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Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. “All the Republicans will vote yes, all the Democrats will vote no.”
Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the deeply divided Judiciary Committee, left little doubt about the expected result as confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett began today.
In their opening statements, Democrats characterized Judge Barrett as a conservative ideologue who would overturn the Affordable Care Act and invalidate abortion rights, while Republicans directed attention to her sterling résumé and compelling personal story.
Judge Barrett herself steered clear of controversy in her remarks. Questioning of the nominee begins tomorrow.
Today, he writes, it’s clear that the acceptance of masks and other precautions have made a huge difference in lives saved. The next step is pharmaceutical — vaccines and monoclonal antibodies — and they are in sight, if not within reach.
Our science columnist Carl Zimmer cautions that the rollout of vaccines in the U.S. will most likely be messy. The first vaccines, probably in the spring, may provide only moderate protection, low enough to make it prudent to keep wearing a mask.
3. President Trump, returning to the campaign trail, holds a rally in Florida tonight, while Joe Biden visited Ohio to court G.O.P. voters.
The president has trips planned to Pennsylvania, Iowa and North Carolina in the next three days, with aides saying they had no concerns about the candidate’s health or stamina. Above, Mr. Trump boarding Air Force One today in Maryland.
In the battleground states of Wisconsin and Michigan, new Times/Siena College polls show Mr. Biden with significant leads. In Toledo, Mr. Biden lashed his opponent as an out-of-touch plutocrat while playing up his own Irish Catholic, middle-class background.
And in Georgia, fired-up voters descended on polling sites in record-breaking numbers on the first day of early, in-person balloting. Officials reported some glitches with Georgia’s new touch-screen voting system.
4. Few of President Trump’s constituencies have gotten more help than the agriculture sector.
Federal payments to farmers, many of whom were hit by the double whammy of Mr. Trump’s trade practices and the coronavirus pandemic, are projected to hit a record $46 billion this year as the White House funnels money to the rural South and Midwest ahead of Election Day. Above, tobacco fields in North Carolina.
The breadth of the payments means that government support will account for about 40 percent of total farm income this year.
The president has also promised $200 prescription drug cards to millions of seniors, approved $13 billion in aid to Puerto Rico, which could help his prospects in Florida, and directed his Agriculture Department to include letters signed by him in millions of food aid boxes that are being distributed to the poor.
5. The billionaire who stood by Jeffrey Epstein.
Leon Black, chief executive of the investment company Apollo Global Management, paid at least $50 million to Jeffrey Epstein for advice and services after Mr. Epstein’s 2008 conviction for soliciting prostitution from a teenage girl.
The transfers included $10 million to a foundation started by Mr. Epstein and consulting fees that were sufficiently unusual to draw scrutiny from Deutsche Bank, where Mr. Epstein kept his accounts, according to documents reviewed by The Times and interviews.
The business relationship ended in 2018 because of a “fee dispute” and Mr. Black, above, stopped communicating with Mr. Epstein.
6. Florida is seeing signs of a climate-driven housing crisis.
Home sales in the state’s low-lying areas, ones most vulnerable to a rise in sea levels, began falling around 2013. Now, prices are following a similar downward path, according to new research. Above, Bal Harbour, where housing prices fell 7.6 percent over the past four years.
The authors argue that not only is climate change eroding one of the most vibrant real estate markets in the country, but it has also quietly been doing so for nearly a decade.
“It means that coastal housing is in more distress than we thought,” said Benjamin Keys, the paper’s lead author. By 2045, more than 300,000 coastal U.S. homes will be at risk of flooding regularly, scientists said in 2018.
8. “We were embedded right in the middle of climate change.”
That’s from one of the scientists who worked on the research ship Polarstern, above, home to the biggest-ever Arctic science mission. The ship docked in Germany today after a year frozen in sea ice.
The expedition encountered nosy polar bears, fierce storms that damaged equipment, and changing ice conditions.
But its leaders said the data collected about the ocean, ice, clouds, storms and ecosystems of the Arctic would prove invaluable in helping scientists understand the region, which is warming faster than any other part of the planet.
9. Whither the spirit of Halloween?
The National Retail Foundation predicts there will be about $8 billion in Halloween spending this year. That’s 8 percent less than last year, probably because of decreased participation in haunted houses, trick-or-treating and parties.
But the ubiquitous Spirit Halloween pop-up store is back in spades. The chain is opening over 1,400 temporary storefronts nationwide, more than last year, even as competitors scale back because of the pandemic.
And ahead of Amazon’s annual sale day tomorrow, we give you five things to avoid — including focusing only on the online behemoth’s Prime Day deals: More major retailers are likely to follow Amazon’s lead and offer sales of their own throughout October.
It’ll surprise no one that the tyrannosaurus rex, with its razor-sharp teeth and powerful jaw, reigns supreme.
The 20-foot-long stegosaurus, by contrast, had plates lining its back. But what made it a lethal adversary were the spikes on its tail, letting it outpower a sharp-clawed but turkey-sized velociraptor any day.
Have a non-combative evening.
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