with Mariana Alfaro

Election Day is eight weeks from today. Absentee ballots started going out this past Friday in North Carolina, and in-person voting starts next week in Minnesota. The first presidential debate, moderated by Fox News’s Chris Wallace, is three weeks from tonight.

This post-Labor Day sprint, when most voters historically start paying close attention to politics, comes amid an aggressive push by President Trump to approve a vaccine to inoculate against the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 186,000 people in the United States. 

Democratic challenger Joe Biden, after spending most of the past six months campaigning virtually from Delaware, is poised to significantly step up travel to swing states. He visited Harrisburg, Pa., on Monday, as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) flew to Milwaukee for her first in-person campaign events since being named as his running mate. Vice President Pence also stumped in Wisconsin for the holiday.

Lawmakers return to Washington today from their summer recess, which they took despite failing to deliver another relief package for the tens of millions of Americans facing financial distress amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

In addition to the recession and pandemic, the nation continues to experience its worst season of racial unrest since 1968, the year of another critical presidential election. The protests sparked by George Floyd’s killing in police custody on Memorial Day continued through Labor Day weekend. But the protests and counterprotests have taken on a scarier, deadlier edge. More people have been taking to the streets toting guns, which is never a sign of a democracy in good health. Meanwhile, scenes of rioting and looting have alienated many White moderates in the suburbs who consider themselves allies of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Against this backdrop, here are eight questions that we will be able to answer over the course of the next eight weeks:

1) Can Biden run down the clock?

This race is Biden’s to lose, but he certainly can still lose it. Polling shows the former vice president maintaining a durable lead over Trump in the national polls. The race will tighten; it always does. But the two party conventions appear to have done little, if anything, to change the contours of the race.

Monday was the fifth day in a row that Trump responded to a report in the Atlantic magazine that he denigrated military veterans as “losers” and “suckers.” The president again called the story a “hoax” and said his personal dislike for the late senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) is based on philosophical differences, not because he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. In 2015, Trump said McCain was a “loser” and that he preferred “people who weren’t captured.”

There are now 56 days until the election. The pool of genuinely undecided voters is unusually small. Every day Trump is on the defensive is a good day for Biden. Every day the incumbent is not expanding his base of support is a squandered day for the incumbent.

President Trump said on Sept. 7 the U.S. could have a coronavirus vaccine in October, but denied the timeline was motivated by political reasons. (The Washington Post)
2) Will there be a vaccine that people trust?

During his 45-minute news conference on Monday afternoon, Trump claimed a coronavirus vaccine could come “during the month of October.” Strategists in both parties agree that, if this actually happened, it could be a boon for his reelection hopes. “The vaccine will be very safe and very effective, and it’ll be delivered very soon,” the president said. “You could have a very big surprise coming up.”

“However, many experts in Trump’s administration have cautioned that such a rapid timeline seems overly optimistic,” Ashley Parker reports. “The lead scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed, for instance, told NPR that a vaccine was ‘possible but very unlikely’ to be available by October or November. Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb told ‘Face the Nation’ on Sunday that a vaccine for widespread use will likely be ‘a 2021 event.’ If a vaccine were created before the end of 2020, it would probably be used for targeted populations, such as health-care workers and nursing home residents, Gottlieb said.”

“Trump has repeatedly offered similar promises, adding to the pressure scientists and officials at the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health feel to develop, test and authorize a coronavirus vaccine on what some of the president’s aides refer to as ‘Trump time,’” Phil Rucker, Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb reported in Sunday’s newspaper. “Several Trump aides said one key to the president winning reelection is having a vaccine or demonstrating rapid progress toward one … There is intense disagreement over whether the FDA should use its emergency authority to clear a vaccine before it is formally approved, which some in the scientific community say could be dangerous. …

“Inside the West Wing, there is some concern and nervousness about ‘potential politicization’ and people not trusting a vaccine if they believed it was produced in a ‘rushed process,’ according to a senior administration official … The administration … is planning a $150 million public service announcement campaign to convince people that the vaccine is safe, effective and can be trusted, this senior official said. The communications strategy developed at the White House would limit Trump’s personal messaging about a vaccine — other than to ‘spike the football,’ as the senior official put it.”

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States nearly quadrupled during the summer to upward of 6.2 million. “From Memorial Day weekend through the unofficial end of the season Monday, the number of Americans who died of covid-19 shot up from just under 100,000 to more than 186,000,” my colleagues report on today’s live blog.

“Infectious-disease experts are warning of a potential cold-weather surge of coronavirus cases — a long-feared ‘second wave’ of infections and deaths, possibly at a catastrophic scale. It could begin well before Election Day, Nov. 3, although researchers assume the crest would come weeks later, closer to when fall gives way to winter,” Joel Achenbach and Rachel Weiner report. “The Labor Day holiday weekend is a traditional time of travel and group activities, and, like Independence Day and Memorial Day, could seed transmission of the virus … And viruses tend to spread more easily in cooler, less-humid weather, which allows them to remain viable longer. As the weather cools, people tend to congregate more indoors. The coronavirus has a relatively long incubation period, and the disease progression in patients with severe illnesses also tends to be drawn out over several weeks. As a result, any spike in deaths will lag weeks behind a spike in infections. … 

“A model produced by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and published Friday forecasts a ‘most likely’ daily death toll of 1,907 on Election Day, roughly double the current toll. Under the IHME forecast, the numbers would continue to rise until early December, peaking at more than 2,800 deaths daily. By year’s end, 410,000 people in the United States will have died under the model’s most-likely scenario. That’s more than double current fatalities. The model also produced best-case and worst-case scenarios — ranging from 288,000 to 620,000 deaths by Jan. 1 — depending on the degree to which people wear masks, adhere to social distancing and take other precautions.”

3) Will Congress pass another covid-19 relief bill?

During his Monday news conference, Trump defended his refusal to meet with congressional Democratic leaders to negotiate a stimulus package aimed at mitigating the economic fallout from the contagion. “They don't want to make a deal because they think, if the country does as badly as possible, … that's good for the Democrats,” Trump told reporters. “I'm taking the high road by not seeing them.”

“Despite weeks of high-level talks between the White House and Democratic congressional leaders, a bipartisan compromise is increasingly unlikely before the election,” Politico reports this morning. “Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other top Senate Republicans have been scrambling to round up votes for a narrow economic stimulus package they could put on the floor and hammer Democrats for opposing. The $500 billion-plus proposal includes $300-per-week federal unemployment payments on top of regular state benefits, another round of funding to aid small and medium-sized businesses, liability protections for businesses, schools and charities, and $105 billion for education, among other provisions. … But it's unclear whether McConnell has at least 51 GOP votes for the plan. Some Senate Republicans have been pushing for language related to 'school choice' programs, complicating the process for McConnell and party leaders. And the measure almost certainly does not have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.”

“Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his Democratic colleagues remain opposed to the Republican initiative. They’ve joined with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in calling for at least $2 trillion in new spending, and Senate Democrats will block further action if it comes up for a vote this week. … While both sides insist they want a compromise, neither is making any real concessions that would be needed to get there. The only good news heading into the September session is that Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have reached a tentative agreement to continue funding federal agencies beyond the Sept. 30 deadline, taking the possibility of a government shutdown largely off the table. Some lawmakers and aides have discussed attaching relief provisions to a stopgap spending bill, but reaching a consensus there could be difficult. … 

“Some in the White House also don’t have a strong sense of urgency. Asked if he felt comfortable with the state of the economy if a coronavirus relief deal wasn’t reached, Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Bloomberg TV, ‘We can absolutely live with it.’ … Senate Republicans are privately playing up reports that moderate House Democrats are pressing Pelosi to compromise on a relief package. They're circulating quotes from a dozen Democrats in swing House races calling for additional economic help for financially strapped Americans. … A large bloc of Senate Republicans, concerned about the tidal wave of deficit spending this year, believes the U.S. economy will recover without additional government aid. McConnell, however, also has a number of vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection in less than two months, and they've been pressing him for action.”

Last week’s unemployment report showed the economy added 1.4 million jobs in August, sending the unemployment rate to 8.4 percent. “Yet just over half of the 22 million total jobs lost between February and April have not returned, and prominent economists are warning about the potential for a downturn in the coming months,” Eli Rosenberg reports. “The job gains for August were driven by hiring in government, particularly temporary census workers, who accounted for 238,000 new positions — more than 1 out of 6 of the jobs added overall. … And the numbers of unemployed and underemployed workers who are still able to qualify for unemployment assistance remain historically high: Twenty-nine million people are drawing some form of unemployment aid, according to the latest figures from the Labor Department. 

“Friday’s jobs report noted that workers are spending more time unemployed, close to 17 weeks in August, up from just two in April, which economists say represents another worrying trend. Longer unemployment periods correlate with worse economic outcomes and lower re-employment rates. … Other indicators, such as card use transactions, show that spending on things like restaurants, gas, clothing and hotels may also be leveling off. Data from the employee scheduling company Homebase showed that the recovery of small businesses, as measured by companies opening and employees working, flatlined from July through August, after a period of improvements. On ZipRecruiter, a major job postings site, the number of listings started falling off in mid-August after 10 weeks of steady increases. …

“Signs of economic insecurity abound. More than a quarter of Americans say they are worried about losing their jobs, according to a recent Gallup poll. The number of people who are working part-time because they can’t get full-time jobs has gone down to about 7.5 million — but that’s still up 3 million from six months ago. Businesses are increasingly pessimistic, too. Some 46 percent of small businesses surveyed said it would take six months to recover from the pandemic, up from 31 percent in April, according to the Census Bureau’s Small Business Pulse survey.”

A jobs report will come out the Friday before the election.

4) Will there be more bloodshed in the streets?

A day of tense confrontations between backers of Trump and Black Lives Matters protesters turned deadly on Aug. 29 when a self-described member of antifa, a loosely knit group of far-left activists, allegedly fatally shot a supporter of the Patriot Prayer group, who friends said was wearing a hat with the right-wing group’s insignia. The suspected shooter was killed last week during a confrontation with federal law enforcement, as they sought to take him into custody.

A few days earlier, a 17-year-old Trump supporter was charged with homicide, accused of fatally shooting two people in Kenosha, Wis., amid protests unleashed by the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

More people across the ideological spectrum have been showing up with long guns to protests. This was the case in Louisville on Saturday before the Kentucky Derby. As emotions run high, the risk of more violence grows.

5) How real is the Trump campaign’s apparent cash crunch?

The Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee announced last week that they raised $365 million in August, beating a one-month fundraising record that Barack Obama’s campaign set in 2008 – of $193 million. Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee have not announced their August haul yet. 

The lead story on the front page of today’s New York Times explores how the Trump campaign squandered what was a $200 million cash advantage over Biden in the spring. “Of the $1.1 billon his campaign and the party raised from the beginning of 2019 through July, more than $800 million has already been spent. Now some people inside the campaign are forecasting what was once unthinkable: a cash crunch,” Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman report. “The campaign hired a coterie of highly paid consultants (Mr. Trump’s former bodyguard and White House aide has been paid more than $500,000 by the R.N.C. since late 2017); spent $156,000 for planes to pull aerial banners in recent months; and paid nearly $110,000 to Yondr, a company that makes magnetic pouches used to store cellphones during fund-raisers so that donors could not secretly record Mr. Trump and leak his remarks.”

Brad Parscale, the former campaign manager who was demoted this summer, was expensing a car and driver for himself, and the campaign even spent more than $800,000 promoting his Facebook and Instagram pages. Bill Stepien, who was promoted to replace Parscale, nixed a proposal to spend $50 million in costs related to coalitions groups, including an idea to spend $3 million so that a NASCAR car could be plastered with Trump’s name. At Trump’s direction, the RNC has spent more than $6 million on “donor mementos.”

“The number of staff members allowed to travel to events has been pared back to avoid what one senior campaign official described as ‘sponsoring vacations,’” the Times reports. “Most visibly, the Trump campaign slashed its August television spending, mostly abandoning the airwaves during the party conventions. In the last two weeks of the month, Mr. Biden’s campaign spent $35.9 million on television, compared with $4.8 million for Mr. Trump.”

Bloomberg News reports today that Trump has discussed spending as much as $100 million of his own money on his reelection campaign: “The billionaire president has talked about the idea with multiple people, though he hasn’t yet committed to any self-funding. Though Trump personally contributed $66 million to his 2016 campaign, it would be unprecedented for an incumbent president to put his own money toward winning a second term.”

6) Does Biden outperform the low expectations Trump has set for him in the debates?

Trump has perhaps given his challenger a gift by spending so much time trying to define him as “Sleepy Joe.” If Biden can exude energy and competence during the debates, he will have exceeded the expectations that the president has set. This happened during the Democratic convention. Some of the president’s most prominent supporters – like radio personality and Medal of Freedom recipient Rush Limbaugh – falsely suggested afterward that Biden’s speech had been taped in advance and edited together to make him look good. In fact, reporters in the room saw Biden give the poetic speech live.

Quote of the day

“Look at how he steps. Look how I step," Biden, 77, said when a Pennsylvania TV reporter asked about claims from Trump, 74, that the former vice president has lost a step. "Watch how I run up ramps, and he stumbles down ramps, okay? C’mon." (ABC27)

The presidential debates are scheduled for Sept. 29, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22. The vice-presidential debate is Oct. 7.

7) Will there be problems with mail delivery?

About 195 million Americans are now eligible to cast ballots by mail for the Nov. 3 election — at least 83 percent of voters, according to a Post tracker.

“More than 534,000 mail ballots were rejected during primaries across 23 states this year — nearly a quarter in key battlegrounds for the fall — illustrating how missed delivery deadlines, inadvertent mistakes and uneven enforcement of the rules could disenfranchise voters and affect the outcome of the presidential election,” Elise Viebeck reported recently.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has promised he will postpone many of his planned changes to the U.S. Postal Service until after the election so that they will not affect ballot delivery. But Democrats remain skeptical. After all, Trump publicly threatened to block USPS funding to limit its ability to process ballots for the November election. 

House Democrats said they will launch an investigation of DeJoy and called for his immediate suspension following accusations that he reimbursed employees for campaign contributions they made to his preferred GOP politicians, an arrangement that would be unlawful. “Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) said in a statement late Monday that the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which she chairs, would begin an investigation, saying that DeJoy may have lied to her committee under oath,” Amy Gardner reports. “Maloney’s announcement came a day after The Washington Post reported allegations that DeJoy and his aides urged employees at his former North Carolina-based logistics company to write checks and attend fundraisers on behalf of Republican candidates. DeJoy then defrayed the cost of those political contributions by boosting employee bonuses, two employees told The Post.”

8) How blatant will foreign interference become? 

Trump suggested Monday that China is interfering in the election and trying to undermine him by encouraging protests. “Trump tweeted a Breitbart article quoting author and columnist Gordon Chang, who said the Chinese Communist Party is ‘trying to make life very difficult’ for the President by ‘fueling’ violent Black Lives Matter protests,” CNN reports. “Intelligence officials have said they have uncovered evidence that Russia is currently interfering in the election to hurt Biden's campaign. Separately, some evidence has already emerged about Moscow's efforts, including Facebook's announcement last week that a troll group that was part of Russia's attempt to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election is trying to target Americans again. But while the intelligence community has assessed that China and Iran prefer Trump to lose in November, officials have offered no indication, to date, that either country is acting on that preference in the same way as Russia, according to public statements issued by the intelligence community and sources familiar with the underlying evidence.”

America is burning

Right-wing protesters gathered outside Portland, adding to the tensions surrounding ongoing demonstrations.

“More than 1,000 supporters of Trump, including some aligned with white nationalist extremist groups, gathered in northwest Oregon on Monday night in a show of force against left-wing protesters, creating even more tension in a region that has been rocked by weeks of protests,” Samantha Schmidt, Fenit Nirappil, Abigail Hauslohner and Tim Craig report. “Hundreds of cars, trucks, tractors, motorcycles and at least one RV hoisted Trump flags and blasted ‘God Bless The U.S.A.’ from truck bed speakers for a ‘cruise rally’ through the suburbs of Portland. Some members of the group then drove about 50 miles to Salem, where they gathered in front of the state capitol. Armed with rifles, pistols, knives and clubs, the far-right demonstrators at one point charged into a smaller group of liberal counterprotesters, knocking at least one activist to the ground. 

“The event’s organizers said their ‘Oregon For Trump 2020 Labor Day Cruise Rally’ was designed to show support for the president, following weeks of protests and violent clashes between protesters and police, as well as between protesters and pro-Trump counterprotesters in downtown Portland. … There were also families with young children and adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Some identified themselves as members of the Proud Boys, a self-identified western chauvinist group that the FBI has said has ties to white nationalism. … The Portland rally caps a holiday weekend that saw fresh protests and political demonstrations erupt in cities nationwide, some of which became violent on Friday and Saturday. By end of the weekend, the number of protesters in many cities had dwindled, with only scattered clashes between demonstrators and police. …

“Trump spent part of his Labor Day lashing out at racial justice demonstrators and elected officials in Portland, as well as in New York and Rochester, N.Y., where tensions had been running high after a video surfaced last week showing a fatal encounter between police and [Daniel Prude], a Black man who had been suffering a mental health crisis. ‘Rochester N.Y., Brooklyn N.Y., Portland - All had bad nights, all weakly run by Radical Left Democrat Governors and Mayors! Get the picture?’ Trump said on Twitter. … Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren (D) responded by urging residents in her town to ignore Trump, accusing him of trying to ‘incite people’ to further his own election-year political ambitions.” 

  • The wake generated by other boats caused five boats to sink during a Trump boat parade on a Texas lake. (CNN)
  • A Salt Lake City police officer shot Linden Cameron, a 13-year-old autistic boy, after his mother called 911 for help. The mother, Golda Barton, had called in hopes that responders could help hospitalize her son, who was having a mental crisis. But the officer instead shot him, leaving him with injuries to his intestines, bladder, shoulder and ankles. Barton said she’s gotten few answers from police. The mayor pledged an investigation would be quick. (Tim Elfrink)
  • Days of protests in Rochester ended peacefully last night, with no reported arrests or injuries. The rallies began on Wednesday last week after the Democrat and Chronicle reported Prude's story. He died in March after being restrained by Rochester police officers.
  • Louisville has a new interim police chief: Yvette Gentry, the first woman and the third Black person to serve in the role. Louisville residents, particularly those in West End, have been at the heart of more than 100 days of protest over the March 13 shooting of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in her own home. (Courier-Journal)
  • Jacob Blake, the rare survivor at the center of protests, has started telling his own story. “Your life — and not only just your life, your legs, something that you need to move around and move forward in life — could be taken from you like this, man,” Blake said, snapping his fingers for emphasis, in a video from his hospital bed released over the weekend. (NYT)
The West faces an “extremely dangerous” fire threat after a historic weekend heatwave.

“After one of California’s hottest weekends ever observed, a severe fire threat encompasses much of the state and expands over large portions of the western United States. Yet, in a shocking example of weather whiplash, parts of the Rocky Mountain states are bracing for a 60-degree temperature drop and accumulating snow within 48 hours of triple digit heat,” Jason Samenow reports. “The Creek Fire in the Sierra National Forest, about 290 miles north of Los Angeles, grew from first detection Friday night to over 78,000 acres as of Monday afternoon. The explosive blaze generated towering pyrocumulonimbus clouds that triggered lightning and probably spawned fire tornadoes. At least 10 people were injured from the fire, with more than 200 rescued by the California Air National Guard after evacuation routes were cut off. The weekend blazes pushed the area burned in California to more than 2 million acres, the most burned on record in a single wildfire season since modern records began in 1987, even before the most dangerous part of the fire season had begun, according to Daniel Swain, a climate researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles.” 

  • About 50 hikers spent a second night at a wilderness resort near Fresno, Calif., with all escape routes cut off by the Creek Fire. An older man died due to a “medical episode” after EMS were unable to respond due to the fire conditions. (Timothy Bella)
  • Unusually strong winds in California threatened to knock down power lines and ignite more wildfires, prompting the state’s largest utility, PG&E, to plan power cutoffs for more than 500,000 people, despite record heat. The shutoffs began late Monday, Bloomberg News reports.
  • A separate wildfire was sparked by a gender reveal party. “The El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County has scorched 9,671 acres and was only 7% contained as of late Monday night," CNN reports. Cal Fire investigators determined that “the fire was caused by a ‘smoke-generating pyrotechnic device’ used at a party on Saturday morning in El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa.” Sadly, this is not the first time a gender-reveal gimmick has started a massive fire. In 2017, an off-duty Border Patrol agent shot a rifle at a target packed with an explosive as part of a gender reveal, igniting a fire in Arizona that grew to nearly 47,000 acres.

The new world order

Records shed light on the online harassment campaign Jamal Khashoggi faced before his death. 

“A few months before he was killed, Khashoggi witnessed an ominous change in the kind of attention he was getting from his estranged homeland,” Joby Warrick reports. “The usual critiques of his essays on Arabic social media became harsh and personal, and occasionally threatening. Influential Saudis reviled him on Twitter as an ‘extremist,’ a ‘criminal’ and a ‘donkey,’ attacks that were instantly repeated and amplified by scores of other Twitter accounts, some of them linked to Saudi officials. … Nearly two years after the killing, a review of Twitter records by U.S. experts is shedding new light on the pattern of allegedly coordinated abuse and intimidation during Khashoggi’s final months, when he was living in Virginia, a campaign that some officials say may have violated U.S. laws, with potentially serious implications for the relationship between Washington and Riyadh.”

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor announced Monday that eight people have been sentenced to prison terms between seven and 20 years for the killing of the Washington Post contributing columnist. “The statement did not name the defendants. They were all believed to be members of a 15-man hit squad that traveled to Turkey from Saudi Arabia in October 2018 before killing and dismembering Khashoggi, a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul,” Kareem Fahim reports. “The rulings came after a trial that was closed to the public and the news media and that was criticized by human rights groups as lacking transparency. … And the Saudi ruling on Monday failed to answer the most urgent questions about the murder, including who had ordered it and the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s remains. The CIA concluded with ‘medium to high confidence’ that Mohammed, who effectively rules Saudi Arabia, had ordered the killing, which he has denied.”

  • “These verdicts carry no legal or moral legitimacy. They came at the end of a process which was neither fair, nor just, or transparent,” tweeted Agnès Callamard, a U.N. human rights expert who conducted an investigation into the killing.
  • Khashoggi's fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, said in a statement: “The Saudi authorities are closing the case without the world knowing the truth of who is responsible for Jamal’s murder. Who planned it, who ordered it, where is his body?”
Shots were fired on the India-China border for the first time in decades.

“India and China accused each other on Tuesday of firing warning shots during a confrontation the day before at their disputed border in a marked escalation of tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors,” Joanna Slater, Niha Masih and Gerry Shih report. “Longstanding protocols observed by both countries forbid the use of firearms. Such protocols did not prevent the two countries from engaging in their deadliest violence in nearly 50 years in June, when soldiers armed with clubs studded with nails and metal rods clashed in a remote area of the western Himalayas. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed. The number of Chinese casualties remains unknown. Both countries moved thousands of troops as well as tanks, artillery and fighter jets to areas close to the disputed and unmarked border, which is known as the Line of Actual Control. Despite numerous rounds of talks, tensions remain high. … 

“Apart from fighting a war in 1962, India and China have largely resolved flare-ups along their 2,200-mile border through dialogue. In 1975, four Indian soldiers were killed in the eastern Himalayas, the last time both countries acknowledged the use of firearms at the frontier.”

  • In the credits of the “Mulan” remake, Disney offers special thanks to four Chinese Communist Party propaganda departments in the region of Xinjiang as well as the Public Security Bureau of the city of Turpan in the same region. Isaac Stone Fish writes in an op-ed that these same organizations are facilitating “crimes against humanity”: "More than a million Muslims in Xinjiang, mostly of the Uighur minority, have been imprisoned in concentration camps.”
  • The last two journalists working in China for Australian news outlets were flown home amid a five-day diplomatic standoff between the countries, sparked by Australia’s support for an international inquiry into the origins of the pandemic. (BBC)
  • China launched its own initiative to set new global data-security rules, countering American efforts to persuade like-minded countries to protect their networks from Chinese technology. (WSJ)
  • Typhoon Haishen hit South Korea after lashing Japan. The storm left four missing and 46 injured. (Simon Denyer and Min Joo Kim)
  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte pardoned a U.S. Marine convicted of killing Jennifer Laude, a transgender woman. No date was immediately announced for Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton’s release, but Duterte’s pardon has sparked outrage from human rights advocates and the LGBTQ community. (Regine Cabato)
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is out of a medically induced coma and responsive. 

“Navalny, who was poisoned last month with a nerve agent similar to the Soviet-era chemical weapon Novichok, was brought out of an induced coma, and his condition has improved, German doctors said,” Robyn Dixon and Ruby Mellen report. “A statement from the Charité clinic in Berlin said he was responding to voices, but it was too early to know the long-term impact of the poisoning. The clinic’s statement said that Navalny, an acerbic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was being weaned off a ventilator. … The German government announced last week that a military laboratory had found irrefutable evidence that Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent in the same group as Novichok, which was used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, England, in 2018."

More coronavirus fallout

India surpassed Brazil in total cases, putting it in second place behind the United States for a dubious honor.

“India added 90,802 cases — a fresh global record in the pandemic — in the last 24 hours, pushing its total past 4.2 million. Only the United States, with 6.2 million cases, has recorded more. Brazil had 4.1 million cases as of Sunday evening,” Joanna Slater and Niha Masih report. “More than 71,000 people in India have died of covid-19 … India’s outbreak shows no sign of peaking. Since early August, India has been reporting the highest daily increases in cases in the world. … As the country has reopened, coronavirus cases have surged. Testing has also expanded significantly, although the number of tests remains low on a per capita basis compared to other countries.” 

  • Spain is experiencing a second wave. It became the first western European country to record half a million cases. Experts said they fear France and the U.K. will follow its rapid rise in new infections. (Guardian
  • New Zealanders mocked Trump’s recent accusation that their nation was suffering a “big surge” in cases by sharing photos of star-dusted skies, dazzling sunsets and mountainous views under the hashtag “NZHellhole.” Trump keeps saying New Zealand is experiencing a big surge, but the country recorded only six new cases yesterday. (Jennifer Hassan)
States face dire fiscal crises if the federal government stays deadlocked on delivering aid. 

“Alaska chopped resources for public broadcasting. New York City gutted a nascent composting program that could have kept tons of food waste out of landfills. New Jersey postponed property-tax relief payments. Prisoners in Florida will continue to swelter in their cells, because plans to air-condition its prisons are on hold. Many states have already cut planned raises for teachers. And that’s just the start,” the Times reports. “Across the nation, states and cities have made an array of fiscal maneuvers to stay solvent and are planning more … Economists warn that further state spending reductions could prolong the downturn by shaking the confidence of residents, whose day-to-day lives depend heavily on state and local services. … Collectively, state governments will have budget shortfalls of $312 billion through the summer of 2022, according to a review by Moody’s Analytics. When local governments are factored in, the shortfall rises to $500 billion. That estimate assumes the pandemic doesn’t get worse.” 

Parents are quitting their jobs to keep up with their kids’ online schooling, which will slow the recovery.

“According to research that Brevan Howard Asset Management recently shared with its investors, about 4.3 million U.S. workers could find themselves staying home unless they find other child-care arrangements. If those parents are counted among the unemployed, it would boost the unemployment rate by 2.6 percentage points,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “That would be a sharper increase than occurred in both the 1990-91 and 2001 recessions, though smaller than what occurred in the 2007-09 downturn, the researchers said. A recent analysis by Barclays economist Jonathan Millar and colleagues found that the closures of all schools from September to December 2020 would result in a reduction of U.S. gross domestic product in 2020 on the order of between 0.4% and 0.8%. That compares with an inflation-adjusted GDP decline of 0.1% in 1991 and a slight increase in 2001.” 

Parties are upending plans at reopened colleges.

“More than 51,000 cases have been reported at more than 1,000 campuses. Some students have faced serious consequences for breaking the rules. Northeastern University in Massachusetts dismissed 11 students last week for violating safety precautions. New York University, Ohio State, Purdue and West Virginia University have all suspended students over violations of rules intended to curb the virus’s spread on campus,” the Times reports. “At the University of Michigan, a labor union representing graduate-student instructors and assistants said it would go on strike Tuesday over virus safety and other concerns. … A student group at the University of Kansas, where there are nearly 500 cases, is planning a ‘strike’ to push the university to move to remote learning, The Kansas City Star reported; this follows a similar ‘sickout’ last week at the University of Iowa.” 

A cluster of cases was linked to a fraternity party at the University of New Hampshire, CNN reports. Colleges in the D.C. area, including the University of Maryland at College Park, are ramping up suspensions of rule breakers, Fox Baltimore reports. Meanwhile, health experts in Texas criticized universities for not ramping up testing among students -- while student-athletes get tested three times a week, other students don’t get tested anywhere near that, the Texas Tribune reports.

  • New York’s infection rate has been below 1 percent for 30 straight days. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) encouraged residents to continue wearing masks, social distancing and hand-washing. New York was once the epicenter of the virus, reporting more than 11,500 new cases in a single day in May. But, on Sunday, New York reported 720 new infections. (Lateshia Beachum)
  • Theme park attendance is still in freefall. Park operators who spent months installing hand sanitizing stations and figuring out how to disinfect roller coasters between each ride are finding that crowds are reluctant to return. To address smaller-than-hoped-for crowds, Disney and others will begin cutting hours and calling off seasonal events. (AP)

Social media speed read

A chilling illustration of how bad the fires are in California:

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) visited Milwaukee for her first campaign-style event since the convention. One of her aides noted that she was wearing a comfy pair of Converse shoes:

And Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) got a haircut at home from his wife, Ann:

Videos of the day

Serena Williams became the first player to record 100 wins at Arthur Ashe Stadium: