White House, Covid-19, election, Big Tech, China

California’s expansive August Complex Fire is now a gigafire — a term for a blaze that burns at least a million acres of land.


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1. White House 

President Trump says he has ordered his negotiators to stop discussing a new stimulus deal until after the election. His announcement sent stocks plunging and sparked new uncertainty among people in particularly hard-hit industries, like airlines. While Congress has butted heads for months over stimulus proposals, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin seemed to be mounting a strong new effort to get a deal done soon. Now, experts warn of what may happen to the economy with further aid still on hold. Meanwhile, Stephen Miller, a top Trump policy adviser, is the latest White House official to test positive for coronavirus. The White House said it has completed “all contact tracing” for positive Covid-19 cases among its ranks, but given the confusing and sometimes contradictory information released by the administration about the recent outbreak, doubt remains. 

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2. Coronavirus 

Half of US states are now seeing an increase in coronavirus diagnoses, and the country just surpassed a cumulative 7.5 million reported cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci says the US could see 400,000 Covid-19 deaths by this winter if health recommendations continue to be flouted. “Pandemic fatigue,” so to speak, is also a problem in Europe, the World Health Organization warns. Amid this apathy, countries like Germany are seeing their highest number of cases in months. On the vaccine front, the FDA says it will want to see two months of follow-up data for any clinical trial that may lead to a coronavirus vaccine. That would make it difficult, if not impossible, for any vaccine maker to apply for emergency use authorization by Election Day.

3. Election 2020

The vice presidential debate between VP Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris is tonight at the University of Utah, and Covid-19 precautions are top of mind. After initially balking at the idea, Pence’s team has agreed to have plexiglass barriers on stage. VP debates are usually an undercard, but given that President Trump and Joe Biden are both in their 70s, Pence’s and Harris’ appearances seem to mean more this time around. While Harris’ team says she will likely focus on Trump and his record, Pence may face questions about the administration’s handling of the pandemic and his own role leading the White House coronavirus task force. Watch at 9 p.m. ET.

4. Big Tech

Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook hold “monopoly power” in key business segments and have abused their dominance in the marketplace, according to a 16-month congressional investigation into the tech giants. The House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel issued the strong condemnation, and said the companies’ anticompetitive conduct has hindered innovation and weakened the marketplace. The results of this investigation could lead to legislation to rein Big Tech’s influence. Antitrust enforcers at the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission are also preparing for legal action against some of the companies. Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook all spoke out against the report.

5. China 

China’s global reputation is sinking because of the coronavirus pandemic. Pew Research polled people from 14 countries, including the US, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom, and found that respondents across all countries had a majority negative view of China. The survey found 77% of Americans had no confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping to “do the right thing” in global affairs. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo certainly isn’t helping China’s reputation. Pompeo met with representatives from Japan, Australia, and India for a security dialogue in Tokyo and urged the US’ regional allies to fight back against China’s “exploitation, corruption, and coercion.”


Seattle Storm win 4th WNBA championship

Now this is the kind of storm we like to see. 

Apple’s new face-mask emoji is smiling instead of frowning

Because keeping people safe is fun! 

Kraft’s new #SendNoods promotion lets people send mac and cheese to loved ones 

Hopefully no one, uh, misinterprets that tagline. 

Here’s how to watch the Draconid meteor shower tonight and tomorrow 

It seems like a good time to stare up into the night sky and contemplate just how cosmically small we are. 

Dogs aren’t hardwired to care about human faces, and there’s no area in their brain designed to distinguish between the back or front of someone’s head

And yet they’re still so full of love. Bless their hearts. 


And the next Nobel Prize goes to … 

French professor and researcher in microbiology, genetics and biochemistry Emmanuelle Charpentier and American biochemist Jennifer A. Doudna have won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the development of a method for genome editing.”


Eddie Van Halen, the legendary guitarist of rock group Van Halen, has died at 65 after a long battle with cancer. His son, Wolf Van Halen, wrote that he was “the best father I could ever ask for,” and, “Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift.”

Johnny Nash, best known for his 1972 hit, “I Can See Clearly Now,” also passed yesterday at the age of 80. 


$67 billion

The value of America’s trade deficit, its highest level in 14 years, according to the Census Bureau. The deficit has ballooned from $37 billion in February, before the pandemic sunk the US economy.


“The situation just broke me as a person.”

Desmond Marrow, once an NFL prospect, on the 2017 police encounter that left him badly injured and threatened to ruin his life. The Georgia officer involved pleaded guilty to battery last week and will never work in law enforcement again. Marrow says he still sometimes panics at the site of police.


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A guitar god riffs in peace

Eddie Van Halen’s passing is truly the end of an era, so let’s remember his skills with a blistering guitar riff from “Eruption.” I’ve cued it up to the good part, but start from the beginning for some smoke rings and a guitar head used as an ash tray. (Click here to view.) 

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