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Watch the US Navy stealth destroyer Zumwalt fire off a missile for the first time

  • The first-in-class ship of the Navy's most advanced class of destroyers has test-fired a missile for the first time.
  • The USS Zumwalt test-launched an SM-2 missile at a test range in California, testing the ship's ability to defend itself against cruise missiles.
  • The Zumwalt was commissioned four years ago, but its combat system hasn't worked until earlier this year.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US Navy destroyer USS Zumwalt fired a missile for the first time during a recent weapons test, the Navy announced Monday.

The Zumwalt, a first-in-class stealth destroyer, test-fired an SM-2 missile from the ship's launcher last Tuesday at the Naval Air Weapons Center Weapons Division Sea Test Range in Point Mugu, California.

The Zumwalt was commissioned in 2016, but it was not delivered to the Navy with a functional combat system until earlier this year.

While the Zumwalt program has faced a number of significant setbacks, including cost overruns and major delays, a big issue was the ship's main guns — the two 155mm guns of the Advanced Gun System.

When the Navy reduced its order from roughly thirty ships to just three, the cost of the rounds shot up. A single round of the Long-Range Land Attack Projectile was going to cost almost $1 million — a figure closer to guided missiles than artillery shells.

And that wasn't the only problem with the guns. Vice Adm. William Merz, then the deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems, told Congress in 2018 that the guns also lacked the desired range. "We just cannot get the thing to fly as far as we want," he said, adding that the Navy was considering getting rid of the guns altogether.

The Navy was ultimately forced to reevaluate the combat system and change the ship's mission. Instead of naval fire support for ground units, the ship has been retasked to an anti-ship combat role.

In May, following the destroyer's delivery to the fleet, the Zumwalt test-fired the 30 mm mark 46 MOD 2 Gun Weapon System, a remotely-operated, high-velocity naval cannon for taking out small, high-speed surface threats, for the first time.

Now, the Zumwalt has also tested its ability to launch missiles. The SM-2 that was test-fired last week is a surface-to-air missile that can also be used against ships, and it showed the Zumwalt can defend itself from an incoming missile. 

Capt. Matt Schroeder, the DDG-1000 program manager, said in a statement that "today's successful test not only demonstrates the ship's capability to fire missiles and conduct self-defense, it is also a significant step toward more advanced combat system testing and operations for our Navy's most technically innovative warship."

The Zumwalt is expected to achieve initial operating capability in 2021.

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Attendance Allowance: What other benefits can I claim with Attendance Allowance?

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Attendance Allowance is paid out at two different rates, and how much money you will get depends on the level of care that you need due to your disability. People claiming attendance allowance must be over State Pension age and have a long term illness or disability. Attendance Allowance isn’t affected by how much you earn or have in savings.

What other benefits can I claim with attendance allowance?

People on attendance allowance are able to claim other benefits to make up their total income.

According to the NHS website, people on attendance allowance could also get:

  • Pension credit
  • Housing benefit
  • Council Tax reduction

In addition to this, claimants could also receive:

  • Help with NHS costs
  • Cold weather payments
  • Winter fuel payment

You might be able to get help with your Council Tax by getting ‘Council Tax Reduction’ assistance if you receive attendance allowance.

Even if you were already claiming a reduction in your council tax, you might be able to get more off your bill now you’re claiming attendance allowance.

Your local council can check to see what Reduction rate you should be getting.

It might also be worth applying for other benefits like Universal Credit.

People receiving attendance allowance should apply even if they have been refused in the past because they earned too much.

PIP and State Pension: Can pensioners get paid PIP? [EXPLAINED]
Attendance allowance: Is attendance allowance taxable? [REPORT]
State Pension UK: Divorced women urged to act to avoid missing out [WARNING]

Getting attendance allowance means you’re allowed to earn more money than before without your benefits being affected.

You will not be affected by the benefit cap if you or your partner receives the allowance.

The benefit cap is designed to limit the amount of benefit payments a single household can receive.

If you’re already claiming other benefits or tax credits, these could go up when you sign up to attendance allowance.

The Citizens Advice Bureau recommends all claimants to contact the benefit office dealing with your claim to tell them you are now getting attendance allowance.

This will ensure that they assess what other help you could be entitled to.

You can also claim a Disabled Person’s Railcard if you receive attendance allowance.

Claiming the disability benefit could also help support your application for a Blue Badge, which allows you to park closer to where you need to go if you are disabled.

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Pension fears as MPs told of ‘scope’ for pension tax rises – ‘it probably should be done’

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Pension assets and tax relief rules may be targeted for funding public coffers in the coming months. Today, the Treasury Committee continued their work on the “Tax after coronavirus” inquiry which seeks to address the reconstruction of the economy following the economic fallout of the pandemic.

The committee held a meeting with several tax experts to theorise on how this can be achieved through various tax arrangements and plans.

Mel Stride, the chair of the committee, put questions and potential plans and theories to the following experts:

  • Professor Judith Freedman CBE – Professor of Taxation Law and Policy, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford
  • Bill Dodwell, – Tax Director, Office of Tax Simplification
  • Derek Cribb – Interim CEO, Association of Independent Professionals & the Self-Employed (IPSE)
  • Andrew Titchener – Head of Tax Policy, Confederation of British Industry (CBI)

Mel Stride raised the prospect of looking to pensions to raise funds as opposed to increasing National Insurance and/or income tax in the spirit of focusing on economic and employment growth.

He asked Professor Freedman for her thoughts on this and she replied: “Looking at rates in isolation doesn’t work well, you have to look at broadening the base as well.

“And if you’re looking at broadening the base than people in receipt of pensions should be within your purview because they’re not paying any National Insurance on those pensions and I think there’s some scope for looking at that section of the community.

“Speaking as one of them, you know I don’t think it will be popular but I think it should probably be done.”

Pension: Early ‘dipping’ could cost you £40,000 – what to know [WARNING]
Pension: Tax relief action ‘must be taken’ as HM Treasury makes plans [EXPERT]
Pension pots may be used for home deposits under new proposal [INSIGHT]

Following this, Mr Stride acknowledged tax rises of any sort will never be popular but unfortunately, difficult decisions will have to be made at some point.

The initial focus here was on pension tax relief, which currently encourages savers to put money aside for their retirement and in return, taxes that would normally go to the government would instead be put into a pension pot as a sort of bonus.

Pension tax relief rules faced damning reviews recently as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was called on to evaluate how the system works overall.

As the Public Accounts Committee detailed in its initial findings from the summer: “Tax reliefs have an enormous impact on tax revenue but it is far from clear whether they deliver the economic and social objectives many are supposed to support.

“The full cost of tax reliefs that support government’s economic and social objectives is not known and could exceed £159billion a year.

“We have long been concerned that tax reliefs are not sufficiently evaluated to ensure they are delivering what was intended when they were introduced. The impact of COVID-19 on public finances means that it is ever more important that tax reliefs are demonstrably cost-effective.

“Despite our repeated examination of this topic since 2013, HM Treasury and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have made unacceptably slow progress in improving their management of tax reliefs.

“It is staggering that they still have insufficient understanding of the cost and value for money of tax reliefs, as well as who benefits from them. Tax reliefs need rigorous challenge, as costs can be much higher than expected and their benefits are not always evident.

“HM Treasury and HMRC need to make a step change in their understanding and administration of reliefs. The current pressures on the public finances require an immediate and fast response. They must do more and focus on the largest and riskiest tax reliefs.”

Despite the harsh criticism, the government responded this month by denying some of the claims made by the Public Accounts Committee and they revealed they would not be making any changes or re-evaluating the system in place for the time being.

Under the current rules, pension contributions to private schemes can receive tax relief worth up to 100 percent of a person’s annual earnings.

This relief may be granted automatically to many workers but some may need to claim the relief manually if:

  • They pay income tax at a rate above 20 percent and their pension provider claims the first 20 percent on their behalf
  • The pension scheme in question is not set up for automatic tax relief
  • Someone else pays into the person’s pension.

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‘New York Tough’ isn’t going to get us through the pandemic — trust me

When Jerry Seinfeld’s opinion piece “So You Think New York Is ‘Dead’ ” was published in the Times this summer, it struck a chord with wearied New Yorkers, hopeful that all they’d need to get through the pandemic was a little elbow grease.

His essay was a response to an article that had appeared in The New York Post making the case that New York City was, in fact, dead. The coronavirus killed it. But to hear Jerry tell it, only losers and wimps (to paraphrase) or a “putz” would abandon New York City during a pandemic. We’re #NewYorkTough, after all.

If only it were that easy.

What was missing from Jerry’s impassioned response were the cold, hard facts — oh, and it’s a lot easier to stick it out in New York City during a pandemic when you can do so from your mansion in the Hamptons.

You can be #NewYorkStrong; you can be #NewYorkTough. But here’s the thing: This virus is bigger than us. If you want to stick it out in New York City during the pandemic, that’s fine. But that doesn’t make you better or stronger or in any way superior to those who choose to leave.

I left. After 15 years living in Brooklyn, this July, I packed up my studio apartment and moved in with my mom in my hometown, a suburb in Westchester.

I wanted a better quality of life. I wanted more (or even some!) ease. There’s no need for me to martyr myself to a city that is maybe not gone for good, but is objectively, factually, not the same as it once was.

In the best of times, living in New York City is very, very hard. It’s very expensive. You have to make sacrifices: living in a small place, doing work you don’t like and/or working long hours to be able to pay your rent, often surrounded by people and crowds.

Often, it’s worth it. Two years ago, I went through cancer treatment. I’m single and I lived alone, and my Brooklyn community supported me. The hospital I was treated at was just blocks from my apartment, and I’d run into my care team on the street, at the bagel shop and in the produce aisle at the grocery store.

My neighbors in my building, some of whom I’d barely spoken to before, dropped off mason jars of homemade soups, cleaned my bathroom, carried heavy packages up to my apartment from where they were left in the lobby, leant me an air mattress for when my sister stayed over to take care of me after my surgery, and more. My superintendent removed my AC from my window when it got cold and changed my burnt-out lightbulbs during my treatment, and told me he could help me with anything I needed around my apartment, even if it wasn’t part of his job.

For a long time before I was diagnosed, and continuing through treatment and after, I’d walk 20 minutes each way to my favorite local bakery for coffee in the morning, and sit there for hours journaling and reading and talking to the owner and the other regulars as they streamed in and out. I think this was one of the last places I went before New York City shut down in March.

Once the pandemic hit, things in New York City, in my Brooklyn neighborhood, changed. That is not a statement based on emotion: It’s a fact.

Early on, my oncology therapist said that we live in New York City for everything we have access to, so we make sacrifices and live in small apartments. But during the pandemic, we no longer had access to all those things. It was just us in our small apartments.

A way of life that was already hard became harder. Always being so close to people became even less appealing when there’s a dangerous virus floating through the air.

After the experience of going through cancer treatment, I didn’t want to make misery-inducing sacrifices anymore. And especially now, during the pandemic, it didn’t feel worth it to fight so hard to maintain the quality of life that living in New York City was affording me — which was not good in the absence of the access I’d once enjoyed to my beloved Brooklyn community.

During cancer treatment, I never liked when people said things like, “You’ve got this!” or “Crush cancer!” or “Kick cancer’s ass!” Once, someone close to me called and said, “Are you powering through?”

“Powering through?” No, I was not. I was humbled in the face of a life-threatening disease.

Likewise, no matter how much passion and emotion we feel for our beloved city, being #NewYorkStrong and #NewYorkTough is not enough to change the facts or alter the reality.

The pandemic is one of those things that we need to be humbled in the face of. Human effort will only get us so far. Sometimes we need to let down our armor of self-sufficiency and exceptionalism. Sometimes we need to acknowledge that that’s not enough, and we need more.

A version of this article originally appeared on on Oct. 9. 

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More Than 50 Former Intel Officials Say Hunter Biden Smear Smells Like Russia

A coalition of former intelligence officials issued a joint letter condemning a recent smear campaign against Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, saying it appeared to have the hallmarks of a Russian disinformation campaign meant to influence the upcoming election.

The group includes former director of national intelligence James Clapper, former CIA directors Mike Hayden, Leon Panetta and John Brennan, and dozens of other former deputy directors and senior officials of American intelligence agencies.

“Each of us believes deeply that American citizens should determine the outcome of elections, not foreign governments,” the group wrote in a letter first obtained by Politico. “It is for all these reasons that we write to say that the arrival on the U.S. political scene of emails purportedly belonging to [former] Vice President Biden’s son Hunter, much of it related to his time serving on the Board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.”

“If we are right,” they continued, “this is Russia trying to influence how Americans vote in this election, and we believe strongly that Americans need to be aware of this.”

The group notes they do not know if the purported emails published by the New York Post are genuine and they do not have concrete evidence if they are a Russian disinformation campaign, but their “expertise makes us deeply suspicious.”

Politico notes several signatories have publicly endorsed Biden’s campaign, although they have worked under presidents from both parties, including President Donald Trump.

The so-called revelations against Hunter Biden were first published last week by the New York Post, which described them as a “smoking-gun email” on its front page. The publication’s story claims Hunter Biden took a damaged laptop to a repair store in Delaware but never returned. Contents of the laptop later found their way into the hands of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, who gave it to the newspaper.

The device, the Post added, contained an email linking the former vice president to his son’s business dealings.

Republicans, namely Trump, have latched on to Hunter Biden’s work on the board of a Ukrainian energy company as a political attack, although is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden.

Questions about the Post’s story arose almost immediately, and The New York Times wrote Sunday several of the reporters on the story had refused to put their bylines on it. Biden’s campaign said at the time it couldn’t comment on the allegations in the piece as the Post hadn’t reached out about “critical elements” in the story, although a spokesperson told Politico: “Joe Biden carried out official U.S. policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing.”

The Associated Press reported last week the FBI was investigating if the emails published by the Post were connected to a Russian disinformation campaign. The bureau declined to comment to the publication, but the report prompted the former intelligence officials to say their concern was widespread throughout Washington.

“We do not know whether these press reports are accurate, but they do suggest concern within Executive Branch departments and agencies that mirrors ours,” they wrote. “It is high time that Russia stops interfering in our democracy.”


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iPhone 12 review – Apple’s first 5G mobile is the biggest upgrade in YEARS

APPLE’S first 5G iPhone is here – and it’s as fast and furious as you’d expect.

I’ve been testing the nippy blower for about a week, and it’s clear this is the biggest upgrade in years

What is the iPhone 12?

The iPhone 12 is one of four new models launched in October 2020.

You’ve also got the cheaper iPhone 12 Mini, and the pricier iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.

All four models are the first to support super-fast 5G internet, though you’ll need a 5G SIM too.

And the iPhone 12 is in stores on Friday, October 23 for £799.

iPhone 12 design

The iPhone 12 has a brand new design that will feel familiar.

That’s because the curved edges are gone – in favour of a squared-off look first introduced back with the iPhone 4.

It feels nice and easy to hold, and somehow manages to be thinner and lighter too.

There are five colours available: white, black, blue, green and red.

And there’s a new Ceramic Shield coating on the front to reduce breakages.

Apple reckons you’re 4x less likely to break the screen, though you should probably avoid putting that to the test.

There’s a huge 6.1-inch screen that squeezes into every corner of the iPhone – so it’s not too big to hold.

And it’s the first time the regular iPhone has an OLED Super Retina XDR screen, usually only available on “Pro” phones.

It looks great, and lets you watch telly in HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

The display is also plenty bright (1,200 nits if you care), so you’ll be able to watch Netflix at the beach on a sunny day with no bother.

iPhone 12 box

Much of Apple’s gadget handiwork has been overshadowed by the fact that the charging plug is missing from the box.

In fact, the box is roughly half the size of before – which is probably a good thing, given that excessive packaging is one of the great evils of our time.

Apple’s move away from chargers has been rumoured for months, so geeks have had plenty of time to chew over the move.

I was initially sceptical: it seems like a total money-grab at first.

But when you really think about it, the environmental argument is convincing.

Around 1.5billion smartphones shipped last year, and with other gadgets, you’re probably looking at many more times that – all with chargers in the box.

This happens year in, year out, and doesn’t even count for third-party chargers being bought and sold.

Our drawers and houses fill up with chargers, and many are simply chucked away. All of this e-waste is seriously unsustainable.

You’ll probably have an old iPhone Lightning cable and plug lying around.

And new plugs are discounted to £19, which will work with the cable in the iPhone 12 box.

Besides, your iPhone also supports wireless charging, so it’s probably time to invest one of the many cheap charger-pads anyway.

iPhone 12 specs, features and battery life

First up, the iPhone 12 is 5G-ready – though you’ll need a 5G SIM too.

It’s next-gen mobile internet that offers super-fast speeds, though coverage is still limited to large towns and cities for now.

But expect much wider reach (and even faster speeds) over the next few years.

With 4G, you’d expect something like 25-45Mbps.

With the iPhone 12, I was getting 200Mbps in a London suburb, although you’ll probably reach double that in some areas.

Apps, games and movies will download in an instant. Loading is a thing of the past.

The iPhone 12 is also powered by the extremely fast A14 Bionic chip.

It’s arguably one of the fastest processors in any smartphone: I experienced zero lag or janky apps during use.

Another big innovation this year is MagSafe.

It’s a new magnetic coil in the back of the iPhone that lets it line up perfectly with MagSafe wireless chargers.

Apple is flogging two at the moment: a single one, and a Duo that charges your Apple Watch too.

It’s a neat idea, and works well – I’ve found myself using MagSafe more than the charging cable, because it’s less faff. Who wants faff?

But it gets better: Apple is opening up MagSafe so people can make accessories for them.

There are already official Apple items, including a snap-on card holder, and quick-attach cases that also support wireless charging.

Battery life is good: I’m making it comfortably through a day of use so far, even off WiFi.

And the iPhone 12 runs on iOS 14, which includes a redesigned Home Screen that’s easier to keep tidy – as well as a much better version of Apple Maps.

iPhone 12 camera

The back of the iPhone 12 has two cameras like before, but with a redesigned system.

There’s a wide camera with a larger aperture to let more light in – as well as a new 7-element lens.

Simply put, you’ll be able to take better snaps when lighting is poor.

You should also get brighter photos with less noise, giving you the edge on Instagram.

Alongside this is an ultra-wide camera with a massive 120-degree field of view.

Basically every photo you take on ultra-wide looks amazing, simply because we’re not used to smartphones capturing so much of a scene.

Night Mode is back and even better, letting you take bright nighttime shots without flash.

And the iPhone 12 also gets Deep Fusion, which analyses and improves every pixel in your photos.

There’s a new Smart HDR3 feature that optimises your photos depending on what you’re snapping – like a person or a plate of food.

And Portrait Mode has had some tweaks to better capture glasses and hair.

Video is rarely mentioned, but TikTok and YouTube are unstoppable – so the iPhone 12 could help you become a star.

You can shoot in 4K Dolby Vision, which is mind-blowing for a phone camera.

iPhone 12 review verdict – should you buy it?

In technology, we always talk about “trickle down”.

Amazing features usually appear on the most expensive gadgets first, before making their way to budget-friendly gear.

And the iPhone 12 is benefitting from loads of trickle-down tech.

You’ve got a smashing OLED screen that has only ever appeared on “Pro” iPhones.

And the handset supports full 5G, a feature that’s only now appearing on cheaper mobiles.

The processor inside this phone is the same that powers the more expensive Pro model, and the camera borrows many of the same tricks.

With some bonus tricks like MagSafe accessories and a much tougher screen, this is the biggest iPhone upgrade in years.

At £799, it’s not a bad price too – as you’re getting most of the iPhone 12 Pro features, but for £200 less.

And you'll probably find the charger issue sounds worse than it is – as you've probably already got a bunch of chargers.

Normally I’d warn against upgrading an iPhone after just a year or two, but with the addition of 5G, this is very tempting.

Of course, you should check if you’ve got 5G coverage in your area using our handy guide here.

The Sun says: The iPhone 12 is a great all-rounder with amazing features for the price. If you’ve been waiting to upgrade, now’s the time. 5/5

  • iPhone 12 at Amazon for £799 – buy here
  • iPhone 12 at Best Buy from $799 – buy here

In other news, read our guide to 5G here.

Check out the best 5G SIM deals right now.

And find out if 5G is in your area.

What's your favourite smartphone right now? Let us know in the comments!

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science team? Email us at [email protected]

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Here's what to watch during the final two weeks of the Trump-Biden campaign

  • Just two weeks remain in the 2020 campaign between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
  • Biden is ahead in the polls, but the final debate between the candidates could move the needle.
  • Big progress on the coronavirus vaccine could reshape Trump's messaging in the final days of the race.

The finish line is in sight, and the contenders have leaned into their final sprints.

Just two weeks remain until Election Day, a grand finale to a cacophonous campaign cycle that Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden both insist will define no less than the "soul" of the United States.

While the former vice president emerged from the Democratic primaries less than a year earlier, the 2020 race has been underway practically since Trump took office in early 2017, when he resumed holding his signature campaign-style rallies. In the final two weeks before Nov. 3, Trump is packing his schedule with boisterous in-person events as he works to narrow his polling deficit with Biden — and to make up the time spent off the trail while he was being treated for the coronavirus.

Biden, whose campaign has adhered much more strictly to public-health experts' guidelines for avoiding the spread of Covid-19, has hosted fewer public events in the final stretch, and none with large crowds. But his party's fundraising efforts have far outpaced the president's, allowing him to blanket the airwaves with ads and spend gobs of cash in crucial swing states.

Biden has maintained a comfortable lead in national polls, and he is also leading in several swing states. But game-changing surprises have come to be expected in the final weeks, especially in an unprecedented election being held under the cloud of the coronavirus.

Here's what to watch out for:

The final debate

Trump and Biden debated face to face for the first time in late September. It didn't go well.

Trump constantly interrupted, and Biden hurled unfiltered insults, as the debate offered plenty of heat but little light. Polls showed the debate was panned by majorities of viewers, though Biden's performance was generally viewed more favorably.

There's just one more chance for the candidates to assail each other, and deliver an ultimate pitch to voters, before Election Day. The second and final debate is scheduled for Thursday in Nashville and is set to be moderated by NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker. This time, Trump or Biden will be given two minutes of uninterrupted time to answer questions at the start of each segment while the other candidate's microphone is muted.

Presidential debates can make a real difference, even on the eve of an election. Richard Nixon's stiff appearance in the debate against John F. Kennedy, for instance, was seen as an inflection point in the 1960 race. Then-President George H.W. Bush's glance down at his watch in his 1992 debate against Bill Clinton became a key moment in the campaign.

But the debates themselves have been wildly politicized in 2020, and it's unclear what form the final event will take — if it takes one at all.

Another debate was supposed to be held last Thursday in Miami. But it was scrapped after the president rejected the decision by the Commission on Presidential Debates to host the event virtually. That move was made following Trump's Covid-19 diagnosis and subsequent hospitalization, though Trump was out of the hospital and deemed noncontagious by his doctors ahead of the event.

In its place, the two candidates participated in separate town hall events, which were aired at the same time on different networks. The president in his town hall avoided an opportunity to condemn QAnon, the baseless pro-Trump conspiracy theory, while Biden refused to rule out the possibility of adding more seats to the Supreme Court if he is elected.

Ahead of the last scheduled debate, Trump has preemptively attacked Welker for being "unfair," and his campaign has complained about the format of the event. On Monday, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien shared a letter on Twitter urging the debate hosts to ensure that foreign policy would be the main focus, rather than the coronavirus, climate change or race in America.

The coronavirus

The pandemic has been a central focus of the final year of the 2020 campaign. Democrats have ripped Trump's handling of the crisis, arguing that he bears responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of deaths in the U.S. that have so far been attributed to the disease.

The president, meanwhile, has frequently promised that a vaccine was on the way and that the country would be freed from Covid-19 in time for a record-breaking economic boom in 2021.

Coronavirus cases are on the rise once again, and experts warn the pandemic could be even more difficult to fight as flu season progresses. But Trump has preemptively rejected the possibility of reapplying the strict social distancing measures that squelched the economy and sent markets plummeting downward earlier in the year.

On Capitol Hill, the window of opportunity for another round of pandemic relief before the election appears to be closing shut. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have grappled for months with Trump administration negotiators, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Trump has frequently contradicted Republican leaders' desires for an additional stimulus bill and recently walked away from the negotiating table before restarting talks — all without being directly involved in any of the deliberations himself. Still, Pelosi said Democrats and the White House have "continued to narrow their differences" following an hourlong talk Monday.

Health experts have poured cold water on Trump's repeated refrain that a vaccine could come as soon as Election Day, or possibly even sooner. Even if it did, questions remain about its timeline for distribution. Trump has touted his administration's efforts to prepare to ship out millions of doses as soon as a vaccine is approved, but officials have said it could take months before most Americans are vaccinated.

But if a major development in the search for a vaccine does occur before the election, expect the Trump campaign to shout it from the rooftops.

"If there's a vaccine that's ready or if there's a therapy that's ready, I fully expect that the president will trumpet it, and do it very loudly," said Chris Campbell, former assistant secretary of the Treasury for financial institutions.

"If that process yields a result prior to the election, I think that's all that we will hear between that day and the Election Day," Campbell said.

The October surprise

The most dramatic moments in a campaign often come in the final weeks before an election, but good luck trying to spot them in advance.

"There is always an October surprise and it at times can be needle-moving, but there's really no way to plan for it, because it's just that, it's a surprise," Campbell said.

In October 2016, there were plenty. Trump's campaign was rocked, and largely written off, after audio surfaced of him in 2005 bragging about making sexual advances on women, saying "when you're a star, they let you do it."

But soon after, focus shifted to then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. Then-FBI Director James Comey's public remarks about the Democrat's emails, delivered just a few days before the 2016 election, are arguably what cost her the presidency.

A New York Post report published last week, claiming to show "smoking gun" emails related to Biden and his son Hunter Biden is being treated as an October surprise by the Trump campaign and its surrogates.

The report, which cites Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and his former top advisor, Steve Bannon, as sources, has been treated with skepticism by other news outlets. The Post alleges Hunter Biden attempted to set up a meeting between his father and a top executive at a Ukrainian company he worked for while Joe Biden was vice president.

It's unclear whether the Post's report will have a noticeable impact on the race, though the Post has also claimed polls are narrowing in the wake of its exclusive.

The president and his supporters have railed against the decisions by Facebook and Twitter to limit distribution of the story on their platforms, accusing the tech giants of politically motivated censorship.

Biden's son was at the center of Trump's impeachment fight, which revolved in large part around a phone call in which Trump asked Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to "look into" the Bidens. Trump was impeached in the House and acquitted in the Senate.

Another possible October surprise may have already come and gone: the president's Covid-19 infection.

Trump revealed on Oct. 2 that he and first lady Melania Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus. He flew to Walter Reed Military Medical Center that same day, and was discharged three days later.

"I tend to think that the president getting coronavirus was a pretty good surprise," Campbell said, adding that Trump's apparent recovery from the virus might work in his favor.

Trump has consistently downplayed the threat of the virus and disregarded his own administration's guidelines for social distancing and wearing protective equipment to avoid spreading the disease. At least 219,950 people in the U.S. have died from Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Journalist Yashar Ali claims adviser for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti forcibly kissed him for over a decade

Fox News Flash top headlines for October 19

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Yashar Ali, a prominent journalist, posted an article late Monday claiming that one of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s top advisers “forcibly kissed” him over the span of a decade and cited sources that described the mayor as an ambitious politician willing to overlook these alleged encounters.

Ali titled his article on Substack, “Exclusive: Mayor of Los Angeles Repeatedly Witnessed Top Adviser’s Alleged Sexual Misconduct."

He wrote that from 2005 through 2015, Rick Jacobs, the adviser, would forcibly kiss him on the lips at various events. Ali said he used to work in politics and considered Jacobs a friend at the time. He said that these incidents would happen in front of others.

“Jacobs would grab my face and kiss me on the lips — always twice — and he would turn to other people who witnessed it and say, “He has the softest lips,’” Ali wrote.

The writer pointed to a lawsuit from a Los Angeles police officer who once served as part of Garcetti’s protection detail in October 2013. Matthew Garza, a 23-year-veteran, claimed that Jacobs would hug him without consent and make unprofessional remarks like: "you’re so strong and handsome," "your muscles are so tight" and "I love me my strong LAPD officers."

OCT. 19: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has been criticized over his handling of allegations leveled against a former adviser.

The complaint claimed Jacob's behavior was "silently condoned by the Mayor and City of Los Angeles" and spanned several years. The suit said Garcetti "took no action to stop the comments from being made or even identify the comments as being inappropriate."

The Los Angeles Times reported that the suit also alleged that Garcetti would, on some occasions, “laugh at Jacobs’ crude comments.” 

A spokesperson for Garcetti's office at the time disputed Garza's accounts.

"The Mayor has zero tolerance for sexual harassment and unequivocally did not witness the behavior that Officer Garza alleges," a statement to Fox News said at the time.

Jacobs also responded in July to the allegations in an email to the Times, “This lawsuit is a work of pure fiction, and is out of left field. Officer Garza and I worked together for many years without incident. I will vigorously defend myself, my character and my reputation.”

“I never want to put myself in the middle of a story, but in this case, I’ve been left with no choice. Several prominent news outlets have slow-walked this story. I also ethically can’t report out this news without revealing that I have been a victim of Jacobs’ misconduct as well,” Ali wrote.

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Insiders say Trump’s campaign needs tighter message (and more cash) to win

Trump, Biden campaign in battleground states

President Trump and Joe Biden campaign in key states just two weeks before the election; analysis from John Thomas, President of John Thomas Strategies.

President Trump made a stop over the weekend in California, a state in which he will be absolutely clobbered. 

He wasn’t there to win votes in the bluest of blue states. He went to a fundraiser in Santa Ana, meeting with donors who paid $2,800 to attend, or $150,000 in Republican contributions for a couple to get a photo with Trump.

The fact that the president had to schedule that event with just over two weeks left in the campaign, before going on to Arizona, is a sign that the campaign is strapped for cash, insiders say.

The Trump camp somehow managed to blow through more than a billion dollars and is now trailing Joe Biden, who is outspending him 2 to 1 on television, in the money race. The Biden team raised $383 million last month, eclipsing the Trump campaign’s $248 million.

Money is hardly everything in politics. Hillary Clinton outspent Trump about 10 to 1 and still lost. Trump dominates the media and may not be as reliant on traditional advertising. The president’s camp has built a big ground operation, while the Biden team has played down door-knocking because of Covid concerns. 


Still, Trump advisers who are critical of the operation–while still believing he can win–believe the last-minute dash for cash reflects mismanagement by the campaign that dates to the period when Brad Parscale was in charge.

The president himself tried to deflect the numbers by telling a Wisconsin rally that “Biden is raising a lot of money because they’re promising all these things to all these people,” and that he could vacuum up more from donors but doesn’t want to have to take their call when “they need something.”

Hogan Gidley, the campaign’s national press secretary, told me its television ad buy has just been boosted by 40 percent and that the team has built “a turnout apparatus that is the envy of the political universe.”

The larger problem, internal critics say, is the lack of a clear closing message. Some advisers have been arguing for months that they need to pick a couple of daily bullet points–perhaps one on rebuilding the economy and one specific criticism of Biden–and pound away. Instead, surrogates are sent lengthy documents with a panoply of talking points. And they regard Biden as lying low to avoid a campaign-altering mistake.

The president’s hospitalization for the coronavirus was another setback that seemed to freeze the campaign. At one point Trump complained that he wasn’t seeing any surrogates on TV defending him.

There is a clear recognition, insiders tell me, that they cannot change Trump or his propensity to go off script. All the more reason, they say, why the rest of the team needs to drive a focused message.

The president has caused all kinds of distractions, attacking targets ranging from the debate commission to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (who was targeted in a kidnapping plot). He has said New York and California are going to hell; retweeted a conspiracy theory that Osama bin Laden is still alive, and, at a Georgia rally, responded to chants by saying “lock up the Bidens, lock up Hillary.”

Just yesterday, joining a press call, Trump said that “people are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” calling Anthony Fauci, a top member of his virus task force, a “disaster.”  And when Reuters reporter Jeff Mason yesterday asked the president why his campaign strategy seems to be calling Biden a criminal, he got this reply: “"He is a criminal. He got caught….You're a criminal for not reporting it."


Trump “ is spending the remaining days on a familiar mix of personal grievances, attacks on his opponents and obfuscations. He has portrayed himself as a victim, dodged questions about his own coronavirus testing, attacked his attorney general and the F.B.I. director and equivocated on the benefits of mask-wearing,” as the New York Times put it.

Still, much of the media, which clearly expect a Biden victory, are throwing down caution flags. “Democrats are scrambling to account for the hidden variables that could still sink their nominee,” such as turnout, registration and problems with mail ballots, says Politico.

Democrats have a “visceral and widespread” worry that Biden’s lead will somehow evaporate the way Hillary’s did, says the Washington Post.

Republicans hope that GOP registration gains “might just be enough to propel Mr. Trump to a second term,” says the Times.

Given the fiasco of media coverage in 2016, it is wise not to portray this campaign as a done deal. But some Trump advisers believe they need far more discipline and focus to pull off another upset. 

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NJ Attorney General is suing Trump administration over Tweet

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New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is suing the Trump administration over claims the president made earlier this year on social media regarding low-income housing and its connection to rises in crime. 

Trump tweeted about the issue in July, referencing an Obama-era Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulation he'd rescinded.

Secretary Ben Carson announced the change, which returned certain federal powers to the states and eliminated arduous paperwork. 

"I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low-income housing built in your neighborhood," the commander-in-chief wrote. "Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down. I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!" 


Grewal, a Democrat, tweeted about the case on Monday, saying his formal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests had been ignored by the federal government, prompting him to bring the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

"Nothing," he tweeted. "That’s what we got from the Trump Administration when we requested data supporting the President’s claims linking affordable housing to crime. We called them out, and they came up empty. Now we’re suing for answers." 

Grewal said he is seeking any information supportive of Trump's claims from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and HUD, about the connection to spikes in criminal activity and low-income housing. 

A New York Post column stated that under the AFFH (Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing) rule, “towns everywhere would have had to scrap zoning, build bigger water and sewer lines to support high-density living, expand schools and social services and add mass transit. All pushing up local taxes. Towns that refused would lose their federal aid.”


The same month Trump tweeted about a link between crime rates and low-income housing, he was also quoted as saying, “Your home will go down in value and crime rates will rapidly rise." 

“People have worked all their lives to get into a community," the president added. "And now they’re going to watch it go to hell. Not going to happen, not while I’m here.”

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