De Blasio extends street closures for outdoor dining to weekdays

Forty streets in Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens will be closed to traffic on weekdays to facilitate outdoor dining, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday. The “open streets” program where restaurants can put tables and chairs in roadways to increase outdoor dining capacity during the coronavirus pandemic was previously confined to weekends. The program...
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Yosemite to reopen Friday while fires and smoke trouble other public lands
Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks remain shut.
Donald Trump Links Democrats to Socialist, Communist Regimes In Address Honoring Bay of Pigs Veterans
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We Will Likely Not Know Who Wins On Election Night. We Should Be Prepared and Accept That.
For generations, Americans across the country have known the Election Day routine by heart. Wake up, head to work, make sure to vote during the day, watch the returns at night, and know the results by bedtime. Not this year. Like so many routines, the coronavirus pandemic has turned this time-honored tradition upside down. This…
Dad hurt in Bronx dealership shooting was car shopping for kids’ mother
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Eric Trump must testify before election in AG probe, judge rules
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The problem is Congress
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Citi is spending $1.15 billion to help close America's racial wealth gap
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How do you cover a presidential campaign during a pandemic?
Doug Chayka for Vox What happens when the campaign trail is an ethernet cable? Olivia Nuzzi was covering a Donald Trump rally in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, this summer when the New York magazine reporter had an idea. Why not go talk to the Trump fans at the gathering, most of whom had been spending hours packed together, mask-free? Then she reconsidered. “I’m not going over there today. I’m not fucking going over there and talking to people who don’t have masks on,” she recalls thinking. “I don’t think the news value of my dumb little idea of a news story is worth the risk.” Interviewing a campaign rally attendee is a staple of campaign journalism. But not in 2020. In addition to killing 200,000 Americans and putting millions out of work, the pandemic has upended how campaigns are run — just like everything else, they’ve now mostly moved online — which means it’s changed the way they are covered. Which isn’t necessarily bad. But it is unsettling for many political journalists (again: join the club) who are trying to figure out how to do their job in the most unusual of circumstances. And they’re thinking about what all of this means — both for this year and for future campaigns. “You’re just seeing the press release that goes out, you’re tuning into the livestream of the speech, you’re making as many phone calls as possible,” says BuzzFeed’s Ruby Cramer, who is covering her third presidential campaign this year — and has been in her Brooklyn apartment, except for a single trip to see Joe Biden accept the Democratic nomination, since March. The question that journalists and politician, and eventually voters will have to reckon with is whether the distance between the reporters and the people they’re writing about matters: If you can’t be on the road with Joe Biden because Joe Biden’s not on the road, does it make a difference in what people are going to learn about Joe Biden between now and November 3? And if it doesn’t, should journalists and politicians permanently rethink the way campaigns are run and covered, even when we can (hopefully) gather in person again? A standard pandemic cliché, at this point, is to note that it has accelerated a shift that was already underway. Go ahead and use campaign journalism as another example. You may have a hazy understanding that the most important coverage comes from Important Journalists who travel alongside candidates on the trail, pestering them and their staff for tidbits of news, access, and interviews. That’s the idea behind Boys on the Bus, Tim Crouse’s famous book about the 1972 presidential campaign and the men who covered it. But that notion hasn’t synced up with reality for some time. Yes, sometimes candidates say things at campaign events that become news stories, and may even affect their candidacy — think of Mitt Romney dismissing 47 percent of American voters in 2012, or Hillary Clinton dismissing Trump voters as “deplorables” in 2016. But there aren’t many of those moments, and they certainly don’t have much to do with day-to-day campaign trail reporting. Which is one of the reasons why reporters who cover candidates on the road in recent campaigns have been “embeds.” They tend to be earlier in their careers and lower in the journalistic pecking order (and more likely to put up with the indignities of constant travel). More important, though, is that campaigns have realized they can use Twitter, Instagram, livestreams, and any other tech they want to bypass reporters and go straight to their intended audience. Reporters who travel with the campaign can be tolerated, but they’re much less likely to get access to the candidate. “The curtain at the front of the plane separating the senior staff from the press corps has been drawn for a couple of campaigns now,” says Peter Hamby, a former CNN reporter. He says the utility of the campaign trail coverage has been minimal for years. The shift was clear enough for Hamby to see back in 2013, when he produced a 95-page research report titled “Did Twitter Kill the Boys on the Bus?” Hamby apparently reached his own conclusion: He’s now Snapchat’s chief political correspondent, and does little reporting from the campaign trail. “It was a visceral thing to watch” So even without a virus tearing through America, you’d hear and see reporters talking about the way campaign coverage has been, and should be, changing in 2020. But the strain of working in the pandemic underscores the weirdness. Now you not only have to question the value of interviewing a Trump voter at a Trump rally — it’s a Trump voter at a Trump rally, so what could they say that would surprise you at this point? — you have to worry about whether doing so will make you sick. And that internal discussion is happening after years of Trump himself, who has overturned every bit of conventional political wisdom, going back to his initial campaign. In 2015, for instance, everyone knew that the one thing you couldn’t do in American politics is to cast aspersions on decorated, wounded veterans. But Trump announced that Sen. John McCain, shot down in Vietnam, held in captivity and tortured for years, was “not a war hero,” because Trump liked “people who weren’t captured.” For any other candidate, in any other year, that would have been the end of the campaign — and precisely the reason you cover every word a presidential candidate says. But now, we’ve learned that this stuff is intrinsic to Trump. You expect it. You hear it all the time. Why bother going on the road to hear him say it again? Because maybe you’ll still learn something, say reporters who’ve worked the campaign trail. Yes, you can see a lot of the campaign on Twitter and TV. But if you’re not there, they say, you can’t get the details that let you know what’s really going on — or at least the details that make a great story. “Texture” is the word that comes up a lot. “It’s sort of like this intangible quality that’s only present in person,” says Cramer. “And it has to do with a feeling inside a room, or the way campaign staff are shuffling back and forth in the hallway while the candidate is speaking.” Cramer recalls a scene from this year’s Democratic primary, as Sen. Bernie Sanders’s candidacy evaporated over the course of a couple days: “I remember getting off the bus and seeing one of Sanders’ senior people visibly shaking. He was shaking from the realization of what was happening, and there was nothing he could do to change it. It was a visceral thing to watch.” That scene made it into her story about the campaign’s collapse. “Every story I wrote, it was hugely beneficial to be on the road,” says Amy Chozick, the New York Times reporter assigned to the Hillary Clinton campaign from 2015 to 2016; Chozick says she traveled 523 days during that stretch. “There’s huge value in seeing the candidate that you’re covering every single day — if Hillary changed two words in a speech, I would know,” she says. And being around an event is different than watching an event. Chozick said she could sense a swell of emotion and excitement, which the Clinton campaign hadn’t generated much of before, in the last two weeks of the 2016 campaign — which she readily admits didn’t tell you anything about how Clinton fared on Election Day. Campaign reporters also lament that limited travel and limited events mean limited chances to talk to voters at those events. Yes, someone who goes to a Trump event isn’t representative of the electorate — it’s someone who likes Trump so much they’ll leave their house to go see him. Still, “you’re able to interview voters, and see how they’re responding. I basically haven’t had the chance to talk to any voters at any rally, to see what they think” about campaign messaging, says Alex Thompson, who is covering the election for Politico from afar. “I’ve been stuck in DC. I’m not going to go through the phone book of Milwaukee and call voters.” Instead, Thompson says, he’s trying to figure out how to cover something that’s happening virtually. In a normal year, he says, he’d be trying to figure out how to sneak into a volunteer training session for a Democratic door-knocking campaign; now he says he’s “sneaking into a virtual digital training session, about how to text and share things on Facebook.” The Times’s Maggie Haberman, who covered the Trump campaign in 2016 and followed him to the White House, has plenty of access to people around Trump. But she also misses talking to regular humans. “One thing that I think is missing from the coverage right now is that you can get more of a sense for parts of the race by being in person, talking to voters,” she says. “That I really do miss. I really got a lot out of voters when I talked to them.” The gotta-see-it-live faction is getting more of their wish lately. Over the last few weeks, Trump has revived his campaign rallies, which give him a chance to rile up his base and antagonize everyone else. Just days ago, Trump gloated to a crowd in Minnesota about watching MSNBC reporter Ali Velshi get injured during a protest; since then he’s also been to Ohio and Pennsylvania, where his crowds were large, densely packed and largely unmasked. But cable TV networks no longer reflexively cover them live, and Trump’s provocations don’t make news — perhaps because the news has plenty of other things to cover, like mass death and unemployment. Joe Biden, meanwhile, has made very few public appearances at all — a move that’s partly a concession to a virus that thrives in large gatherings, and partly a calculation that he’ll be better off letting Trump talk his way out of votes. Meanwhile, there are plenty of journalists who say the absence of live events hasn’t made a difference in coverage — or, crucially, in the way the public learns about the candidates. “I think the idea that it’s tremendously valuable to your understanding of an election, to be able to go and shoot the shit with a mid-level communications flack at a bar, is overstated,” says New York’s Nuzzi. Though she did that kind of reporting herself during the 2016 campaign — and this one too. In February, for instance, she filed from the lobby of the Marriott in Des Moines, Iowa, where lots of mid-level campaigners were bemoaning that state’s caucus debacle. But by August, after the general campaign had been almost entirely shut down for months, Nuzzi decided she’d have a better chance of understanding Trump’s reelection chances if she got on the road and visited campaign staff and volunteers in Pennsylvania, a key battleground state. In a series of vignettes, Nuzzi describes finding nearly empty election offices and campaign events. In one of them, she drops by a training session for volunteers in Harrisburg: I imagined a lot of Trump supporters, maskless and seated close together, breathing heavily on a reporter leaning in to record their comments. But the office was quiet. I walked through the arch of books by right-wing personalities (Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh) and past the portraits (George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan) and maps of Pennsylvania voting precincts. I didn’t see anyone there. If this had been a normal campaign, Nuzzi said, she would have never gotten in her car. “I wouldn’t have thought about it. There would have been so many rallies to go to.” You’re watching TV. Are you also covering the election? The 2020 general election hasn’t been completely virtual. In place of their usual, week-long summer conventions — impossible to pull off in a social-distancing era — both candidates staged muted, made-for TV presentations that used both live and taped segments to make their case to the country (or, at least, people who watch political conventions). Normally reporters flock to the Democratic and Republican conventions because it’s a rare chance to get extended face time with a wide swath of Important Political People. But since very few people, period, actually showed up live in Wilmington, Delaware, where Biden’s event was anchored, reporters who attended the event had little to do. One of the most striking moments I’ve seen in this year’s campaign was Kamala Harris’s DNC speech — not because of the content but because of the context. The vice presidential nominee stood on a stage, at a podium, just like a normal speech. But when the camera pulled back, you could see the room she was in was nearly empty, save for a handful of socially-distanced reporters, taking notes on a speech they could have watched on their couch. Just like I was doing. Open Sourced is made possible by Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists. Will you help keep Vox free for all? The United States is in the middle of one of the most consequential presidential elections of our lifetimes. It’s essential that all Americans are able to access clear, concise information on what the outcome of the election could mean for their lives, and the lives of their families and communities. That is our mission at Vox. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone understand this presidential election: Contribute today from as little as $3.
Mourners line up to pay respects to Ginsburg
The casket of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been moved to the top of the Supreme Court's marble steps so the public can pay respect. (Sept. 23)
Louisville Police Officer's Attorney Says 'System Worked' After No Charges in Breonna Taylor Shooting
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Louisville braces for protests after Breonna Taylor grand jury report
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9 experts reflect on the US reaching 200,000 Covid-19 deaths
Christina Animashaun/Vox Public health experts explain what went wrong in America’s coronavirus response. This week, the number of Americans confirmed to have died from Covid-19 crossed 200,000. It is a staggering loss of life, and this unfortunate milestone warrants some reflection. In that spirit, I asked a question of several of the public health experts whose knowledge I have relied upon over the last six months: If you had been told back in February (when the first Covid-19 death in the US was recorded) that before the end of September 200,000 more people would be dead, what would your reaction have been? “I thought we would be much more resilient in our public health, our policymaking, and trust in public health leaders,” Albert Ko, a Yale School of Public Health professor, told me. “I would have thought we would have done a better job protecting our nursing homes.” I thought I would share the responses in full, with some light editing for clarity. Jennifer Kates, director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation: My February self was indeed worried. Things were escalating fast and I increasingly believed, from reviewing the emerging data, that the U.S. was barreling toward treacherous territory. However, I in no way envisioned we would get to 200,000 deaths. In part because that was not (yet) the scale being discussed but also because this was not inevitable. Many of these deaths could have been prevented, if the response had been different. Josh Michaud, associate director for global health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation: It was really hard in February to imagine there would be 200,000 dead in the US in a matter of months. After all, the first state emergency declaration in the US didn’t come until the end of February (in Washington), and we didn’t know the extent of the disease in Italy, Iran, and other places. It wasn’t until March that the Imperial College model was released (projecting the potential for a million deaths or more in the US), the NBA shut down, Tom Hanks was infected, etc. We didn’t know about the US testing debacle yet. Stay-at-home orders were not yet being talked about. So back in February I don’t think it had dawned on most just how bad things could get. Even so, looking back it’s clear that many US deaths could have been prevented with a different national course of action and it’s not like 200,000 deaths was a foregone conclusion at all. David Rehkopf, a social epidemiologist at Stanford University: There are a lot of proximal reasons here specific to how we didn’t react, how people didn’t take it seriously, the lack of universal health care, the distrust of government right now, lack of a clear message that really matter. But I’d like to point out that the US is currently 46th in the world in terms of life expectancy. So why would COVID-19 deaths be any different? All of these same factors that impact our COVID prevalence and COVID deaths also are in many ways similar to what leads to our higher overall deaths as well. But what is important to realize is that is wasn’t always this way in the US. From 1975-1980, we were 17th in the world in life expectancy. But there has been a slow (and recently not so slow) decline since the early 1980s. David Celentano, chair of Johns Hopkins University’s epidemiology department: Shocked – that would be the word that I would say captures my response to our current death numbers from the vantage point of February. By mid-March we were locked down. The doubling time of numbers of infections has truly shown we are not serious in regard to a national approach to COVID-19. This represents the failure of the national leadership, the failings of the executive branch, the emasculation and politicization of the CDC and FDA, and the skepticism of science by large segments of the public, egged on by the president. My guess is that we will be at 400,000 by the close of the year; I certainly hope not. Kumi Smith, an epidemiology professor at the University of Minnesota: The things that have surprised me most in hindsight: - That it took so long for the US CDC to develop and distribute a test. Precious time was lost as they tried to recover from the first failed test; this set us on a whole different epidemic trajectory. - That the White House would ever try to assume the role of public health messenger to the public. And that the CDC has taken as much of a back seat as it has. There’s a protocol for issuing out consistent and up-to-date public health messaging to the public but you wouldn’t know it from how things have gone. - That mask wearing would become so politicized (though someone did recently share with me a story about anti-maskers during the 1918 pandemic so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised). If you take into account all of these things, the death toll is sadly not all that surprising. Eleanor Murray, a Boston University epidemiologist: In February, I was definitely watching COVID carefully, but I also felt confident that the administration would activate a coordinated epidemic response and that such a response would control the spread of the virus relatively quickly and successfully. Clearly I was very wrong about that. Not only was there no clear coordinated response, many of the pandemic preparations that had been made over the previous two decades had been scrapped, canceled, or left to lapse/ expire, making it difficult for other levels of government to step in to the leadership void. I made a tweet sometime in February in response to someone asking for a prediction of what COVID would look like that said something like: right now our best guess for what will happen is to look at historical examples of similar outbreaks – those are SARS & MERS and both were pretty much contained by one year out; not at all like the 1918 flu. I still think that at the time that was a reasonable prediction, given what we knew, but it’s clear that the pandemic has not played out like SARS or MERS. Some of that has to do with features of the virus – the presence of pre-symptomatic spread makes control much harder for SARS-CoV-2 than for SARS. But a lot of it has to do with failures in response. Tara Smith, an epidemiologist at Kent State University: In February, I knew 200,000 deaths were theoretically possible, but I honestly didn’t believe we’d get to that point. Surely we’d get it under control well before that level of mortality, right? I hadn’t anticipated not only the lack of federal response, but the active undermining of our federal scientific leadership within the CDC, FDA, and NIH. I had expected a potentially bumpy road, and resistance from anti-science folk (though I anticipated that being directed toward the vaccine; I hadn’t considered mask mandates in February), but not this level of dysfunction that we’ve seen only amplify since early in the epidemic. Caitlin Rivers, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security: I think we started off on the wrong foot with our struggles to scale diagnostic testing and identify cases. By the time community transmission was first recognized, I think we already had substantial outbreaks underway. We fell behind and have struggled to catch up ever since, though for more reasons than just diagnostic testing shortages. There have been gaps in the federal response, notably a lack of clear overall strategy. Although state and local leaders have done the best they can, I think a lack of a national approach has held us back. Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida: In the spring, I participated in a series of expert surveys facilitated by Nick Reich and colleagues at UMass. I was able to look back and see what I had put for predictions. My May predictions for the year-end totals are below. So by December, we will likely exceed my 90th percentile prediction. It is sad. I expected that this would be challenging, but I didn’t expect how desensitized we as a country would become to over 1,000 Americans dying a day. The goalposts keep moving, and what once seemed unimaginable is now a daily reality. Sometimes I think it is worth reminding people that we have various models to forecast cumulative deaths, but infectious diseases are not the weather. What ultimately will happen depends upon our actions, and so much more death does not need to be foretold. What more can we be doing to keep people safe? Be it testing, tracing, ventilation, mask-wearing, finding safer alternatives to activities. And demanding greater action from our politicians to make this possible. This story appears in VoxCare, a newsletter from Vox on the latest twists and turns in America’s health care debate. Sign up to get VoxCare in your inboxalong with more health care stats and news. Help keep Vox free for all Millions turn to Vox each month to understand what’s happening in the news, from the coronavirus crisis to a racial reckoning to what is, quite possibly, the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work. If you have already contributed, thank you. If you haven’t, please consider helping everyone make sense of an increasingly chaotic world: Contribute today from as little as $3.
Dr. Fauci Tersely Calls Out Rand Paul for Misconstruing His Remarks: 'You've Done That Repetitively'
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