5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • Senate confirms Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court

  • Supreme Court rejects request to extend Wisconsin mail-in ballot deadline

  • U.S. reports most COVID-19 cases in a week since pandemic began

  • Zeta strengthens into hurricane as it approaches Mexico

  • NASA confirms water on the moon's sunlit surface for the 1st time

The Senate on Monday night confirmed Amy Coney Barrett as the 115th justice to the Supreme Court, succeeding the late liberal icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was a 52-48 vote, with Sen. Susan Collins of Maine the only Republican to join Democrats in opposing Barrett's confirmation. Following the vote, Justice Clarence Thomas administered the constitutional oath to Barrett, 48, during a ceremony at the White House, and on Tuesday, Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the judicial oath during a private ceremony. Barrett was President Trump's third nominee to the Supreme Court, and increases the conservative majority on the court to 6-3. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) moved at lightning speed to ensure Barrett was confirmed ahead of the Nov. 3 election, despite refusing to allow a vote in 2016 when former President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia that February.

Source: The Washington Post

The Supreme Court on Monday night refused to reinstate a Wisconsin court's order to extend the deadline for absentee ballots in the state. The order was put on hold by a federal appeals court. The justices split 5-3, with the conservative justices opposing the extension, which would have let election officials count mail-in ballots as long as they are received up to six days after the Nov. 3 election. Democrats have argued that because of the coronavirus pandemic, more mail-in ballots will be sent, and there needs to be additional time to count them all. Wisconsin is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases, and hospitalizations have reached a record high.

Source: The Associated Press

The United States confirmed more than 481,000 new cases of COVID-19 over the past seven days, which is the highest one-week tally since the pandemic began. The seven-day average of new daily cases in the U.S. has reached more than 68,000, surpassing the previous highest seven-day average in July. On Friday, the U.S. set a new record for most cases confirmed in a day with over 83,000 infections, and the number of new cases also surpassed 83,000 on Saturday. Amid this uptick, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Sunday said the Trump administration is "not going to control the pandemic," drawing criticism from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who accused the administration of waving "the white flag of defeat."

Source: CNN, CNN

Zeta, the earliest ever 27th named storm of the Atlantic season, strengthened to a hurricane Monday afternoon, and is centered about 90 miles southeast of Mexico's Cozumel island, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Zeta has maximum sustained winds of 80 mph and is moving northwest at 10 mph. Forecasters expect the storm to make its way over the Yucatan Peninsula late Monday before moving into the Gulf of Mexico. Zeta will likely approach the Gulf Coast by Wednesday, but could weaken by that point. The storm could bring four to eight inches of rain to Mexico, parts of Cuba, and the Cayman Islands, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said, and could make landfall in the United States anywhere from Louisiana to Florida's Panhandle. Zeta is the 11th hurricane of the 2020 season.

Source: The Associated Press

Scientists have confirmed there is water on the sunlit surface of the moon, NASA announced Monday. The agency revealed its Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy detected water molecules in the moon's southern hemisphere. NASA's announcement explained that scientists had previously observed "some form of hydrogen" on the moon's surface, but they couldn't "definitively distinguish" between water and hydroxyl. "We had indications that H2O — the familiar water we know — might be present on the sunlit side of the moon," said NASA's Paul Hertz. "Now we know it is there." NASA says this suggests "water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed places," and also "raises new questions about how water is created and how it persists on the harsh, airless lunar surface."

Source: NASA