Morning News in Brief
The Associated Press
Biden goes on offense in Georgia while Trump targets Midwest
WASHINGTON (AP) — One week until Election Day, Joe Biden is going on offense, heading Tuesday to Georgia — which hasn't backed a Democrat for president since 1992 — and pushing into other territory where President Donald Trump was once expected to easily repeat his wins from four years ago.
The Democratic presidential nominee planned to travel to Iowa, which Trump took by 10 points in 2016, later in the week. His running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, is heading to Arizona and Texas, where Republicans haven't lost any statewide office since 1994 — the nation's longest political winning streak.
The aggressive schedule is a sign of confidence by the Biden team, which is trying to stretch the electoral map and open up more paths to 270 electoral college votes. But after Democrats flirted with GOP territory in 2016, only to lose those states as well as their traditional Midwestern strongholds, Biden's campaign is mindful of overreaching.
The former vice president will also visit in the coming days Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida.
Georgia, where Biden will make two stops on Tuesday, has increasingly become a draw for Democrats in recent years, as turnout increases among Black voters and the Atlanta suburbs tilt away from the GOP.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Amy Coney Barrett's first votes on the Supreme Court could include two big topics affecting the man who appointed her.
The court is weighing a plea from President Donald Trump to prevent the Manhattan district attorney from acquiring his tax returns. It is also considering appeals from the Trump campaign and Republicans to shorten the deadline for receiving and counting absentee ballots in the battleground states of North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
It's not certain Barrett will take part in any of these issues, but she will make that call.
Barrett was confirmed Monday by the Senate in a 52-48 virtual party line vote. She is expected to begin work as a justice on Tuesday after taking the second of two oaths required of judges by federal law. No justice has assumed office so close to a presidential election or immediately confronted issues so directly tied to the incumbent president's political and personal fortunes.
At 48, she's the youngest justice since Clarence Thomas joined the court in 1991 at age 43.
OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) — Gabe Loiacono is the kind of voter President Donald Trump can ill afford to lose. He lives in a pivotal county of a swing state that is among a handful that will decide the presidency.
A college history professor who last cast a ballot for a Democrat more than 20 years ago, Loiacono is voting for Democrat Joe Biden because he thinks Trump has utterly failed in his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
"President Trump still does not seem to be taking the pandemic seriously enough. I wish he would," said Loiacono. He said he never thought of Trump as "all bad" but added, "There is still too much wishful thinking and not enough clear guidance."
And now the virus is getting worse in states that the Republican president needs the most, at the least opportune time. New infections are raging in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the upper Midwest. In Iowa, polls suggest Trump is in a toss-up race with Biden after carrying the state by 9.4 percentage points four years ago.
Trump's pandemic response threatens his hold on Wisconsin, where he won by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016, said Marquette University Law School poll director Charles Franklin.
Coronavirus deaths are rising again in the US, as feared
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Deaths per day from the coronavirus in the U.S. are on the rise again, just as health experts had feared, and cases are climbing in practically every state, despite assurances from President Donald Trump over the weekend that "we're rounding the turn, we're doing great."
With Election Day just over a week away, average deaths per day across the country are up 10% over the past two weeks, from 721 to nearly 794 as of Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Newly confirmed infections per day are rising in 47 states, and deaths are up in 34.
Health experts had warned that it was only a matter of time before deaths turned upward, given the record-breaking surge in cases engulfing the country. Deaths are a lagging indicator — that is, it generally takes a few weeks for people to sicken and die from the coronavirus.
Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota expert on infectious diseases who warned over the summer of a fall surge, said what's happening now is a confluence of three factors: "pandemic fatigue" among people who are weary of hunkering down and are venturing out more; "pandemic anger" among those are don't believe the scourge is a real threat; and cold weather, which is forcing more Americans indoors, where the virus can spread more easily.
"When you put those three together, we shouldn't be surprised what we're seeing," Osterholm said.
Bomb at seminary in Pakistan kills 8 students, wounds 136
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A powerful bomb blast ripped through an Islamic seminary on the outskirts of the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar on Tuesday morning, killing at least eight students and wounding 136 others, police and a hospital spokesman said.
The bombing happened as a prominent religious scholar during a special class was delivering a lecture about the teachings of Islam at the main hall of the Jamia Zubairia madrassa, said police officer Waqar Azim. He said initial investigations suggest the bomb went off minutes after someone left a bag at the madrassa.
TV footage showed the damaged main hall of the seminary, where the bombing took place. The hall was littered with broken glass and its carpet was stained with blood. Police said at least 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of explosives were used in the attack.
Several of the wounded students were in critical condition, and hospital authorities feared the death toll could climb further. Authorities said some seminary teachers and employees were also wounded in the bombing.
Initially police said the bombing killed and wounded children studying at the seminary but later revised their account to say that the students were in their mid-20s.
Barrett swearing-in differs markedly from 'superspreader'
WASHINGTON (AP) — This time they mostly wore masks.
It's been only a month since President Donald Trump's Rose Garden event to announce he was nominating Amy Coney Barrett to serve on the Supreme Court. That packed celebration for friends and allies of the president and his high court nominee turned into a coronavirus superspreader event.
When the just-confirmed Barrett returned to the White House on Monday to take her constitutional oath, the celebration was moved to the broader South Lawn, chairs for more than 200 guests were spread about 6 feet apart, and the mask-wearers greatly outnumbered those who declined to cover their faces.
Some participants — including Trump and Barrett — were unmasked.
But the event had a markedly different feel than the Sept. 26 Rose Garden gathering. More than two dozen attendees — including Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and Republican Sens. Mike Lee and Thom Tillis — tested positive after attending the earlier White House celebration.
California braces for more fire danger from winds
LOS ANGELES (AP) — California prepared for another round of dangerous fire weather Tuesday even as crews fought a pair of fast-moving blazes in the south that critically injured two firefighters and left more than 100,000 under evacuation orders.
Some of the fiercest winds of the fire season drove fires up and down the state Sunday night and Monday before easing but they were expected to resume overnight and continue into Tuesday morning, although not to the earlier extremes, according to the National Weather Service.
Forecasts called for Santa Ana winds up to 50 to 80 mph (80.4 to 128.7 kph) at times over much of Southern California, with some of the strongest gusts howling through Orange County, where two blazes sped through brushy hills near major urban centers.
A fire that broke out around dawn Monday prompted evacuation orders for thousands of homes in the area of Irvine, while a few miles away another blaze did the same in the Yorba Linda area. More than 100,000 people were told to flee the fast-moving flames.
One home was reported damaged.
Hurricane Zeta is ashore in resort zone of Mexico's Yucatan
CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Hurricane Zeta, the 27th named storm in a very busy Atlantic season, made landfall on the Caribbean coast of the eastern Yucatan Peninsula late Monday while whipping the resorts around Tulum with rain and wind.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Zeta came ashore just north of Tulum with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph).
Quintana Roo state Gov. Carlos Joaquín had warned that "nobody should be on the streets ... you shouldn't go out anymore" until the hurricane passed.
Zeta was predicted to lose some power while crossing the peninsula, before regaining hurricane strength in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday while heading for the central U.S. Gulf Coast and a likely landfall Wednesday night. A hurricane watch was posted from Morgan City, La., to the Mississippi-Alabama state line.
In Playa del Carmen, between Tulum and Cancun, Mexican tourist Elsa Márquez held up her beach towel Monday so it flapped in the wind, rattling with the strong gusts Monday a few hours before Zeta's arrival.
Vietnam evacuating low-lying areas as strong typhoon nears
HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam scrambled Tuesday to evacuate more than a million people in its central lowlands as a strong typhoon approached while some regions are still dealing with the aftermath of recent killer floods, state media said.
Typhoon Molave is forecast to slam into Vietnam's south central coast with sustained winds of up to 135 kilometers (84 miles) per hour on Wednesday morning, according to the official Vietnam News Agency. The typhoon left at least 3 people dead and 13 missing and displaced more than 120,000 villagers in the Philippines before blowing toward Vietnam.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered provincial authorities late Monday to prepare to evacuate about 1.3 million people in regions lying on the typhoon's path.
"We must keep our guard up to protect the lives of the people. That is the utmost important task to get people to safe places," Phuc was quoted as saying in an emergency meeting with officials in charge of disaster response.
Those living in vulnerable, low-lying areas will head to sturdier shelters inland. The number of people to be evacuated may shrink as the typhoon's path becomes more certain.
PORTERSVILLE, Pa. (AP) — The setting: a rolling patch of Pennsylvania farmland, about 15 miles from the little town where "Night of the Living Dead" was filmed. The moment: Halloween season 2020, a moonlit Friday night.
She strides up to the hayride and beckons you to the dimly lit tent behind her. Her eyes are hollow. "Blood" streaks her nurse's uniform. Across her forehead is a deep, oozing wound.
"This is the corona tent," she says. "I'm Nurse Ratched. We're gonna test you all for the corona."
On the truck, the voice of a teenage girl slices through the darkness: "I TOLD you there'd be a COVID section."
This is Cheeseman Fright Farm, one of those stylish Halloween attractions that emerge from the shadows in the United States of America when the leaves start falling and the days grow shorter.