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European countries push to combat coronavirus second wave without lockdowns

Governments across Europe have announced new restrictions this week as several countries report record coronavirus case numbers, but they're avoiding imposing nationwide lockdowns.

Why it matters: Widespread lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus have devastated economies around the world.

The big picture: German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Thursday new measures, including a curfew for restaurants and bars in coronavirus hot spots and a limit on gatherings, after the country reported a record 6,638 new infections, per DW.

  • "I am convinced that what we do now will be decisive for how we come through this pandemic," she said. "We are already in a phase of exponential growth, the daily numbers show that."

In France, President Emmanuel Macron announced in a televised address Wednesday a curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. would be imposed on the Paris region,Marseille, Lyon, Lille, Toulouse, Montpellier, Grenoble, Rouen and Saint-Étienne.

  • "We need to put a brake on the spread of the virus," Macron said, confirming that the curfew that starts Saturday would remain in place for at least four weeks.
  • "We are going to have to deal with this virus until at least the summer of 2021."

In the United Kingdom, the British government has imposed a three-tier alert system on several cities, with Liverpool the first city to face the toughest restrictions that has seen bars that don't serve food closed.

Russia also registered a record 14,231 new cases Wednesday, but officials were focusing on touting a coronavirus vaccine developed by the country, the New York Times reports.

Italy on Wednesday surpassed its record number of cases with 7,332 new infections.

  • Health officials announced Tuesday new measures including mandatory seating in restaurants and bars after 9 p.m., a mandatory midnight closing time for venues and a ban on outdoor and indoor private parties, Forbes notes.

Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced gatherings would be limited to five people and declared a "state of calamity," as the country confirmed more than 2,000 cases in a single day for the first time, Anadolou Agency reports.

The Czech government on Wednesday announced household guests must be limited to three people, alcohol could not be sold after 8 p.m. and there would be a "wider mandatory use of face masks," per AFP.

  • On Thursday, the country's health ministry confirmed a record 9,544 new cases, the Guardian notes.

Why it matters: Widespread lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus have devastated economies around the world.

Democrats look to Kamala Harris as bridge to next generation

Progressive leaders see Sen. Kamala Harris, if she's elected vice president, as their conduit to a post-Biden Democratic Party where the power will be in younger, more diverse and more liberal hands.

  • Why it matters: The party's rising left sees Harris as the best hope for penetrating Joe Biden's older, largely white inner circle.

If Biden wins, Harris will become the first woman, first Black American and first Indian American to serve as a U.S. vice president — and would instantly be seen as the first in line for the presidency should Biden decide against seeking a second term.

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Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules, caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

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States beg for Warp Speed billions to distribute COVID-19 vaccines

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.

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Court rules Minnesota absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. Election Day

An appeals court on Thursday ruled that Minnesota absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.

Why it matters: The ruling, which comes just five days before the election, blocks the state's plan to count absentee ballots arriving late so long as they're postmarked by Nov. 3 and delivered within a week of the election. Now those ballots must be set aside and marked late.

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Twitter labels tweet from RT implying voter fraud in U.S. elections

Twitter on Thursday labeled a tweet from Russian state media outlet RT (formerly Russia Today) that included a video implying widespread voter fraud is plaguing, and potentially delegitimizing, the U.S. election.

Why it matters: It's the first time Twitter has labeled RT's account with a civic integrity label, or a designation used to highlight efforts to manipulate or interfere in elections or other civic processes.

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U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

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The norms around science and politics are cracking

Crafting successful public health measures depends on the ability of top scientists to gather data and report their findings unrestricted to policymakers.

State of play: But concern has spiked among health experts and physicians over what they see as an assault on key science protections, particularly during a raging pandemic. And a move last week by President Trump, via an executive order, is triggering even more worries.

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Apple sets September quarter sales record despite pandemic

Apple on Thursday reported quarterly sales and earnings that narrowly exceeded analysts estimates as the iPhone maker continued to see strong demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

What they's saying: The company said response to new products, including the iPhone 12 has been "tremendously positive" but did not give a specific forecast for the current quarter.

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