Friday morning news – October 9, 2020

Hurricane Delta bears down on Louisiana coast » Another major storm is bearing down on Louisiana. 

Stacy Stewart with the National Hurricane Center said Hurricane Delta could pack winds in excess of 100 miles per hour. 

STEWART: But more importantly, the winds associated with this hurricane will pile up the water and create significant storm surge along the south-central coast. 

Forecasters expect Hurricane Delta to make landfall this evening. And as of last night, the center of the storm looked to be taking aim at Lake Charles. 

An aerial view of that town shows rooftops still dotted with blue tarps less than two months after Hurricane Laura ripped through the area.

Computer models predict Delta will strengthen to a Category 3 storm this morning. But it could weaken to a Category 2 before making landfall on the Gulf Coast. 

Unemployment claims tick down » The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to 840,000. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: Thursday’s report from the Labor Department said the number of people who are continuing to receive unemployment benefits dropped to 11 million. 

That’s a decline of 1 million over the previous week. In many cases that means companies are calling employees back to work. But in other cases, it simply means workers have used up the 26 weeks of their regular state benefits.

The government also said 464,000 people applied for jobless aid last week under a separate program for the self-employed, contractors, and gig workers. That number dropped by nearly 50,000 from the week before. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen. 

FEMA: 34 COVID-19 infections linked to White House » A total of “34 White House staffers and other contacts” have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days. That according to an internal government memo distributed among top leaders at FEMA. 

That’s a larger total than the White House has publicly disclosed. In addition to President Trump and the first lady, those infected include senior aides Hope Hicks and Stephen Miller, as well as press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. 

Trump: no virtual debate » And given the president’s COVID-19 diagnosis, next week’s presidential debate might be off

President Trump said Thursday that he has no interest in participating in a debate by video. 

TRUMP: No, I don’t want to do a virtual debate because a virtual debate is a joke. There’s no reason. I’m in great shape. 

Trump and campaign rival Joe Biden were scheduled to face off for a second time next Thursday in Miami. But after the president tested positive for the coronavirus, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that debate will now be virtual

Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien has asked the commission instead to push both the second and third presidential debates back by one week. 

The campaign is hopeful that will give the president enough time to fully recover, test negative, and debate in person. 

White House, Democrats say COVID-19 relief still possible » Both the White House and Democratic leaders say they’re still talking about another COVID-19 relief bill, even after President Trump this week said he was calling off the talks. Trump told Fox News on Thursday…

TRUMP: I shut down talks two days ago because they weren’t working out. Now they are starting to work out. Now we are starting to have some very productive talks. 

President Trump has called for stand-alone bills to help keep airlines afloat, among other things. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she’s willing to consider a measure to prop up the airline industry, but

PELOSI: The only point about negotiations is there can be no stand-alone bill unless there’s a bigger bill and it could be part of that or it could be in addition to that. 

The president has also called for stand-alone bills to send another round of stimulus payments to Americans and to fund the Paycheck Protection Program for small business. Democrats want another multi-trillion dollar bill and say a piecemeal approach is a nonstarter. 

Cruise ships adopt new COVID-19 testing standard » Cruise ships may set sail again soon with strict new safety standards in place. WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg reports. 

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: Before stepping foot on a ship with any major cruise line, you’ll have to test negative for COVID-19. 

That’s true whether you’re a passenger or a crew member. All major cruise lines have agreed to a 100 percent testing standard. 

The Cruise Lines International Association made that announcement this week. The group represents 95 percent of the world’s cruise line capacity. 

Royal Caribbean wrote on its blog that with “faster tests becoming more readily available, the cruise line’s plans become more viable.”

The CDC recently extended its ban on all major cruises in U.S. waters through the end of this month. No word yet on whether the new testing standards will allow ships to leave U.S. ports in November

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg. 

Agents foil plot to kidnap Mich. governor » Investigators have foiled a stunning plot that allegedly included plans to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Authorities on Thursday announced charges against six men. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said they tried to identify the home addresses of law enforcement officers in order to target them and…

NESSEL: Made threats of violence in order to instigate a civil war and engaged in planning and training for an operation to attack the capital building of Michigan and to kidnap government officials, including the governor of Michigan. 

Whitmer, a Democrat, has imposed tough restrictions on personal movement and the economy in response to the coronavirus. 

The FBI quoted one of the alleged extremists as saying Whitmer “has no checks and balances at all. She has uncontrolled power right now.”

The government said agents stopped the plot against Whitmer and others, with the work of undercover agents and informants.

(NOAA via AP) This Oct. 8, 2020 photo made available by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows Hurricane Delta in the Gulf of Mexico at 12:41 p.m. EDT. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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