September 21, 2020

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, has faced constant threats of violence since her election in 2018. They include public threats from Republicans set to join her in the House in January — and absolutely no condemnation from congressmembers on the other side of the aisle, she tells the The New York Times Magazine.

In an interview with the Times, Omar discussed "hateful" attacks against her from Fox News' Tucker Carlson, as well as the rise of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican House candidate in a far-right Georgia district who held a gun next to a photo of Omar's "Squad" in a campaign video. Greene's video is just one of many "dangerous" people spouting "bizarre, ill-informed conspiracies" about Omar and other Democrats and "terrorizing so many of us," Omar said.

But despite receiving "a few death threats that have been very publicized where people have been arrested and are incarcerated for it," Omar said she has received no support or condemnation from Republicans. "I can't remember a public statement or private comment of support," she continued.

Despite being "discouraged" by this lack of unity "sometimes," Omar said she has "hope" that "the lived reality of what exists in American cities and towns" isn't the same as what's online. Read more at The New York Times Magazine. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:41 p.m.

A juror in Breonna Taylor's case has some serious criticism of how it was handled.

On Tuesday, a state judge ruled grand jury records — usually kept sealed — could be released to determine if "publicly elected officials are being honest" about Taylor's case. That allowed jurists to speak freely about the case, including one who released a statement criticizing how Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron presented the case to the jury.

Taylor was shot and killed by police while they executed a no-knock warrant at her home. Only one of the officers involved was indicted on charges of wanton endangerment for firing into a neighbor's apartment; none were charged with Taylor's death. But as the anonymous juror said Tuesday, the grand jury in Taylor's case weren't allowed to do so.

After learning how "the grand jury normally operates," it was clear to this juror that Taylor's case was "quite different," the juror said. "The grand jury was not presented any other charges other than the three wanton endangerment charges" against former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison. "The grand jury did not have homicide offenses explained to them," nor anything regarding "self-defense or justification," the juror continued. "The grand jury didn't agree that certain actions were justified, nor did it decide the indictment should be the only charges in the Breonna Taylor case," the juror said.

Cameron recently said he hadn't recommended manslaughter charges to the grand jury investigating Taylor's case. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:38 p.m.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a new report estimates there have been almost 300,000 excess deaths in the United States this year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

CDC researchers on Tuesday said that while about 216,000 deaths from COVID-19 had been confirmed as of Oct. 15, this "might underestimate the total impact of the pandemic on mortality," and they write that "299,028 excess deaths have occurred in the United States from late January through October 3, 2020, with two thirds of these attributed to COVID-19." This number takes into account fatalities from all causes "in excess of the expected number of deaths" for this period of time, the researchers explain.

The report found the largest percentage increases occurred among Hispanics and among adults age 25 to 44, with the latter group seeing a 26.5 percent spike.

"Although more excess deaths have occurred among older age groups, relative to past years, adults aged 25-44 years have experienced the largest average percentage increase in the number of deaths from all causes from late January through October 3, 2020," the report said.

The Washington Post explains that the main causes of the excess deaths are likely people dying from COVID-19 but not having the coronavirus recorded as their cause of death and people dying for other reasons after not seeking medical care or not being able to receive it due to the pandemic.

Steven Woolf, Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health director emeritus, told the Post this is another study demonstrating that "the number of people dying from this pandemic is higher than we think," adding that the number of excess deaths is likely to climb to 400,000 by the end of the year. Brendan Morrow

2:47 p.m.

Never is there a dull moment interviewing Nicolas Cage.

Case in point: the actor spoke to Marilyn Manson in a conversation published by Interview magazine on Tuesday, and when Manson asked a simple question about whether Cage gambles, he had an entire story ready to go about how he once "turned $200 into $20,000" at a casino in the Bahamas and proceeded to donate it to a nearby orphanage.

"I went and found an orphanage in the Bahamas, met all the kids and the headmistress, and said, 'This is for you,'" Cage explained. "I put the 20 grand in her hand, walked away, and never gambled again, because if I did, it would ruin the power of that moment."

Add this one to the list of examples of Cage's real life arguably being more interesting than any of his actual films, alongside that time he apparently really tried to find the Holy Grail. The interview's other highlights included Cage describing how he "just bought a crow" named Huginn who "called me an a--hole" and telling a story about freaking people out with a two-headed snake during a party with Werner Herzog at a "haunted mansion." Presumably, a bidding war in Hollywood for the rights to at least three different stories in this interview alone has already begun. Brendan Morrow

2:00 p.m.

Democrats have a reasonable chance of sweeping Georgia's Senate and presidential races this Election Day.

Georgia has two U.S. Senate seats up for grabs this fall, and as a New York Times/Siena College poll out Tuesday revealed, Democratic candidates are winning one and tied in the other. Meanwhile in the faceoff between President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, candidates are tied at 45 percent support in the typically red state.

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) is up for re-election this fall, and is tied with Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff at 43 percent support, the poll showed. Raphael Warnock, the Democrat looking to fill the seat vacated by retired Sen. Johnny Isakson, meanwhile has 32 percent support over current Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R). Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who is also looking to fill the spot, has 17 percent support, the poll shows.

But it's not as if the Republican faceoff could spoil the party's chances of winning. If no one in the three-way race of Collins, Loeffler, and Warnock gets a majority of the vote, the top two candidates will have a runoff election. Still, Warnock led both Collins and Loeffler, 45-41, in a hypothetical runoff, the poll found. Warnock's 46 percent favorability rating was the highest of any candidate on the poll.

The New York Times and Siena College surveyed 759 likely voters in Georgia from Oct. 13–19, with a 4.1 percentage point margin of error. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:09 p.m.

Melania Trump has a cough.

That's the reason the first lady won't make her first post-coronavirus appearance Tuesday night, Melania's chief of staff Stephanie Grisham said Tuesday. Melania was supposed to rejoin President Trump on the campaign trail in Erie, Pennsylvania, but to be cautious, she'll stay home until she recovers fully.

The president and first lady tested positive for COVID-19 about three weeks ago. Trump was hospitalized for three days, while Melania stayed at the White House and recovered from her light symptoms there, the White House said. Trump returned to the campaign trail less than two weeks after he first reported having a positive COVID-19 test. The White House has refused to reveal the last time Trump and the first lady tested negative for the virus before their positive results. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:47 p.m.

Hello, Democrats.

Seinfeld stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jason Alexander and creator Larry David are set to reunite for a virtual event on Friday to fundraise for Texas Democrats, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The event has been dubbed "A Fundraiser About Something," and fans can watch a live stream after donating any amount of money to the Texas Democratic Party. It will be hosted by Late Night's Seth Meyers and feature "exclusive behind-the-scenes stories" from the show; the announcement also teased some "special guests."

"Texas is a battleground state, period," Louis-Dreyfus, Alexander, and David said in a statement. "We knew that we had to reunite for something special and the movement on the ground for Texas Democrats up and down the ballot is the perfect opportunity to do just that."

This will be the latest star-studded Democratic fundraiser to take place in recent weeks. Louis-Dreyfus herself previously participated in a Veep reunion for Wisconsin Democrats, and on Monday, a Happy Days reunion that will also support Wisconsin Democrats was announced. Outside of TV, the cast of Hamilton recently reunited in a fundraiser for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and Avengers stars like Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson on Tuesday are set for a Biden fundraiser that they're calling "Voters Assemble."

The Seinfeld reunion also comes after Wayne Knight, who played postal worker Newman on the show, reprised the role in an ad encouraging viewers to vote while blasting President Trump's "systematic, premeditated assault on the U.S. mail." Brendan Morrow

12:09 p.m.

Utah's candidates for governor just made history in a very unexpected way.

While Democrat Chris Peterson and Republican Spencer Cox would both like to win the gubernatorial election in just two weeks, they'd also like Utahns to accept the results of the presidential race no matter the outcome. So they banded together for an ad released Tuesday encouraging just that.

In what could be the first time two opposing candidates appeared in one ad so close to the election, Cox acknowledged the candidates are in the "final days of campaigning against each other." "But our common values transcend our political differences," Peterson added, namely their belief that "whether you vote by mail or in person, we will both fully support the results of the upcoming presidential election regardless of the outcome."

"We are both committed to American civility and a peaceful transition of power," Cox added, and Peterson then encouraged Utah to "be an example to the nation."

Cox and Peterson's ad comes as President Trump has repeatedly refused to confirm he'll accept the results of the election if he loses to Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Kathryn Krawczyk

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