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Good Morning. Republicans say they will soon occupy Ginsburg’s seat. A Müller adjutant regrets it. And coronavirus cases are increasing again in the United States
Public health experts have long feared that the end of summer – as some students returned to school and the weather cooled – would lead to a surge in coronavirus cases.
This surge appears to have started.
The number of new cases confirmed every day in the US has increased by more than 15 percent in the past 10 days. It is the sharpest increase since late spring and arrived just before the official start of this autumn.
Unlike the earlier US summer surge, this surge also coincides with an increasing number of cases in other affluent countries such as Canada and much of Europe. The increases appeared to play a role in yesterday’s stock market decline as investors feared the need for new locks.
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans today to announce new restrictions on nightlife. In the Czech Republic the Minister of Health resigned yesterday. In Madrid, the authorities have imposed new restrictions on almost one million residents. Across Europe, officials are hoping these targeted restrictions will reduce new cases – and allow them to avoid a full lockdown again.
The US continues to be one of the most at risk countries as it never suppressed the spread of the virus after the original outbreak. (In the table above, you can see how much higher the red line has been for the US than the other lines since April.)
The coming weeks can also bring new problems: The cooler autumn weather will make it difficult to socialize outdoors. “And when pandemic-tired families travel to spend the holidays together, things get worse in late fall and winter,” wrote The Times’ Jeneen Interlandi in an article anticipating the rest of the year.
There was great good news. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, estimates that people infected today are 30 to 50 percent less likely to die than they were in the spring.
Even so, the death toll is terrible. Today the number of confirmed deaths in the US is most likely going to exceed 200,000.
In other virus developments:
An official with the National Institutes of Health is leaving the job after a report in The Daily Beast revealed that he was the agency and one of its leaders, Dr. Anthony Fauci, in pseudonymous posts on a right-wing website.
Nearly 90,000 Pre-K students and children with disabilities in New York City returned to classrooms yesterday.
The organization that runs a major college admissions test – the ACT – closed more than 500 test centers this past weekend because of the virus or recent forest fires. Due to the closings, many students were unable to take the test.
THREE GREATER STORIES
1. Senate Republicans Agree
Several key Senate Republicans said they would vote quickly to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. Mitt Romney, who has stood against President Trump many times, said he would announce his plans after a Senate lunch today. Despite his support, Democrats would be a voice that wouldn’t block confirmation.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said he would vote “this year”. He didn’t say whether it would be before or after the election.
Later this week: Ginsburg’s family will honor her in a private ceremony on Wednesday. It will then rest until Thursday in front of the Supreme Court, where the public can pay their respects. On Friday she will be the first woman to be in the State Capitol.
Trump said he would wait until after Ginsburg’s funeral to announce his candidate, adding that it would “probably” come on Saturday.
Another candidate for the seat: Barbara Lagoa, a federal appeals judge in Miami and the daughter of Cuban exiles, could back Trump’s appeal to Florida voters.
2. An inside criticism of Müller
The investigation team, led by Robert Mueller, did not do everything possible to determine what happened in the 2016 election, according to a new book by Andrew Weissmann, one of Mueller’s leading MPs. (Here’s the Times review.)
The team shied away from summoning Trump and taking other steps to review his finances for fear that he would fire them, Weissmann writes. While criticizing the president for being “lawless,” he also accused one of Müller’s other MPs, Aaron Zebley, of being overly cautious, reports The Atlantic.
3. Police shots rattle in South Africa
Police shootings are about twice as common in South Africa as they are in the US, and not many lead to widespread outrage. However, more recently it was found that: Authorities have charged three officers with the death of a 16-year-old boy with Down syndrome who, according to family members, went to the store to buy cookies.
The shooting has sparked debates over racial and police violence. The problem is complex in South Africa, where both the police and the population are predominantly black.
The following also happens
Electric vehicles have become almost as affordable as their gas-powered counterparts, but the US is still far behind Europe in terms of charging station availability.
Some protesters against the brutality of the police are more confrontational and increasingly move into residential areas, where protesters shouting megaphones at people who are supposed to “come out of your house onto the street” to demonstrate support.
A Chinese court on Tuesday sentenced an outspoken Chinese real estate tycoon for sentencing Communist Party leader Xi Jinping to 18 years in prison for corruption.
The Manhattan Attorney’s Office proposed for the first time in a lawsuit that Trump and his companies be investigated for tax fraud.
A federal judge in New York ordered the Postal Service to reverse operational changes that have slowed mail delivery in recent months and to prioritize elective mail.
Lived life: Despite intimidation from the Ku Klux Klan and local authorities, Rev. Robert S. Graetz Jr. remained a rare, unabashed voice for desegregation among whites in Alabama in the 1960s. He played a direct role in the Montgomery bus boycott, which was inspired by the courage of his friend Rosa Parks. He died at the age of 92.
IDEA OF THE DAY: Kings, Queens, Popes and Judges
Kings and queens have lifelong appointments. Popes too. In advanced democracies, however, lifetime tenure for key government posts is extremely rare. Among the only examples: federal judges in the United States.
The constitution provided for lifelong judicial appointments to protect federal judges from undue influence from politicians and the public. “The tenure allows judges to make tough and potentially unpopular decisions without fear of retaliation,” said Amy Steigerwalt of Georgia State University.
But lifelong tenure has its drawbacks. It introduces a random element into the composition of federal courts that causes them to be influenced by both judges’ lifespans and election results: Should the future of abortion policy really depend on whether Ginsburg was 87 or 88? Lifetime in office can also lead to fierce political battles because so much is at stake.
“That so much depends on the life and death of a single person,” wrote Heinrich Wefing, journalist for the German newspaper Die Zeit, this weekend, “brutally and clearly shows the antiquated nature of the almost late monarchical and certainly dysfunctional USA constitution.”
Some legal experts have proposed term restrictions instead. Others argue that like the UK, judges should have a compulsory retirement age. Most legal scholars agree that such a change would require an amendment to the constitution that limits the term of office of judges only to “good behavior”. And as long as a political party believes the current regime benefits, as Republicans do now, it will be difficult to make changes.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT, ‘GRAM
No fancy ingredients needed
This spinach and potato tart is versatile. It’s what the recipe’s author, Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, calls a kind of “hug from the kitchen” – comfort foods often presented in the shape of a potato. Do you have any extra herbs? Mint, parsley, or dill are great additions. Firm tofu cubes can also add some protein.
A divisive reading
John Ames (Jack) Boughton, the criminal son of a Presbyterian minister, is one of the most memorable figures in recent American literature, writes Dwight Garner in his most recent review. The character is the focus of “Jack,” the fourth novel in Marilynne Robinson’s series about the people of the small town of Gilead, Iowa.
“I am divided about Robinson’s novels. On the one hand, there is ‘Gilead’, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 2005, ”he writes. “On the flip side, opening up her other novels, including this one, means, for the most part, entering a distant, airless, life-denying, vaguely pretentious, and largely humorless universe.”