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Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. With President Trump’s re-election in doubt, his cabinet is scrambling to push through dozens of new regulations that will affect the lives of millions of people.
The bid to lock in new rules before Jan. 20 is evident in a broad range of agencies and proposals, including easing limits on road time for some truck drivers and setting federal standards for when workers can be classified as independent contractors. Critics say some of the proposed changes would endanger public safety.
An accelerated pace of new rules at the end of a president’s term is not unique to the Trump administration. But the effort to further put a stamp on federal rules after an extensive deregulatory push is drawing scrutiny from former top officials.
2. Last night’s head-to-head town hall matchup appeared to deal a loss to a president obsessed with TV ratings.
3. The budget deficit reached a record $3.1 trillion in the 2020 fiscal year, driven by government spending on households and businesses struggling with pandemic shutdowns.
4. The spread of the coronavirus through rural America has created problems in small towns that lack key resources.
Wyoming, which did not have 1,000 total cases until June, recently added more than 1,000 in a single week. And Montana, where more than half of the state’s cases have been announced since August, is averaging more than 500 cases per day. Infections have particuarly spread in local jails, like the one in Great Falls, Mont., above, which are confined, often crowded spaces.
In other virus developments:
6. The arrest of a former Mexican defense minister was a stunning display of just how deep the tendrils of organized crime run in Mexico.
American law enforcement agents had been closing in on a shadowy figure known as El Padrino, or The Godfather, for months. Agents suspected that this central figure in the drug trade was actually a high-ranking official in the Mexican military.
Late Thursday night, American officials arrested Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, the man in charge of waging Mexico’s war against organized crime.
General Zepeda, who was detained at Los Angeles International Airport, is the first high-ranking Mexican military official to be taken into custody in the U.S. in connection with drug-related corruption. He faces drug and money-laundering charges, according to a U.S. official.
“I’m advising people to stay home,” a pediatric infectious disease expert said. Above, a drive-through event in Woodland Hills, Calif.
But Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, writes in Opinion that the risks of trick-or-treating might be manageable: It’s outside. It can be socially distanced. The food is individually wrapped. And kids won’t argue about wearing masks.
One costume trend you may see this year: postal workers.
8. Large-flowered Barbara’s-buttons. Thismia. The Franklinia tree, above.
Researchers from across the U.S. quantified how many trees, shrubs, herbs and flowering plants have vanished from North America since European settlement. The group narrowed down a list of 65 plant species, subspecies and varieties that have been lost forever in the wild. It’s almost certainly an underestimate.
The stories of these plants show numerous paths to extinction. “Humans like to put things into neat categories, but nature doesn’t present itself that way,” said Anne Frances, a botanist. “Every plant on this list is its own little mystery.”
9. For sale: 36 mute white swans with royal pedigree.
The swan population in Lakeland, Fla., has thrived since Queen Elizabeth II donated a pair in 1957. Now, however, the city has too many of the birds and is seeking to offload some by holding a lottery. People can buy a maximum of two swans, each selling for $400. The winners were expected to be announced today.
And have you heard the one about the Canadian soldier who cried wolf? Flyers warned residents of Nova Scotia that the Canadian government had reintroduced wolves into the forest, as growls could be heard in the woods. But it turns out it was a military training exercise gone wrong.
10. And finally, could this be the perfect chocolate chip cookie?
It’s a bold claim, but one that Ravneet Gill embraces. And so far, no one’s contested her claim. The British pastry chef ran countless tests to arrive at her version of the classic recipe and at the end of March, she went Live on Instagram. The masses followed.
The cookies initially came from a chef she worked with at a private member’s club, who scribbled the formula on a piece of paper for her.
Later, when the recipe went missing, she reverse-engineered them. She landed on a blend of dark brown and caster (or superfine) sugars, rolling the doughs into balls right away and chilling for 12 hours, and one surprising omission: vanilla, given its steep price. Here’s the recipe.
Have a sweet weekend.
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