July 1, 2020

In the latest sign of forced labor inside Chinese internment camps, U.S. Customs and Border Protection in New York on Wednesday seized a 13-ton shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people inside the camps, The Associated Press reports.

It's the second time this year the CBP has placed a detention order on hair weave shipments from China. Although the agency determined the previous shipment in May contained synthetic rather than human hair, there is mounting suspicion that the products are a result of forced labor. The exporters behind Wednesday's shipment and the one in May are based in Xinjiang where an estimated 1 million or more ethnic Turkic minorities, including the mostly-Muslim Uighurs, have been placed in government detention camps.

"This is so heartbreaking for us," said Rushan Abbas, a Uighur American activist whose sister went missing two years ago in China and is believed to be in a detention camp. "I want people to think about the slavery people are experiencing today. My sister is sitting somewhere being forced to make what, hair pieces?"

The allegations of forced labor aren't specific to hair or beauty products. News organizations have conducted investigations that repeatedly reveal detainees are directly or indirectly making sportswear and other apparel for popular U.S. brands like Nike and Patagonia.

China has denied the accusations, but U.S. lawmakers are fairly certain about the veracity. "It is likely that many slave labor products continue to surreptitiously make it into our stores," said Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.). Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

10:16 a.m.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is reportedly funding last-minute ad campaigns in two states where Democrats see "opportunities to expand the map," including Texas.

Bloomberg through his Super PAC is funding television ad campaigns in Texas and Ohio expected to cost about $15 million, The New York Times reports. Aide Howard Wolfson explained to the Times that the former mayor conducted polling to find President Trump's potential vulnerabilities and decided upon Texas and Ohio for this last-minute push. Bloomberg has already said he will spend $100 million to support Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Florida.

"We believe that Florida will go down to the wire, and we were looking for additional opportunities to expand the map,” Wolfson told the Times. "Texas and Ohio present the best opportunities to do that, in our view."

The Times notes that a recent poll it published this week showed Trump with a lead of only four percentage points over Biden in Texas, and Wolfson told the Times that Bloomberg's polling suggests the race is even closer.

Meanwhile, NBC News on Tuesday morning released its latest battleground map, and Texas has been moved from "Lean Republican" to "Toss Up." Ohio is also still in the "Toss Up" category.

The NBC map shows Biden with 279 electoral votes, and NBC News' Mark Murray writes that while that math is "not impossible" for Trump, it is "daunting." Brendan Morrow

9:46 a.m.

It turns out Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) agrees with the Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, on at least one thing.

"One of Biden's best points," he said during an interview with Jonathan Swan that aired Monday night on Axios on HBO, "was when he said all of these attacks back-and-forth about [Biden's] family and [Trump's] family, they don't matter, what matters is your family. That may have been Biden's best moment, actually."

Cruz then told Swan he doesn't think the Trump campaign's last-minute push to focus on allegations of corruption against Biden's son, Hunter, "moves a single a voter." View more clips of Cruz's interview at Axios. Tim O'Donnell

8:51 a.m.

With the presidential election a week away, Democrat Joe Biden is the clear favorite. Yet "all of us — Republicans and Democrats, journalists and party operatives, political junkies and casual observers — are held hostage by memories of four Novembers ago," when President Trump scored his huge upset, Tim Alberta writes at Politico. "The bad news for Trump supporters: 2020 is nothing like 2016."

"We know what those polls suggest," Peggy Noonan observed in The Wall Street Journal. "But there is little air of defeat among Trump supporters and no triumphalism among Democrats. Trump supporters believe he will win because of his special magic, Trump foes fear he will win because of his dark magic. Pollsters and pundits stare at the data and wonder how to quantify his unfathomable magic."

Real Time's Bill Maher is nervous about the election, too, "but it's not election night, it's Nov. 4 to Jan. 20, and then after," he told Jimmy Kimmel on Monday's Kimmel Live. "It's impossible to imagine, I think, Trump losing and then and then saying, 'Well, we fought the good fight but the best man won, and I'm telling my staff to graciously allow Biden to take over.' No, he's never going to do that. He's going to lose — my prediction. Now, last time I didn't even say Hillary was going to win, when most people did. This time I do think Biden's gonna win by large numbers, popular vote and even the Electoral vote, and then Trump is gonna go apes--t."

Trump "doesn't do losing — other than three marriages, three casinos, four magazines, an airline, a football league, a charity, and a university, he's never lost anything," Maher deadpanned. "So he's not going to go gently into the night. That's what I worry about. And he's a master of 'It isn't written down, so I can do it.'" Watch Maher's explanation of how that might work with the Electoral College below. Peter Weber

8:44 a.m.

Researchers in the United Kingdom say they've observed a "significant" decline in the percentage of the population with COVID-19 antibodies, potentially pointing to "waning immunity."

Imperial College London scientists in the study found the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies declined from six percent of the British population in June to 4.4 percent in September, Reuters reports. They came to the conclusion that there has been a "significant decline in the proportion of the population with detectable antibodies" by sending out finger-prick tests to a randomly selected group of over 365,000 people in England, according to CNN.

"On the balance of evidence I would say, with what we know for other coronaviruses, it would look as if immunity declines away at the same rate as antibodies decline away, and that this is an indication of waning immunity at the population level," Wendy Barclay, head of Imperial College London's Department of Infectious Disease, said, per Reuters.

The researchers were specifically looking for IgG antibodies in the study, and CNN notes that some other research has suggested "that other types of antibodies may persist longer than IgG does."

But Imperial College London's Helen Ward told BBC News the study suggests that "immunity is waning quite rapidly." Ward added in a statement, "We don't yet know whether this will leave these people at risk of reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19, but it is essential that everyone continues to follow guidance to reduce the risk to themselves and others." Brendan Morrow

7:44 a.m.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health on Monday ended one clinical trial of Eli Lilly's experimental COVID-19 antibody treatment after finding that the drug, "bamlanivimab, is unlikely to help hospitalized COVID-19 patients recover from this advanced stage of their disease." The trial was suspended Oct. 13 out of "an abundance of caution," but the NIH said Monday it had found no significant safety issue with the monoclonal antibody treatment.

Eli Lilly said it will continue testing bamlanivimab with the NIH on mild or moderately ill COVID-19 patients to see if it reduces hospitalizations and severe symptoms. Eli Lilly is also conducting its own separate trials.

Human bodies make antibodies to fight off infections, and Eli Lilly's experimental drug, like a similar treatment from Regeneron, features concentrated copies of one or two antibodies found to be effective at fighting of COVID-19. President Trump was given Regeneron's version when he was hospitalized with COVID-19, and public health experts have high hopes for monoclonal antibody treatments. Eli Lilly and Regeneron are both seeking emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Peter Weber

6:43 a.m.

"The election is just a week away, but the White House is making news for all the wrong reasons," a COVID-19 outbreak in Vice President Mike Pence's inner circle, Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Tonight Show. "Yeah, the only place the coronavirus is 'rounding the corner' is in the halls of the White House." And White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the Trump administration is "not going to control the pandemic," he sighed. "They talk about COVID like it's a wild teen on Dr. Phil."

Yes, "Meadows went on CNN to reassure a worried nation that you're on your own," Stephen Colbert said at The Late Show. But while the virus is hitting a third peak nationwide, "the most infectious part of the country is the Trump administration." He laughed at how the White House is keeping the COVID-exposed Pence on the campaign trail by calling him an "essential worker," and explained the administration's proposed COVID-19 vaccine "quid pro ho ho ho" with mall Santas.

"It's interesting how zen Trump's people are about this," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. With migrant children, "they're like: 'Zero tolerance! One is too many! We have to deport!' But with a virus that's killing hundreds of thousands of Americans, they're like, 'Look, man, the virus is trying to make a better life in our lungs. Who are we to stop it?'" If you listen to Trump, though, he's just bored of the whole COVID thing. "I can safely say that I've never seen a world leader get bored of a crisis," Noah said. "But hey, shout-out to COVID for helping Trump understand what we've felt for the past five years every time we switch on the TV and heard his name. 'Trump, Trump, Trump, always Trump.'"

Jimmy Kimmel played a supercut of Trump's "COVID, COVD, COVID" rants. "I think I've figured it out: He's jealous of the virus," he said on Kimmel Live. "He's upset that COVID is getting more attention than he is."

"Election Day is eight days away, which means we're just a few short weeks away from the Supreme Court telling us who we elected," Seth Meyers joked, darkly, at Late Night. "At a campaign event in Maine yesterday, President Trump signed a pumpkin. So if someone could write a stimulus bill right above it, that would be great." Watch below. Peter Weber

4:18 a.m.

Borat showed up to taunt Jimmy Kimmel on Jimmy Kimmel Live last week, but Stephen Colbert got to interview Sacha Baron Cohen on Monday's Late Show. And Cohen had some new details about Borat Subsequent Moviefilm's most infamous scene, where Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal lawyer, puts himself in a compromising position with a young actress playing Borat's daughter, Tutar.

Giuliani "has denied that he was actually doing anything untoward toward this girl, this 24-year-old woman playing your 15-year-old daughter," Colbert said. "Do you have anything to say to Rudy Giuliani about going into a bedroom with a supposedly teenage girl to drink whisky and zip your pants up and down?" Cohen noted that Giuliani "said that he did nothing inappropriate, and you know, my feeling is if he sees that as appropriate, then heaven knows what he's intended to do with other women in hotel rooms with a glass of whisky in his hand."

Cohen explained that while the actress, Maria Bakalova, was in the hotel room with Giuliani, he was hiding in a custom-built box in the wardrobe, unable to see but supposed to be getting updates from his producer based on the cameras hidden in the room. "You don't want Maria left alone with Giuliani," Colbert suggested, and Cohen said Giuliani thought he was alone with her. "He brought a cop with him, an ex-policeman, and the policeman does a sweep of the entire hotel suite," he explained, and then Rudy's security guard left and "sits outside the room, ensuring that no one could come in and out — which is actually more scary when you think about it, for her." Things got even dicier when he turned on the phone, Cohen said.

Cohen also recounted what really happened when he interviewed Trump as another of his alter-egos, Ali G, and showed unreleased footage of Borat narrowly escaping a gun-rights rally after being recognized by undercover Black Lives Matter activists. Watch below. Peter Weber

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