Trump aide says 'we're not going to control the pandemic'
LONDONDERRY, N.H. (AP) — The coronavirus has reached into the heart of the White House once more, little more than a week before Election Day, and the president's top aide says "we're not going to control the pandemic." Officials on Sunday scoffed at the notion of dialing back in-person campaigning despite positive tests from several aides to Vice-President Mike Pence, who leads the White House coronavirus task force.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, pressed to explain why the pandemic cannot be reined in, said, "Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu." He told CNN's "State of the Union" that the government was focused on getting effective therapeutics and vaccines to market.
Pence, who tested negative on Sunday, according to his office, planned an afternoon rally in North Carolina, while the president held an afternoon rally in New Hampshire and visited an orchard in Levant, Maine, where he signed autographs and assured a crush of mostly unmasked supporters that a "red wave" was coming on Nov. 3.
Democrat Joe Biden attended church and planned to participate in a virtual get-out-the-vote concert at night. He said in a statement that Meadows was effectively waving "the white flag of defeat" and "a candid acknowledgement of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis."
In a brief exchange with reporters before the orchard visit, Trump demurred when asked if Pence should step off the campaign trail as a precaution. "You’d have to ask him," Trump said.
Fear and anxiety spike in virus hot spots across US
Preslie Paur breaks down in tears when she thinks of her state’s refusal to mandate face masks.
The South Salt Lake City, Utah, woman can’t work at her special education job due to an autoimmune disease. Her husband, also a special ed teacher, recently quit because his school district would not allow him to work remotely to protect her and their 5-year-old son, who has asthma.
"I feel forgotten," Paur said. "We’re living in a world we no longer fit in. We did everything right. We went to college, we got jobs, we tried to give back to our community, and now our community is not giving back to us. And I’m very scared."
As President Donald Trump barnstorms the swing states, often downplaying the coronavirus pandemic before largely unmasked crowds, the nation continues to lurch toward what his opponent Joe Biden, citing health experts, warned will be a "dark winter" of disease and death.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told CNN on Sunday that "we’re not going to control the pandemic." Asked why, he said it’s "because it is a contagious virus just like the flu."
The Latest: Israel sending some children back to school
JERUSALEM — Israel has decided to begin sending children back to school.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced Sunday that his coronavirus cabinet voted in favour of reopening school for children in grades one through four on Nov. 1. The older children will be divided into "capsules," and the children in younger grades will come on alternating days to minimize class sizes.
Israeli schools opened for the school year on Sept. 1 but quickly moved to distance learning as a coronavirus outbreak spread. The government subsequently imposed a month-long lockdown that closed much of the economy.
After mishandling the lifting of a first lockdown early this year, Israel is moving cautiously this time around. Preschools reopened last week, and older children are to gradually return to school in a staggered plan over the coming weeks.
Black contractor braves threats in removing Richmond statues
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Devon Henry paced in nervous anticipation, because this was a project like nothing he’d ever done. He wore the usual hard hat — and a bulletproof vest.
An accomplished Black businessman, Henry took on a job the city says others were unwilling to do: lead contractor for the now-completed removal of 14 pieces of Confederate statuary that dotted Virginia’s capital city. There was angry opposition, and fear for the safety of all involved.
But when a crane finally plucked the equestrian statue of Gen. Stonewall Jackson off the enormous pedestal where it had towered over this former capital of the Confederacy for more than a century, church bells chimed, thunder clapped and the crowd erupted in cheers.
Henry’s brother grabbed him, and they jumped up and down. He saw others crying in the pouring rain.
"You did it, man," said Rodney Henry.
Senate votes to advance Barrett; confirmation expected Mon
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Sunday to advance Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett toward final confirmation despite Democratic objections, just over a week before the presidential election.
Barrett's confirmation on Monday was hardly in doubt, with majority Republicans mostly united in support behind President Donald Trump's pick. But Democrats were poised to keep the Senate in session into the night in attempts to stall, arguing that the Nov. 3 election winner should choose the nominee to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Republicans are excited by the chance to install a third Trump justice on the court, locking in a conservative majority for years to come. Barrett's ascent opens up a potential new era of rulings on abortion, gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act. A case against the Obama-era health law scheduled to be heard Nov. 10.
"The Senate is doing the right thing," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, vowing to install Barrett to the court by Monday.
The 51-48 vote launched 30 hours of Senate debate. Two Republicans, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, voted against advancing the nominee, and all Democrats who voted were opposed. California Sen. Kamala Harris, the vice-presidential nominee, missed the vote while campaigning in Michigan.
Pence to keep up travel despite contact with infected aides
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice-President Mike Pence plans to maintain an aggressive campaign schedule this week despite an apparent outbreak of the coronavirus among his senior aides, the White House says.
Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, and "a couple of key staff surrounding the vice-president" have tested positive for the virus, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Sunday.
The vice-president, who along with his wife, Karen, tested negative on Sunday, according to his office, is considered a "close contact" of the aides under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria but will not quarantine, his spokesman said.
Devin O’Malley said Pence decided to maintain his travel schedule "in consultation with the White House Medical Unit" and "in accordance with the CDC guidelines for essential personnel." Those guidelines require that essential workers exposed to someone with the coronavirus closely monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and wear a mask whenever around other people.
O’Malley said Pence and his wife, Karen, both tested negative on Saturday "and remain in good health."
Rays' rally joins Buckner, Bevens among wild Series endings
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — It was improbable enough that little-known Brett Phillips would get the big hit for Tampa Bay against Dodgers All-Star closer Kenley Jansen.
What followed was outright inconceivable.
Phillips’ tying single with two outs in the ninth inning turned into a game-ending hit when the Los Angeles Dodgers dropped the ball twice, allowing Randy Arozarena to stumble home as the winning run in the Rays’ 8-7 victory in World Series Game 4 on Saturday night.
It was undoubtedly one of the wildest endings in World Series history. Arozarena tripped and fell on his way home and had begun retreating to third base when catcher Will Smith misplayed a relay feed. Arozarena about-faced and dived toward home, pounding on the plate with a big smile while Phillips burst into tears in the outfield.
"Man, baseball is fun," Phillips said.
Health experts question Pence campaigning as essential work
Health policy specialists questioned White House officials' claim that federal rules on essential workers allow Vice-President Mike Pence to continue to campaign and not quarantine himself after being exposed to the coronavirus.
Campaigning is not an official duty that might fall under the guidelines meant to ensure that police, first responders and key transportation and food workers can still perform jobs that cannot be done remotely, the health experts said.
A Pence aide said Sunday that the vice-president would continue to work and travel, including for campaigning, after his chief of staff and some other close contacts tested positive. Pence tested negative on Sunday and decided to keep travelling after consulting White House medical personnel, his aides said.
Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, was among those who tested positive. President Donald Trump, said early Sunday that Short was quarantining.
That usually means isolating oneself for 14 days after exposure in case an infection is developing, to prevent spreading the virus to others.
Black D.C. archbishop's rise marks a historic moment
WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory is set to become the first Black U.S. prelate to assume the rank of cardinal in the Catholic Church, a historic appointment that comes months after nationwide demonstrations against racial injustice.
Gregory’s ascension, announced on Sunday by Pope Francis alongside 12 other newly named cardinals, elevates a leader who has drawn praise for his handling of the sexual abuse scandal that has roiled the church. The Washington-area archbishop also has spoken out in recent days about the importance of Catholic leaders working to combat the sin of racial discrimination.
The 72-year-old Gregory, ordained in his native Chicago in 1973, took over leadership of the capital’s archdiocese last year after serving as archbishop of Atlanta since 2005. The ceremony making his elevation official is slated for Nov. 28.
"With a very grateful and humble heart, I thank Pope Francis for this appointment which will allow me to work more closely with him in caring for Christ’s Church," Gregory said in a statement issued by the archdiocese.
Gregory helped shape the church’s "zero tolerance" response to the sexual abuse scandal while serving as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2001 to 2004. During that period, the bishops adopted a charter designed to govern its treatment of sexual abuse allegations made by minor children against priests. The church’s efforts since 2004 have helped achieve a sharp reduction in child-sex abuse cases. But some abuse continues to occur, and the church’s procedures for addressing abuse continue to incur criticism from those who feel there’s a lack of consistency and transparency.
Election could stoke US marijuana market, sway Congress
Voters in four states from different regions of the country could embrace broad legal marijuana sales on Election Day, and a sweep would highlight how public acceptance of cannabis is cutting across geography, demographics and the nation’s deep political divide.
The Nov. 3 contests in New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Montana will shape policies in those states while the battle for control of Congress and the White House could determine whether marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.
Already, most Americans live in states where marijuana is legal in some form and 11 now have fully legalized the drug for adults — Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Colorado, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont. It's also legal in Washington, D.C.
In conservative Mississippi, voters will consider competing ballot proposals that would legalize medicinal marijuana, which is allowed in 33 states.
Nick Kovacevich, CEO of KushCo Holdings, which supplies packaging, vape hardware and solvents for the industry, called the election "monumental" for the future of marijuana.