CNN 5 Things to Know for Wednesday October 21, 2020

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5 things to know for October 21: Coronavirus, election, economy, Nigeria, Google

1. Coronavirus

The US just saw about 60,000 new Covid-19 cases in a day, triple what the daily average was back in June when restrictions began to ease. It’s another sign that the US is nearing what experts say is a “rapid acceleration” of the disease. In other words, yes, the fall surge may get worse. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner, says the US is about two to three weeks behind whatever’s happening in Europe. And right now, it’s pretty bad. The UK’s daily coronavirus death toll tripled from Monday to yesterday, and cities like Paris are dealing with curfews and other new restrictions. The Czech Republic seemed to have vanquished the virus in the summer thanks to intense safety measures, but the government is now bringing back a strict mask mandate as daily case counts are far higher than just after the pandemic began.
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Elections officials in Florida and Alaska contacted law enforcement after dozens of registered voters reported receiving threatening emails telling them to “Vote for Trump or else!” At least 183 people at the University of Florida got them, and at least one voter from a third state, Arizona, reported getting one. Meanwhile, early votes are coming in by the millions. In Ohio, absentee ballots are being returned at nearly double the rate they were in 2016. As for the candidates, President Trump and Joe Biden are preparing their final activities on the campaign trail. Trump raised eyebrows yesterday when he abruptly ended a solo interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” and did not return for an appearance he was supposed to tape with Vice President Mike Pence.

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3. Economy

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will resume stimulus talks today, even though last evening’s self-imposed deadline has come and gone. Pelosi said the sides are close to resolving a key sticking point over money for coronavirus testing and contact tracing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, is not so bullish and has warned the White House that getting behind a proposal with Dems before the election could badly divide Senate Republicans. Meanwhile, the pandemic is accelerating machine automation of tasks normally done by real people like administrative assistants, bookkeepers and payroll clerks. A new World Economic Forum report finds this shift could displace about 85 million jobs by 2025.
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4. Nigeria

Anti-police violence protests in Nigeria have been going on for nearly two weeks, and things are getting ugly. Eyewitnesses say multiple demonstrators were shot by soldiers yesterday in the major port city of Lagos, and barriers at the scene prevented ambulances from reaching people. The state’s governor has instituted a 24-hour curfew amid the unrest, and on Monday, the Lagos government said it was closing all area schools and urged students to learn using remote technology. The daily nationwide protests are in response to widespread claims of kidnapping, harassment and extortion by a police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS. The group was disbanded on October 11, but dissatisfaction and fear still abound.

5. Google

The Trump administration, along with 11 states, just sued Google, alleging the tech giant has stifled competition to remain atop the online search marketplace. The suit claims Google pays billions of dollars to tech companies like Apple and Samsung to operate as their default browsers, often forbidding any dealings with competitors. Google says its deals with other companies are “no different” than, say, a cereal brand paying for a prime spot in a grocery store. This is the largest antitrust case against a tech company in more than two decades, and it follows a year-long probe by DOJ investigators into Google’s position in the tech world. It also comes at a critical time, just two weeks before an election in which tech platforms have been scrutinized for their impact on democracy.
US sues Google in landmark antitrust case