Election, Virus Surge, Tony Awards: Your Thursday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Two presidential candidates, two networks, one night.

President Trump and Joe Biden will appear starting at 8 p.m. Eastern at simultaneous, nationally televised town hall events, which replace their canceled debate. We’ll have live analysis of both. Here’s what to watch for.

With less than three weeks until the election, this will be one of Mr. Trump’s final prime-time opportunities to change the race’s trajectory. He’ll be taking questions from voters in Miami on NBC, with Savannah Guthrie as moderator. (NBC is facing blowback, from within and without, for scheduling Mr. Trump’s event at the same time as Mr. Biden’s.)

ABC will carry the Biden event, to be held in Philadelphia and moderated by George Stephanopoulos.

2. U.S. virus cases are climbing in 41 states, creating a third rise in the national curve. More than eight million Americans have been infected.

Seventeen states — mostly in the Midwest or in the Mountain West — are seeing surges unlike anything they experienced earlier in the pandemic. Many had relatively few cases until recently. These charts offer a snapshot of how this surge compares with the highs in April and July. Above, a field hospital in Milwaukee this week.

Europe is also grappling with an increase in infections: Weekly new cases have reached their highest point since the start of the pandemic, rising to seven million from six million in just 10 days, according to the World Health Organization. London will join other big cities in Europe, including Paris and Berlin, in tightening restrictions.

3. Employers are still shedding workers at a staggering rate.

Filings for unemployment benefits jumped to nearly 900,000 last week, underscoring the U.S. economy’s lingering weakness and the lack of fresh stimulus from Washington.

President Trump called for a bigger stimulus package than he had previously offered, and suggested, without explanation, that China would pay for it. Senate Republicans oppose a bigger package, and any deal is far from certain.

New research found that six million to eight million Americans have slipped into poverty since federal aid lapsed.

4. Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings are over.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote on Oct. 22 on whether to advance her nomination to the full chamber. The full Senate could vote on the confirmation a few days later, as soon as Oct. 26 — one week and a day before Election Day.

Republicans, flouting rules, pushed ahead to schedule the committee vote without enough Democrats present, the latest maneuver in the battle over the extraordinarily swift drive to confirm Judge Barrett before the election.

“This process is a caricature of illegitimacy,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and a former chairman of the committee.

As Senator Lindsey Graham, the committee’s current chairman, sought to justify the rush to confirmation, he conceded that President Trump was in danger of losing the election.

5. YouTube cracked down on QAnon.

The Google-owned platform played a bigger role than most in seeding the sprawling, pro-Trump conspiracy theory community, whose online fantasies about a cabal of satanic pedophiles running the world have spilled over into offline violence.

A new YouTube policy now in effect prohibits content promoting QAnon and its related false theories. Facebook, Pinterest, Etsy and Triller have also announced restrictions on QAnon content.

In the weeks before Election Day, multiple police chiefs are extending patrol shifts in the event of increased violence. Some national security experts and law enforcement officials say President Trump is emboldening extremists to disrupt the voting process.

6. At Mount Kilimanjaro, hundreds of villagers have joined firefighters racing to stop fires that threaten to ravage one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems.

The blazes started at a rest stop for climbers and have been raging for five days. Dry grass and strong winds are hampering efforts to bring the flames on Africa’s highest peak under control.

In California, Pacific Gas and Electric is shutting off power to more than 50,000 Northern California customers because high winds and low humidity could lead to “catastrophic wildfires.” The company said it anticipated restoring power to all customers by 10 p.m. on Friday night, weather permitting.

7. If you want Amazon to be the world’s only retailer, keep shopping there.”

That’s one of the signs that started appearing in bookstore windows this week. The message to customers: Buy from these shops, or they won’t be around much longer. The American Booksellers Association, which developed the campaign, says that more than one independent bookstore has closed each week since the pandemic began.

Even though book sales are up, most are not going through independent stores, which are hustling to reinvent their services.

We also visited a Chicago beauty supply shop, owned by a Korean-American man and operated by a Black woman. His American dream has come true, but hers is still waiting for a chance.

8. Broadway may be shuttered, but the Tonys, at least, will go on.

“Slave Play,” a drama that explores the legacy of slavery in America through an imaginary sex therapy retreat for interracial couples, scored 12 nominations, the most for a play in the award’s history.

“Jagged Little Pill,” a musical based on the songs of Alanis Morissette, scored 15 nominations, the most of any show from a Broadway season truncated by the pandemic

Here’s the full list of nominees from the 18 eligible shows — about half the number contending in most recent seasons. Organizers hope to hold the awards show, for streaming, in December or January.

The Tonys did the best they could with a Broadway slate hobbled by Covid-19, our theater critic writes. But some of the Tonys’ problems predate (and will outlast) the epidemic.

9. A (virtual) stroll through the East Village.

It used to be simply the northeast quadrant of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, but by the 1960s, the neighborhood had taken on its bohemian title as the home to Beats, hippies, Allen Ginsberg, Fillmore East, graffiti artists, and in recent years, droves of New York University students.

For the latest in his series of tours of New York City, our architecture critic Michael Kimmelman spoke with Luc Sante, author, former resident and neighborhood historian, who traced ghosts in Astor Place, the Strand bookstore, what used to be CBGB, Gem Spa, above in 1969, and more.

Living there, Mr. Sante said, “was like camping out amid the ruins of multiple pasts.”

10. And finally, let’s drink to that.

The sun is setting earlier, nervousness about a second viral wave is growing, the presidential election is just weeks away. For our wine critic, Eric Asimov, good food, good wine and engaging conversation seem as necessary to getting through 2020 as riveting books and walks among the trees.

“Here’s the good news,” he writes, “regardless of everything else that’s going on in the world, there has never been a better or easier time for escaping the wine rut.” He found 20 wines from nine different countries, all under $20 a bottle, that surprised and delighted him.


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