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U.S. President Donald Trump casts his ballot for the November 3 presidential election in his adopted home state of Florida Saturday while his Democratic challenger Joe Biden spends the day focusing on the key swing state of Pennsylvania.
 
Trump, who switched his official residence from New York to Florida last year, votes early in the day in West Palm Beach after spending the night at his nearby Mar-a-Lago resort.  
 
The president then addresses crowds at rallies in Lumberton, North Carolina, Circleville, Ohio, and Waukesha, Wisconsin.FILE – Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, Oct. 23, 2020.Former Vice President Biden, meanwhile, holds drive-in events in Bucks County, a suburban Philadelphia county that Hillary Clinton captured by a slim margin in 2016, and in nearby Luzerne County. Former President Barack Obama won Luzerne County twice before voters there cast ballots overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016.
 
Biden’s campaign also seeks voter support Saturday in the key state of Florida, with Obama holding a drive-in rally in North Miami on behalf of his former vice president.
 
Although the presidential election is less than two weeks away, more than 52 million people have already voted. Another 100 million or so are expected to cast ballots before a winner is declared. 
 

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Pacific Gas & Electric will cut power to more than 1 million people on Sunday to prevent the chance of sparking wildfires as extreme fire weather returns to the region, the utility announced Friday.The nation’s largest utility said it will black out customers in 38 counties — including most of the San Francisco Bay Area — as weather forecasts called for a return of bone-dry, gusty weather that carries the threat of downing or fouling power lines or other equipment that in recent years have been blamed for igniting massive and deadly blazes in central and Northern California.The safety shutoffs were expected to begin as early as Sunday morning and last into Tuesday, affecting 466,000 homes and businesses, or more than 1 million residents assuming between two and three people per home or business customer.Cuts are predicted to encompass parts of the Sacramento Valley, the northern and central Sierra Nevada, upper elevations of the San Francisco Bay Area, the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Central Coast and portions of southern Kern County.The shutoffs included 19,000 customers in parts of Butte County, where a 2018 blaze ignited by PG&E equipment destroyed much of the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.Forecasts call for the “the driest humidity levels and the strongest winds of the wildfire season thus far,” a PG&E statement said.The National Weather Service issued red flag warnings for many areas, predicting winds of 56 kph or higher in San Francisco and lower elevations and up to 113 kph in some mountains. The concern is that any spark could be blown into flames sweeping through tinder-dry brush and forestland.“On a scale of 1 to 10, this event is a 9,” Craig Clements, director of San Jose State University’s Fire Weather Lab, told the Bay Area News Group. “Historically our biggest fires are in October. We are in a critical period.”The National Weather Service said the conditions could equal those during devastating fires in California’s wind country in 2017 and last year’s Kincade Fire.Fire officials said PG&E transmission lines sparked that Sonoma County fire last October, which destroyed hundreds of homes and caused nearly 100,000 people to flee.The public safety power shutoff, or PSPS, would be the fifth this year, including one that began Wednesday and was scheduled to end late Friday.The upcoming weather forecast will be even more dangerous, said Scott Strenfel, the utility’s chief meteorologist.“We’re seeing four extremes in the weather for this potential PSPS event: extremely high winds, extremely low humidity, extreme dry fuels due to the hottest average temperatures over the last six months according to records that go back 126 years, and extreme drought across the territory given lack of rainfall,” he said in a statement.Southern California, meanwhile, continued to cool down with patchy drizzle. Forecasters said light rain was expected Saturday night through early Monday, with light mountain snow possible Sunday night, followed by Santa Ana winds.Eight of the 10 deadliest fires in California history have occurred in October or November. Some of the largest also have occurred since August of this year.The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire, said 5,500 firefighters were working Friday to fully contain 19 wildfires. Two-dozen new fires were contained Thursday despite red flag conditions.Numerous studies have linked bigger wildfires in America to climate change from the burning of coal, oil and gas.Scientists say climate change has made California much drier, meaning trees and other plants are more flammable.More 8,600 wildfires have scorched well over 16,576 square kilometers and destroyed about 9,200 buildings in California this year. There have been 31 deaths.All the huge fires have been fully or significantly contained, but more than 6,000 firefighters remain committed to 19 blazes, including a dozen major incidents, Cal Fire said.Many of this year’s devastating fires were started by thousands of dry lightning strikes. But some of the fires remain under investigation for potential electrical causes.

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As the United States saw its highest number of new coronavirus cases reported in a single day, former Vice President Joe Biden announced that if he defeats President Donald Trump in next month’s election, he will push for a nationwide mask mandate.“I’ll go to every governor and urge them to mandate masks in their state. And if any refuse, I’ll go to the mayors and county executives to get local masking requirements in place nationwide,” Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, 11 days before the vote.“As president, I’ll mandate mask-wearing in all federal buildings and on interstate transportation because masks save lives,” he said.More than 80,000 new COVID-19 infections were reported Friday by Johns Hopkins University, topping the single-day record of 77,362 set July 16.All but about a half dozen of the 50 U.S. states have shown increased coronavirus cases this week compared to last week. At least 14 states have reported new highs in hospitalized coronavirus patients in the past seven days.Trump criticized Biden on Friday in Florida for emphasizing the infection, for which there is yet no vaccine or cure.“All he talks about is COVID COVID, COVID because they want to scare people, and we’ve done so well with it,” Trump said in the senior citizens’ community of The Villages.“We’re rounding the turn. We’re rounding the corner. We’re rounding the corner beautifully,” he said.Later, at a second campaign rally in Pensacola, he told a packed crowd of thousands, where few were wearing masks, “we want normal to fully resume and that’s happening.”Trump’s critics have accused him of holding “super-spreader events,” in defiance of federal health guidelines and local regulations on social distancing.Biden, laying out his pandemic response plan Friday, criticized Trump for asserting during their nationally televised debate Thursday night that the country is learning to live with the coronavirus.“As I told him last night, we’re not learning to live with it,” Biden said.“We’re learning to die with it, and there is a dark winter ahead,” he said.There are predictions from public health officials of a coronavirus case surge as cold weather sets in across the Northern Hemisphere.Biden said Friday that “once we have a safe and effective vaccine, it has to be free to everyone — whether or not you’re insured.”Trump continues to defend his administration’s handling of the pandemic amid criticism he has sidelined top career government infectious diseases experts on his coronavirus task force, in favor of outsiders such as Dr. Scott Atlas, a neuro-radiologist who has minimized the importance of masks.Atlas has also reportedly promoted the argument that lockdowns and prohibitions on gatherings and indoor activities do more damage than good and lead to increases in poverty and mental problems.COVID-19 has killed more than 223,000 people in the United States and infected nearly 8.5 million.Trump on Friday, without giving specifics, vowed “we will eradicate the pandemic and defeat this scourge from China once and for all.”

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The United States has set a daily record for coronavirus cases as a new surge of the virus raises fears of a further increase during the cold fall and winter months.According to The New York Times, more than 82,000 cases were reported across the United States by Friday evening, breaking a single-day record set July 16 by more than 6,000 cases.The Times also reported that around 41,000 Americans are currently in the hospital, which represents a 41% increase from the past month. The northern Rocky Mountain states and the upper Midwest are currently seeing spikes in reported cases.A new estimate by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation on Friday said the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 could surpass 500,000 by February unless nearly all Americans wear face masks. It said the number of possible deaths could drop by 130,000 if 95% of Americans would wear face coverings.In Europe, France surpassed 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases, registering a record 42,032 cases in 24 hours.France becomes the seventh country to pass the milestone, after the United States, India, Brazil, Russia, Argentina and Spain.Epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet, a member of the scientific council advising the French government, said, “The virus is circulating more quickly than in the spring.”President Emmanuel Macron said a curfew that took effect Friday night for two-thirds of France could be tightened if the restrictions do not lead to a lowering of coronavirus cases.Residents in many European countries, including parts of Germany, Spain, Italy, Britain, and Slovakia, are facing more restrictions in their daily lives as officials impose curfews and limits on social interaction.Countries are scrambling to look for ways to slow the spread but also to avoid the blanket lockdowns imposed earlier this year that have taken a massive economic toll and have little public support.Hundreds of protesters in Naples, Italy, protested Friday night over a new regional curfew. Demonstrators threw smoke bombs, and police responded with tear gas. Italy reached a new daily high Friday of nearly 20,000 coronavirus cases.Wales began a shutdown of nonessential businesses Friday night that will last until Nov. 9. Shops restaurants and bars will be under a severe two-week lockdown.”A firebreak period is our best chance of regaining control of the virus and avoiding a much longer and much more damaging national lockdown,” First Minister Mark Drakeford said earlier this week.Poland announced the entire country will become a “red zone” of strict restrictions starting Saturday, just short of a lockdown. The country is closing restaurants and bars, limiting public gatherings to five people, and requiring masks at all times outdoors.Other countries are taking less severe measures.Belgium, one of the hardest-hit countries, restricted social contacts and banned spectators from sporting events. Denmark said it would lower the limit on public gatherings from 50 people to 10 and would ban the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m.The New York Times reported data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control show that despite the jump in cases, hospitalizations in Europe are “still less than half of the peak in March and April,” but are rising steadily each week.Researchers around the world are racing to develop a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19, which has killed more than 1.1 million globally and sickened more than 42 million.

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Losses are mounting for the U.S. airline industry as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the economy and hope dims for an immediate government aid package.  Karl Moore, associate professor at Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, says, “We’re looking at flights being down in the area of 90% less in March and April than they were the year before. So, it’s a time of enormous crisis. And there are hundreds of thousands of people who work in the airline industry.” For now, combined third-quarter losses for American, United, Delta, Southwest and Alaska Air have exceeded $11.5 billion. The industry’s downturn dwarfs previous crises such as SARS and the September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001, Moore says.WATCH: US Airlines Await Critical Aid DealSorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 10 MB480p | 14 MB540p | 19 MB720p | 33 MB1080p | 69 MBOriginal | 94 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioEarlier this year, U.S. airline companies received billions from Congress through the CARES Act in the form of cash and loans that helped keep them afloat. The hope was that the virus would have subsided by now. It hasn’t.   “What we’ve seen is domestic travel in the U.S. has gone up some, but international travel is down horrifically, and even domestic travel is not anywhere near what it was last year. So, we have the ongoing crisis. We have maybe a second wave — certainly a lot more people getting sick than we had hoped at this time of year. So, it’s a thing where the industry’s troubles have not yet gone beyond six or seven months and it will go on for some months and perhaps a couple of years to come,” says Moore. Nearly 5 million air transport jobs globally are at risk, according to estimates by the Air Transport Action Group. Mask wearing is mandatoryTo bring passengers back, airlines have made mask wearing mandatory. They’ve also stepped up their cleaning of plane cabins. Some leave middle seats open to put more space between passengers.Negotiations between Congress and the White House on a new aid package continue with few signs that an agreement will be reached soon.   This has led airlines to cut jobs, offer early retirement and take other cost-cutting measures. But some experts note that with airlines raking in profits over the past decade, they could have made better decisions.Even though they could not foresee the pandemic and the fallout from COVID-19, Israel Shaked, a finance and economics professor at Boston University Questrom School of Business, says airlines’ own choices left them with little cash.Shaked is also the managing director of the Michel Shaked group, a consulting firm based in Boston. In a recent article, he argues that decisions made in the past few years by the airlines were short-sighted and that they could have saved for a so-called rainy day.    “If you take a look at 2019, for example, this industry paid itself, and I am only talking about American, United, Southwest, Alaska, JetBlue … and Delta. … They paid out dividends of $1.7 billion and the stock repurchase of $7.4 billion. If you combine these two, you’re talking about almost like a 7, 8, 9 billion dollars in one year going out of the company … and it was similar the year before.” Minimum of 80% capacity neededHe points out that airlines need minimum 80% capacity utilization to survive because they have huge fixed costs.He says he supports government aid in the short term, but authorities need to put some limits in what the airlines can do with that money.This month the number of people screened at U.S. airports is down 65%, compared with last October, but that’s better than the 68% decline in September, the 71% drop in August and the 96% plunge in mid-April.  

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A U.S. judge in San Francisco on Friday rejected a Justice Department request to reverse a decision that allowed Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to continue to offer Chinese-owned WeChat for download in U.S. app stores.U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said the government’s new evidence did not change her opinion about the Tencent app. As it has with Chinese video app TikTok, the Justice Department has argued WeChat threatens national security.WeChat has an average of 19 million daily active users in the United States. It is popular among Chinese students, Americans living in China and Americans who have personal or business relationships in China.WeChat is an all-in-one mobile app that combines services similar to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Venmo. The app is an essential part of daily life for many in China and boasts more than 1 billion users.The Justice Department has appealed Beeler’s decision permitting the continued use of the Chinese mobile app to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, but no ruling is likely before December.In a suit brought by WeChat users, Beeler last month blocked a U.S. Commerce Department order set to take effect September 20 that would have required the app to be removed from U.S. app stores.The Commerce Department order would also bar other U.S. transactions with WeChat, potentially making the app unusable in the United States.”The record does not support the conclusion that the government has ‘narrowly tailored’ the prohibited transactions to protect its national-security interests,” Beeler wrote on Friday.She said the evidence “supports the conclusion that the restrictions ‘burden substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government’s legitimate interests.'”WeChat users argued the government sought “an unprecedented ban of an entire medium of communication” and offered only “speculation” of harm from Americans’ use of WeChat.In a similar case, a U.S. appeals court agreed to fast-track a government appeal of a ruling blocking the government from banning new downloads from U.S. app stores of Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok.

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Ghosts, goblins and other costumed kids are welcome to trick or treat at the White House on Sunday during a Halloween event that has been rejiggered to include coronavirus precautions.
The gates to the South Lawn will be opened to children from military families, frontline workers and others, from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Melania Trump announced Friday.
Extra precautions have been added to the spooky celebration.
President Donald Trump and the first lady — both recently recovered from COVID-19, the disease brought on by the coronavirus — will welcome guests at some point during the event.
Guests older than 2 are required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing. The same goes for all White House personnel working the event, while any staff handing out candy will also wear gloves.
Hand sanitizer will be available along the route and social distancing measures will be in place.
Participating federal departments will use a “no-touch” approach.
NASA will display space-related items, including an inflatable rocket. Costumed-clad kids can wave to the Agriculture Department’s Smokey Bear and pick up Junior Ranger badges from the Interior Department’s station.
The Education and Labor departments will offer photo opportunities, and the Transportation department will provide paper airplanes for children to take home.
The South Portico of the White House will be decorated with bright-colored leaves in various shades of autumn, chrysanthemums and pumpkins.

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With her work taking her away from home on Election Day, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins cast a unique early ballot Thursday, voting aboard the International Space Station (ISS), more than 200 miles above Earth. From her NASA Astronauts Twitter account, Rubins posted a picture of herself smiling broadly and pointed to a hand-written sign saying, “ISS Voting Booth.”   Rubins is among several NASA astronauts who are registered in Texas, home of the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Texas law allows them to vote from space using a secure electronic ballot, which is relayed to their respective county clerks by mission control. Rubins, the first person to sequence DNA in space, is currently aboard the International Space Station for a six-month stay. She plans to work on cardiovascular experiment and conduct research using the space station’s Cold Atom Lab. She’ll celebrate the 20th anniversary of continuous human presence on the space station and welcome members of the second SpaceX commercial crew mission, who are expected to arrive in late October. 
 

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