Tropical Storm Josephine is churning in the Atlantic, marking the earliest “J” name storm to ever form there.
Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
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1. Election 2020
Fresh controversy is swirling around mail-in ballots. President Trump said he doesn’t want to provide much-needed funding for the US Postal Service because he doesn’t want to see it used for mail-in voting this November. His comments add fuel to widespread concern that he and his supporters are trying to manipulate the post office for political gain and endanger the pandemic-fueled push for more voting options. In addition, the USPS plans to remove hundreds of high-volume mail-processing machines from facilities across the country, leading postal workers to fear they may have less capacity to process mail during the expected election season rush. Election officials across the US are practically begging Congress for more money to make sure they’re prepared for this unprecedented presidential vote, but with stimulus talks at a standstill, it’s not clear what kind of help they’ll get.
Russia has offered to help the US with a coronavirus vaccine, but the US isn’t having it. Remember, Russia this week said it had developed a vaccine, but medical experts and US officials are skeptical of its effectiveness and the level of scientific rigor in testing it. Meanwhile, the British government has secured 90 million doses of two vaccine candidates still in clinical trials. And if you think natural herd immunity will protect us before a vaccine will, think again. Herd immunity is reached when around 70% to 90% of a population becomes immune to a disease, and Dr. Anthony Fauci says letting this virus reach those thresholds would lead to massive death tolls. Things are already looking bad as they are: The CDC now projects nearly 189,000 US coronavirus deaths by September 5; the current US death toll is around 167,000.
Congress is facing a harsh reality. After weeks of fruitless talks, any action on a new stimulus package will probably have to wait until early September — at the very earliest. That means no more relief checks, no more small business aid, nothing for at least a few weeks. And plenty of people are still hurting, even as first-time jobless claims fell below 1 million for the first time since March. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed to indicate the Senate would join the House in recess for the rest of August unless a deal is struck. Even then, Republicans and Democrats seem no closer to an agreement than they were last month. Oh, and there are now concerns that stimulus negotiations could run up against a looming government shutdown deadline that falls just as election season reaches its crescendo.
4. Middle East
Israel and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to normalize relations in a historic truce. As part of the peace deal, Israel has agreed to suspend annexation plans on the West Bank, an arrangement Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says is only temporary. The UAE and Israel also plan to exchange embassies and ambassadors. While some world powers like Egypt and the UK have cheered the deal, saying it is a step toward peace in the Middle East, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas trashed the peace agreement as “a betrayal of Jerusalem.” The PA also announced it was immediately withdrawing its ambassador to the UAE in response to the deal.
5. College sports
The NCAA has officially canceled fall championships in all sports, potentially pushing them to the spring. But the governing body of college sports actually doesn’t control college football (the conferences in the football bowl system do), so there still could be gridiron action — maybe. A few major conferences have already postponed their seasons and more may follow suit, which could derail the whole thing. That would have far-ranging consequences, including hours upon hours of unfilled broadcast time. One complicating factor of these decisions? College athletes don’t get paid. However, a group of senators has announced a plan to introduce a “College Athletes Bill of Rights” aimed at compensating college athletes amid pressure to play during the pandemic.
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend are expecting their third child
So many celebrities have been rolling out good baby news recently!
Fatburger owner is buying Johnny Rockets for $25 million
This story has the term “burger merger” in it, which is just fantastic.
AMC is reopening its theaters next week with 15-cent tickets
They’re promoting it as “movies in 2020 at 1920 prices.” (And 2020 air conditioning, hopefully.)
The UK’s first ‘socially distanced’ concert was … quite a sight to behold
Needless to say, there were no mosh pits.
A scientist found a tongue-eating parasite in the mouth of a fish
OK, that’s it. No more new nightmare creatures for the rest of the year. If you are a nightmare creature wishing to participate in this season of planet Earth, we’re sorry, but applications are closed.
That’s how much the Justice Department recently seized in cryptocurrency from terror groups in the Middle East, marking the largest ever US government takeover of online terrorist financing.
“We have things flying over our military bases and places where we are conducting military exercises, and we don’t know what it is and it isn’t ours, so that’s a legitimate question to ask.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which voted back in June to have the Pentagon and intelligence community publicly analyze videos of unidentified flying objects. The Pentagon is now forming a task force to investigate the objects.
AND FINALLY …
Down in front!
This happened back in July but remains one of the best “pets interrupting video calls” we’ve seen lately. (Click here to view.)