Vote Delay Crashes and Burns | Virus Takes Herman Cain
1. Trump’s Election Delay Tweet Crosses GOP Line
Even Stephen Calabresi called it “fascistic.” After President Donald Trump suggested delaying the Nov. 3 election, the conservative Federalist Society co-founder, who’s generally supported Trump, said it was grounds for “immediate impeachment.” In the face of slumping poll numbers, Trump repeated the debunked idea that expanding voting by mail would lead to historic fraud, tweeting, “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” Outraged Democrats and even members of Trump’s own party cited Congress’ sole power to schedule presidential elections, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the date “set in stone.”
These dead tell a tale. While Prime Minister Boris Johnson claims Britain’s high COVID-19 death rate is skewed by national reporting methods, new analysis indicates otherwise. The Office for National Statistics looked at excess mortality — fatalities exceeding the five-year average of deaths from any cause — and found the U.K.’s 65,000 extra deaths this year topped 21 other European nations. That includes hard-hit Italy and Spain, which was recently slapped with new British travel restrictions. On the bright side, British researchers are starting a vaccine trial on about 300 people after it safely cleared a smaller trial.
This is the way democracy ends. Not with a bang, but with a few adjustments. Yesterday, Hong Kong’s once-semiautonomous government disqualified 12 pro-democracy candidates, including activist Joshua Wong, from running for the Legislative Council, citing China’s new national security law. Today, the deadline for nominations, officials will reportedly announce that Sept. 6 elections will be delayed as much as a year because of the pandemic. A coalition of lawmakers from countries including Australia, Canada, Japan and many EU nations called the moves “unacceptable obstructions” of democracy that raised concerns about the “erosion of rights and freedoms.”
It can’t get much worse — one hopes. Since record keeping began in 1947, the U.S. economy has never fallen so far, with the country’s GDP dropping 32.9 percent between April and June. And with a $600 supplemental weekly unemployment benefit expiring today, lawmakers appear deadlocked on fresh relief, with Democrats insisting on long-term, rather than temporary aid. But big tech, whose top CEOs were grilled on Capitol Hill Wednesday, reported major gains yesterday. Facebook’s revenue rose to $18.7 billion, Amazon’s profit doubled to $5.2 billion and Apple raked in $11.25 billion.
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1. Herman Cain, 2012 Presidential Hopeful, Dies of COVID-19
He was a contender. Eight years ago, he was a front-running challenger for the GOP nomination — a remarkable feat for a Black candidate. But politics may have led to Cain’s death in an Atlanta hospital Thursday. His last major public appearance was at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump rally that’s been blamed for spreading the coronavirus. Cain did not wear a mask despite being high-risk at age 74. But Black Americans are also dying at nearly triple the rate of their white peers. In a tweet, President Trump called Cain “an American Patriot, and great friend.”
It’s Mars or bust. Hopefully NASA’s Perseverance rover, launched from Florida atop an Atlas V rocket yesterday, isn’t actually busted, but it has gone into “safe mode.” Scientists suspect that was caused by unexpectedly cold temperatures in Earth’s shadow, but they’re optimistic Perseverance will complete its 350 million-mile mission Feb. 18. It’ll collect rocks to bring back to Earth and will dispatch the first Martian helicopter, Ingenuity, to search for evidence of ancient life. It’s the third Mars mission launched in 10 days after Emirati and Chinese craft departed last week, taking advantage of the planets’ prime orbital positions.
Digital dating is hard enough. For people on the autism spectrum, Tinder may do little to change the odds that only 1 percent are hitched by the average American marriage age. But there are more welcoming avenues, OZY reports. Take Aspie Singles, with 4,500 members, started by a Dutch web designer who’s also on the spectrum. Others, like app Uneepi and its 9,000-strong community, don’t just match people but provide relationship coaching, developing skills like recognizing emotions in a potential partner. And not being smitten is OK: Many users are happy to find friends too.
4. COVID-19 Survivor Bryan Cranston: Wear Your ‘Damn Mask’
Like his infamous character Walter White, he stared death in the face. But in revealing Thursday that he’s recovered from COVID-19, the actor is using his survival to get the message out: “I was one of the lucky ones,” Cranston said in an Instagram video, explaining that his symptoms were mild and he’s donating his plasma to UCLA researchers. Noting the tragic U.S. death toll of 150,000, he said “we can prevail” as long as people “keep wearing the damn mask, keep washing your hands and stay socially distant.”
Welcome to “the bubble.” That’s where the basketball league resumed its pandemic-cloistered season yesterday in Orlando, Florida. Players and refs knelt for the national anthem in solidarity with the civil rights movement, near the words Black Lives Matter emblazoned on the parquet above the league’s logo. But only 22 of 30 teams will play in this “tournament” to close the season, and even with limited outside contact, there’s no guarantee players won’t be sidelined by infection — as baseball’s Miami Marlins have been. Meanwhile, in college football, the Southeastern Conference delayed its opening to Sept. 26, with only intraconference games.