5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • Postal Service warns delays could prevent votes from being counted in 46 states

  • U.N. Security Council rejects U.S. bid to extend Iran arms embargo

  • CDC: Recovered coronavirus patients don't need to quarantine, get tested for 3 months

  • Belarusian president appeals to Putin amid protests

  • Trump order gives ByteDance 90 days to sell TikTok

The United States Postal Service is warning that delays could prevent voters' mail-in ballots from being counted this November in almost every state. The USPS reportedly "sent detailed letters to 46 states and D.C. warning that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted." Initial reports found the warning had affected Pennsylvania voters, but the issues with mail processing capacities are apparently widespread. Michigan and Florida, two other crucial swing states, also received the warning their deadlines are "incongruous" with how quickly USPS can deliver ballots to election officials. Officials in Pennsylvania are trying to move the deadline for counting mail-in votes, but in many other states, deadlines cannot be adjusted.

Source: The Washington Post

The United Nations Security Council on Friday voted to reject the United States' effort to extend a global arms embargo on Iran. Washington was backed by the Dominican Republic, but China and Russia opposed the measure, and the 11 other members of the council, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, abstained. The ban is set to expire in October under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the vote was "inexcusable" and accused the council of paving "the way for the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism to buy and sell conventional weapons without specific U.N. restrictions" and ignoring Israel and six Arab Gulf nations who supported the extension.

Source: Al Jazeera, Politico

In updated coronavirus guidance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who have recovered from COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested (as long as they don't develop symptoms) for three months after recuperating, suggesting immunity may last that long. Recovered patients should still socially distance and wear masks, the agency says. The guidance is reportedly based on studies that have found no evidence of people getting re-infected in that span after recovering. Longer term studies will be needed to determine how long protection could really last, however. In related news, the Food and Drug Administration is recommending that people who have been exposed to the virus, but lack symptoms, should avoid getting rapid COVID-19 tests, and instead should receive more sensitive PCR tests, which take longer but are considered more accurate.

Source: The Washington Post, NBC News

Belarus' embattled President Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday appealed to his long-time ally Russian President Vladimir Putin as protesters continue to call for his resignation following his recent disputed election victory. Lukashenko has been in power for 26 years, but the so-called "last dictator in Europe" is facing one of his strongest challenges yet, as tens of thousands of people remain in the streets. He said it is necessary to contact Putin because the protests are "not a threat to just Belarus anymore." Meanwhile, the opposition is re-emerging after Lukashenko cracked down on potential challengers, including Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who ran against him in last week's election. Tikhanovskaya left the country for Lithuania this week for safety reasons, but resurfaced on social media this week and said she is ready to enter talks with Lukashenko, mediated by international partners.

Source: Reuters, NPR

President Trump, via executive order, officially called on Chinese company ByteDance to divest itself of the U.S. operations of the popular video-sharing app, TikTok. The president's order allows 90 days for the transaction to be completed. Trump said "there is credible evidence" leading him to believe ByteDance "might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States," echoing concerns that the company would share American users' data with the Chinese government, a claim ByteDance denies. Previously, Trump had demanded ByteDance find a deal within 45 days, otherwise U.S.-based app stores would be required to stop distributing TikTok, but the new order gives the company more time. Microsoft is considered the leading bidder for the app.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, CNBC