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The upset of 2020? Jaime Harrison push to oust Lindsey Graham central to US Senate battle – The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/18/jaime-harrison-south-carolina-senate-lindsey-graham

The upset of 2020? Jaime Harrison push to oust Lindsey Graham central to US Senate battle - The Guardian

Jaime Harrison, the Democratic nominee for the US Senate in South Carolina, has raised a staggering $57m in the third quarter of 2020, a new record for a single Senate race in the southern state, and anywhere else in America for that matter.

But Harrison’s race is also winning attention for a host of other reasons. His opponent is incumbent Lindsey Graham, a close Donald Trump ally and vocal cheerleader for the president. In conservative South Carolina, Graham was meant to be a certainty to retain his seat, especially against a nationally little-known Black Democrat at a time when anti-racism protests have roiled America.

But 2020 is anything but a normal election year. Not only has Harrison set new money-raising records, but his polling has hauled him into unexpected contention in a state no one saw as vulnerable for the Republicans. That in itself could help Democrats win a victory in the Republican-controlled Senate that few saw as likely even a year ago and radically alter the direction of America’s politics.

Harrison’s candidacy is proving historic and has caught major national attention. If he beats Graham, South Carolina would become the first state with two sitting African American senators ever. The South Carolina senator Tim Scott is one of the few African American senators in the chamber, and the only Black Republican. Other states have been represented by African Americans but never at the same time. There have been 1,974 members of the US senate since it was established in 1789 – only 10 have been Black.

South Carolina has emerged, surprisingly, as one of the best chances Democrats have to get the three or four seats needed to retake control of the Senate. Although there is intense interest in the race for the White House the battle to control the Senate which will also have a huge impact on the shape of the next presidency.

If Trump was to win the Presidency but Republicans lose control of the Senate it would severely limit the legislation that he could get passed. Similarly, if Biden was to win the White House but the Democrats failed to win control of the Senate, it would mean that much of the new president’s legislative programme would be dead on arrival in Washington DC.

As Molly Reynolds, of the DC-based think tank Brookings said recently, “The presidential race has captured most of the recent election-related headlines. But a set of key Senate races will have significant consequences for the ability of former Vice President Joe Biden to govern if he defeats President Donald Trump.”

It is not too long ago that the prospects of Democrats winning control of the Senate seemed somewhat outlandish. But the shifting dynamics of the 2020 race have put the Senate into play.

The influx of campaign funding that has eclipsed Republicans in South Carolina has also been mirrored elsewhere. Democratic candidates in a diverse list of states such as Maine, Montana, Colorado, Iowa and even reliably red Kansas, find themselves with healthy war chests in the last few weeks before the 3 November election.

Senator Lindsey Graham leaves the White House for a round of golf with Donald Trump at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, in July.
Senator Lindsey Graham leaves the White House for a round of golf with Donald Trump at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, in July. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

The 44-year old South Carolina Democrat has run in Democratic circles for years. But it didn’t start out that way. Harrison was born when his mother was 15. His father was his mother’s high school boyfriend and out of the picture for much of his childhood. His grandparents played a large role in raising him. Harrison grew up poor in Orangeburg, a town of tens of thousands, and went on to graduate from Yale University on scholarship and Georgetown University’s law school. Harrison was a teacher, served as a chairman of the South Carolina Democratic party, an aide to the South Carolina congressman Jim Clyburn, and then a lobbyist.

Harrison’s association with Clyburn is a boon in South Carolina. Clyburn is the most influential African American Democrat in Congress and his endorsement was a critical point in helping resuscitate Joe Biden’s presidential campaign during the Democratic primary. Clyburn has shown cautious optimism of Harrison’s chances.

“I think things are breaking in his favor. If we get the kind of turnout that we’ve been working on in South Carolina,” Clyburn said in an interview with Politico.

At first, the 2020 South Carolina Senate race seemed like a long shot for Democrats. Republicans have controlled both Senate seats in the state for 15 years. But Graham’s close association with Trump and, for others, with the late Arizona senator John McCain as well as his defense of now-supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh during the justice’s confirmation hearings are what Republicans and Democrats now attribute to strong antagonism toward the senator. Graham is also a golf buddy of Trump’s.

“I think the reason we’re here is primarily twofold. One, the Democrats are just hellbent on controlling the Senate and pining for power,” said South Carolina Republican strategist Walter Whetsell, who is helping advise a Super Pac backin

Whetsell said Democrats “hate Lindsey Graham for what he did on Kavanaugh. They despise this guy. They want vengeance. They want revenge. And you combine these two things and it’s like smoking in a fireworks stand. It’s going to explode, right?”

In an interview with the Guardian Harrison pointed out that Graham’s seat is one that had been occupied by some of the most vocal segregationists in American history. It would be a dramatic contrast for an African American to inherit it.

“The seat that I’m vying for also is a seat that has its own history. This is the seat of John C Calhoun, of Strom Thurmond, of a man called Ben Tillman who talked about lynching black folks on the US Senate.”

With his most recent fundraising haul, Harrison will also show what a Democratic campaign in South Carolina can do with such a huge amount of money. Harrison said his campaign planned to use the money to flood the zone in an all-out effort to win the seat for Democrats.

Jaime Harrison addresses the Democratic national convention by video feed in August.
Jaime Harrison addresses the Democratic national convention remotely in August. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

Most recent polls of the Senate race show a low-single-digit margin between
Harrison and Graham. A New York Times/Siena College poll of the race published on Thursday found Graham leading Harrison by six percentage points.

Harrison’s chances in South Carolina now rest in part on whether enough Republicans decide not to vote for Graham, either by not voting at all or backing the former Constitution party candidate Bill Bledsoe, a conservative whose name will still appear on ballots even though he dropped out and endorsed Graham.

Harrison said the success of his party in competing in traditionally conservative states is because of a shift in the kinds of candidates Democrats are nominating.

“We’re actually competing.We’re putting people who aren’t just Republican-lite but folks who can reflect and motivate and energize the base of the party but appeal to the Independents of the state and moderate Republicans. That’s part of it,” Harrison said.

Harrison continued: “But I think part of the anchor we have is that Democratic parties in the south have not been appropriately resourced so candidates like myself and Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke not only have to do the same thing that candidates normally do but we also have to do more party function[s] as well. I’m very proud that my time as chair of the partywe spent time in the past few years rebuilding and revitalizing the party. But that does not take into account the years of lack of proper resourcing. So you have to make all that back up.”

There have been demographic shifts as well, Harrison said, pointing to African Americans leaving the “industrial midwest” moving back to the south. White, college-educated retirees are also moving to urban centers in the state, which tend to be reliably Democratic.

“White, college-educated retirees,” Harrison said. “They’re assembling in places like Greenville and Charleston, South Carolina. And bringing a much more moderate politics with them as well. So it’s giving us the ability to compete.”

Harrison, when asked what he thought of the prospect of South Carolina becoming the first state with two sitting black senators said “It’s appropriate.”

“It’s about showing the progress that is made in this country and there has been a lot of progress. I’ve been saying out in the field – this is about closing the book on the old south and writing a brand new book on the new south,” Harrison said.

He went on to outline that vision. “One that is bold and inclusive and diverse. It’s appropriate. When you think about the history of this nation the first black senators came from the south. So why wouldn’t the first state to get two African American senators be from the south?” he said. “It makes a lot of sense to me. I feel good that we’re going to be able to pull it off and make history.”

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Tumultuous weather forecast nationwide this week with wildfires, snow and tropical storms – Fox News

https://www.foxnews.com/us/weather-nationwide-wildfires-snow-tropical-storms-zeta

Tumultuous weather forecast nationwide this week with wildfires, snow and tropical storms - Fox News

Tumultuous weather is expected across the country this week, with historic wildfires burning in the West, a tropical storm heading toward the Gulf Coast by mid-week and an early-season winter storm expected to bring snow and ice from the Rockies into the Plains.

California, which has endured its worst wildfire season in history, is bracing for the most dangerous winds of the year, a forecast that prompted the largest utility to announce plans to cut power Sunday to nearly 1 million people to guard against its equipment sparking new blazes.

COLORADO WILDFIRE FORCES NEW EVACUATIONS AS FIREFIGHTERS PRAYING ‘WE GET A LOT OF SNOW’

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said the outages would start Northern California and ultimately could affect 386,000 customers in 38 counties, with many of the shutoffs concentrated in the San Francisco Bay Area. High winds were expected to reach 40 to 60 mph by Sunday with higher gusts in the mountains.

In Colorado, snowfall helped slow the rapid spread of two of the largest wildfires in state history — the Cameron Peak Fire and East Troublesome Fire. The winter weather comes after extreme winds and low humidity Saturday had intensified the East Troublesome Fire, as firefighters were in defensive mode near the border of Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park, park officials said Sunday.

In this Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020 file photo, A Pacific Gas and Electric worker looks up at the advancing Creek Fire along Highway 168 near Alder Springs, Calif. Pacific Gas & Electric will cut power to over 1 million people on Sunday to prevent the chance of sparking wildfires as extreme fire weather returns to the region, the utility announced Friday. Oct. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

In this Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020 file photo, A Pacific Gas and Electric worker looks up at the advancing Creek Fire along Highway 168 near Alder Springs, Calif. Pacific Gas & Electric will cut power to over 1 million people on Sunday to prevent the chance of sparking wildfires as extreme fire weather returns to the region, the utility announced Friday. Oct. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings, watches and advisories from the central and south Rocky Mountains into the Plains and even down toward West Texas and Oklahoma. 

Dubbed Winter Storm Billy, snow and ice is expected to sweep as far south and east as northern New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, northwest Oklahoma, Kansas and northern Missouri into Monday, The Weather Channel reported.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Zeta is gathering strength in the Gulf of Mexico and may reach Category 1 status by Monday before coming ashore somewhere between Florida’s western panhandle and Louisiana by mid-week, according to the National Weather Service.

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It’s the 27th storm of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season – that’s the same amount as in 2005, which set a new record for the most in one season, the Palm Beach Post reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

 

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Questions and Answers About the Bidens and a Deal in China – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/25/us/politics/bidens-china.html

Questions and Answers About the Bidens and a Deal in China - The New York Times

In the closing days of the campaign, President Trump and his allies are engaged in a last-ditch effort to raise questions about the ethics of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. by trying to link Mr. Biden to the international business dealings of Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, and one of his brothers, James.

Their efforts have drawn on a number of sources, including emails, photographs of encrypted text messages and other documents provided by Tony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter and James Biden. Many of those records focus on a proposed joint venture in 2017, after Mr. Biden left office, with a Chinese partner. The deal ultimately fell apart.

Here are some questions and answers about the situation.

There is no evidence in the records that Mr. Biden was involved in or profited from the joint venture.

Encrypted messages, emails and other documents examined by The New York Times do not show Hunter Biden or James Biden discussing any role for the former vice president in the project.

Mr. Biden’s tax returns, which he has released, show no income from any such venture. There is nothing illegal about doing business in China or with Chinese partners; Mr. Trump long pursued deals in China, had a partnership with a government-controlled enterprise and maintained a corporate bank account there.

The Biden campaign has rejected all assertions that the former vice president had any role in the negotiations over the deal or any stake in it.

Andrew Bates, a Biden campaign spokesman, said the former vice president never had any stake in the project. “Joe Biden has never even considered being involved in business with his family, nor in any overseas business whatsoever,” he said.

At the second presidential debate on Thursday, Mr. Biden said, “I have not taken a penny from any foreign source ever in my life.”

The messages produced by Mr. Bobulinski appear to reflect a meeting between him, the former vice president and James Biden in May 2017 in Beverly Hills, Calif. The messages do not make clear what was discussed.

Mr. Bates did not answer questions about Mr. Bobulinski’s claim that he met with the former vice president. But Mr. Bates said the Chinese deal never was discussed by Mr. Biden with members of his family. “He never had any conversations about these issues at all,” Mr. Bates said.

One email sent on May 13, 2017, by another member of the venture discusses how the various partners in the deal could theoretically split up the equity and makes reference to whether “the big guy” might get 10 percent. The document does not specify who this person is, saying only “10 held by H for the big guy ?”

Mr. Bobulinski has said the reference was clearly to the former vice president.

Mr. Bates said Mr. Biden “has never held stock in any such business arrangements nor has any family member or any other person ever held stock for him.”

Records produced by Mr. Bobulinski show that in 2017, Hunter Biden and James Biden were involved in negotiations about a joint venture with a Chinese energy and finance company called CEFC China Energy.

The Bobulinski records include emails, contracts, business plan documents and photographs of encrypted messages among the American partners. The Times could not independently authenticate all of the records, but the records referred to in this article are consistent with interviews and previous reporting by The Times. The Biden campaign did not dispute that Hunter and James Biden participated in negotiating the deal with the Chinese company.

The records make clear that Hunter Biden saw the family name as a valuable asset, angrily citing his “family’s brand” as a reason he is valuable to the proposed venture.

The documents also show that the countries that Hunter Biden, James Biden and their associates planned to target for deals overlapped with nations where Joe Biden had previously been involved as vice president. One 42-page plan includes a section specifically highlighting former Vice President Biden’s role in facilitating increased commerce with Colombia, which is one of the targets of the joint venture, along with Luxembourg, Oman and Romania.

Hunter Biden’s role in the deal, according to one of the documents, “was key in relationship set up, messaging the good will around the chairman,” referring to Ye Jianming, the chairman of CEFC.

The Times reported in 2018 that Mr. Ye met privately with Hunter Biden at a hotel in Miami in May 2017, where the Chinese executive proposed a partnership to invest in American infrastructure and energy deals. Planning for the Miami meeting appears to be reflected in some of the messages released by Mr. Bobulinski.

The documents indicate that CEFC China initially said it would send $10 million in early 2017 to the joint venture.

CEFC focused on trading oil futures and securing the rights to overseas oil fields in strife-torn places like Chad, South Sudan and Iraq. It was looking to expand its global ventures, both as an energy company and a financial backer of projects, and it turned to Hunter and James Biden and their associates, including Mr. Bobulinski, to help find new deals.

One early version of the business plan indicated that Hunter and James Biden and their American associates “have forged alliances with the highest levels of government, banking and enterprise.”

By August 2017, there were signs of trouble with the deal. Mr. Bobulinski wrote to CEFC noting that the promised $10 million payment had not been deposited in the American partners’ bank account.

There is conflicting information about whether any of this money was ever delivered by the Chinese partner. An election-year investigation into corruption allegations against the Bidens by two Senate committees, which found no evidence of improper influence or wrongdoing by the former vice president, suggested that some money from CEFC might have come through, prompting Mr. Bobulinski to ask James Biden whether that was the case in a recent message.

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Trump Administration Reportedly Offered Santa Claus Performers Coronavirus Vaccine Quid Pro Quo – Gizmodo

https://gizmodo.com/trump-administration-reportedly-offered-santa-claus-per-1845478215

Trump Administration Reportedly Offered Santa Claus Performers Coronavirus Vaccine Quid Pro Quo - Gizmodo

Santa Claus greets Jaythan Corbacho with an elbow bump during the Selfridges 2020 Christmas Shop “Once upon a Christmas” photocall at Selfridges, Oxford Street on October 12, 2020, in London, England.

Santa Claus greets Jaythan Corbacho with an elbow bump during the Selfridges 2020 Christmas Shop “Once upon a Christmas” photocall at Selfridges, Oxford Street on October 12, 2020, in London, England.
Photo: Eamonn M. McCormack (Getty Images)

Although by now it’s clear that the Trump administration holds nothing sacred, there are still some things it can do to shock our tired brains. Apparently, it has tried to get Santa Claus—Santa!—to participate in its crazy pandemic response plans.

A new report in the Wall Street Journal, which honestly could be a Netflix drama, goes into detail on a purported $250 million public service coronavirus advertising campaign with a Santa component. The Santa deal was whipped up by Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services. According to the Journal, the campaign featured a quid pro quo arrangement for Santa Claus performers: Help us promote the benefits of covid-19 vaccination and you’ll get early access to the vaccine.

For those who forgot, Caputo is the same Trump appointee with zero medical experience who accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of having bogus “deep state motives” and demanded changes to official scientific reports. He is currently on medical leave.

A spokesperson for HHS told the Journal that the Santa “collaboration will not be happening.” The official added that department secretary Alex Azar did not know about Caputo’s Santa outreach discussions. While Santa is out, the rest of the campaign is now under review.

HHS officials told the Journal that Azar had “ordered a strategic review of this public health education campaign that will be led by top public health and communications experts to determine whether the campaign serves important public health purposes.”

The government contract for the campaign, which was titled the “Covid 19 Public Health and Reopening America Public Service Announcements and Advertising Campaign,” had already been awarded to a market research and communications firm in Arlington, Virginia. It would have consisted of TV, radio, online and podcast announcements that were scheduled to start immediately, the outlet reported.

All of this, apparently, was meant to “defeat despair, inspire hope and achieve national recovery,” according to a work statement reviewed by the Journal.

In September, Caputo told the Journal that the campaign would focus on a variety of topics, including supposedly urging minorities to participate in covid-19 clinical trials. People of color, which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and pregnant women have historically been excluded from clinical research even in non-pandemic times. A month earlier, he stated that the public health effort would be an edgy media campaign featuring prominent Americans, including Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

Caputo spoke with Ric Erwin, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, that same August about his Santa idea, per the Journal. Erwin recorded the conversation and provided it to the outlet. In the call, parts of which are available on the Journal’s website, Caputo said that “frontline essential workers, health workers,” will be among those vaccinated early.

“From my perspective, if you and your colleagues are not essential workers, I don’t know what is,” he said in one of the audio recordings.

The Journal reported that Caputo told Erwin that he couldn’t wait to tell the president, who was going to “love this.”

Erwin, for his part, was on board with Caputo’s proposal and affirmed that almost 100 Santas had volunteered for the campaign. Caputo said the effort would involve “beautiful educational films” to raise awareness before a coronavirus vaccination drive and would require Santas to appear at special events. He said that vaccines likely be approved before Thanksgiving, the Journal reported.

“Since you would be doing Santa a serious favor, Santa would definitely reciprocate,” Erwin said. Per the Journal, the agreement also would have included Mrs. Claus performers and elves.

This is similar to the timeline touted by President Donald Trump, who has pushed the Food and Drug Administration to approve a vaccine and get ready to distribute it before the Nov. 3 election or right afterwards. Nonetheless, public health experts say it’s extremely unlikely to get one approved by then.

A White House spokesperson told the outlet that Trump was not informed of the plan to use Santa performers in the public health campaign.

The fact that the Trump administration would try to get Santas to peddle its propaganda is incredulous, and, as noted by the Journal, highly suspicious given the timing: right before the presidential election. Its effectiveness is also questionable considering the vaccine skepticism in the country. As much as I love Santa, I’m not going to get a vaccine just because Santa recommends that I do so. I will get a vaccine once trusted public health officials give it the OK.

Most importantly, though, the idea that the Trump administration could use early access to vaccines as bargaining chips is freaking scary, not to mention insulting for all the healthcare and frontline workers that are risking their lives right now to respond to the pandemic. That’s who first access should be reserved for, in addition to other particularly vulnerable groups. Like I said, I’m a Santa fan, but I do not consider Santas to be essential workers. Sorry.

Erwin, the head of the Santas, told the Journal that without a vaccine, he plans to cancel all but one socially distant Christmas booking this year. You gotta protect the Santas.

[The Wall Street Journal]

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Europe Imposes New Restrictions As COVID-19 Cases Soar – NPR

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/10/25/927637746/europe-imposes-new-restrictions-as-covid-19-cases-soar

Europe Imposes New Restrictions As COVID-19 Cases Soar - NPR
Europe Imposes New Restrictions As COVID-19 Cases Soar - NPR

A waiter cleans a table after closing in Saint Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris on Oct. 16, to comply with new COVID-19 restrictions forcing restaurants, cinemas and theaters in the French capital to close. France imposed a nighttime curfew in Paris and other major cities to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Michel Euler/AP


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Europe Imposes New Restrictions As COVID-19 Cases Soar - NPR

A waiter cleans a table after closing in Saint Germain-en-Laye, west of Paris on Oct. 16, to comply with new COVID-19 restrictions forcing restaurants, cinemas and theaters in the French capital to close. France imposed a nighttime curfew in Paris and other major cities to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Michel Euler/AP

New regulations and social-distancing rules are being introduced across multiple European countries in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus as a second wave of the pandemic accelerates across the continent. Europe reported more than 1.3 million new cases this past week, its highest single week count yet, according to the World Health Organization.

Spain and France each surpassed 1 million cumulative confirmed cases last week, becoming the sixth and seventh countries to do so globally. Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom are also experiencing record numbers — threatening to overwhelm countries’ abilities to test, trace and contain the virus. Polish President Andrzej Duda tested positive for the virus over the weekend, as cases have doubled there in recent weeks.

Europe’s infection rate has been rising for over 90 days, according to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. As authorities and experts worry that the situation in Europe may soon spin out of control, governments are imposing curfews and social restrictions in an attempt to avoid full-scale lockdowns that could hurt the economy and dim the upcoming holiday season.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez declared a national state of emergency on Sunday, which included a nighttime curfew and possible travel restrictions between regions. Italy also announced new measures to curb the virus, the harshest since its lockdown in the spring, when the country was the global epicenter of the pandemic.

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced a move to a “high” alert level for London and other cities as of Oct. 17, banning residents from mixing with people from other households indoors and restricting outdoor gatherings to six people or fewer.

Last week, Ireland became the first country in Europe to reimpose a lockdown in the face of soaring cases.

Wales began a 17-day lockdown this weekend, shuttering all nonessential businesses and requiring people to remain home, with few exceptions. “If we do this now and if we then have a consistent set of national rules, to keep the transmission and the intensity of the virus at a lower level, then we can have a much more normal Christmas season for businesses,” Vaughan Gething, the Welsh health minister, told BBC Radio Wales.

France has become the worst-hit country in Europe’s second wave, with over 40,000 new cases every day the past few days. Nightly curfews have been in place in several cities since mid-October, and this weekend, multiple new curfews were enacted, bringing the total number of people affected to around 46 million, or about two-thirds of France’s population.

“The second wave is here,” said Prime Minister Jean Castex at a press conference when the new restrictions were announced. “The situation is grave.”

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Dunkin Brands in talks to go private – CNN

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/25/business/dunkin-brands-acquisition-talks-inspire-brands/index.html

Dunkin Brands in talks to go private - CNN
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Since the pandemic, the food delivery service has grown larger than Uber’s ride-hailing business.”},{“title”:”Imperfect Foods’ business is booming during the pandemic”,”duration”:”02:42″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2020/09/15/fresh-money-imperfect-foods-orig-jg.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2020/09/15/fresh-money-imperfect-foods-orig-jg.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200915133651-fm-imperfect-foods-07-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2020/09/15/fresh-money-imperfect-foods-orig-jg.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-fast-food/”,”description”:”Here’s how Imperfect Foods, a grocery delivery service specializing in oddly shaped food at a discount, is successfully navigating the pandemic.”,”descriptionText”:”Here’s how Imperfect Foods, a grocery delivery service specializing in oddly shaped food at a discount, is successfully navigating the pandemic.”},{“title”:”See Burger King’s new three-lane (yes, 3!) drive-thru design”,”duration”:”01:11″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com/business”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2020/09/02/burger-king-restaurant-redesign-orig.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2020/09/02/burger-king-restaurant-redesign-orig.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200902125558-02-burger-king-new-restaurant-design—rendering-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2020/09/02/burger-king-restaurant-redesign-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-fast-food/”,”description”:”Burger King has been working on new restaurant designs for years, but the coronavirus pandemic has sped up its plans to roll out contactless features. See its three-lane drive-thru and “burger lockers” of the future.”,”descriptionText”:”Burger King has been working on new restaurant designs for years, but the coronavirus pandemic has sped up its plans to roll out contactless features. See its three-lane drive-thru and “burger lockers” of the future.”},{“title”:”Watch the new ‘Got Milk?’ ads”,”duration”:”01:05″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2020/07/31/got-milk-new-ads-zw-orig.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2020/07/31/got-milk-new-ads-zw-orig.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200731180748-got-milk-pour-new-ad-1-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2020/07/31/got-milk-new-ads-zw-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-fast-food/”,”description”:”The dairy industry just relaunched — and revamped — the “Got Milk?” ad campaign. But this time, the celebrities with milk mustaches have been replaced by this. “,”descriptionText”:”The dairy industry just relaunched — and revamped — the “Got Milk?” ad campaign. But this time, the celebrities with milk mustaches have been replaced by this. “},{“title”:”This small business stood for a century, but Covid-19 closed it in months”,”duration”:”02:45″,”sourceName”:”CNNBusiness”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2020/07/30/small-businesses-restaurants-economy-unemployment-covid-19.cnnbusiness/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2020/07/30/small-businesses-restaurants-economy-unemployment-covid-19.cnnbusiness”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200730122220-gem-spa-closed-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2020/07/30/small-businesses-restaurants-economy-unemployment-covid-19.cnnbusiness/video/playlists/business-fast-food/”,”description”:”Gem Spa – a corner store in New York’s East Village – is one of thousands of small businesses in the US shuttered by the pandemic. CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich reports.”,”descriptionText”:”Gem Spa – a corner store in New York’s East Village – is one of thousands of small businesses in the US shuttered by the pandemic. CNN’s Vanessa Yurkevich reports.”},{“title”:”McDonald’s sales plummet in dismal quarter”,”duration”:”01:43″,”sourceName”:”CNNBusiness”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2020/07/28/mcdonalds-second-quarter-earnings.cnnbusiness/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2020/07/28/mcdonalds-second-quarter-earnings.cnnbusiness”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200728081850-02-mcdonalds-us-restaurant-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2020/07/28/mcdonalds-second-quarter-earnings.cnnbusiness/video/playlists/business-fast-food/”,”description”:”McDonald’s revenue sank 30% in the second quarter compared to a year ago. CNN’s Clare Sebastian reports.”,”descriptionText”:”McDonald’s revenue sank 30% in the second quarter compared to a year ago. CNN’s Clare Sebastian reports.”},{“title”:”Cheez-It releases limited-edition box with wine pairing”,”duration”:”00:49″,”sourceName”:”HLN”,”sourceLink”:”https://www.cnn.com/specials/videos/hln”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2020/07/22/cheez-it-house-wine-pairing-mxp-vpx.hln/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2020/07/22/cheez-it-house-wine-pairing-mxp-vpx.hln”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/190722151051-wine-and-cheez-it-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2020/07/22/cheez-it-house-wine-pairing-mxp-vpx.hln/video/playlists/business-fast-food/”,”description”:”Kellogg’s Cheez-It and House Wine have teamed up to create a u003ca href=”https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/23/business/cheez-it-wine/index.html” target=”_blank”>wine-and-Cheez-It boxu003c/a>. HLN’s u003ca href=”https://www.cnn.com/profiles/robin-meade” target=”_blank”>Robin Meadeu003c/a> and u003ca href=”https://www.cnn.com/profiles/melissa-knowles” target=”_blank”>Melissa Knowlesu003c/a> discuss.”,”descriptionText”:”Kellogg’s Cheez-It and House Wine have teamed up to create a u003ca href=”https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/23/business/cheez-it-wine/index.html” target=”_blank”>wine-and-Cheez-It boxu003c/a>. HLN’s u003ca href=”https://www.cnn.com/profiles/robin-meade” target=”_blank”>Robin Meadeu003c/a> and u003ca href=”https://www.cnn.com/profiles/melissa-knowles” target=”_blank”>Melissa Knowlesu003c/a> discuss.”},{“title”:”Watch Ja Rule’s outlandish restaurant ad”,”duration”:”01:19″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business-videos/2020/06/22/ja-rule-papa-cristos-greek-restaurant-commercial-orig-kj.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business-videos/2020/06/22/ja-rule-papa-cristos-greek-restaurant-commercial-orig-kj.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200622140954-ja-rule-greek-commercial-thumbnail-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business-videos/2020/06/22/ja-rule-papa-cristos-greek-restaurant-commercial-orig-kj.cnn/video/playlists/business-fast-food/”,”description”:”Rapper Ja Rule created the commercial as part of his appearance on the new TV show “Celebrity Show-Off.””,”descriptionText”:”Rapper Ja Rule created the commercial as part of his appearance on the new TV show “Celebrity Show-Off.””},{“title”:”CEO fears Japan could lose a fifth of its restaurants “,”duration”:”01:54″,”sourceName”:”CNN”,”sourceLink”:”http://edition.cnn.com”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2020/06/16/japan-suntory-holdings-ceo-intv-coronavirus-enjoji-dnt-vpx.cnn/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2020/06/16/japan-suntory-holdings-ceo-intv-coronavirus-enjoji-dnt-vpx.cnn”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200617100408-suntory-holdings-ceo-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2020/06/16/japan-suntory-holdings-ceo-intv-coronavirus-enjoji-dnt-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/business-fast-food/”,”description”:”CNN’s Kaori Enjoji speaks with Takeshi Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings – one of Japan’s largest beverage makers – about the future of the country’s food industry during the coronavirus pandemic. “,”descriptionText”:”CNN’s Kaori Enjoji speaks with Takeshi Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings – one of Japan’s largest beverage makers – about the future of the country’s food industry during the coronavirus pandemic. “},{“title”:”Here’s where meat prices are headed”,”duration”:”03:32″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:””,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2020/06/08/meat-prices-covid-19-coronavirus-explr-zw-orig.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2020/06/08/meat-prices-covid-19-coronavirus-explr-zw-orig.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200504080921-us-grocery-store-meat-section-0428-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2020/06/08/meat-prices-covid-19-coronavirus-explr-zw-orig.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-fast-food/”,”description”:”Prices at the grocery store have risen sharply during the pandemic. CNN Business explains what’s gone up, and what to expect in your future visits to the supermarket.”,”descriptionText”:”Prices at the grocery store have risen sharply during the pandemic. CNN Business explains what’s gone up, and what to expect in your future visits to the supermarket.”},{“title”:”How beer delivery saved this Seattle pizza chain”,”duration”:”01:32″,”sourceName”:”CNN Business”,”sourceLink”:”http://www.cnn.com”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/business/2020/05/22/fresh-money-zeeks-pizza-dan-black-orig-jg.cnn-business/index.xml”,”videoId”:”business/2020/05/22/fresh-money-zeeks-pizza-dan-black-orig-jg.cnn-business”,”videoImage”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200522084700-zeeks-pizza-05-large-169.jpg”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/business/2020/05/22/fresh-money-zeeks-pizza-dan-black-orig-jg.cnn-business/video/playlists/business-fast-food/”,”description”:”Zeeks Pizza is keeping the u003ca href=”http://www.cnn.com/2020/05/22/business/zeeks-pizza-chain-saved-by-beer/index.html” target=”_blank”>great American tradition of pizza and beeru003c/a> alive, while also saving its business during the pandemic.”,”descriptionText”:”Zeeks Pizza is keeping the u003ca href=”http://www.cnn.com/2020/05/22/business/zeeks-pizza-chain-saved-by-beer/index.html” target=”_blank”>great American tradition of pizza and beeru003c/a> alive, while also saving its business during the pandemic.”}],’js-video_headline-featured-j1jygh’,”,”js-video_source-featured-j1jygh”,true,true,’business-fast-food’);if (typeof configObj.context !== ‘string’ || configObj.context.length

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Heres the Average Social Security Benefit in 2021 – The Motley Fool

https://www.fool.com/retirement/2020/10/25/heres-the-average-social-security-benefit-in-2021/

Heres the Average Social Security Benefit in 2021 - The Motley Fool

For tens of millions of Americans, there isn’t a program that bears more importance to their financial well-being than Social Security.

According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), 62% of current retirees lean on the program to account for at least half their monthly income. Additionally, more than 15 million retired workers are pulled out of poverty every month as a result of their guaranteed payout, based on an analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Two Social Security cards lying atop a fanned stack of cash.

Image source: Getty Images.

Social Security beneficiaries are getting a “raise”

Given the program’s importance, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the most anticipated announcement each year is the Social Security Administration’s October release of the upcoming year’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). Think of the COLA as the “raise” that beneficiaries receive to true-up their payouts to account for inflation.

Since 1975, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) has been Social Security’s inflationary tether. The CPI-W has eight major spending categories and dozens upon dozens of subcategories, each with their own respective weightings. The price changes for goods and services covered by the CPI-W can be boiled down to a single figure, which is used to determine if inflation (rising prices) or deflation (falling prices) is occurring.

For Social Security, only the CPI-W readings from the third quarter (July through September) factor into the COLA calculation. While the other nine months of data can be useful in identifying trends, they don’t have any bearing on whether or not beneficiaries will pocket a bigger monthly payout in the upcoming year. If the average CPI-W reading from the third quarter of the current year is higher than the average CPI-W reading from Q3 of the previous year, beneficiaries will receive a payout increase that’s commensurate with the year-on-year percentage change, rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent.

As reported on Oct. 13, Social Security beneficiaries can expect to receive a 1.3% COLA when the calendar changes over to 2021.

A senior man counting a stack of cash in his hands.

Image source: Getty Images.

This will be the average monthly Social Security payout in 2021

The question is, what does a 1.3% COLA really mean for beneficiaries? Let’s take a closer look. 

As of September, 64.75 million people were netting a monthly Social Security payout, of which nearly 46.1 million were retired workers. The average retired worker benefit last month was $1,519.07. Based on recently released estimates from the SSA, monthly retired worker payouts are expected to hit $1,523 by December 2020. And factoring in a 1.3% COLA jump, that will increase by $20 to $1,543 in January 2021. In other words, the average retired worker is going to net an extra $240 for the entirety of 2021.

For disabled workers, the increase is going to be a little less robust, in nominal terms. All beneficiaries are set to receive a 1.3% COLA, but the program’s 8.25 million disabled workers were only bringing home $1,259.12 a month as of September. By December, the SSA estimates this monthly payout will grow slightly to $1,261. Thus, a 1.3% COLA should result in an estimated monthly increase of $16 by January 2021, pushing the average disabled worker benefit to $1,277.

The SSA provides a number of other estimated average-payout scenarios following the 1.3% COLA that may be relevant to you:

  • An aged couple, where both people are receiving benefits, should see an increase of $33 a month to $2,596 in 2021.
  • Aged widows or widowers can expect a $21 increase to their monthly payout to $1,453.
  • A disabled worker with a spouse and one or more children can anticipate their payout to rise $29 a month to $2,224 in January.
  • A widowed mother with two children is estimated to see her payout increase $39 a month to $3,001.
A visibly concerned senior woman resting her chin on her folded arms.

Image source: Getty Images.

It’s a good news/bad news scenario for beneficiaries

Considering that the coronavirus pandemic sent the prices of various goods and services screaming lower between March and May, it’s actually fantastic news that the nearly 65 million Social Security beneficiaries are receiving a COLA at all. A rebound in food inflation and healthy upticks in year-over-year prices for shelter and medical care services have ensured that benefits will move higher in 2021. That’s good news.

But a 1.3% COLA ties for the second-smallest positive increase since the CPI-W was tethered to the program in 1975. That’s problematic because inflation for shelter and healthcare costs — two of the most important expenditures for seniors — has been handily outpacing 1.3% on an annualized trailing-12-month basis. In other words, a 1.3% COLA simply isn’t going to cut it for retired workers, and their Social Security income is very likely to lose purchasing power once again.

Earlier this year, the nonpartisan senior advocacy group The Senior Citizens League released an analysis showing that the purchasing power of Social Security income had declined by a whopping 30% since 2000. That means what $100 in Social Security income used to be able to buy in 2000 can now only purchase $70 worth of identical goods and services. Inherent flaws with the CPI-W ensure that seniors are losing purchasing power on their Social Security income more years than not.

Benefits are going up across the board in 2021, but there’s simply not a lot to be excited about for Social Security recipients.

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Voters ask who abandoned Scranton, Biden or Trump? – POLITICO

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/10/25/scranton-election-biden-trump-pennsylvania-432062

Voters ask who abandoned Scranton, Biden or Trump? - POLITICO

Soon, vote tallies will show whether all those decades of schmoozing have paid off. Public polling in Pennsylvania gives Biden an edge, while voter registration trends in the state have been favorable to Republicans. Biden’s ability to run up the score in Scranton, part of Lackawanna County, and cut into Trump’s 2016 margins in neighboring Luzerne county, or even flip it, will be critical to his statewide fortunes.

Like other Trump backers here, Pane — who recently appeared in an ad for the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action — said support for Trump in Scranton was less overt than it was for the hometown candidate, but he spoke of a “huge silent majority.”

In this overwhelmingly white county, Black Lives Matter yard signs are a rarity, far outnumbered by signs of support for local police departments, which share lawns with both Trump and Biden signs.

On North Washington Avenue in the Green Ridge section of town, on the block that Biden grew up, pro-Biden signage, including “Scranton Loves Joe!” signs, far outstrips visible support for Trump.

Some in town, though, who are not lifelong Scrantonians, are not even aware of the connection. Despite living in the area for about 20 years, Alejandro Caraballo, a 45-year-old subcontractor at work on a house across the street from Biden’s childhood home, said he was unaware that Scranton was Biden’s hometown. “Actually, I heard Trump was from here but I knew it was a lie,” said Carabello, a Trump supporter, citing the real estate mogul’s well-known New York upbringing.

As if to clear up any misunderstanding, the Times Tribune weighed in in August with a front page declaring, “THE ROOTS ARE REAL,” featuring testimony from locals who have stayed in touch.

Biden’s late mother, Jean Finnegan Biden, had Scranton roots stretching back to the 19th century, and several relatives remaining in the area buttress those ties. Despite a report that Biden’s Scranton relatives had gone for Trump in 2016, cousin Ambrose Finnegan, who now lives outside of Philadelphia, said his relatives have all continued to support Democrats, and are all in on their cousin’s White House bid. “He’s always made a sincere effort to touch base with his family whenever he’s in Scranton,” Finnegan said.

Over at Finnegan’s Irish Rock Club, a grungy dive bar in a section of town dominated by car dealerships, the sentiment is different.

“Dude, he left here when he was eight,” said proprietor Kevin Locker, rounding down. “He likes to come back to the area for show.” (It turns out the bar’s name is not an homage to Biden’s maternal line, but instead to Locker’s three-year-old “chiweenie,” a cross between a chihuahua and a dachshund.)

At Backyard Ale House, Whalen said he found Biden’s invocations of Scranton eye roll-inducing. “You spent six months here when you were a kid,” he said, rounding way down.

Whalen said patrons at his bar, as well as friends he has seen posting on Facebook, have taken to playing a drinking game during debates and town halls that calls for them to take a swig every time the former vice president mentions his hometown.

A Republican who voted for Gary Johnson in 2016, Whalen said he will hold his nose and vote for Biden anyway. Whalen said he blamed Trump for the summer’s nationwide unrest, another hint of the incumbent’s problems with the white working class here. “He tear gassed his own people,” Whalen said, referring to a June incident in which law enforcement sprayed protesters outside the White House to clear the way for Trump to walk to a photo opportunity at a nearby church.

At Cooper’s Seafood — a campy local institution that is shaped like a lighthouse, with a giant octopus on its roof — bartender Tommy Lin, 45, said attitudes towards Biden’s Scranton roots tend to break along generational lines. “My older customers, there’s definitely a sense of pride,” he said. “Anybody 50 or under seems to be more aloof of it.”

Delaney, a 24-year-old patron who declined to provide her last name, drove home the point. “I feel like no one even really counts him as being from here,” she said.

The seafood joint plays up a less polarizing claim to fame, with decor nodding to the Scranton-based sitcom “The Office,” featuring clueless boss Michael Scott and his eccentric underling, Dwight Schrute.

The electronic sign in the restaurant’s parking lot, at least, acknowledged the local angle to the impending vote. It even offered an endorsement: “Scott/Schrute ’20”

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NASA astronaut Kate Rubins has cast her ballot from space – Fox News

https://www.foxnews.com/science/nasa-astronaut-kate-rubins-cast-ballot-from-orbit

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins has cast her ballot from space - Fox News

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, the only American not on the planet, has cast her vote from space.

Rubins voted from the International Space Station.

“I voted today,” tweeted Rubins from the NASA Astronauts Twitter account on Oct. 22. The astronaut was pictured in front of an enclosed area on the orbiting space lab marked “ISS voting booth.”

HOW DO NASA ASTRONAUTS VOTE IN SPACE?

The space agency has a motto of “vote while you float” for astronauts.

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins outside the voting booth on the International Space Station. (NASA)

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins outside the voting booth on the International Space Station. (NASA)

“Like other forms of absentee voting, voting from space starts with a Federal Postcard Application, or FPCA,” NASA says on its website. “It’s the same form military members and their families fill out while serving outside of the U.S. By completing it ahead of their launch, space station crew members signal their intent to participate in an election from space.”

Once the FCPA is approved, the county clerk who manages elections in the astronaut’s home county sends a test ballot to a team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, according to NASA. A space station test computer is then used to test whether it can be filled out and sent back to the county clerk.

NASA IS GOING TO UNVEIL AN ‘EXCITING NEW DISCOVERY’ ABOUT THE MOON

“After a successful test, a secure electronic ballot generated by the clerk’s office of Harris County and surrounding counties in Texas, is uplinked by Johnson’s Mission Control Center to the voting crew member,” NASA says. “An email with crew member-specific credentials is sent from the county clerk to the astronaut. These credentials allow the crew member to access the secure ballot.”

“The astronaut will then cast their vote, and the secure, completed ballot is downlinked and delivered back to the County Clerk’s Office by email to be officially recorded,” NASA adds. “The clerk has their own password to ensure they are the only one who can open the ballot. It’s a quick process, and the astronaut must be sure to submit it by 7 p.m. local time on Election Day if voting as a Texas resident.”

In 2016, NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, who at the time was the only American off the planet, voted in the presidential election from the International Space Station.

NASA explained that the system was first employed in 1997 for former astronaut David Wolf when he was flying a long-duration mission on the old Russian space station Mir. Because Wolf’s mission spanned Election Day, the process was set up to enable him to vote in space.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

Rubins also voted in space four years ago during a 115-day stint on the International Space Station. She voted prior to her return to Earth on Oct. 30, 2016.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

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Saturday Night Live: Adele hosts as cast pulls off the Jeffrey Toobin gags – The Guardian

https://amp.theguardian.comtv-and-radio/2020/oct/25/saturday-night-live-adele-hosts-jeffrey-toobin-trump-biden-carrey

Saturday Night Live: Adele hosts as cast pulls off the Jeffrey Toobin gags - The Guardian

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Illinois police officer fired after killing Black teen – CBS News

https://news.google.com/__i/rss/rd/articles/CBMiK2h0dHBzOi8vd3d3LnlvdXR1YmUuY29tL3dhdGNoP3Y9b0tFYlZiV0dJVFHSAQA?oc=5

Illinois police officer fired after killing Black teen - CBS News

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