UK announces new plan to help workers hit by pandemic LONDON — Britain’s treasury chief announced a new income support program Thursday for workers hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, as the government races to prevent widespread layoffs when earlier employer subsidies end next month. Chancellor Rishi Sunak, in a speech to lawmakers, unveiled his plan to subsidize the wages of workers whose hours are cut due to the pandemic as part of a wider package of measures to help businesses and bolster the economy. Businesses and labor unions had pressed the government to step in with more direct support for people in precarious work situations. Under a furloughed worker program that expires next month, the government pays 80% of the wages of workers placed on leave. “The primary goal of our economic policy remains unchanged — to support people’s jobs — but the way we achieve that must evolve,'' Sunak said, adding that the Conservative government wants to support viable jobs but not preserve those that are no longer needed.
Donald Trump steps up wild attacks on Joe Biden as first debate looms Five weeks from from polling day, two days from the first presidential candidates’ debate, and moments after the New York Times published bombshell revelations about Donald Trump’s taxes, the US president took aim at his Democratic opponent Joe Biden with a series of wild and unproven accusations. In an unfocussed White House briefing, the president retailed baseless allegations, including that his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden had used “performance-enhancing drug” during appearances. Trump compared Biden’s performance across primary debates, including, according to the president, that he was stronger in some debates than others: “People say he was on performance-enhancing drugs.
Google Pixel phone 'designed for economic downturn' image copyrightGoogle Google's hardware chief has said its new flagship smartphone was designed to go on sale during an economic downturn. As a result, the Pixel 5 has abandoned some of its predecessor's headline features and runs on a slower chip in order to be sold at a lower price. However, it does gain 5G connectivity and some new photography capabilities. Experts say it will face tough competition from other mid-range Android handsets, but the included bundle of Google services could help.
Smoke choking California again as dangerous fire conditions continue Smoke from nearly two dozen wildfires burning across California will continue to darken skies across the west this weekend, as residents prepare for more heat, toxic air and conditions that are expected to keep fueling the flames. The National Weather Service reports that both excessive heat warnings and heat advisories will remain in effect along California’s coast, while the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has extended its Spare the Air Alert through Tuesday, with air quality deemed “unhealthy”. Meanwhile the state is closing in on a devastating new record, with close to 4m acres now consumed by wildfires this season. “It’s likely that over the next day or two we will crest the 4m-acre mark. The biggest year before this year was 1.54m,” said Thom Porter, a chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.
Billionaires' wealth rises to $10.2 trillion amid Covid crisis The world’s billionaires “did extremely well” during the coronavirus pandemic, growing their already-huge fortunes to a record high of $10.2tn (£7.8tn). A report by Swiss bank UBS found that billionaires increased their wealth by more than a quarter (27.5%) at the height of the crisis from April to July, just as millions of people around the world lost their jobs or were struggling to get by on government schemes. The report found that billionaires had mostly benefited from betting on the recovery of global stock markets when they were at their nadir during the global lockdowns in March and April. UBS said billionaires’ wealth had hit “a new high, surpassing the previous peak of $8.9tn reached at the end of 2017”. The number of billionaires has also hit a new high of 2,189, up from 2,158 in 2017.
Second presidential debate canceled but Trump plans in-person events The second presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden has been cancelled, the Commission on Presidential Debates confirmed Friday, a move that came as the president announced his first in-person events since being diagnosed with Covid-19. The decision by the nonpartisan commission follows a public disagreement between the two candidates over the debate’s format. The commission had previously announced the debate would take place “virtually” due to Trump’s diagnosis. Trump, however, said he would refuse to participate in a virtual event, while Biden advocated for it for safety reasons.
Biden leads Trump by 17 points as election race enters final stage Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s lead over Donald Trump has surged to a record 17 points as the US election enters its final sprint, an Opinium Research and Guardian opinion poll shows. Some 57% of likely voters intend to vote for Biden, while just 40% say they will vote for the incumbent president, the survey shows. The 17-point gap is even bigger than than 57%-41% margin found by CNN earlier this month. It is just short of the lead in the popular vote that Ronald Reagan enjoyed in his second landslide victory in 1984. Nigeria protests: Prison set on fire as death toll rises to at least 56 Unrest continued on Thursday when gunshots rang out in the affluent Ikoyi neighborhood of Lagos, an eyewitness told CNN. Adukeo Ogundiya, a 22-year-old staying at a hotel opposite the Ikoyi correctional facility, said she saw fire and smoke coming out of the prison. "I saw people jumping out and the fire is getting really crazy, everywhere the clouds were dark," she told CNN. "Then for [sic] next 30 minutes there were [sic] shooting, they opened fire, just shooting." Ogundiya said she wasn't sure who was shooting, and saw people in plain clothes jumping over fences. Military personnel were deployed and all roads leading to the prison are blocked.
US 2020 election could have the highest rate of voter turnout since 1908 More than 50 million Americans have cast ballots in the US presidential election with 11 days to go in the campaign, a pace that could lead to the highest voter turnout in over a century, according to data from the US Elections Project on Friday. The eye-popping figure is a sign of intense interest in the contest between Republican Donald Trump and Joe Biden, his Democratic challenger, as well as Americans’ desire to reduce their risk of exposure to Covid-19, which has killed more than 221,000 people across the United States. Many states have expanded in-person early voting and mail-in ballots ahead of election day on 3 November, as a safer way to vote during the coronavirus pandemic. The high level of early voting has led Michael McDonald, the University of Florida professor who administers the US Elections Project, to predict a record turnout of about 150 million, representing 65% of eligible voters, the highest rate since 1908.
Australia storms: tennis ball-sized hail hits parts of Queensland as NSW warned of flash-flooding Queensland has been hit with tennis ball-sized hailstones, with a warning more are likely to fall as a series of dangerous supercell thunderstorms race across the state’s south-east. Severe thunderstorms formed along the Great Dividing Range from the New South Wales border to Wide Bay, north of the Sunshine Coast, on Saturday before pushing towards the coast throughout the afternoon. More were expected during the evening, the Bureau of Meteorology warned. “The situation is volatile and continuing to change quickly,” a spokesman said. “Some of these storms are fast-moving and fast-forming, so people should consider whether they need to be outside or on the road at the moment.” “These thunderstorms are a significant threat to property and life,” the bureau tweeted.
US election 2020: Trump threatens to fire Fauci as Harris warns over nation's 'moral direction' – live How much impact can a few thousand faked emails telling voters in Florida and Alaska to “vote for Trump or else” have on voters compared with Trump directly ordering the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist street gang, to “stand back and stand by” before a television audience of 73m people? And what kind of false tale of voter fraud could Iran possibly seed that could undermine Americans’ faith in the electoral process more than the disinformation about voter fraud and mail-in ballots coming straight from the White House and Trump’s campaign? “‘Don’t trust the electoral system, don’t trust the CDC, don’t trust your neighbor because they’re probably antifa, don’t trust the left,’” Claire Wardle, the executive director of First Draft, a group that researches and combats disinformation, said of Trump’s re-election message.
Covid-19: Live Updates As the eyes of a tired nation remained transfixed on the results of the presidential election, the United States set a daily record for new cases for the third straight day, with more than 129,000 new cases on Friday. And it reported more than 1,000 deaths for the fourth straight day, the first such stretch since August. The United States first reported a record of over 107,000 cases in a single day on Wednesday. On Thursday, it was over 121,000 new cases, another record, according to a New York Times database. Trump rails against election defeat as US Covid deaths top 250,000 – live updates When Kamala Harris returned to the Senate this week for the first time as vice president-elect, her Republican colleagues offered their congratulations and Sen. Lindsey Graham greeted her with a fist bump. A move that Harris has been criticised in some quarters for indulging.