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Ballots received after 8 p.m. on Election Day in Michigan cannot be counted, an appeals court ruled on Friday — a reminder that election rules in many states remain in flux just over two weeks before the election.

A lower court had previously ruled that ballots postmarked by Nov. 2 and received within 14 days of Election Day, the deadline for certifying election results, could be counted.

It is not clear whether this latest decision will be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.

"You have breast cancer," my doctor announced, faceless behind her mask. Silence. In the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic. Her eyes locked on mine and beamed as much compassion and kindness as she could muster.

"I'm so sorry," she said as we faced each other 6 feet apart in her office.

That was it.

The COVID-19 virtual hug: cold and sterile. Punishing, despite the best intents.

At first glance, the picturesque resort town of Sandpoint, Idaho, on the banks of Lake Pend Orielle can feel like an escape from all the troubles of 2020.

That is, until you talk to frontline workers who deal with the public in this mostly rural, pristine region of forests and beauty near the Canadian border.

At Bonner General Health, Dr. Morgan Morton recounts a patient she had the other day who wanted to wait until after November to schedule a needed procedure.

From his bar in Shadyside, Ohio, Matt Coffland has been counting on his town getting a new petrochemical plant since it was first planned, seven years ago. He says the southeastern part of the state has long been neglected.

"For us to get something like that, rightfully, I think we deserve it by now," he says.

The plant, to be built by Thailand-based oil and gas company PTT, would be a major construction project.

"You're talking an influx of close to 10,000 people at one point," Coffland says.

It is a classic moment in the weeks before Election Day: a news outlet runs a front-page exclusive promising scandalous revelations about a big-ticket candidate.

This week, the New York Post published a story based on what it says are emails — "smoking gun" emails, it calls them — sent by a Ukrainian business executive to the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The story fits snugly into a narrative from President Trump and his allies that Hunter Biden's zealous pursuit of business ties abroad also compromised the former vice president.

Our latest episode of Code Switch, we took a look at vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris's record as a prosecutor, and how she used her power as San Francisco's district attorney and later, as California's attorney general to shape the criminal justice system.

Kathy spotted the long line of voters as she pulled into the Christian City Welcome Center about 3:30 p.m., ready to cast her ballot in the June 9 primary election.

Hundreds of people were waiting in the heat and rain outside the lush, tree-lined complex in Union City, an Atlanta suburb with 22,400 residents, nearly 88% of them Black. She briefly considered not casting a ballot at all, but decided to stay.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit this spring, government relief payments provided a life raft to millions of people who had been thrown out of work.

That life raft, however, is now losing air, threatening to leave the unemployed in a perilous situation just as Washington leaders struggle to clinch a new package of aid ahead of the November election.

A District of Columbia Superior Court judge has ruled that the U.S. Agency for Global Media's CEO, Michael Pack, acted unlawfully in seizing control of a fund designed to sponsor initiatives to ensure people living under repressive regimes have free and safe access to the Internet.

The Open Technology Fund helped to underwrite the development of Tor and Signal, technologies that let people access the Web and communicate securely and privately, even in countries like Iran and China that highly regulate such activities.

Bernard Cohen, who as a young lawyer successfully argued the Supreme Court case that struck down Virginia's ban on interracial marriages, has died at age 86.

Cohen died Monday in Fredericksburg, Va. The cause was Parkinson's disease, his family told NPR.

Cohen was an attorney in Alexandria, Va., just a few years out of law school when the American Civil Liberties Union, where he was a volunteer, asked if he would take on the case of Richard and Mildred Loving.

Each week, we answer frequently asked questions about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions."

The Trump administration announced a new partnership with two major national pharmacy chains to facilitate the distribution of a future coronavirus vaccine to nursing homes on Friday.

"Today, I'm thrilled to announce that we have just finalized a partnership with CVS and Walgreens," President Trump told a group in Fort Myers, Fla., at an event centered on seniors. He said the plan was for the pharmacies to "deliver the vaccine directly to nursing homes at no cost to our seniors."

Twenty-one Utah-based white supremacists have been indicted on drug and firearms charges, according to the U.S. Justice Department. The move comes just days after alleged white supremacist gang members in Texas, Kentucky and Mississippi were brought up on similar charges.

As Election Day nears, Facebook and Twitter are finding themselves in a Catch- 22, between conservatives who accuse them of stifling free speech when they block or put warning labels on questionable posts, and others who say the companies need to do more to stamp out online misinformation and conspiracy theories.

The state of California appears to be backing off legal threats against the California Republican Party over its use of unauthorized ballot drop boxes.

On Monday, California's secretary of state and attorney general sent a cease-and-desist order to the California GOP and several county party offices, ordering they remove unauthorized boxes to collect ballots, some of which were labeled "official."

Updated at 7:32 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to a speedy review of President Trump's attempt to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the census numbers used to reallocate seats in Congress.

Riot police in Bangkok used water cannon and charged crowds to disperse thousands of protesters in the Thai capital, a day after the government officially banned street rallies demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, a new constitution and reform of the country's monarchy.

Updated at 3:16 p.m. ET

The U.S. budget deficit soared to a record $3.1 trillion, following a massive surge in government spending aimed at containing the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

The deficit for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 was more than triple that of fiscal 2019 and easily eclipsed the previous record of $1.4 trillion recorded in 2009.

Updated at 5:49 p.m. ET

Many people have long said certain Disney classics like Peter Pan, Dumbo and The Aristocats contain racist stereotypes and overtones.

Disney agrees. Viewers will now encounter a warning on Disney+ when streaming those and other titles containing racist material.

Updated at 4:37 p.m. ET

In a reversal, the White House has approved California's request for federal disaster relief for wildfire recovery, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday.

California is dealing with the damage caused by wildfires that have burned through nearly 3,000 square miles, killing at least three people and destroying nearly 1,000 homes.

What are the biggest drivers of human suffering?

Every year an international team of researchers aims to answer that question by assembling a mammoth data set called the "Global Burden of Disease." It has become the go-to source for tracking and ranking the impact of virtually every disease or condition that is killing, sickening or otherwise disabling people in virtually every country on the planet.

Copyright 2020 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Pfizer, the apparent front-runner in developing a COVID-19 vaccine for the United States, says its results won't be ready until mid-November at the earliest. That dims any lingering expectation that there could be a vaccine by Election Day, as President Trump has asserted.

Israel, which imposed the world's strictest second nationwide lockdown, will be loosening some restrictions this weekend.

After a four-week lockdown, including a ban on movement beyond one-third of a mile from home, the country has dramatically brought down its number of infections.

On Sept. 30, Israel's health ministry reported there were 9,013 new cases, among the world's highest per capita daily infection rates. On Thursday, there were 1,608 new cases.

What exactly did Abbie Welch put in her purse before she snuck out of a Walmart in Knoxville, Tenn.? The court ruling doesn't say.

Nor does it matter. What matters is a piece of paper she'd previously received from Walmart banning her from the store. Prosecutors used it to argue she was trespassing when she shoplifted. Her crime, typically a misdemeanor, was elevated to a burglary. She became a felon with a six-year sentence.

A Minnesota judge in the case of four ex-Minneapolis police officers charged in the killing of George Floyd ruled in favor of defense attorneys to allow video and transcripts of a previous police encounter with Floyd to be made public.

In Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump put forward a Supreme Court nominee who embodies a set of voters the Democrats need on their side to win elections. She's a well-educated, white, suburban Catholic woman.

Many Democrats object to her well-documented conservative views in such areas as abortion, health care, guns and immigrant rights, but they must tread carefully in opposing her nomination so as not to alienate those voters, especially women, who may be inspired by Barrett's life story.

Updated at 9:57 a.m. ET

Shoppers bought more clothes and cars, and even returned to beleaguered department stores in September.

Key priorities

Joe Biden

  • Make public colleges, historically Black colleges and universities, and minority-serving institutions tuition-free for families making less than $125,000.
  • Make two years of community college and training programs tuition-free.
  • Cancel $10,000 of every American's student debt and revise the current loan repayment system.
  • Establish universal prekindergarten.

Key priorities

Joe Biden

  • Combat climate change by pushing the United States on a path toward net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, with an intermediate goal of ridding the power sector of carbon pollution by 2035.
  • Invest $2 trillion over four years in green areas, including infrastructure, transportation and auto industries, housing and construction practices, nature conservation efforts and work in environmental justice.

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