Environment

California

Explosive wildfires stoked by fierce winds

Wildfires raged unchecked across parts of the western U.S. on Wednesday amid gusty and dry conditions, but forecasters said some weather relief was in sight that could help firefighters overwhelmed by the blazes.

Hurricane Laura

Donald Trump visits storm-lashed Louisiana and Texas

Donald Trump got a first-hand look on Saturday at hurricane damage to south-west Louisiana, two days after Hurricane Laura roared in off the Gulf of Mexico with winds up to 150mph, killing at least 15 people, knocking out power and causing extensive flooding and lack of running water across several towns.

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Shortnews

COVID-19

Trump calls 200,000 deaths in U.S. ‘a shame’

The coronavirus death toll in the United States surpassed 200,000 on Tuesday, marking another milestone of loss at a time when many have become numb to the rising fatality count. The tally represents the upper boundary of a fatality range that President Trump in March said would signal that his administration had “done a very good job” of protecting Americans from the coronavirus. As he left the White House for Pennsylvania on Tuesday evening, Trump responded to a reporter’s question about the 200,000 deaths, saying, “It’s a shame.”

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COVID-19

Trump calls 200,000 deaths in U.S. ‘a shame’

Florida Voting

Bloomberg pays fines for 32,000 felons

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has reportedly raised more than $16 million in an effort to help convicted felons in Florida register to vote. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition estimated Bloomberg's fundraising push has already paid off monetary obligations for 32,000 felons, Axios reported. "The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and no American should be denied that right," a Bloomberg spokesperson told the news outlet.

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Florida Voting

Bloomberg pays fines for 32,000 felons

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg has reportedly raised more than $16 million in an effort to help convicted felons in Florida register to vote. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition estimated Bloomberg's fundraising push has already paid off monetary obligations for 32,000 felons, Axios reported. "The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and no American should be denied that right," a Bloomberg spokesperson told the news outlet.

"Working together with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, we are determined to end disenfranchisement and the discrimination that has always driven it."

Florida passed a law in 2018 reinstating voting rights for felons that dictated they could register only if they pay all fines, fees and restitution — sometimes totaling more than $1,000 — owed to the government.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Florida, last week ruled to uphold the law.

Last week, several television networks also pledged to donate money to the cause.

Bloomberg, who ran in the Democratic primary for president, has endorsed the party's nominee, Joe Biden, and has donated at least $100 million to the former vice president's campaign to defeat President Trump.

COVID-19

Breaking News

A total of 156 countries have joined the global Covax scheme intended to ensure fair distribution of supplies of future vaccines against Covid-19, an alliance led by the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday. The list includes 64 wealthier, self-financing countries, and accounts for about two-thirds of the global population, a statement issued by the WHO and GAVI vaccine alliance said, after a deadline of last Friday to make binding commitments.

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COVID-19

Breaking News

A total of 156 countries have joined the global Covax scheme intended to ensure fair distribution of supplies of future vaccines against Covid-19, an alliance led by the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday. The list includes 64 wealthier, self-financing countries, and accounts for about two-thirds of the global population, a statement issued by the WHO and GAVI vaccine alliance said, after a deadline of last Friday to make binding commitments.

The number of coronavirus infections in Iran has risen by 3,341 in the past 24 hours, the highest daily tally since early June, taking total cases to 425,481, the health ministry spokeswoman told state TV on Monday.

The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, nominated a top epidemiologist to become health minister on Monday after the previous minister quit over a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections. Roman Prymula, who helped lead the central European country’s response to the initial coronavirus outbreak in March, will replace Adam Vojtěch, who quit on Monday after criticism over the surge in new cases following an easing of restrictions.

The head of an influential group in the UK parliament has signaled that the government could face resistance from its own party if ministers once again introduce new lockdown measures without proper legislative scrutiny. Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, a powerful group of Conservative party backbench MPs, said ministers had “got into the habit of ruling by decree”, adding: “The British people are not used to being treated like children.”

The Taj Mahal will reopen after a six-month closure. There will be some restrictions such as compulsory mask-wearing, thermal screening of visitors and physical distancing at the monument

Eight monks have tested positive for coronavirus and their monastery in a remote Orthodox Christian community in northern Greece has been quarantined, a Church official said on Monday. One of the monks was taken to hospital in Thessaloniki in a serious condition, said the official who declined to be named. It is not the first outbreak at the Mount Athos site - four monks tested positive in March after traveling to Britain but recovered quickly.

France says the number of confirmed cases is up by 5,298 over 24 hours. The number of deaths is up by 53 over the same period, reaching 31,338.

Poll

Young voters backing Biden by 2:1 margin

Young voters back Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden over President Trump by a two-to-one margin less than two months out from Election Day, according to a new survey from the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics. The poll, released on Monday, found that 60 percent of likely voters under the age of 30 said they will back Biden in November, while 27 percent said the same for Trump.

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Poll

Young voters backing Biden by 2:1 margin

Young voters back Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden over President Trump by a two-to-one margin less than two months out from Election Day, according to a new survey from the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics. The poll, released on Monday, found that 60 percent of likely voters under the age of 30 said they will back Biden in November, while 27 percent said the same for Trump.

Biden also fares better with young voters than 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton did at this point in the race. In a survey shortly before the election, 49 percent of young people said they supported Clinton.

Biden trailed progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) among young voters in the Democratic primary earlier this year, leading many to express skepticism about his ability to galvanize the demographic, particularly young progressive-leaning voters.

The Harvard poll showed did show some positive signs for Trump 43 days out from Election Day. Forty-four percent of the president's supporters among the ages of 18-39 said they were enthusiastic about voting, while 30 percent of the young Biden supporters said the same.

Overall, the poll found voter enthusiasm to be very high ahead among young voters of November, with 63 percent of respondents saying they will "definitely be voting." At this point in 2016, 47 percent of respondents said the same.

Millennial and Generation Z voters will make up over a third of eligible voters in this election.

The Harvard Youth Poll was conducted between Aug. 28 and Sept. 9, 2020, among 1,206 18-29 year-olds. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.22 percentage points. The survey was carried out by Ipsos Public Affairs using the IPSOS Government and Academic Omnibus Panel.

COVID-19

Connecticut to fine people who don't wear masks

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said Monday that the state will impose fines on people who do not adhere to the state’s mask mandate and limits on event capacity. Under a new executive order issued from Lamont, residents will be required to pay $100 fines for not wearing masks, up to $250 for going to large unauthorized events and up to $500 for planning unauthorized events, according to the Hartford Courant. Under present rules, events are limited to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

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COVID-19

Connecticut to fine people who don't wear masks

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) said Monday that the state will impose fines on people who do not adhere to the state’s mask mandate and limits on event capacity. Under a new executive order issued from Lamont, residents will be required to pay $100 fines for not wearing masks, up to $250 for going to large unauthorized events and up to $500 for planning unauthorized events, according to the Hartford Courant. Under present rules, events are limited to 25 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

Connecticut Chief Operating Officer Josh Geballe said the order is set to take effect Thursday at midnight. He told the newspaper the state has struggled with how to enforce the mandates.

Local officials currently can issue a $1,000 fine for a violation of the state travel advisory or a misdemeanor charge, which many local officials consider excessive.

“There wasn’t really much that was being done, because many people viewed [a misdemeanor charge] as excessively harsh for failing to wear a mask if you couldn’t socially distance,” Geballe told the Courant. “So they asked for this new tool, an infraction that was a bit of a step-down enforcement.”

Fines already exist for some individual municipalities in the state such as the town of Simsbury, where a violation of either masking or social distancing orders is punishable by a $250 fine.

“It’s come up over and over again, to the point where we felt it was an appropriate thing to do,” Geballe told the Courant.

The order comes as the state’s positivity rate for coronavirus tests has been on the rise. The rate hovered below 1 percent between mid-July and early September, but reached 1.5 percent last Wednesday and has not returned below 1 percent since.

As of Tuesday the state has 54,895 confirmed cases and 4,485 confirmed deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.