?" 

"I just got a tweet 30 minutes ago, basically saying, I'm never watching anything else you're ever doing. So yes, these kinds of reactions are out there. But if you believe that art holds a mirror up to life, or if you believe what Brecht says that not only is art holding a mirror up to life, but it's also a hammer with which to shape it, then this is the role of the artist in society."

Casey Mendoza. Newsy. Chicago.

<![CDATA[Actor Sean Connery, Famous For James Bond, Dies At 90 Years Old]]> Sat, 31 Oct 2020 12:36:00 -0500
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Sean Connery, the actor known for playing James Bond, has died at 90 years old. The BBC reports he died peacefully among family in the Bahamas, and had been sick for "some time."

Connery was knighted in 2000 for his entertainment career. He was the first to portray the iconic spy and appeared in seven 007 movies. He also acted in films including "The Hunt for Red October" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." He won an Oscar for playing a tough Chicago Cop in "The Untouchables."

Scotland's First Minister tweeted, “Our nation today mourns one of her best loved sons... Sean was born into a working class Edinburgh family and through talent & sheer hard work, became an international film icon and one of the world’s most accomplished actors."

Connery was proudly Scottish, and a vocal advocate for Scotland's independence from the United Kingdom. That's yet to happen, but local support for that idea is now higher than ever.

Connery is survived by his wife and son.

<![CDATA[At Least 30 Killed, 800 Injured As Quake, Tsunami Hit Turkey, Greece]]> Sat, 31 Oct 2020 11:46:00 -0500
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A powerful earthquake in Turkey and Greece has killed at least 30 people and injured more than 800 others. Rescue teams are searching for survivors or more victims in the aftermath of the quake and a resulting subsequent tsunami.

The earthquake and its hundreds of aftershocks toppled eight buildings in Turkey's third largest city, with one collapsing wall killing two teenagers. Teams have rescued around 100 people so far after searching through piles of debris and concrete blocks.

Rescuers lifted a teenager and her dog out of an eight-floor apartment building's wreckage early Saturday. And in another collapsed building, rescuers were clearing a path for a woman and her four kids to get to safety. 

Turkey is crossed by fault lines, so the area is familiar with earthquakes. In 1999, two quakes there killed some 18,000 people. Authorities are now warning residents to stay away from damaged buildings they fear could collapse, as 5,000 rescue personnel are deployed.

No tsunami warnings were issued for the ensuing wave that hit the Turkish coast and drowned one elderly woman. Greek authorities have told people to stay away from the country's shores and to be on alert for high waves amid more aftershocks.

Tension between the Greece and Turkey have been high as both are facing off in the eastern Mediterranean over maritime boundaries and energy exploration rights. But in a show of solidarity, government officials from both countries have shared mutual messages of unity. 

Greece's prime minister said, "I have already contacted President Erdogan, emphasizing that, beyond the difficulties in our relations, in these moments the unity of our people is paramount, because for us, the protection of human life transcends borders and differences. I thank him for the positive response to my call."

<![CDATA[Muslims In Several Countries Protest Cartoons After Violence In France]]> Sat, 31 Oct 2020 11:30:00 -0500
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Thousands of Muslims in several countries joined in protests against France for allowing cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

Islamic groups held in demonstrations in Pakistan, Lebanon, Turkey and in Palestinian territories — carrying signs, chanting anti-France slogans and calling the caricatures an insult to Islam.

Tensions have escalated between France and predominately Muslim nations recently after a French teacher was beheaded by a Muslim attacker on Oct. 16 for showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class.

Tensions further exploded Thursday after a man, carrying a Qur'an and a knife, killed three people at a church in the French city of Nice.

Protests turned violent in Pakistan as 2,000 protesters were stopped by police on their way to the French embassy. Some protesters openly called for beheadings and hung an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron from an overpass.

The images that triggered new protests were originally published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in 2015 and republished this year. In 2015, gunmen stormed the magazine and killed 12 people. 

Despite Muslims considering the caricatures blasphemous and Islamaphobic — Macron has defended the depiction as a French protection of free speech.

<![CDATA[Walmart Walks Back Decision To Remove Firearms From Store Displays]]> Sat, 31 Oct 2020 10:11:00 -0500
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Walmart is walking back a decision to remove ammunition and firearms from its store cases.

It made the announcement Friday, just a day after it said it was moving the items to a secure store back rooms "out of an abundance of caution." The decision to move the weapons came as a Walmart store was looted during two nights of protests over a fatal police shooting of a Black man in Philadelphia. The company cited "civil unrest." Now it says it's returning the guns and ammunition to store cases because the unrest has "remained geographically isolated."

Walmart is a major gun retailer, selling firearms in over 2,000 stores. But the company has made changes in recent years. For instance, it raised the minimum age to buy guns from 18 to 21 in 2018.

And last year it stopped selling bullets for semiautomatic rifles and handguns after a shooter in El Paso killed 23 people in one of its stores.

<![CDATA[Experts Say Record Early Voter Turnout In Texas Favors Joe Biden]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 18:35:00 -0500
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With Nov. 3 still a few days off, Texans have now cast more votes this election cycle than any other year on record. The 9 million early votes cast in the Lone Star State is more than its total 2016 voter turnout.

This historic turnout follows a historic election cycle, where Texas' Republican governor was sued by his own party for extending early voting by six days. Ultimately, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in the governor's favor.  

Harris County, home to Texas' most populous city, has also broken records at the ballot box while dramatically expanding options for early voting. Just this year, Harris County added drive-thru voting and 24-hour voting and tripled its early voting sites. 

In Texas, voters don't register by party affiliation, so we don't know which party is benefiting from all this early voter enthusiasm. That said, many election experts believe there is a better chance now than there has been in decades of Texas turning blue in the presidential race — pointing to public opinion surveys of early voters and Democratic districts turning out in record numbers. 

MARK JONES: "Texas Democrats have a decent chance of not only winning the presidential race here in Texas, but also having considerable success down the ballot. Donald Trump is probably the worst thing that's happened to the Texas Republican Party in the modern era."

Mark Jones of Rice University points to a combination of factors that are contributing to Texas Democrats' newfound optimism about their state, but he also says the common thread is President Trump. 

JONES: "And so one thing he's done is he's repelled some people who were regular Republican voters, but he has also given Democrats a great tool around which to mobilize people who, in the past, hadn't always turned out to vote. So really, it's those twin factors that are adversely affecting Texas Republicans."

As Texas wraps up early voting, Democrats have taken notice of this newfound enthusiasm in the Lone Star State. Vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris is visiting Fort Worth, Houston and the U.S.-Mexico border town of McAllen Friday to encourage voters in the state.  

Texas has 38 electoral college votes, the second-most in the country, and hasn't given those votes to a Democrat since 1976. 

<![CDATA[Where Voting Stands Four Days Out From Election Day]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 18:00:00 -0500
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In the final weekend before Election Day, early voting — both by mail and in-person — has reached historic levels. Already, more than 82 million people have voted — nearly 60% of the total votes counted in the entire 2016 election — with Hawaii and Texas eclipsing their totals four years ago.

The numbers suggest voters are energized by an election that both sides have called the "most important" of their lifetime, and a pandemic that has killed over 228,000 Americans.

"Tuesday, your vote is going to save our country," President Trump told supporters Thursday in Tampa.

Experts say Washington is a good indicator of voter enthusiasm this year. The state ran all-mail elections in 2016 and 2020 under the same rules. But this year, its mail ballot return rates are nearly four times what they were in 2016.

The record turnout hints that despite initial concerns the pandemic would make it harder than usual to vote, efforts by states to modify their voting options have helped expand access to the ballot box.

Registered Democrats have nearly doubled registered Republicans in requests for mail-ballots but hold only a slight edge when it comes to ballot return rates. And they've warned against reading too much into what the numbers could mean for the final result.

"We know that Republicans often have a surge on Election Day, and we are just encouraging people and reminding people that their vote counts, literally," Atlanta's Democratic Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a vocal Biden supporter, said in an interview.

And turning to Nov. 3, election officials and voting rights groups are preparing for possible voter intimidation, violence and "unreasonable" voter challenges at polling sites.

"We're looking at potential intimidation that's not being addressed. Looking at excessive and unreasonable challenges to voters inside the polling place, which is something that we saw back in 2004, especially at colleges and universities. Looking at legal challenges or challenges designed just to delay and slow down the vote-by-mail ballot count, and then potentially, you know, what happens if things get dragged out too long," Witold Walczak, the legal director of ACLU of Pennsylvania, told reporters Wednesday.

The Biden campaign has for months been trying to combat President Trump's efforts to undermine the legitimacy of the election.

"This is going to be a fraud like you've never seen," the president said of mail-in ballots at the first presidential debate earlier this year.

"This is all about trying to dissuade people from voting because he's trying to scare people into thinking that it's not going to be legitimate," Biden said of the president's claims at the first presidential debate. "Show up and vote."

Legal challenges over whether late-arriving mail ballots will be counted are underway, with the Supreme Court extending the deadline to count mail ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

<![CDATA[Behind The (Virtual) Scenes Of Netflix's 'The Queen's Gambit']]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 17:22:00 -0500
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 "Chess isn't always competitive. Chess can also be beautiful."

Telling the story of a chess prodigy and her struggles to become the greatest player in the world, "The Queen's Gambit" has been praised for its exceptionally accurate depictions of the game.

Take, for example, this scene. 

John Mangia, visual effects supervisor for Chicken Bone VFX: "It's all real chess that you're seeing. It's all based on real games or real moves or real countermoves to moves. It's all very meticulously planned and scrutinized."

Those floating chess pieces were all designed by Chicken Bone VFX — the team that also worked on "Westworld" and "The Walking Dead." 

John Mangia, the show's visual effects supervisor, told Newsy that every project comes with new challenges, but "The Queen's Gambit" came with its own very specific learning curve. 

Mangia: "We had to really learn chess. I mean, fortunately, the show had these amazingly talented, brilliant chess advisers who we had to help us out. But we had to be able to translate chess notation — which is written in a very funny, cryptic way — into animated moving pieces that were accurate." 

Beyond the virtual chess pieces, Chicken Bone also re-created 1960s Paris, Mexico City and Moscow. That's right: All of those backgrounds are virtual, too.

John Renzulli, founder and CEO of Chicken Bone VFX: "The show, in large part, the post part of the show, was almost completely kind of in the context of the pandemic. … We didn't miss a beat."

Despite the production shutdowns faced by other projects at the beginning of the pandemic, the post-production on "The Queen's Gambit" was able to continue working toward its fall release. The critically acclaimed miniseries debuted on Netflix earlier in October, and it currently boasts a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes

<![CDATA[Illinois Judge Rules Teen Can Be Extradited Over Protest Shooting]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 17:19:00 -0500
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A judge will extradite an Illinois teen to Wisconsin, where he shot three people during racial justice protests in Kenosha.  

The 17-year-old is being held in Illinois. He crossed state lines with a rifle and opened fire on protesters in Kenosha. He says he acted in self defense.  

His charges include first-degree intentional homicide, which carries a life sentence in Wisconsin. 

It's unclear if his attorneys will appeal Friday's decision. 

<![CDATA[U.S. Reports 88,000 New Coronavirus Cases In One Day]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 17:17:00 -0500
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The U.S. is breaking even more troubling records as the coronavirus pandemic wears on.

Officials reported more than 88,000 new cases yesterday. 

That's the most in a single day since the pandemic began. 

And it means the U.S. is adding a new COVID-19 case nearly every second.

The spike is happening nationwide: 47 states recorded more cases in the latest week than the previous one.

And experts worry this could get even worse as we head deeper into flu season.

"More people are going to be overwhelming hospitals, getting sick. There will be some confusion of diagnosis. All of that is going to lead to a bigger crisis in the hospital than what we're seeing now in the next two months."

Cases are surging around the globe, too.

Spikes across Europe have prompted new lockdowns in Germany and France.

And Japan just passed 100,000 total cases.

<![CDATA[Red Cross: Halloween can be Both Safe and Spooky]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 16:41:00 -0500
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"Think about different ways of tossing that out. So if it's bagging it up and putting it outside, you just want to make that you are properly socially distanced and that you're wearing a mask when you're interacting with folks from your neighborhood," said Stephanie Rendon, spokesperson of the American Red Cross.

Stephanie Rendon of the American Red Cross tells me you can still have a spook-tacular time — whether you skip trick-or-treating or not.

You just may need to get creative.

She says consider other low-risk activities.

For example, you could use pumpkin stems for a ring-tossing game.

"There's a lot of fun things you can do at home, perhaps doing some pumpkin carving with your loved ones. Or, we're on video a lot, so doing a virtual Halloween costume contest could be fun," Rendon said.

The toughest part about this Halloween may be deciding where to draw the line on gatherings.

Rendon just recommends avoiding indoor crowded spaces.

"If you do want to gather with some friends, with some neighbors, do it outside. Just make sure that you have 6 feet of distance between you and them. And think of really interesting activities that you could do. You could do a Halloween costume parade, where you guys could walk around dressed up in your costumes and really enjoy each other and have fun," Rendon said. 

So, basically, be smart and keep taking those same precautions we're used to.

"Be safe, and be creative this Halloween. You don't have to cancel it, you just need to think of different alternatives to make Halloween fun. Really consider doing stuff indoors with your household, but if you are outside, just make sure you're wearing a mask and make sure you're properly socially distanced," Rendon said.

<![CDATA[Asian American GOP Group Backs Joe Biden]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 16:30:00 -0500
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Just days before the election, the National Committee of Asian American Republicans has announced its support for Joe Biden. The group said in a statement, "Making America great again starts from all sides coming together, to heal a divided nation."

Newsy spoke exclusively to the executive director of the committee, which says it has more than 50,000 members. 

"We start to feel the country is further divided. And we don't feel safe," says Executive Director Cliff Li. 

SEE MORE: How 'Kung Flu' Rhetoric Impacts The Asian American GOP Vote

Li, who served on the Asian Pacific American advisory committee for the 2016 Trump-Pence campaign, says the country's division is the primary reason for the Biden endorsement. Li came to the U.S. from China in 1990 after seeing the events of Tiananmen Square.

He says: "We saw this kind of struggle back then, the revolution, the political leader getting this group of people against another. We saw those things. So when we see this happening, ... we say, 'Is this right?' This is America. We couldn't imagine America could come to the point where it’s America against America."

Asian Americans are the fastest growing voter demographic. They make up 4% of the nation’s eligible voters, and while they mostly lean Democratic, about a quarter voted Republican in 2016. 

<![CDATA[Texas Surpasses 2016 Total Turnout Despite Stiff Voting Restrictions]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 16:24:00 -0500
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Texas is historically one of the most restrictive states to vote in in the US. 

But in a 'cost of voting' index report, the Lone Star state actually placed dead last in ease of voting. 

SCHRAUFNAGEL: "So the two things that stick out in Texas, one is the voter registration deadline of a full 30 days before the election, that's the largest number of any state in the country. 

Scot Schraufnagel co-authored the cost of voting index report.

SCHRAUFNAGEL: "And the second thing is … no online voter registration. Online voter registration has become the norm around the country, and actually can be cost effective."

In the past, Texas has had one of the lowest voter turnout rates. But this year, Texans already have cast 9 million ballots — surpassing total voter turnout in 2016.

HOLLINS: "We've increased voter access here in Houston in Harris County, to levels never seen before."

In Harris County, which includes Houston, more than 1 million ballots have been cast early, an all-time early voting record and a larger total voter turnout than the city saw in 2010 and 2014. 

Chris Hollins, the interim Harris County Clerk, has used the pandemic to dramatically expand the options for Houston voters. 

HOLLINS: "I know that as a native Houstonian, you know that Houstonians love their cars."

For the first time, drive-thru voting is available, and nearly 10% of all in-person voters in Houston have cast their ballot from their car.  

HOLLINS: “And so we're making it so that every single voter who wants to cast their vote from the safety and comfort of their vehicles, and so voters have responded to that."

Plus, the number of voting centers jumped from 46 in 2016 to more than 120 today.

Many of these changes have been met with pushback from Republican lawmakers. The Texas Supreme Court recently threw out a legal challenge that would have invalidated all the drive-thru votes in Harris County — more than 80,000 ballots. 

And while Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order extending early voting, he also limited ballot drop-off sites to one per county — citing voter fraud concerns. 

That means Harris County, a county bigger than the state of Rhode Island, has one ballot drop-box location in the entire city. 

HOLLINS: "The Republican Party here in Harris County, and in Texas, has sued my office at least a dozen times now, for efforts at making voting easier."

Gov Abbott didn't return our request for comment but he said on Twitter mail-in ballot voter fraud in Texas "must end.

According to KXAN in Dallas, 150 people have been charged with voter fraud in Texas since 2004. For reference, in 2016 alone, there were nearly 9 million votes cast in Texas. 

The other states at the bottom of the 'cost of voting' index are Georgia, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee — all states with Republican leadership and large minority populations. 

According to Schraufnagel, that's not a coincidence. 

SCHRAUFNAGEL: "It's still not the case that all republican states are making it harder to vote. So for instance, Utah has mail-in voting, it's a Republican state. North Dakota as well. … So Republican alone doesn't appear to create a higher cost of voting. Because like, like states that with low African American populations that are Republican controlled voting is not that more not that difficult. It's the combination of the two things."

In preparation for election day, Harris County will be offering 24-hour voting on October 30th — the last day of early voting. This will be the first and only time 24 hour voting has been made available in the state of Texas. 

<![CDATA[Zeta Moves on, but Damage Remains]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 15:45:00 -0500
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Across the South, people are cleaning up after Zeta swept through the region, damaging homes and knocking down trees.

At least six people were killed.

Utility crews are still working to restore electricity in some places. 

At the peak, more than 2.6 million people were without power from Louisiana to Virginia. 

"I have no lights. I have no idea how long I'll be without power. I'm hopeful that my generator gets fixed. That's why I'm coming to put gas in the tanks," said Louisiana resident Jeanne Guillory.

"The wait is kind of ridiculous, but it is what it is, you know? Everybody's doing well. Everybody's being patient, waiting in line," she added.

The remnants of Zeta have passed into the Atlantic, but officials warn some risks remain, like downed power lines and toxic generator fumes.

Zeta made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane in Louisiana earlier this week. 

It was the 27th named storm of the Atlantic season and set a record as the 11th named storm to hit the continental U.S. in a season.

<![CDATA[Louisville Officer Sues Breonna Taylor's Boyfriend]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 15:15:00 -0500
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One of the officers connected to Breonna Taylor's shooting is suing Taylor's boyfriend.

Louisville Police Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly filed a civil suit against Kenneth Walker accusing him of battery, assault and causing emotional distress.

The lawsuit alleges Walker shot Mattingly in the leg the night officers entered Taylor's apartment while serving a search warrant in a drug investigation. No drugs were found in the home. 

Walker has said he thought the officers were intruders.

In a statement to several news outlets, Walker's attorney called the lawsuit a "baseless attempt to further victimize and harass Kenny."

<![CDATA[Philadelphia City Council Votes To Ban Tear Gas Use At Protests]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 14:35:00 -0500
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Since Walter Wallace Jr. was killed, protesters have been out on the streets of Philadelphia.

Now the city council has voted to ban the use of tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray in officers' response to peaceful protests.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney says he supports the measure.

<![CDATA[Walter Wallace's Family Won't Call For Officers To Face Murder Charges]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 14:33:00 -0500
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The family of the Black man killed by Philadelphia police earlier this week say they're not calling for murder charges against the officers who killed him.

Walter Wallace's family says the police department didn't properly train the officers.

Wallace family attorney Shaka Johnson called for Philadelphia police to put better training in place — specifically on keeping people alive.

He says officers are not equipped to deal with mental health emergencies.

Johnson and the Wallace family were able to review body camera footage of the encounter last night.

Wallace was shot at least 14 times within 30 seconds of the officers arriving on scene.

The 27-year-old was holding a knife and refused officers' commands to drop it.

The body camera footage will be made public.

<![CDATA[New York City COVID-19 Cases Rising]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 13:22:00 -0500
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New York City's COVID-19 cases are rising again.

The city's numbers are nearing thresholds it set for keeping the virus under control.

The daily positivity rate is at almost 3%, getting closer to the 5% threshold.

And officials reported 532 new cases Thursday.

But area hospitals say they feel more prepared this time for a rise in cases.

"I would say cautiously optimistic. We have T2, test and trace. We have contact tracing in place. We have way more testing. We'll get results way quicker. So, I think we have some tools in our tool belt this time around to, you know, control any sort of mini outbreaks."

Still, Mayor Bill de Blasio called the increase in positivity "worrisome."

He's asking New Yorkers to "double down" on virus prevention strategies to avoid a second wave.

<![CDATA[One Of Justice Barrett’s 1st Cases May Involve LGBTQ Rights, Religion]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 13:16:46 -0500
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One day after the election, the Supreme Court will once again tackle the age-old debate between the first amendment and discrimination. 

In 2018, the City of Philadelphia rescinded part of its contract with Catholic Social Services due to the group’s refusal to certify same-sex couples as foster parents, claiming it violated their religious beliefs. 

At the center of the case, clients of CSS, foster parents who say they picked CSS above the city’s 29 other agencies partly because of their shared religious beliefs. 

“These foster parents, led by Sharon L. Fulton, and others, sued the city and said, this is religious discrimination,” said Nick Reaves, Counselor at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

The American Civil Liberties Union represents Philadelphia Family Pride and says the ruling could impact more than the LGBTQ community. 

“It's going to make it that much harder for people to access the services people depend on, they could be turned away because they're LGBT because they're Catholic, because they're Mormon or anything else that the organization has a religious objection to,” said Leslie Cooper the Deputy Project Director of the ACLU LGBT and HIV Project.

"These are both, you know, values that are enshrined in our Constitution, the idea of free religion, the idea of anti-discrimination. And so it's a really hard question. And we've seen the justices really struggle with it. A lot of times, they'll find a really specific reason to send the case back to the lower court,” explained Kimberly Robinson, Supreme Court Reporter for Bloomberg Law. 

One question the court may answer with this case goes back to a 1990 ruling, Employment Division v. Smith.  Here, the majority opinion, written by the late Antonin Scalia, determined that when it comes to free exercise of religion, a state’s law was constitutional as long it was “neutral” and “generally applicable.”

Meaning a law is good to go if it applies to everyone and isn’t targeting a specific religion. Some legal groups say the court got it wrong and want to see it overturned.   

“There's really, you know, big battle going on between the justices and their opinions about whether or not they should overturn cases that they think were wrongly decided,” explained Robinson. 

“I, Amy Coney Barrett do solemnly swear,” said Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett during a White House ceremony. 

All eyes will be on the court’s newest justice, Amy Coney Barrett.Here’s what she said during her confirmation hearing about recent court cases involving “religious freedom.” 

“The court has been very clear that religious institutions can’t be discriminated against or excluded from public programs simply because they are religious,” said Barrett in response to a question the Blaine Amendment.  

During her time in the 7th circuit court of appeals, Barrett and the panel ruled in favor of a religious institute, in Grussgott v. Milwaukee Jewish Day School, finding the religious school had the right to fire an employee, exempt from anti-discrimination laws because the teacher was deemed to be a minister.

Now, when it comes to the case at hand both sides tell me one of the biggest impacts of this case will be many of the 400,000 children in foster care.Amber Strong, Newsy, Northern Virginia. 

<![CDATA[Clemson's Trevor Lawrence Tests Positive For COVID-19]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 12:36:00 -0500
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One of college football's biggest names – and potentially the top pick in the 2021 NFL draft – is being sidelined due to COVID-19.

#1 ranked Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence tested positive Thursday and will now have to isolate for ten days per conference rules.

This means he will undoubtedly miss Saturday's game against Boston College, leaving backup quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei to take the snaps.

Now, Clemson is heavily favored in their matchup against the Eagles – so it's not the end of the world for Trevor Lawrence to be sitting out.

It's next week's game against #4 ranked Notre Dame that could raise some concerns for Clemson fans.

Lawrence was tested on Wednesday and received his positive result on Thursday. So ten days from then would mean he could return to the team on Sunday, Nov. 8 – one day after their game against Notre Dame.

But let's say he started experiencing symptoms on Tuesday and immediately began his isolation. That would allow him to potentially play in their game against the Fighting Irish – but only if he doesn't display any symptoms and passes a number of respiratory and cardiac tests.

<![CDATA[More Early Voters in Texas Than All Its 2016 Votes]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 12:33:00 -0500
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It's the last day of early voting in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada, Texas and Utah.

Texas is seeing record voting turnout, already surpassing the state's total numbers from 2016 with one day of early voting and election day still left.

More than 9 million people in Texas have already cast their ballots compared with roughly 8.9 million total ballots cast in 2016.

Eight polling places in Harris County, which includes Houston, are staying open all day and night for the last two days of early voting.

"We're making history tonight: the first time 24-hour voting has been offered in the history of the state of Texas," Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins said.  

"Oh, yeah, its very convenient, especially for people who work in the night. So, yeah, it's very convenient"

So far more than 84 million people nationwide have voted either in person or by mail.

<![CDATA[Study: High Rates of COVID-19 Among Grocery Workers]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 10:40:00 -0500
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A new study suggests grocery store workers might be super spreaders.

The analysis of 104 employees at a store in Boston found about a fifth of workers had COVID-19, but about 75% of those sick did not have any symptoms. 

Workers in customer-facing roles were five times more likely to test positive than those in other roles.

The study — released yesterday — is the first to look at the risk of the pandemic to grocery workers.

<![CDATA[U.S. Surpasses 9 Million Coronavirus Cases]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 09:36:14 -0500
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More than 9 million Americans have now been infected with COVID-19, as of Friday. That's the most of any country. And rates of new infections are outpacing new tests, meaning more testing is not the reason why.

U.S. deaths have topped 229,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. An influential model from the University of Washington School of Medicine now says the U.S. will likely see another 270,000 deaths by February.

Despite the multistate surge, President Trump insists things are getting better.

"We're doing very well with respect to making the turn on the pandemic," President Trump told reporters Friday while leaving the White House for campaign events. "We're working very hard on that."

America's heartland is seeing the steepest surge, but no state is immune. According to the COVID Tracking Project, 41 states saw at least a 10% increase in cases this week compared to the week before. Kentucky has now topped 100,000 cases -- about one-tenth of them have come in the past week.

"We are seeing a third escalation in Kentucky right now that is really concerning," Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said. "The pace of the way cases are growing is more exponential than we have seen in the past, our hospitalizations are going up, individuals in the ICUs are going up and, sadly, we are losing more people."

And there's still a shortage of PPE. A report released this week from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found nearly 3,000 nursing homes have less than a week's worth of PPE in stock.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear says his advice is simple: Wear masks and socially distance.

"The public health experts say right now that the problem isn't that we don't have the right rules in place, it's that people aren't following them," Beshear said. 

New Jersey's governor has voiced similar concerns. 

"It's fatigue, honestly. It's folks — who could blame them, but they're getting sick and tired of having to deal with this and we are preaching — by the way, therefore, a lot of the cases are coming from private homes, private gatherings," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said. "So we're leaning in on our bull horn as we're surging testing and tracing and enforcement, we're just as importantly telling people, listen, you can't let your hair down. This is still with us."

The Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, insists the country needs to follow medical advice. He says doing so would prevent the need for devastating business closures. 

"Dr. Fauci called last week for a mask mandate," Biden said Friday at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa. "This isn’t a political statement. It’s a patriotic duty for God's sake. But still Donald Trump refuses to listen to science."

<![CDATA[USPS Delivers 122M Ballots Ahead of Election]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 09:34:16 -0500
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The Postal Service says it's delivered a record 122 million ballots ahead of the election.

That includes blank ballots mailed to voters and completed ballots.

This year has seen a historic rise in early voting, but many voters have been worried about problems at the Postal Service affecting mail-in ballots.

The USPS says it's been delivering all first-class mail in an average of two-and-a half-days.

It said in a statement it has initiated efforts to help the election run smoothly,such as extra pick-ups and deliveries.

<![CDATA[Black Franchise Owners Sue McDonald's]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 08:11:46 -0500
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McDonald's has been hit with a potentially massive lawsuit.

Black franchise owners are accusing the company of discriminating against them by giving them less profitable stores than white franchisees.

They're looking to make it a class-action suit.

<![CDATA[El Paso County Enters Two Week Shutdown]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 07:39:44 -0500
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El Paso County in Texas has ordered a two-week shutdown of non-essential services effective Friday. COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise in the county. Here's what will be closed: hair salons, gyms and eat-in restaurants. Polling locations will stay open since voting is considered an essential service. The shutdown could see a legal challenge from city and state leaders. Texas's attorney general says the move violates a state-level order that allows businesses to operate at 50 percent capacity in areas with high hospitalization rates.

<![CDATA[Power Outages From Hurricane Zeta Complicate Early Voting]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 07:12:08 -0500
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Power outages caused by Hurricane Zeta could have an impact on early voting in the southeast. Civil rights groups are asking Georgia's governor to extend hours at polling places today. It's the last day for early voting there.

Louisiana's governor said getting power turned back on at polling places is a high priority. 

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people are still waking up in the dark, days after Zeta made landfall. At its peak, more than 2 million customers were without power. At least six people have died as a result of the storm. Louisiana's governor said most are related to the cleanup efforts, like carbon monoxide poisoning or electrocution from downed power lines.

We've seen a very active hurricane season. Zeta is the fifth named storm to hit Louisiana this year.

Zeta is also the 27th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. That's one less than in the record year of 2005.

<![CDATA[No Progress On COVID-19 Relief Bill]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 06:38:18 -0500
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In Washington there's still no movement on a COVID relief deal. House speaker Nancy Pelosi and white house negotiator treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin continue to be at odds. Speaker Pelosi sent a letter to Mnuchin early Thursday -- listing areas of disagreement. He responded with a letter of his own -- and said democrats "all-or-none" approach is hurting the process. The two sides still disagree on language regarding testing, tracing and state and local funding.  

<![CDATA[Vote Smarter 2020: How Are Winners Projected Before Votes Are Counted?]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 06:00:00 -0500
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How does the news "call" races before all the votes are counted?

"They call races because they have teams of political experts, experts in demographics, experts and polling experts in electoral history that can look at the results and see the trends," said David Hawkings, the editor in chief of The Fulcrum.

In the U.S., there are two primary organizations that project winners — the Associated Press and the National Election Pool from Edison Research. Major media outlets also have their own race calling teams. Exit polls that ask people how they voted after casting their ballot play a key role in making those projections, and both the AP and Edison are taking steps to account for all the votes that will come in before Nov. 3.

"We're going to be devoting more resources to exit polling people at early voting centers in states where a large proportion of vote is done at early voting centers before election day. And then we'll be doing more interviews by telephone of people who mail in their ballots,” said Joe Lenski, co-founder and executive vice president of Edison Research.

News outlets rely on phrases like "too early to call" or "too close to call" to report on results before a winner can be projected. 

"We're not going to be able to call every race on election night. We're not even going to have votes for every race in some states on election night," said Lenski. 

And it's important to remember that the vote tallies on election night might be skewed, depending on what type of ballots states tabulate first. 

"So dramatic differences between how Election Day vote reports and how by mail vote reports is something we're all aware of. And we're going to be a lot more cautious when it comes to projecting races because of those differences," said Lenski.

<![CDATA[Pope Puts Restrictions In Place At The Vatican]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 05:54:00 -0500
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The holidays will look a little different at the Vatican this year. Pope Francis is making some changes due to COVID-19. He's ending general audiences and will limit Christmas participation. That's because of a new surge of Coronavirus cases in Italy. 

Last week, an attendee at a Vatican event was confirmed to have the virus. The Pope will go back to live streaming his weekly lessons as he did when the Vatican was under COVID-19 lock down in the spring and summer.

<![CDATA[New COVID Cases In The U.S. Surpass 90,000 In One Day]]> Fri, 30 Oct 2020 05:40:01 -0500
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The U.S. is set to hit another painful milestone in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The country is on pace to surpass nine million reported cases of the virus today. Here are the numbers -- according to John Hopkins university. More than 8.9 million people in the U.S. have been infected with COVID-19. That's by far the most of any country. On Thursday the U.S. reported more than 87,000 new cases. That's the most in a single day.  

And take a look at this, I want to show you some of the latest numbers. The average number of new daily cases is up over 20 percent compared to the previous week. But testing has increased only by about nine percent during that same time.

41 states saw at least a ten percent rise in cases this week compared to last. 

Because of these numbers, health officials around the country are worried about hospital capacity. More than 46,000 COVID patients are hospitalized this morning. You can see the curve shooting up again over the past month. 

<![CDATA[QAnon-Linked Organizer Calls Rallies Last 'Peaceful' Unity Attempt]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 18:51:00 -0500
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Among the rallies planned for this final weekend before Election Day: One with stops at 200 plus locations nationwide. It's the biggest event yet organized by a new group called "MAGA Drag The Interstate." 

The group started this summer in Texas and now boasts thousands of followers across the country. It disavows violence, racism and bigotry on its website. 

But when a counterprotester showed up earlier this month with anti-Trump music at a rest stop in Denton, Texas, where the group listed an event, violence ensued.

44-year-old Jason Lata was seen on a phone recording approaching the counterprotester and screaming, "Turn it off!" in reference to the music. Lata then punched the counterprotester with enough force to knock his tooth out, according to a press release from Denton police. 

Police would later find and arrest Lata on assault with bodily injury charges. The victim's lawyer, Houston attorney Loren Klitsas, says his client was also diagnosed with a concussion and PTSD.

Most of MAGA Drag's gatherings have been peaceful. The organization's website says it is an "assemblage of patriots ... tired of seeing our Country attacked and slandered by violent and seditious radicals, and we are going to make our voices heard." 

MAGA Drag says it wants to host rallies in a "family friendly" way. Newsy found that the group's founder, Keith Lee, has joined in on conspiracy theories and promoted the events with more militant language in online forums, such as one with the tagline, "The Battle Has Begun." 

"We're to the point now. We're on that precipice," said Lee in the online show that was promoting MAGA Drag The Interstate. "This is our last attempt to unite the country peacefully, because we're tired of it. We are tired of the Marxist stuff that’s embedded in our government, and I agree totally with what Rampage is saying," said Keith Lee. 

Lee also posted on Twitter, deputizing himself as a "digital warrior" for the QAnon movement while using the hashtag "qarmy." 

He also tweeted: "I'm so proud of the PATRIQTS standing up and fighting back. What they Feared is finally here." 

"Look, QAnon has been declared by the FBI as contributing to domestic terrorism," said Heidi Beirich, co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. 

Beirich was invited by a House Armed Services subcommittee to brief members on threats from extremists earlier this year. 

"QAnon is a conspiracy theory that believes that the Democratic Party is involved in pedophilia and child trafficking around the country," said Beirich. "That is one of the most extreme political movements that is out there right now."

She says QAnon has inspired one violent incident after the next, including kidnappings, a standoff at the Hoover Dam and a break-in at the Canadian prime minister's home. Beirich is especially concerned about they type of crowds MAGA Drag's founder is advertising the group to. 

"In a situation like this, you're signaling to some very extreme people to show up, and then we don't know what's going to happen," she said. 

Maga Drag The Interstate and its founder did not respond to request for comment. 

Support for the conspiracy theory within the Republican Party has grown in recent years. MAGA Drag's links to the movement did not stop the Republican parties of Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma County and other local GOP chapters from promoting its events. 

"Nobody seems to be taking responsibility to keep the extremes out of the party," said Beirich. 

"It's not about peaceful protests in support of President Trump. There would be nothing wrong with that at all. But once you throw QAnon in the mix and some of this militant language, we're talking about a different animal in there."

"If we have weeks of contest over different voting places, lawsuits and what not, these groups are going to be in the streets. They're going to think that the election is being stolen from them," said Beirich, who is concerned about both skirmishes or possible terrorist attacks ensuing. "That is the most concerning thing."

<![CDATA[Attorney Says Philadelphia Police Fired 14 Shots At Walter Wallace Jr.]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 17:59:00 -0500
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Philadelphia police officers fired at least 14 shots during the fatal shooting of a Black man earlier this week, the attorney for the family of victim Walter Wallace Jr. says.

Shaka Johnson told reporters Thursday that the video footage shows Wallace was incapacitated after the first shot.

Officers shot and killed Wallace after they say he ignored their orders to drop a knife.

Wallace's family says he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

Philadelphia's police commissioner said the 911 call recordings and body camera footage from the shooting will be made public soon.

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw also said a behavioral health unit is "sorely needed."

"There's clearly a disconnect on our end as far as knowing what's out there. So there's a need for it, the conversations are ongoing and it's important," she said.

Protests started almost immediately after the shooting and some have turned violent. Dozens of people have been arrested and more than 50 police officers have been injured.

The attorney was asked how the Wallace family wants the officers charged.

“Does the family think that those officers should be charged … with murder? My answer is to you is, and remains … I don’t think so,” Johnson said.


<![CDATA[Families Of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd And Others Hold Voting Event]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 17:56:00 -0500
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Breonna Taylor's loved ones were among several families holding a rally in Chicago on Thursday.

Family members of Taylor, Jacob Blake, Alvin Cole and George Floyd are hosting the Get Out The Vote event.

They say the goal is to unite a community in action.

Blake's father said in a statement they want to push beyond the election to hold officials accountable for ending police violence.

<![CDATA[Hispanic Vote Could Be Key To Winning The Sunshine State]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 17:16:00 -0500
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President Trump's path to re-election will almost certainly run through Florida and Hispanic voters like Giovanna Suarez, a Peruvian American and local clothing store owner who says the economy is her top concern.  

"In the last election, you didn't vote. But this time around, you said you had a particular candidate in mind and who you're going to support this year."

"Trump," said Suarez. 

And why do you want to support the president this year?"

"He[s'] helping the business with [the economy]," Suarez added. "They help us so we can continue in business. You know, there was a really hard month, but with his [support], we're still in business...[we're] open...So that's why we will vote for Trump."

The president has visited Florida twice since returning to the campaign trail following his COVID-19 diagnosis. 

"Joe Biden betrayed Hispanic Americans and I'm fighting for you and we're fighting like never before," said President Trump.

It's a message the president's supporters feel is resonating with minority voters who say they're mainly focused on the economy. 

"Before COVID he had great success in accomplishments, reducing taxes with the unemployment numbers for Latinos and women and African Americans," said Marili Cancio. "Some of those tax cuts really have helped small businesses like mine and many others in our community."

At least 17 percent of voters in Florida are Hispanic, with the largest groups being of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent.  This year Hispanics will be the largest minority group of voters in the country. 

Recent polls show a tight race between President Trump and Joe Biden in the state — with Democrats worried Biden may not receive the same level of support Hillary Clinton did with the key demographic. 

 "Donald Trump has failed the Hispanic community time and time again and that's not a secret," said Joe Biden. 

"It affects elderly people, it affects virtually nobody. It's an amazing thing," the president said. 

The Biden campaign has sought to build a diverse coalition of voters in the state through targeted ads on TV and in local papers as well as with grassroots organizing. The message to Latino voters has largely focused on the economic recovery and the president's handling of the pandemic.  

"We're a very diverse state and we're a very diverse community," said Florida State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez. "Latinos from all stripes, all generations, all races. And so one of the things that brings us together is that we all need the economy to recover and we all need a leader that's going to prioritize our health and economic recovery."

The message to Latino voters has largely focused on the economic recovery and the president's handling of the pandemic. 

The Trump campaign, meanwhile, has been hammering messages focused on the economy  and accusing Democrats of socialism.

With just days before election day both candidates will likely hit the state hard with messaging aiming to increase their support for November 3rd. Willie James Inman, Newsy, Miami. 

<![CDATA[Debunking Black Cat Myths: Bad Luck, Witches And Halloween Adoptions]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 16:46:00 -0500
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It's National Cat Day! And here at Newsy, we love these furry, mischievous little creatures. 

We could spend hours talking about cats — and why not? They're purrrfect! But because Halloween is a couple days away, we're going to focus on one iconic, but misunderstood, demographic.

Dr. Mikel Delgado, cat behavior consultant and expert at Rover: "Cats, in the past, were associated with women and witchcraft. And there were a lot of negative things that happened around that. And so cats were kind of persecuted for a time — they kind of had their ups and downs as companion animals throughout their domestication period." 

Black cats specifically are associated with superstitions of bad luck and associations with witchcraft or satanic rituals. Because of that, some shelters annually suspend the adoption of black cats during Halloween because of fears they'll be harmed. 

It's a worry that perpetuates on social media every October from concerned cat lovers, but experts say there's very little evidence to support that. At the very least, there are worries black cats are adopted for Halloween costumes, but even then, it's hard to verify if that's happening at a significant level. 

Delgado: "I personally think it's a little short-sighted. Most adopters have to provide a lot of information to get a cat. They have to provide information on whether they own or rent. They have to give you their address, their ID. … It's a pretty complicated process."

Animal welfare organizations like the ASPCA actually encourage the promotion of black cat adoptions on days like Halloween, Friday the 13th, or even Black Cat Appreciation Day, which is Aug. 17.  

These promotions happen because various studies show that solid black cats tend to stay in shelters longer. Experts refer to this as the "black cat bias," because of the superstitions and perceptions that black cats aren't as friendly. 

Delgado: "We still have an overpopulation problem, and we still need cats to be adopted at home. So I'm pro-helping smooth the flow of adoption and getting more cats into homes."

<![CDATA[Deadly Church Attack in Southern France Deemed 'Islamist Terrorism']]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 16:44:00 -0500
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French officials are calling Thursday’s killing of three people at a church in southern France an act of Islamist terrorism — as the nation faces a violent backlash against caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.  

Before the latest attack, French President Emmanuel Macron defended the right of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish the cartoon.

"We won't renounce the caricatures," Macron said last week, paying tribute to a teacher who was recently beheaded after showing his class the same cartoons of the prophet that motivated the 2015 attacks against Charlie Hebdo.

The French president has also unveiled a plan to root out Islamic "separatism" from his nation, saying the religion "is in crisis" and in need of enlightenment. 

But while Macron's actions have broad public support at home, they have also ignited a fierce reaction in Muslim countries across the world. 

"The birthday of the prophet is coming up. And so there's that kind of sensibility there," said Amir Hussain, a scholar of Islam who teaches at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. 

Hussain strongly condemns the violence.

"These are Muslims who have committed these heinous acts in the name of Islam. And so you do have to get to the root of that and talk about that. But, you know, do you do it in a way that demonizes the Muslim community or you do it in a way that brings the Muslim community in?" Hussain said.

He says caricatures of Prophet Muhammad should be protected by free speech but are highly offensive to millions nonetheless. 

"I have the right to it. Does that mean I should do it? You know, that's a different question," Hussain said, adding that "for Muslims, there is that sense that it's not just our religion that's being attacked, but this is our family that's being attacked."

Led by Turkish President Erdogan, leaders of several Muslim countries have called for a boycott of French goods though they also condemned Thursday's killings.

Experts note that some of the political anger is self-serving.

"It's really tragic for me to see the religion being exploited by people who use that as a way of gaining political power or saying, 'look at me, I'm the defender of Islam.' It's not about trying to help France's Muslims. It's about trying to help you politically," Hussain said.

As the attacks continue, the efforts to get France to change course through economic pressure are running up against public grief and anger over the killings.

France is now on its highest state of terror alert — with the Prime Minister promising a "firm and relentless" response to the violence.

Ben Schamisso, Newsy.

<![CDATA[Fauci Says U.S. Needs Mask Mandate To Combat Virus Spread]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 16:21:00 -0500
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Dr. Anthony Fauci is again warning everyone that the pandemic is going to get worse here in the U. S.

Speaking on CNBC's The News With Shepard Smith, Fauci said the U. S needs a national mask mandate. 

He said without one, governors should impose their own, saying he hasn't spoken with President Trump about a national mask mandate or anything else in quite a while. 

Said Fauci: "I have been urgently saying every single day that we have got to do things that have not been done uniformly and consistently throughout the country. The numbers that you put up are stunning. This is going to get worse because we're going more into a colder season as we get through the fall and into the winter. With the holiday season going, we've got to do something different."

<![CDATA[Germany To Shut Restaurants, Bars, Theaters Until End of November]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 16:12:00 -0500
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Germany is also preparing for a new set of lockdown measures, with Chancellor Angela Merkel warning of a “difficult winter” ahead.

Beginning Monday, restaurants, bars and salons will be closed for four weeks. 

Gatherings will be limited to 10 people from no more than two households.

Schools, stores and places of worship can remain open.

Germany reported more than 16,000 new cases of Covid-19 Thursday, bringing its total to nearly half a million.

“This winter is going to be tough, four long months,” she said. “But it will come to an end.”


<![CDATA[France Prepares for Monthlong Lockdown]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 15:00:00 -0500
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France is preparing for a monthlong lockdown amid spikes in cases and deaths.

Lawmakers are voting on the restrictions Thursday after President Emmanuel Macron proposed them Wednesday.

Non-essential businesses — including restaurants — would be ordered to close. 

But schools, parks and factories would remain open.

France has reported nearly 36,000 deaths from the coronavirus — the third most in Europe after the UK and Italy.

<![CDATA[New Restrictions In Milwaukee Amid Wisconsin Outbreak]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 15:00:00 -0500
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Wisconsin is seeing one of the worst outbreaks in the country right now.

There's been a lot of political back and forth between the state's Democratic Governor and Republican-led legislature over statewide restrictions.

Now the mayor of the state's most populous city is implementing his own.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says the situation is dire.

Beginning Thursday, new restrictions on bars, restaurants, and public gatherings go into effect.

That includes the capacity limits as well as a requirement that everyone at indoor events be seated.

Barrett says Wisconsin as a whole has seen a 450 percent increase in cases over the last two months.

And hospitalizations have more than doubled in the last month.

<![CDATA[Fake Emails, Robocalls And Texts Target Voters Ahead Of Election Day]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 14:37:54 -0500
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What you’re about to hear is false:

"Mail in voting sounds great but did you know that if you vote by mail, your personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants?"

Robocalls are just one way voters could be fooled before the election. Fake text messages and emails gathered by Newsy show how personalized these tactics can be. 

"My inclination is that it would be more likely to be believed, certainly by many Americans," says Darren Linvill, a disinformation scholar at Clemson University. "When you get a direct text message or even an email that is to you."

A recent email threatening voters in Florida and Alaska appeared to be from the far right Proud Boys group. Authorities tied it to Iran.

"We have already seen Iran sending spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters," Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe told reporters last week.

In the spring, analysts found a U.S.-based data company sending false texts to voters in swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia.

"They were essentially providing a range of different messages to voters, saying, 'You’re not registered to vote. This election is critical. Click on this link,'" says Cindy Otis, vice president of analysis of Alethea Group and the author of “True or False: A CIA Analyst’s Guide to Spotting Fake News.”

In Oklahoma, the State Election Board tells us a text message is under investigation. It falsely claimed a voter's polling location had changed.

"This kind of activity, for the bad actors that do it, is cheap," Linvill says.

The examples go on. This week, two conservative operatives were indicted for allegedly arranging some 85,000 robocalls, which falsely warned people mail-in voting could lead to arrest, debt collection, and forced vaccinations. They targeted cities with large Black populations, like Detroit. 

Some disinformation experts say the fake emails and texts started during the Black Lives Matter protests. More false information will come after voters cast their ballots. 

"It's gonna be a lot of stories that we've sort of already seen of people saying, ‘I saw this thing.’ One of the biggest problem areas is going to be in what comes out about the election results — how ballots are actually counted, who's in the lead."

Authorities say they’re on top of the threats.

"We’re not letting our guard down," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a public announcement.

Still, experts worry these vehicles for false information pose new challenges.

"Text messaging is the official way that states communicate with individuals in the case of emergencies. Those channels can be corrupted in a lot of different ways," says Linvill.

<![CDATA[U.S. Economy Up 33 Percent, But Not Fully Recovered]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 10:48:00 -0500
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The number of new U.S. jobless claims fell to 751,000 last week. 

That's the lowest number since the pandemic took hold in March, but a sign companies are still laying off employees. 

The U.S. economy rebounded at a record rate last quarter.

U.S. GDP grew at a 33.1 percent annual rate. 

But that comes after shrinking at a 31 percent annual rate in the spring.

As most states see a surge in cases and Congressional relief talks are stalled, economists predict growth will slow to about 3 percent in the final months of the year.

<![CDATA[TikTok Joins Effort To Prevent Election Misinformation]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 10:15:00 -0500
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TikTok is joining other social media platforms to stop the spread of misleading election information.

The plan is to limit premature declarations of a winner until the Associated Press has officially declared one.

TikTok is also adding a link to a guide with election information you can trust.

<![CDATA[U.S. GDP Soars 7.4% After Second Quarter Plunge]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 09:56:21 -0500
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U.S. GDP grew by 7.4% in the third quarter. That’s a big improvement from the second quarter, which saw a record 9% slump. 

“We broke records. This is the greatest GDP number since records have been kept, starting in 1947,” said Treasury spokeswoman Monica Crowley.

It’s a direct result of the first round of economic relief, according to the Trump administration. 

“If the administration and Congress had not taken any action, you would have seen a Great Depression, something that extreme,” Crowley said. 

But the COVID-19 pandemic remains a serious threat to the economy. On the same day the GDP numbers came out, the Labor Department reported another 751,000 people filed jobless claims — as over 40 states report a rise in new COVID-19 cases. 

Meanwhile, a deal being reached between the White House and Congress — before or after Election Day — remains uncertain. Without another round of economic relief, consumer spending — which played a big role in lifting the economy up in the third quarter — could take a serious hit. 

<![CDATA[2021 Boston Marathon Postponed Until Later In Year]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 09:36:00 -0500
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The Boston Marathon is such a tradition for runners every year, but now we know it won't be held on Patriots Day in April because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Boston Athletic Association says the hope is to reschedule for later on in the year. 

This is the second year in a row the race has been postponed.

<![CDATA[Rescuers Look For Landslide Survivors After Typhoon Molave]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 09:16:00 -0500
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More devastation in Vietnam from Typhoon Molave. Rescue teams are using heavy machinery to try to find survivors of landslides caused by all the rain.

Molave was one of the worst typhoons to hit the country in decades.

Landslides have killed around three dozen people in Vietnam and over 50 are still missing.

At least 16 people in the Philippines have died from landslides caused by the typhoon.

<![CDATA[COVID-19 Surge Puts U.S. Hospitals Under Strain]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 08:53:48 -0500
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COVID-19 cases are surging across the U.S., and hospitals in some states are nearing capacity. More than 44,000 coronavirus patients were in hospitals on Tuesday — that's the highest number since August 15.

Reuters reports that COVID hospitalizations are up by 10 percent compared to last week in 36 states. Meanwhile, 12 states set records this week for hospitalized patients, including a handful of 2020 battlegrounds like Iowa, Minnesota and Ohio.

In Wisconsin, which broke single-day records for cases and deaths on Tuesday, state officials are urging residents to wear masks, limit social gatherings and quarantine whenever possible.

"Hospital capacity is very high and, even more worrisome, about 30% of those people who require hospitalization are requiring ICU-level care. It's just a really bad situation in Wisconsin, right now," said Dr. Jeff Pothof, an ER doctor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hospital.

On Wednesday, the U.S. reported more than 1,000 deaths, putting the total number of virus-related fatalities over 227,000.

For Newsy, I'm Adam Elrashidi.

<![CDATA['Anonymous' Trump Critic Reveals Himself]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 08:43:00 -0500
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We now know which Trump administration official wrote a scathing 2018 New York Times op-ed criticizing the president.

Miles Taylor revealed he was the author.

He's a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security. He left his position in 2019.

Taylor previously denied he wrote the anonymous op-ed. 

In the essay, he called President Trump "a man without character." 

<![CDATA[Zeta Heads Northeast After Making Landfall In U.S.]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 08:19:00 -0500
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Hurricane Zeta hit the U.S. Gulf Coast Wednesday, barreling through Louisiana and Mississippi.

It killed at least two people and hundreds of thousands of people are without power Thursday morning.

The storm hit as a Category 2 hurricane, but has since weakened to a tropical storm.

Zeta is now moving across southeastern states before making its way to mid-Atlantic states.

<![CDATA[Breonna Taylor's Mother Wants New Grand Jury, Independent Prosecutor]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 07:36:00 -0500
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Breonna Taylor's mother is asking for her daughter's case to be presented again, this time by an independent prosecutor, before a new grand jury. 

She says Kentucky's attorney general mishandled the original case.

In September, Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced that a grand jury decided not to indict the officers involved in Taylor's death. 

One of the officers was charged for endangering neighbors.

Since then, two grand jury members have come out and said more evidence should have been presented to them and that charges should have been filed against each of the officers. 

<![CDATA[Philadelphia Police Releasing 911 Calls, Body Camera Footage]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 07:22:00 -0500
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Philadelphia's police commissioner said the department will release body camera video and 911 calls related to the shooting death of Walter Wallace Jr.

Police said they shot and killed Wallace on Monday after he ignored orders to drop a knife. His family said he struggled with mental illness.

Wallace's death sparked protests in the city, leading to more than 90 arrests and 50 police officers hurt.

After two days of unrest, Philadelphia's mayor put a curfew in place Wednesday night.

The Pennsylvania National Guard has been deployed and is expected to arrive Friday night.

<![CDATA[3 Killed In France Knife Attack]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 07:11:00 -0500
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In Nice, France, a woman was beheaded during a knife attack at a church Thursday. 

Two others were also killed and several more were injured.

The city's mayor says a suspect has been arrested and described the attack as terrorism. 

<![CDATA[Vote Smarter 2020: What Happens If There's A Dispute Over A Ballot?]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 06:00:00 -0500
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What happens if there's a dispute over what a ballot says?

"So, most votes are counted by machines. ... If someone, for example, voted twice on the same unit, voted for two people on the same office, then the machine would just reject their vote for that contest," said Lonna Atkeson, the director of the Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy at the University of New Mexico.

In recent years, states have increased the use of paper ballots as a way to ensure elections have a paper trail. That, in turn, has increased the number of questions over what a voter meant to do. 

"Typically, you'll see bipartisan teams looking at these these disputed ballots. And then eventually, if the race remains too close to call, we can see these get litigated in court," said Matthew Weil, the director of the Elections Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center. 

"If there is an election, you know, questions about who might win, elections always turn to uncounted ballots. And so that's where sort of all the legal activity would be focused on," said Atkeson.

"There are systems for that. It's just that elections aren't usually close enough for that to, I guess, for that to come to light," said Janine Parry, a professor of political science and Arkansas poll director at the University of Arkansas.

<![CDATA[Illinois Governor Defends Chicago Indoor Dining Shutdown]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 05:13:00 -0500
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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, defended the new restrictions he placed on Chicago.

"The only way that we're going to be able to improve the economy of our state and our nation is by defeating the virus by doing everything we can to keep our numbers down," said Pritzker. "As you've seen, we've opened things up. When the virus numbers have come down, that's where I want to get to again."  

Come Friday, all restaurants in the city can no longer offer indoor dining. 

Hospitalizations have been climbing for a week straight in Chicago, and the test positivity rate has gone up every single day, the city's mayor said. 

She's going work to persuade the governor not to implement these measures. 

Gov. Pritzker heard that and responded, saying, he's not going to budge. He pointed to other areas in the state where he placed similar restrictions based on the data.

<![CDATA[President Trump Looks To Win Over More Senior Voters]]> Thu, 29 Oct 2020 00:20:00 -0500
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Seniors typically turn out to vote, and even with a pandemic, 2020 won't be any different. 

'But I'm always here to protect you and love, cherish, defend our nation's seniors," said President Trump. 

That was President Trump at a recent campaign stop at the The Villages in Florida, working to shore up his support with the key group of voters as polls show Democratic nominee Joe Biden closing the gap among voters like 64-year-old Joyce Hubbard..who told Newsy she was most concerned about health care, the pandemic and the president's character. 

"The last four years, this country has been torn apart," said Hubbard. "I have voted Democrat, I have voted Republican, I have voted independent. But this year I am definitely voting Democrat again."

Hubbard changed her voter registration from independent to Democrat last year, largely based on issues she cares about. She's part of the group that will help decide a key swing state.

In 2016, President Trump won voters 55 and older. In 2020, Joe Biden is performing better among seniors nationally and leads the president amongst voters 65 and older. The same trend applies to states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. The polling margin is closer in other battlegrounds. Experts point to one major factor behind the shift in candidate choice. 

"I think the logical suspect is the pandemic," said political science Professor Chris Borick. "Seniors certainly think this issue is important. It's more salient to that group than any other group of Americans. Their ratings of the president's handling of the pandemic are very negative."

"Together we rose to meet the challenge."

The Trump campaign and the RNC recently announced a $55 million ad campaign in the final stretch of the election that would in part focus on seniors. The ads defend the president's handling of the pandemic and touch on prescription drug costs, Social Security and Medicare. 

Some of the president's most vocal senior citizen supporters say he's done a good job despite what polls say.

"Well, I think there were a lot of unknowns," said Sande Constintine. "I think he rolled up his sleeves and got in there and listened to his advisers and did the best and the most appropriate things for this country."

Like in many battleground states across the country, here in North Carolina, where President Trump recently campaigned, Joe Biden's success in polling seems to be backed up by not only seniors but also women in particular. So both candidates will likely try to get out their message with just days left before Election Day. Willie James Inman. Newsy. Gastonia, North Carolina. 

<![CDATA[Big Tech CEOs Face Scrutiny In Senate Hearing]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 19:43:00 -0500
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CEOs for Facebook, Twitter and Google testified before a Senate committee today.

The hearing was supposed to focus on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

But senators zeroed in on other hot-button topics like antitrust issues, election interference and alleged censorship.

"Mr. Dorsey, your platform allows foreign dictators to post propaganda, typically without restriction, yet you typically restrict the president of the United States."

Some Democrats accused their Republican colleagues of trying to politicize the hearing, given how close we are to elections.

<![CDATA[Supreme Court Rejects Pennsylvania GOP's Ballot Deadline Appeal]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 19:20:00 -0500
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The Supreme Court rejected a second attempt from Pennsylvania Republicans to block a mail-in ballot extension.

In a 5-3 vote, justices upheld a three-day extension after a tie-vote last week, allowing the state to count mail-in ballots after the election, despite Republican objections.

They tried to get a second ruling after conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed. She was not part of deliberations today.

But several justices indicated Republicans could appeal again after the election, and the ballots could be tossed then if it's successful.

<![CDATA[Fla. Business Owner Flipping Vote To Biden: "I Just Want To Survive"]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 18:38:00 -0500
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Mohammad Saleh's work day looks much different in 2020 than before. He poured his life savings into a gas station across from the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, which typically hosts concerts, soccer and wrestling. But these days, the stadium is dark, and that means a lot of days, so is his business. 

He's made adjustments. He's not selling gas, he stopped selling homemade food and he's cut store hours. It's still not enough for the father of five, who was denied a small business loan and only got a small PPP loan months ago.

"I get like, $6,900. I have a payroll more than that. I have rent more than that. I have electric. I have employees, I have expenses. I have a slow season. You know, when your business goes down 80% or 90%, you will feel the pain that we go through," Saleh said.

Saleh's especially disappointed because he supported the president and expected more. 

"I'm not against the guy, but me, as a businessman, I just want to survive. I just want my business to run and run the right way," he explained. "I'm not talking about myself only. I'm talking about a lot of businesses. They closed down a lot of businesses they're credit got ruined, their life got ruined, a lot of evictions, a lot of problems. That is because of I think, misorganizing, or mistreating the Coronavirus issue for business people."

He’s now backing Biden and believes other Florida business owners will, too. The former vice president says he'll follow a similar recovery plan as he did during the last recession, including "expediting aid to businesses who commit to helping workers stay employed" and opening doors for small businesses to get loans from banks.  The president is touting the progress being made now, even as weekly jobless claims remain high and more than 10 million jobs are still lost from the start of the pandemic. 

Saleh says there's only one thing he can do now. 

"Go vote, make a difference," he said. "And let's get it done with, and let's choose the person that he will take care of you and me and all Americans and businesses all at once."

<![CDATA[Should We Trust The Polls In 2020?]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 18:18:00 -0500
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Polling misfires of four years prior loom large over the final days of the 2020 presidential race. So how should we be thinking about the numbers ahead of Nov. 3? Well, it's not just about the data, but also how the media portrays it. 

That's part of the reason why a plurality of Americans, 46%, say they don't have confidence the polls will accurately project the winner of the election. We spoke to three experts about how to view the polls down the final stretch of the campaign. 

<![CDATA[Senate's Section 230 Hearing Barely Touched On Section 230]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 17:57:00 -0500
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On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing with the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter that was supposed to focus on a crucial internet law known as Section 230, which protects internet companies from being sued for moderating posts that may contain objectionable content. 

But most of the participating senators strayed away from asking any direct questions about Section 230. Only two senators asked questions that focused on the law.

Democrats used the hearing to primarily call out these companies over how they’ve handled President Donald Trump’s posts with misleading information, or about antitrust issues.

In her written statement, Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state said she hoped to get a “report from the witnesses on exactly what they have been doing to clamp down on election interference.”

“Google has 90% of the public share ad server market product after it's Doubleclick acquisition. Does the market sound highly competitive to you, when you have 90% of it?" said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) 

"This is a market in which we share a majority of the revenue," said Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. "Our margins are low. We're happy to take feedback here. We are trying to support the publishing industry, but we're definitely open to feedback.”

 Republicans went after the companies for allegedly censoring conservative speech.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) spent his entire allotted time to call out Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for limiting the spread of a recent New York Post story involving Joe Biden’s son. 

"Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear, and why do you persist in behaving as a Democratic super PAC silencing views to the contrary of your political beliefs?" said Cruz. 

“Mr. Dorsey, your platform allows foreign dictators to post propaganda, typically without restriction, yet you typically restrict the president of the United States,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

Several Democrats complained about the possible politicization of the hearing. 

“Let’s be clear, Republicans can and should join us in addressing the real problems posed by big tech," said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) "But instead my Republican colleagues are determined to feed a false narrative about anti-conservative bias meant to intimidate big tech so it’ll stand idly by and allow interference in our election again.”

"I have plenty of questions for the witnesses on Section 230, on antitrust, on privacy, on anti-Semitism, on their relationship with journalism," said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). "But we have to call this hearing what it is. It's a sham."

One Republican senator did note that there was no way to determine this conservative bias, however, in part because the platforms haven’t been open about giving out detailed information about how they moderate content.

“Due to exceptional secrecy with which platforms protect their algorithms and content moderation practices, it’s been impossible to prove one way or another whether political bias exists," said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). "So users are stuck with anecdotal information that frequently seems to confirm their worst fears.”

<![CDATA[Heavy Casualties For Filipino Nurses In COVID Fight]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 17:48:00 -0500
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"She loved to dance and sing. So I was also into dancing and singing. So I really miss dancing with her," says Rosalie Castro. 

Castro lost her twin sister Rosary to the coronavirus in March. Rosary was a sister, a mother and — like her twin — a nurse. And because they sometimes worked together in the same L.A. hospitals, right after Rosary passed, a coworker mistakenly called Castro by her sister's name.

"I didn't want to pass out at that time so I squatted against the wall and I just started crying in agony and the whole floor heard me. All the nurses came to where I was. I was kneeling on the floor crying because I missed my sister so much," says Castro.

Filipino American nurses like Rosary are disproportionately killed by COVID-19. National Nurses United says that 31.5% percent of the nurses who died from the virus are of Filipino descent, despite making up just 4% of the registered nurses in the U.S. Many work in nursing homes where COVID has been particularly problematic.

"A lot of our Filipino Americans work in areas in units where it COVID-19 patients are being cared for and because of the lack of personal protective equipment. Filipino American nurses are dying," says nurse and president of the National Nurses United Zenie Cortez.

According to the study, 58% of nurses who died are people of color, and of all nurses who are people of color, more than half of them are Filipino.

SEE MORE: Inside The U.S.' First COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trial For Kids

Since the 1960s, after the U.S. established nursing programs in the Philippines, over 150,000 Filipino nurses have immigrated to the US. About a third of all foreign-born nurses in the U.S. today come from the islands, and they work alongside generations of American-born Filipino nurses as well.

"A number of us are able to stay at home, we are able to shelter in place and work at home. But Filipino nurses who are working on the front lines in this country don't have that privilege. And so one of the things that we can do is learn about their presence. Learn about their history, and the historical contributions they have made to American health care," says historian Catherine Choy who wrote about the history of Filipino American nurses.  

In a website called Kanlungan, which means shelter, Jollene Levid and a group of five volunteers have been keeping track of Filipino health care workers around the world who have died from  COVID. Based on her data: about three times as many Filipino health care workers have died in the U.S. than in the Philippines.  

"We know some of the most difficult tasks that we have for the website, people think it might be the research. It's actually going through photos of the deceased and trying to choose the one that shows them in their joy," says Kanlungan researcher Jollene Levid.  

On one of those pages is Rosary Castro-Olega. Levid calls her "tita" or aunt. They're not related but she was a close family friend—creating this website was one way to remember her and the so many nearly forgotten Filipino health care workers. 

"My sister died from this virus. Nurses, I know we have to work and make a living. But if you're sick, take care of yourself because you only have one life to live."

<![CDATA[Fire Crews Protect Heavily-Populated Areas As California Fires Ease]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 17:34:00 -0500
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Two major brush fires continued to burn near heavily populated communities in Southern California on Wednesday. But diminishing winds were helping fire crews save homes after more than 100,000 residents were forced to flee starting Monday.

By Wednesday, seven homes or structures in neighborhoods like this one had burned and one was totally destroyed. The toll could have been far worse from the Blue Ridge Fire in Orange and San Bernardino counties. The fire had threatened subdivisions in five different communities.

The blaze had burned nearly 15,000 acres and was still only about 1/5th contained by late Wednesday. 

Nearby, the Silverado Fire in Orange County is only about 1/4th contained. It's burned more than 20 square miles, but no homes have been destroyed. Yet two firefighters were hospitalized for severe burns suffered Monday.

"One has 65 % burns, both second- and third-degree. The second has 50 percent, both second- and third-degree burns. Both are intubated at this time," said Orange County Chief Brian Fennessy.

A major electrical utility, Southern California Edison, announced that it is investigating whether one of its lines may have ignited the Silverado Fire, near the city of Irvine.

Contains footage from CNN.

<![CDATA[Independent Venue Week Throws A Spotlight On Pandemic Struggles]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 17:06:00 -0500
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It's Independent Venue Week, an annual celebration of live indie music clubs and concert halls around the country. But this year, rather than celebration, venue owners and music lovers are focused on survival. 

Rev. Moose, co-founder and executive director of the National Independent Venue Association: "We're seeing venues close consistently, regularly."  

With no revenue coming in from live events, coupled with mounting expenses from bills, insurance or payroll, some venues are playing virtual concerts, selling merchandise or keeping kitchens open for online orders.

Nationwide efforts from the National Independent Venue Association and the Recording Academy are hosting concerts and collecting donations for emergency relief funds. The Venue Association — whose concert series #SOSFest hosted artists like Dave Matthews, Reba McEntire, The Roots, Miley Cyrus and Monica — has so far raised more than $1.8 million to help indie venues. 

Singer-songwriter Monica: "Had it not been for this venue, I don't know exactly where I'd be, because this is the place that all of my dreams began to come true."

The efforts from artists and donations from patrons show heavy support for struggling indie venues, but that might not be enough in the long term.  

Moose: "Those aren't solutions. These are short-term. It's like putting putty in a wall as the earthquake is happening." 

Instead, the music industry is pushing for federal financial support from legislation like the Save Our Stages Act, a $10 billion measure that has bipartisan support and was included in the House of Representatives' $2.2 trillion COVID relief plan but has stalled in the Senate. 

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar: "Music is one of the most amazing parts of America's culture."

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt: "That's why I support the Save Our Stages Act and look forward to being back in these venues."

Moose: "We're seven months into the pandemic. Our plight has been made clear. We have a potential resolution. Until that resolution is put into place, I don't know what people are expecting to happen other than more closures."  

<![CDATA[Woman Shot By Waukegan Police Shares Her Story]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 16:27:00 -0500
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An Illinois Woman shot by police last week says police did not render aid to her boyfriend after shooting him, allowing him to bleed to death. 

Tafara Williams says police just covered 19 year old Marcellus Stinnette with a blanket after shooting him. 

Williams says she was smoking a cigarette in her car outside her house with her boyfriend last week, when police pulled up with no lights or sirens. An officer briefly spoke with them and Williams drove off after showing officers they had no weapons and weren't doing anything illegal. 

She says she turned onto another street, where it appeared another officer was waiting for them. Here's what she said happened next. 

"There was a crash and I lost control. The officer was shooting at us. The car ended up slamming into a building. I kept screaming. I don't have a gun. But he kept shooting. He told me to get out of the car. I had my hands up and I couldn't move because I had been shot. Marcellis has had his hands up." 

But police have painted a different picture, saying the couple fled a traffic stop and an officer opened fire out of fear for his life. Now that officer has since been fired. Officials say they will release body cam and dash cam footage of the encounter.

<![CDATA[Drug Testing Data Shows Overdoses, Abuse Up During Pandemic]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 16:03:00 -0500
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At Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, Colorado, health care workers and Denver police shift from the COVID pandemic to fight the opioid epidemic. 

"We've already beat last year's total in weight for medications. I think this is something that our community really needed," Dr. Eric Lung said. 

In four hours, Skyridge, two other hospitals and police collected 800 pounds of unused or expired prescription medications from people driving by and dropping them off, no questions asked. 

It’s just one way, health experts are fighting a growing overdose problem. Colorado is one of at least 40 states where overdose deaths are rising in 2020.

In the early months of the pandemic, the Overdose Mapping Application Program said suspected overdoses rose by 18% in March, 29% in April, and 42% in May, compared to the same months in 2019. 

"Drug testing, for lack of a better word, almost fell off the cliff. We just stopped getting samples in for for drug monitoring. Because of the pandemic, drug testing has gone down. So drug abuse has gone up," Dr. Jeff Gudin, an addiction medicine specialist and senior medical adviser for Quest Diagnostic told Newsy.

Gudin is a clinical professor at Rutgers University and a senior medical adviser for Quest Diagnostics. Quest runs a network of more than 8,000 drug test collection sites. 

A recent study of nearly 900,000 drug tests found a surge across the board in non-prescription and illicit drug use. Fentanyl, heroin, and opiate positive tests were all up.

Quest also found an increase in fentanyl getting mixed in with other drugs including: 89% for specimens positive for amphetamines like Adderall; 48% for benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax; 39% for opiates like oxycontin; and 34% for cocaine.

"To me, as a clinician, that is just astounding," Gudin said.

Gudin says parts of the country have started to bounce back more than others. Loosening home drug testing options can help. Federal regulators have also relaxed the number of methadone doses that patients can take from treatment centers and are using telemedicine to initiate medication. 

But with COVID cases surging, winter on its way, and more people inside and isolating, Gudin says it’s important for doctors to be proactive. 

"It's important that clinicians start to talk to their patients about substance misuse. Talk to them about alcohol consumption. Talk to them about how they're handling their stress. Get them involved with online behavioral programs," Gudin said.

Back at Skyride, Dr. Eric Lung says what doctors prescribe is also key to the fight. In the past year, the hospital's doctors prescribed 35 percent fewer opioids. It's a battle he anticipates will continue, long after the COVID pandemic is over. 

<![CDATA[Colorado Gov. Raises Restrictions, Tells State 'Do Better']]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 15:35:00 -0500
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As states across the country see case spikes in the coronavirus several are re-implementing restrictions and mitigation efforts.

Starting Wednesday, several counties in Colorado are moving to stricter levels after two weeks of growing cases. That means tightening limits on the amount of people allowed at gyms, restaurants and other businesses. 

Denver is regressing to "safer at home level three," meaning restaurants, retail stores and offices will have their capacity cut in half.

Gov. Jared Polis warns the state will run out of hospital beds by the end of the year if changes aren't made.

"To be blunt, if we don’t do better in CO then more Coloradans will die unnecessarily," he said.

<![CDATA[Task Force Member Says Testing Not Cause Of Increases In Virus Cases]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 15:33:00 -0500
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White House coronavirus task force member Admiral Brett Giroir says the U.S. is at a "critical point" in the coronavirus pandemic. 

Giroir says the increase in cases isn't because of an increase in testing — a claim President Trump has repeatedly made.

“Yes, we’re getting more cases identified, but the cases are actually going up. And we know that, too, because hospitalizations are going up,” he told NBC.

Giroir's comments come as President Trump's claims that the U.S. is rounding the turn on its fight against COVID-19.

<![CDATA[Wisconsin Badgers Cancel Nebraska Game Due To COVID-19]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 14:40:00 -0500
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The Wisconsin Badgers football team has canceled its game against Nebraska this Saturday and will pause all team-related activities for at least one week due to COVID-19.

On Wednesday, school officials said the athletic director and chancellor made a joint decision with Big Ten officials.

This comes after six athletes and six staff members, including the head coach, tested positive for COVID-19 in the past five days. Additional test results are pending.

The Big Ten football season just began last Friday. It got a late start due to coronavirus concerns. 

Wisconsin is the first Big Ten school to postpone or cancel a game since the league started. The team's game against Nebraska will not be rescheduled because the Big Ten schedule doesn't have time allotted for teams to have off weeks.

Wisconsin's next scheduled game is Nov. 7 against Purdue.

Additional reporting by Steve Megargee of The Associated Press. 

<![CDATA[UK Study To Infect Volunteers With COVID To Speed Vaccine Development]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 12:56:22 -0500
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<![CDATA[Health Warnings, Tips for Halloween, Día de Muertos Activities]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 12:32:48 -0500
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“Unfortunately, we are still in the thick of this pandemic,” Dr. Matifadza Hlatshwayo Davis, an infectious disease physician at the Washington University School of Medicine told Newsy. 

This Halloween, the CDC put an ax on door-to-door trick-or-treating, hayrides, and indoor costume parties, labeling the activities high-risk. 

“Anytime you have mixing of people from different households, even if it is relatively brief, that is a situation where infection can be transmitted,” explained Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse a Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at the Mayo Clinic.

Some parents have come up with tricky alternatives.

Candy manufacturer Reese's has turned to robotics for safe distribution. 

But if you don’t have the engineering skills to create a mechanical arm, the question of what to do can leave families feeling frustrated. 

“Thinking of it only as what you're missing out on, what we're not doing, what we can't do, really sets both parents and kids for disappointment,” said Dr. Parker Houston, a pediatric psychologist at the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. 

Instead, experts say think of the aspects you love most about that holiday and then find ways to make that safe. 

“My four-year-old and I will be setting up a table for friends in the neighborhood, we'll be putting candy, we'll be putting up colorful signs,” said Davis of Washington University. 

“Having a scavenger hunt or hiding candy around your house or in your own backyard would be considered a safe activity,“ suggested Rajapakse of the Mayor Clinic. 

Following Halloween night, is Dia De Muertos, a Mexican holiday in celebration of All Saints and All Souls Day. 

But COVID-19 has hit the Hispanic community particularly hard; some are essential workers, others have limited health care, or just mistrust of the medical community, all leading to a greater health disparity. 

Health experts say when it comes to El Dia De Muertos, sharing ofrendas virtually or visiting gravesites with members of your household is low to moderate risk, indoor gatherings are high risk. 

“While we want to honor these beautiful cultures, these beautiful, beautiful moments, in cultures that we value and should be valuing in this country equitably, right, that we do not want to see that result in any more suffering, and certainly not in any more deaths,” said Davis. 

While things may be different, experts say there are still ways to make the holidays memorable. 

“Consider this year as maybe a year to start some new traditions and enjoy some new activities that maybe you haven't done as a family before,” added Rajapakse. 

Amber Strong, Newsy. 

<![CDATA[Louisiana Braces For Zeta's Arrival]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 11:47:00 -0500
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Hurricane warnings are in effect along parts of the Louisiana and Mississippi coast lines and a tropical storm warning is in place for Florida's western panhandle.

“As this moves its way into southeastern Louisiana, there very well will be locations such as New Orleans that could have winds gusting 60 to 80 miles per hour,” said Brittany Boyer, a meteorologist with AccuWeather.

Zeta could drop up to six inches of rain in the New Orleans area. 

But because of its speed, the region could avoid the risk of flooding.

Zeta made landfall as a hurricane earlier this week on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Residents there are recovering from storm surge and strong winds that brought down trees. 

<![CDATA[Jon Stewart To Host Current Affairs Series For Apple TV]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 10:35:00 -0500
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If you've missed Jon Stewart — the former host of The Daily Show — here's some good news for you: He is returning to TV.

The Emmy Award-winning host is fronting a new current affairs series on Apple TV Plus, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Stewart retired from The Daily Show in 2015 and has mostly stayed out of the public eye as he focused on political causes like advocating for 9/11 first responders.

<![CDATA[Almost 500,000 Americans Tested Positive For COVID-19 In The Past Week]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 10:30:00 -0500
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Nearly half a million people in the U.S. have reported new cases of COVID-19 over the past seven days, according to Reuters. And cases are continuing to surge nationwide.

The latest numbers from the COVID Tracking Project show Illinois reporting an increase in cases of nearly 10 percent over the past week. The governor there is taking action with new restrictions in several parts of the state, including Chicago.

Other Midwestern states are also seeing a spike. Wisconsin reported a single-day state record Tuesday with 64 deaths and more than 5,200 new cases.

In Alaska, cases are up almost 20 percent over the past week.

<![CDATA[Amazon Braces For Peak Delivery Season]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 10:08:00 -0500
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The coronavirus has changed a lot this year when it comes to how we celebrate holidays.

But one thing that has remained the same — it's still peak delivery season for retailers like Amazon.

It's getting ready by bringing on 100,000 seasonal workers. 

Jobs include picking, packing, shipping and delivering orders. 

Amazon, which was already experiencing an influx of business because of COVID-19, also announced promotions for 35,000 employees. 

<![CDATA[Judge Rules Robert E. Lee Statue In Virginia Can Be Taken Down]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 09:47:00 -0500
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A statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia can be removed. 

The judge's ruling only allows it to be removed under the governor's order. 

This legal battle over the statue has been going on for months, since the governor asked for the statue to be taken down.

The statue was created in 1890.

<![CDATA[Megan Thee Stallion Wins Big At BET Awards]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 09:35:00 -0500
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Last night, rapper Megan Thee Stallion was the big winner at the 15th annual BET Hip Hop Awards.

She took home three awards, including hip hop artist of the year.

But ahead of the show, rapper T.I. began with a message about the upcoming election.

"I know we all feel the same type of way about each of these presidential candidates. But the choice still needs to be made. We will never find a perfect candidate, understand that. Don't let the long lines or any other forms of voter suppression deter you," T.I. said.

In the first cypher of the night, artists joined forces and rapped about the importance of the 2020 election.

<![CDATA[Google Will Stop Political Ads After Election]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 09:07:00 -0500
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You won't see any political ads on Google after the polls close on November 3.

Starting right after the election, ads mentioning candidates or election outcomes will not be allowed. 

Google said the ban will last at least about a week.

The company said the move is necessary as because results may be delayed and the ads could cause confusion. 

<![CDATA[Philadelphia Sees Second Night Of Protests]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 09:06:00 -0500
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In Philadelphia, protesters took to the streets for a second night of demonstrations after a Black man was killed by police officers Monday.

The family of Walter Wallace Jr. said they had called for medical help and that Wallace was experiencing a mental health crisis.

Wallace was carrying a knife and ignored orders to drop it before officers shot him. His father and the family's attorney told CNN the officers knew their son was in a mental health crisis.


"They were told that by his wife before the video, that has now gone viral, began to be recorded, his wife told them he is manic. He's bipolar. He's in crisis," said Shaka Johnson, the family's attorney. "Unfortunately, the officers were not equipped with A) the training or B) the proper equipment."

The police commissioner said neither officers that fired their weapons had a taser at the time.

Philadelphia police arrested more than 90 people during protests Monday. Thirty police officers were injured.

<![CDATA[Typhoon Molave Makes Landfall In Vietnam]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 08:42:00 -0500
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Typhoon Molave made landfall in Vietnam Wednesday morning. At least two people have died. 

One man was knocked off of his roof while trying to reinforce it for the storm. Another man was pinned under a fallen tree.

Before the typhoon hit, Vietnam evacuated over a million people.

It's the fourth deadly storm the country has weathered in the last month.

The typhoon also caused seven landslides in the Philippines.

<![CDATA[Trump Campaign Website Hacked]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 08:06:00 -0500
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President Trump's campaign website was apparently hacked Tuesday night. 

For a brief time, the site's homepage said things like "the world has had enough of the fake news spread daily," and also said it had information to discredit the president and his family. The hackers tried to solicit cryptocurrency payments to divulge the promised information. There's no information to back up those claims.

No word yet on who's responsible. But the campaign said there was no exposure to sensitive data and that it's working with law enforcement to find out the source of the attack. 

<![CDATA[World Series Celebration Raises Questions After Positive COVID Test]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 07:02:00 -0500
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The city of Los Angeles has another championship.

The Dodgers took down the Tampa Bay Rays 3-to-1 in Game 6 of the World Series Tuesday, capping off a shortened season due to the coronavirus.

Here's where things got a little interesting. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner left the game early after he received a positive COVID test result. But he returned afterward to celebrate, removing his mask on the field. 

According to reports, Turner was asked not to return to the field. 

<![CDATA[Newsy-Ipsos Poll: 38 Percent Of Voters Have Already Cast Their Ballots]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 06:41:00 -0500
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A record number of early ballots are already in.

In a recent Newsy-Ipsos poll of eligible voters, 38 percent said they have already cast their ballot either in person or by mail.

Twenty-six percent said they plan to vote in person on Election Day.  

But a majority of Americans say they won't hold their breath waiting for a presidential winner to be announced Tuesday night.

Just 19 percent say they expect a result on Election Day.

Another 19 percent say they think a winner will be announced the day after.

And 27 percent said they expect a result within a week.

<![CDATA[Judge Rules Against Replacing President Trump As Defendant In Lawsuit]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 06:31:00 -0500
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A federal judge on Tuesday ruled against a government request to replace President Donald Trump as a defendant in a rape defamation lawsuit.

The suit alleges he raped writer E. Jean Carroll in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. It was filed last November.

The president denied the allegations and said Carroll made up the story to sell her book. The accusation sparked her defamation suit.

The Justice Department argued the president was working in a government role and couldn't be sued personally for defamation. 

<![CDATA[Judge: South Carolina Can't Reject Ballots For Signature Mismatches]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 06:11:00 -0500
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A federal judge in South Carolina says the state can't reject absentee ballots over signature mismatches.

The judge found the state's process for matching signatures was inconsistent and subjective, placing a "significant burden" on voting rights. Any ballots thrown out so far must be reviewed again.

This year South Carolina has seen a record number of mail-in voters at over 300,000. That's more than twice as many as in the 2016 election.

<![CDATA[Vote Smarter 2020: Why Does Counting Mail-In Ballots Take Longer?]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 06:00:00 -0500
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Why does it take longer to count mail-in votes?

"There are usually two or three envelopes involved and signatures on different envelopes and marking, you know, sort of the kind of bars so that you can track that over time. So it takes longer because you're trying to open all of those things up," said Janine Parry, a professor of political science and Arkansas poll director at the University of Arkansas.

"Election judge has to make sure the signature's there, it looks like your signature. Then they open the ballot, and they start sort of making a pile to be fed into the counter," said David Hawkings, the editor in chief of The Fulcrum.

Processing and tabulating mail-in votes takes longer because all the verification that's normally done at a polling place still needs to happen. Plus mail-in ballots require extra steps, like opening the envelope and unfolding the ballot. 

SEE MORE: Which Battleground States Are Ready For Increased Voting By Mail?

Some states are allowed to start processing mail-in ballots as soon as they arrive. Others can't do any verification or processing till Election Day. 

"And given the fact that we're going to have so many mail ballots this year, if we have to wait a few days to have an accurate count, that's a good thing," said Bob Brandon, the president of the Fair Elections Center.

<![CDATA[Most Americans Don’t Expect A Presidential Winner On Election Day]]> Wed, 28 Oct 2020 06:00:00 -0500
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According to a new Newsy/Ipsos poll, Americans are relatively split on whether or not there will be a peaceful transition period between Election Day and January 2021, though fewer than half are confident this will be the case. Most Americans expect to know the presidential election result within one week of Election Day, and around half would be confident in the validity of the results. Furthermore, a quarter of Americans would support President Trump staying in office if he were to lose the election and refuse to accept the results.

Detailed Findings

1. Americans are skeptical of a peaceful transition period between Election Day and the beginning of the next presidential term in January.

    • Overall, 41% are confident, while 45% are not. Democrats (36%) and Independents (31%) are dramatically less confident than Republicans (53%).

    • A quarter of Americans (26%) would support President Trump staying in office if he were to lose the election in November and refuse the results as legitimate. This is statistically unchanged from July of this year (23%).

    • A majority of Republicans (51%) support this, up slightly from 45% in July. They are significantly more likely to support this than Democrats (7%) or Independents (22%). 

2. Two-thirds of Americans expect to know the result of the presidential election within one week of Election Day, November 3rd. 

    •A plurality of Americans (38%) expect to know the Presidential winner on Election Day or the day after. Another 27% think it will be announced within one week after Election Day. 

    • Half or more would have a fair amount or great deal of confidence in the results if they were to be announced a day after (54%), a week after (57%), or a month after Election Day (51%). 

    • Interestingly, confidence among Republicans diminishes the longer we will have to wait for election results, while confidence among Democrats grows. Sixty percent of Republicans report they will feel confident about election results announced on Election Day or the next day, and 49% say the same about results announced a month after. Among Democrats, 56% say they will feel confident with an announcement within two days, but their confidence peaks for results announced a week after Election Day (65%). 

    • Americans are less certain about polls. Forty percent are confident that public polls will accurately pick the winner of the presidential election, while 46% are not.

3. Of those who have not yet voted, a vast majority have already decided which presidential candidate they plan to vote for. 

    • Thirty-eight percent of Americans report having already voted, either by mail or in person. For those who have not yet voted, 87% have made up their minds already about which candidate to support. 

    • Fewer Independents are sure about their decision, with just over two-thirds (69%) saying they have decided (91% of Republicans and 92% of Democrats).

4. Most Americans have not been driven to purchase a gun due to political divisions or COVID-19 concerns. 

    • A majority of all Americans and gun owners disagree that U.S. political divisions (58% of Americans, 55% of gun owners) or COVID-19 concerns (67% of both) have caused them to consider purchasing a firearm. 

    • A quarter of gun owners have purchased additional guns since March of this year (24%), with 15% purchasing their first gun in the same time period. 

These are the findings of a Newsy/Ipsos poll conducted between October 23-27, 2020. For this survey, a sample of 2,010 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents. 

For full results, please refer to the annotated questionnaire at

<![CDATA[Disgraced Self-Improvement Guru Sentenced To 120 Years In Abuse Case]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2020 18:44:00 -0500
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Keith Raniere was once a self-improvement guru, with wealthy clients from New York to Hollywood. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to 120 years in prison on criminal convictions for sexually abusing many followers. 

Some of Raniere's victims arrived with their attorneys at a Brooklyn federal courthouse for the sentencing. They recounted widespread abuses in the early 2000s, including Raniere branding some with his initials to claim them as his sex slaves.

One of his victims, India Oxenberg called him an "entitled little princess" and a sexual predator. The daughter of "Dynasty" actress Catherine Oxenberg, she told the court of her anger over having to (quote) "spend the rest of my life with Keith Raneire’s initials seared into me.”

Raniere declared in court that he had no remorse because "I do believe I am innocent of the charges." But the judge said he targeted young women and girls in "egregious" conduct that was "ruthless and unyielding."

A federal jury found Raniere guilty last year on charges of sex trafficking, racketeering and possession of child pornography as head of a marketing company called Nxivm.

<![CDATA[Richmond, Virginia, Robert E. Lee Statue To Stay Standing For Now]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2020 18:14:00 -0500
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A statue of Robert E. Lee will stay standing in Virginia for now.  

Gov. Ralph Northam announced he would remove the statue in June after the death of George Floyd. 

A judge suspended the plans to give the opposing side time to appeal.

The Richmond residents who sued the governor plan to bring their case to the state Supreme Court. 

<![CDATA[COVID Relief Deal Extremely Unlikely Before Election]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2020 18:00:00 -0500
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With Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation process finished, both Houses of Congress are officially out until after the election.

Lawmakers leave Washington with an Covid relief bill negotiations left unfinished, desperately needed by many Americans. 

Both parties insist negotiations are still ongoing, while trading blows on national television.

For months, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.), has been regularly speaking with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, negotiating on behalf of the White House, with neither side willing to be the first to give up.

Standing in the way: Senate Republicans, with GOP leadership telling reporters they’re unlikely to pass anything without a clear majority of their party’s support. 

”I think we're going to have a hard time finding 13 votes...” Majority Whip John Thune, (R-South Dakota), told reporters earlier this month.

On Tuesday, President Trump blamed Nancy Pelosi for stalling relief, instead of reluctant Senate Republicans, and implied that a growing economy will cancel out the need for relief. 

Still, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insists the Senate would vote if a deal were reached.

But after a fruitless summer and fall, with every passing day, the promise of ongoing negotiations sounds increasingly hollow.

<![CDATA[New COVID-19 Infections Average 71,000 Cases A Day]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2020 17:17:00 -0500
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The daily new coronavirus infection average has been above 71,000 over the past week. That's the most in any seven-day period since the pandemic began. The latest numbers from Johns Hopkins have nearly 9 million infections. The crisis is only getting worse. 

William Haseltine, the president of Access Health International said, "I think we're looking forward to a number of record weeks in the very near future. It will drive this daily rate above 100,000."

37 states reported a jump in new infections this week. Most saw their highest levels to date, including Colorado, which is also battling record-setting wildfires.

Parts of New Jersey are closing non-essential businesses tonight, and the governor of Idaho is rolling back re-opening plans but not imposing a mask mandate as hospitalizations hit record levels. Doctors tell CNN it's not too late to get the virus under control. 

Infectious diseases physician Dr. Jay Varkey said, "If we keep out of bars, dine-in restaurants, political rallies, and also avoid the type of settings that are propagating this current outbreak which really seems to be family gatherings of friends and extended family that's out of the household. We can turn this around." 

<![CDATA[Judge: U.S. Can't Replace Pres. Trump In Defamation Suit]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2020 16:33:00 -0500
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A federal judge has denied the Justice Department's request to replace Pres. Trump as the defendant in a defamation lawsuit.

Magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll accuses the president of raping her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s – something he says is total lie to help her sell a memoir.

The Justice Department argues that the U.S. should replace Pres. Trump as the defendant because he was forced to respond to the lawsuit while president. But the judge ruled that the law protecting federal employees from being sued individually does not apply to the president. 

He wrote, "The President of the United States is not an employee of the Government within the meaning of the relevant statutes. Even if he were such an employee, President Trump's allegedly defamatory statements concerning Ms. Carroll would not have been within the scope of his employment."

<![CDATA[Why Pres. Trump Is Gaining Support Among Cuban Americans In Florida]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2020 16:17:00 -0500
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Cuban American Dayami Montejo says she's voting for President Trump because she fears Joe Biden could turn the U.S. into a communist country.

"The United States can end up one day like Cuba. That was the way Fidel started in Cuba, telling young people they're not going to have to pay for school," said Montejo, who came to the U.S. in 1995. 

Now a mother and business owner in Miami, she says she trusts President Trump to save the nation from progressive Democrats.   

"He's really aggressive. And he says whatever he needs to say in front of anyone. I will go for Trump. Trump 2020," said Montejo.

President Trump appears to be gaining support among Cuban Americans in the Sunshine State. 

In 2016, he received about half of their votes. This year, nearly 60% say they will vote for him, according to a recent Florida International University poll.

So, what's behind the gain? 

"Cuban American voters respond to leadership," said Guillermo Grenier, a Florida International University sociologist who's been managing the Cuban American survey for nearly 30 years. 

"Whoever is in Washington is kind of drumming the drum and setting the parameters for the narrative," Grenier said, adding that there was a sharp decrease in Republican Party registrations among Cubans during the Obama presidency. 

President Trump's re-election narrative centers on false claims that Biden is anti-police and supports socialism.

That rhetoric has hit a nerve among exiles in Miami who have been flooded with political ads and misinformation

"If everybody is saying it, then, you know, it must be true. And that's why they've had enormous success with that message. It gets reinforced at the local level here," said Eduardo Gamarra, a professor of political science at Florida International University.

Pollsters say the dominance of the Republican narrative in Miami helps explain why recent Cuban arrivals are the president's most ardent supporters. 

According to the university’s poll, 76% of Cubans who arrived between 2010 and 2015 are registered Republicans.

"What you see is a very active Republican Party, a very theatrical Republican Party. New Cubans coming in find that if they sign up for that, their voice resonates very broadly in the Cuban community," said Grenier.

Cuban Americans are the largest Hispanic voting group in Florida — making up around 6% of the state's total voting population. 

But it's unclear whether they could, alone, tip the ultimate swing state to the president. 

Ben Schamisso, Newsy.

<![CDATA[Protests Erupt Following Police Shooting In Philadelphia]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2020 16:16:25 -0500
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Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by two Philadelphia police officers Monday. It was all caught on camera, and we want to warn you the footage you are about to see may be difficult to watch.

Police say Wallace was carrying a knife and walking toward the officers when they opened fire. The video, which was taken by a bystander on the scene, shows Wallace's mother chasing after her son before the shooting and then rushing over to him after shots were fired. Police drove Wallace to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Wallace's father told the Philadelphia Inquirer his son suffered from mental illness. A 2015 study says at least 1 in 4 fatal law enforcement encounters involve an individual with serious mental illness.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney says the shooting is under investigation and that he looks forward to a "speedy and transparent resolution." The local police union has called for patience and says the officers involved are being "vilified" for "doing their job."

Civil rights attorney Ben Crump tweeted out the video of the shooting saying "cops made NO attempts at de-escalating the situation." 

Protests erupted in Philadelphia overnight, as crowds took to the streets following the shooting in the city's Cobbs Creek neighborhood.

In videos posted to social media, officers and protesters can be seen clashing, as police try to disperse crowds that had gathered in outrage in response to the shooting. In some clips, officers can be seen using their batons on protesters, while protesters can be seen throwing rocks at police.

According to the city's police department, 30 officers were injured and law enforcement vehicles were damaged, some set on fire. Businesses including a Family Dollar store reported lootings. Dozens of people were arrested.

Philadelphia saw similar protests and unrest back in May following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  

<![CDATA[New COVID-19 Cases And Hospitalizations Up; Deaths May Follow]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2020 16:06:00 -0500
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Hospitals are bracing for another surge of COVID-19 patients. In parts of Texas, COVID-19 hospitalizations have roughly quadrupled in just a few weeks.

"It's not good. It's serious. We're going to need another 200-plus hospital rooms," Mayor Dee Margo said.

 In Utah, the state hospital association is warning about rationing care as ICU beds run low. 

"We have enough PPE to protect our staff, we just don’t have enough people," Dr. Russel Vinik, chief medical officer at University of Utah Health, said. 

The U.S. is now averaging more new COVID-19 cases every day than our previous peak in July. Hospitalizations lag behind cases, but they’re rising and likely to keep going up, too. There’s one thing that doctors are cautiously optimistic about: The latest research shows that compared to the early days, fewer people are dying from COVID-19. 

"Overall, we are seeing less sick people and lesser case fatality rate, which is good," Dr. Rohini Sharma, an infectious disease specialist at North Suburban Medical Center, said.

We spoke with two doctors treating hospitalized COVID patients. Dr. Rohini Sharma is an infectious disease specialist in Denver, and Dr. Ben Singer is a pulmonary and critical care specialist in Chicago. 

They say now, more patients are younger and have a better chance of surviving the virus. Treatments have also improved.

"I'm really interested in what your experience has been like. And how that was in March and April vs. again now several months later," Newsy's Lindsey Theis said.

"This was an unknown animal to start off with. As soon as the studies came in with more data, there were hundreds of studies from China, from us, from Europe, and that helped us improve on our treatment modalities," Sharma said.

"We've learned new things about how to treat COVID and how not to treat COVID. So avoiding the use of medications like hydroxychloroquine, which at one point may have been thought to be beneficial but clearly are not. We know that steroids like dexamethasone for select patients can play a role in improving their outcomes," Singer said.

The FDA approval of antiviral drug remdesivir, shown to lower the number of days a COVID patient spends in the hospital, is another step, too. 

Both doctors warn, though, with new COVID cases and hospitalizations climbing, an uptick in deaths is what comes next. They say it's important to mind the public health guidance we’ve heard all along: Distance, wash your hands and wear a mask. 

"Until we have a vaccine, I would say a mask is a poor man's vaccine. Till then," Sharma said.

<![CDATA[Politico: Medicare, Medicaid Plan May Cover COVID-19 Vaccinations]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2020 15:27:00 -0500
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The Trump administration is preparing to pay for COVID-19 vaccinations for 60 million Medicare recipients and tens of millions more who are covered by Medicaid.

Politico, the first to report the story, said four administration officials confirmed the plan, which is expected to be announced this week. 

A vaccination isn't expected to be widely available until well into 2021. And the plan is being readied as the coronavirus - with surging new cases - dominates the closing days of the 2020 presidential campaign. 

In a speech last week, Democratic nominee Joe Biden said a "safe and effective vaccine...must be free and freely available" to everyone. 

    This month, Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare  and Medicaid Services, said the administration has "figured out a path forward" on covering costs of vaccinations. One official told Politico that the goal is "to ensure that no American has to pay for the vaccine."

Contains footage from CNN.

<![CDATA[Barrett's Confirmation Could Impact Some High-Profile Cases]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2020 15:17:00 -0500
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The confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett could impact a number of high-profile cases the Supreme Court is reviewing. 

Starting next week, the bench will hear cases on LGBTQ rights, religious freedoms, and Barrett – who openly opposes abortion rights – could comment on a Mississippi abortion case. On Nov. 10, the top court hears a case challenging The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare – an important case to President Donald Trump.

Justice Barrett could also rule on cases involving absentee voting in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. However, a Pennsylvania court filed legal papers Tuesday arguing that Barrett "should not take part in the Pennsylvania case."

One case that could spark controversy and test Barrett's loyalty to the president is the Supreme Court weighing a plea from President Trump to prevent the Manhattan District Attorney from acquiring his tax returns.

Barrett declined to commit to Democratic demands that she step aside from any cases on controversial topics, including a potential post-election dispute over the presidential results.

Barrett was confirmed Monday by the Senate in a 52-48 virtual party line vote.

Additional reporting by Mark Sherman of the Associated Press.

<![CDATA[Supreme Court Blocks Absentee Deadline Extension in Wisconsin]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2020 15:05:00 -0500
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The Supreme Court refused to extend Wisconsin's deadline to receive and count ballots from absentee voters. 

On Monday, justices ruled 5-3 along partisan lines that mail-in ballots will only be counted if received by Election Day on Nov. 3.

The following day, Democrats and Republicans in the battleground state were pushing to get 320,000 outstanding absentee ballots returned by the close of polls on Election Day. 

Democrats previously argued in a federal lawsuit that more time should be allotted for ballots to arrive by mail and be counted because of challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, Republicans countered that voters had plenty of options to vote on time and that the rules shouldn't be changed so close to the election.

The Supreme Court sided with Republicans to block an extension of a state law to count votes until Nov. 9 as long as they were postmarked by Nov. 3.

Last week, the high court allowed a mail-in voting deadline extension in Pennsylvania.

Justice John Roberts explained his switch, saying the Pennsylvania case involved state court rulings while in Wisconsin, a federal court had allowed the extension.


Additional reporting by Scott Bauer of The Associated Press.

<![CDATA[Demonstrators in Italy Protest Virus Containment Closures]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2020 14:37:00 -0500
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In Italy, protests against lockdown measures imposed in the country turned violent.

At least 11 people were arrested after breaking off from a peaceful demonstration and allegedly causing damage to nearby shops.

Italy announced the closure of restaurants, cafes, gyms, and other places in order to curb the spread of coronavirus.

<![CDATA[What Early Voting Numbers Tell Us About The 2020 Election]]> Tue, 27 Oct 2020 13:17:53 -0500
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With still one week to go until Election Day, Americans have already shattered 2016 early vote numbers.

"People are voting in massive numbers, so despite everything, I don't see this as an election where the outcome is going to be affected by vote suppression so much as by enormous voter turnout," said Paul Smith, vice president for litigation at the Campaign Legal Center and professor at Georgetown Law School.

Seven days out, nearly 67 million ballots have been submitted, already surpassing the roughly 59 million early votes cast in 2016.

Most states expanded their early voting options due to the pandemic, and and Democrats are outvoting Republicans in the initial balloting.

The totals have Democrats hopeful, but what it means for the state of the race is far from clear.

Only 19 states publicly report the party ID of those requesting ballots, but party registration doesn't tell the full story. Not every registered Republican votes for President Trump, nor every Democrat for Joe Biden.

And Republicans have been preparing themselves for the Democrats' early-voting advantage, especially as President Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that mail ballots are fraudulent.

"A lot of the rhetoric we've been hearing may be making people worried but we still have in place all of the structure and protections that have been used for decades and centuries to have a fair outcome of the process," Smith said.

Both parties expect a surge of Republicans to vote in-person on Election Day and chip away at the Democrats' lead.

How states tally the in-person vs. pre-Election Day votes could lead to dramatic swings in key states. That has the Biden campaign worried the president will prematurely declare victory and argue the large number of mail ballots yet to be counted by Election Night are invalid.

"I would not pay attention to either set of candidates or their surrogates in judging whether the election is fair. I would pay attention to what the election boards are doing, what the courts are deciding and to what the result is according to the state laws involved," said Charles Stewart III, a political science professor at MIT and national elections expert.