Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 26, 2020

Trump reportedly to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes 1st woman to lie in state at the Capitol, and more


Trump reportedly to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court

President Trump reportedly intends to nominate Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Trump has not yet announced Barrett as the nominee, but sources say she will be the choice. Ginsburg died at age 87 last week, leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court that Trump said he intends to fill before the November presidential election. Nearly all Republican senators have indicated they will support a vote on Trump's nominee, making it extremely likely whoever he chooses will be confirmed. Barrett, a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, emerged as an early top contender; as a conservative judge from the Midwest, Trump and congressional Republicans hope she will win over swing voters in the Rust Belt and hold steady on issues like abortion, gun rights, and health care.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes 1st woman to lie in state at the Capitol

Late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first woman and first Jewish American to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol on Friday. Earlier this week, she became the first woman to lie in repose at the Supreme Court. On Friday morning, Ginsburg's casket arrived at the U.S. Capitol building, one week after she died at age 87 from pancreatic cancer complications. Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden paid his respects, as did many top congressional Democrats. While President Trump paid his respects when Ginsburg lay at the Supreme Court, he did not visit the Capitol Rotunda for Friday's ceremony. Trump plans to announce his nominee to replace Ginsburg on the court, reportedly judge Amy Coney Barrett, on Saturday.


Johnson & Johnson shares promising early vaccine trial results

Johnson & Johnson published interim results from its early-to-mid stage coronavirus vaccine clinical trial Friday, reporting that 99 percent of the participants between the ages of 18 and 55 developed neutralizing antibodies against the novel virus. The analysis also found that most of the side effects associated with the vaccine were mild and resolved within a matter of days. It wasn't clear, however, whether participants over 65 were well-protected since immune response results were available for only 15 people in the demographic. One of the key aspects of Johnson & Johnson's trial is that just a single dose produced a strong immune response in participants. Other companies developing vaccines like Moderna and Pfizer are using a two-dose approach. If Johnson & Johnson's recently-launched phase three trial, in which 60,000 volunteers will enroll across three continents, eventually proves the single dose is safe and effective, it could simplify distribution of the vaccine.


House Democrat proposes 18-year term limits for Supreme Court justices

On Friday, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) released a draft bill introducing a number of reforms to the Supreme Court, including 18-year term limits for justices and changes to how presidents appoint them. Current justices wouldn't have to step down, but each president would get two appointments to the bench per term regardless of how many justices there already are. Presidents would make nominations during the first and third years of their terms, with the usual Senate approval. Khanna's proposal doesn't suggest pushing the court beyond nine justices. Instead, if a judge is nominated but the court is full, the longest-serving justice would become a "senior justice" with limited duties. The bill will likely face opposition, including from those who say term limits can't be implemented without a constitutional amendment.


Lebanon's prime minister-designate announces resignation

Mustapha Adib, Lebanon's prime minister-designate, resigned Saturday after he was unable to form a non-partisan cabinet in the aftermath of the Beirut port explosion in August that killed around 200 people and left thousands homeless, prompting the last cabinet to step down amid accusations of corruption and neglect. Even before the blast, Lebanon was struggling with ongoing political and economic crises. Adib, who was designated prime minister at the end of August, was reportedly trying to move away from Lebanon's sectarian-based system of government and "create a government of experts" to address the crises, but his efforts reportedly ran into trouble when two of Lebanon's dominant Shia parties, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, insisted "they wanted the finance minister portfolio."


Florida to fully reopen a day after reporting most coronavirus deaths in U.S.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Friday the state would move to the third and final phase of its reopening plan. That means businesses, including bars and restaurants, will be allowed to operate at full capacity even as the state continues to see thousands of new COVID-19 cases each day. Previously, Florida's bar and restaurant capacity was limited to 50 percent. Local municipalities can still limit capacity between 50 and 100 percent, but will have to clear those restrictions with the state. DeSantis credited a drop in daily coronavirus infections and deaths for the decision, noting Florida's coronavirus outlook has improved since a major spike in July. However, the state reported 162 deaths since Thursday, the highest of any state. Federal guidelines have indicated restaurants and bars are exceptionally risky during the pandemic.


Portland preparing for potentially violent dueling protests

Portland, Oregon, is preparing for members of the far-right group, the Proud Boys, to arrive in the city in large numbers Saturday evening, stoking fears of a clash between dueling protesters as tensions continue to rise across the United States following the decision not to charge Louisville, Kentucky, police officers for killing Breonna Taylor. The Proud Boys, who are known to engage in violent conflict, are headed to Portland for what the group describes as a free speech event in support of President Trump and the police, as well as a rally to "end domestic terrorism," likely referring to Portland's left-wing and antifascist activists, who have been demonstrating against police brutality for months and have planned rallies in response to the Proud Boys. Local and state officials have condemned the Proud Boy's gathering and are sending in reinforcements to aid Portland's police force.


Death toll rises to 26 in Ukraine military plane crash

The death toll from a Ukrainian military plane crash rose to 26 on Saturday after searchers found two more bodies in the vicinity of the aircraft. One person survived. The plane was carrying a crew of seven and 20 cadets from a military aviation school when it crashed Friday night, bursting into flames while attempting to land at the airport in Chuhuiv, a city 250 miles east of Kyiv. No cause for the crash has been determined, but flight recorders have been found, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pledged that there will be a prompt and impartial investigation. Zelensky also ordered that, pending the investigation, all flights of Antonov-26 planes — the model that crashed — be halted.


Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and his wife test positive for COVID-19

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and his wife, Virginia first lady Pamela Northam, tested positive for COVID-19, the governor's office announced on Friday. A member of the governor's residence staff "who works closely within the couple's living quarters" previously tested positive. The governor has no symptoms, and his wife is "currently experiencing mild symptoms," the statement said. "COVID-19 is very real and very contagious," Northam said, urging Virginians to "take this seriously." Northam is the latest U.S. governor to contract COVID-19 after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) tested positive earlier this week, saying he has "no symptoms of any kind." Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) also previously tested positive in July. Northam and his wife plan to self-isolate for 10 days.


Ron Paul hospitalized after apparently suffering medical emergency during livestream

Former Rep. Ron Paul says he's "doing fine" after being hospitalized in Texas. After alarming video emerged on Friday showing Paul starting to slur his words as he spoke during a livestream, Fox News reported that the former congressman was hospitalized for "precautionary" reasons. Fox News' Harris Faulkner also reported that Paul is "lucid and optimistic" at the hospital, according to the Washington Examiner. A picture that was soon posted to Paul's Twitter account showed him giving a thumbs up at the hospital, while a message from the former congressman said, "I am doing fine. Thank you for your concern." His son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), also tweeted, "Thank God, Dad is doing well. Thank you for all your prayers today."


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Biden reverses some Trump restrictions on Cuba
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