Thursday's top stories

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated Oct 15, 2020 - Technology

Twitter experiences a widespread outage

Screenshot: Axios

Twitter was down for more than an hour on Thursday, preventing new messages from being sent and the service from loading. The company told Axios during the outage that it had "no evidence of a security breach or hack" and was investigating internal causes.

What they're saying: "We know people are having trouble Tweeting and using Twitter. We’re working to fix this issue as quickly as possible," Twitter said in an e-mail to Axios.

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Oct 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Christie says he was in ICU, admits he was "wrong not to wear mask" at White House

Christie arrives before Trump speaks to a news conference in the Briefing Room of the White House on Sept. 27. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) told the New York Times on Thursday that he spent several days in the intensive care unit after checking into the hospital with COVID-19, and that he was "wrong not to wear a mask" at the White House.

Driving the news: Christie, 58, appears to have contracted COVID-19 in the White House coronavirus outbreak, which saw positive tests from President Trump, first lady Melania Trump and more than a dozen others.

GOP Sen. Ben Sasse unloads on Trump in campaign call

Photo: Bill Clark-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said in a call with constituents this week that President Trump mishandled the pandemic, "kisses dictator's butts," "sells out allies," "mocks evangelicals," and has "flirted with white supremacists," according to audio obtained by the Washington Examiner.

Why it matters: The comments mark one of the sharpest criticisms of the incumbent president at a time when many Republicans fear his unpopularity could cost them the White House, Senate and House.

Feinstein draws progressive fury after praising Graham at close of Barrett hearings

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, was widely criticized by liberal groups on Thursday after she gave Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) a hug and called Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearings “one of the best" that she's participated in.

Why it matters: Democrats have cast the Republican effort to confirm Barrett in an election year as "illegitimate," warning that it will shatter norms and transform the court for decades.

Oct 15, 2020 - Podcasts

Ted Cruz on Big Tech and the New York Post's Hunter Biden story

Twitter today is alight with conversations about a New York Post story on Hunter Biden. But you can't find a link to the story on Twitter, and you'll be temporarily blocked if you try to share it — due to concerns that the story is based on hacked, or possibly manipulated documents. Facebook has also put sharing limits on the story.

Axios Re:Cap talks with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) about Big Tech censorship, election disinformation, and why he plans to subpoena Jack Dorsey, but not Mark Zuckerberg.

C-SPAN suspends political editor Steve Scully for lying about Twitter hack

Steve Scully. Photo: Andre Chung for The Washington Post via Getty Images

C-SPAN placed political editor Steve Scully on administrative leave Thursday after he lied about his Twitter account being hacked.

Why it matters: Scully was set to moderate the second presidential debate on Thursday before it was canceled.

Oct 15, 2020 - Science

Counting Chinese STEM students in the U.S.

Reproduced from a CSET report; Chart: Axios Visuals

Chinese students make up 16% of all graduate STEM students in the U.S. and 2% of undergraduate STEM students, per a new report from Georgetown University's Center for Security and Emerging Technology.

Oct 15, 2020 - Economy & Business

NBC under fire for Trump town hall

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

NBC News is facing backlash, including from some of its own talent and employees, for agreeing to air a town hall with President Trump on Thursday night at the same time that former Vice President Joe Biden will appear at an ABC town hall.

Why it matters: Critics argue that by airing the town hall during ABC's previously scheduled program, Americans won't be able hear from both candidates at the same time.

Oct 15, 2020 - Science

How to build forests to combat climate change

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Trees can help to combat climate change, but determining what to plant and where is complex — and whether to plant them at all is a growing debate.

The big picture: Protecting, planting and restoring forests can help offset global warming, but experts stress that greenhouse gas emissions still have to be dramatically cut to reach climate goals for the planet.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Oct 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Where a potential Biden administration's stimulus money would go

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Biden administration's top priority, after virus control, will be "building a fiscal bridge to the other side of the crisis." That's what Jared Bernstein, a senior Biden economic adviser, told an IIF conference this week.

Why it matters: Biden has a very large and complex Building Back Better agenda, which includes some 800 different policy proposals and will cost some $3 trillion. But before even getting started on that, the Biden team plans to spend a lot of money — probably north of $1 trillion — on a short-term stimulus package.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated Oct 15, 2020 - Economy & Business

McConnell says he will not put $1.8 trillion stimulus bill on Senate floor

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The stimulus negotiations are beginning to remind me of running on a treadmill — lots of effort, no forward motion.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday that he would not put a potential $1.8 trillion+ deal struck by Democrats and the Trump administration on the Senate floor. "My members think half a trillion dollars, highly targeted is the best way to go," he said.

Oct 15, 2020 - Technology

YouTube cracks down on QAnon, citing real-world violence

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

YouTube announced Thursday that it is expanding its hate and harassment policies to prohibit content that targets an individual or group with conspiracy theories, like QAnon, that have been used to justify real-world violence.

Why it matters: It is the latest tech giant to crack down on QAnon content, which has seen record online interest in 2020.

Oct 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Harris pauses campaign travel after aide tests positive for coronavirus

Photo: Erin Schaff/Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) will pause her travel through Sunday after her communications director tested positive for the coronavirus, the Biden campaign announced Thursday.

The state of play: The campaign said that the vice presidential nominee, who tested negative for the virus on Wednesday, was "not in close contact" with the aide, Liz Allen, under CDC guidelines. She will still pause her travel "out of an abundance of caution and in line with [the] campaign's commitment to the highest levels of precaution," the campaign said.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Oct 15, 2020 - Economy & Business

Top CEOs admit racial divide, promise to work for "real change"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In a striking new sign of the broader role corporations are shouldering in society, Business Roundtable — the CEOs of America's biggest companies — today announced a raft of initiatives "to advance racial equity and justice."

Why it matters: Big companies are bluntly admitting, and tackling, injustices they so long ignored and perpetuated.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Oct 15, 2020 - Economy & Business

IMF sees turmoil as pandemic rages on

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The world is in desperate need of cooperation and unity to pull out of the coronavirus pandemic and begin what the IMF has termed the "long, difficult ascent" right as its leaders are increasingly focused on nationalism and decoupling.

Driving the news: The IMF raised its 2020 global growth outlook, largely because of improved expectations for China, but cut its longer-term forecast, citing slower growth. Policymakers expressed worries about a number of "setbacks" that could hobble its diminished forecast with potentially significant "scarring" in the long term.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Oct 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Why Democrats remain nervous about Biden's chances

A 2020 selfie, in Pembroke Pines, Fla., on Tuesday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In private, some top Democrats remain nervous about the presidential race, despite Joe Biden's lead in swing state after swing state — and strength in states that had looked out of reach (including Georgia, Ohio and Iowa).

Why it matters: The ghost of 2016, when most "experts" looked foolish, haunts Democrats, who see a big win in their data, but fear being blindsided again.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
Oct 15, 2020 - Sports

NCAA grants D-I winter athletes additional year of eligibility

In an attempt to provide as much flexibility as possible amid a time of great uncertainty, the NCAA has granted all D-I winter athletes an additional year of eligibility — something that was already granted to all fall and spring athletes.

What they're saying: Grace Calhoun, who chairs the NCAA's D-I council and is the athletic director at Penn, said the council didn't want athletes choosing to redshirt because of fears that their seasons might be cut short or negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Oct 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden's diverse Cabinet

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

If Joe Biden wins the presidency, his advisers plan to assemble the most diverse Cabinet in U.S. history as he works to fulfill a pledge to build the Democratic Party on a new generation of leaders.

The big picture: Many of Biden's longtime aides, most of whom are white and male, are expected to follow him to the West Wing. That means the pressure will be on to recruit a Cabinet that's both younger and more diverse.

Oct 15, 2020 - Health

How a conservative Supreme Court could save the ACA

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Even a solidly conservative Supreme Court could find a pretty easy path to preserve most of the Affordable Care Act — if it wants to.

The big picture: It’s too early to make any predictions about what the court will do, and no ACA lawsuit is ever entirely about the law. They have all been colored by the bitter political battles surrounding the ACA.

2020's never-ending tax season

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Today — October 15 — marks a tax-filing deadline for many people every year who have been granted extensions, but this year's rules and dynamics are very different.

Why it matters: The IRS was closed for months as a result of COVID-19, which meant that a lot of refunds got delayed, a lot of tax payments didn't get processed, and a lot of taxpayers (and accountants) got put on perma-hold or disconnected when they called to ask questions.

The coronavirus is surging again

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Note: After a database error, Missouri has not reported cases since Oct. 10; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

Coronavirus infections jumped by almost 17% over the past week as the number of new cases increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C.

Why it matters: The U.S. is headed solidly in the wrong direction — and at a dangerous time, as experts say the fall and winter will likely make the pandemic worse. They had hoped we could get cases under control before then, but that seems unrealistic.

Oct 15, 2020 - World

European countries push to combat coronavirus second wave without lockdowns

Police conduct coronavirus regulations checks in Hamburg, Germany. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced new measures Thursday, as the country reported a record number of new cases. Photo: Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images

Germany on Thursday became the latest European country to announce new restrictions this week amid record coronavirus case numbers. But governments are seeking to avoid a second round of nationwide lockdowns.

Why it matters: Widespread lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus have devastated economies around the world.

Biden says campaign raised $383 million in September

Joe Biden in Miramar, Florida, on Oct. 13. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden announced on Twitter Wednesday evening that his presidential campaign raised a record $383 million in the month of September, topping the $364.5 million raised in August.

Why it matters: The news comes just 20 days before the election and is believed to be the most-ever raised by a presidential candidate in a single month, likely driven by the first presidential debate.