Newsletter: Who Will Win Tonight’s Presidential Debate?

Trump Biden 2020 debate stage
Chairs are seen in social distance spacing ahead of the first presidential debate between Republican candidate President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. Julio Cortez / Associated Press
Trump Biden 2020 debate stage
Chairs are seen in social distance spacing ahead of the first presidential debate between Republican candidate President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Cleveland. Julio Cortez / Associated Press

Newsletter: Who Will Win Tonight’s Presidential Debate?

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Hi all! It’s Tuesday, and if only there was a beach town named Mary. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. President Trump and Joe Biden debate for the first time

Tonight is the first of three scheduled debates between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden. And a recent poll suggests about 10% of likely voters remain undecided.

Trump is entering these debates less popular than he was four years ago, according to a Politico analysis, which notes his leadership is now under scrutiny and he can no longer just rely on having a clear message about the Affordable Care Act, immigration and corruption.

But don’t underestimate the president: Trump also trailed Hillary Clinton in the polls, but his “manic and extremely, well, Trumpy” style of debate made him a sizable opponent. [Politico]

A key Trump strategy has been to portray Biden as incompentent, which may backfire if the former vice president has a strong performance. Here’s what to watch for tonight. [NPR]

WBEZ will air the debate and analysis from 8 to 10 p.m. on 91.5 FM, and you can find a live fact-checking blog in this link. [WBEZ]

2. U.S. security officials say violent domestic extremists pose election threat

Some U.S. security officials believe that rising political tensions and foreign disinformation could lead violent domestic extremists to target the election, according to Reuters.

Exacerbating the threat are nationwide protests over racial injustice — some which have turned violent — and a U.S. economy that’s still faltering under the coronavirus pandemic. Lone white supremacists and others with “personalized ideologies” pose the greatest threat, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo.

“You have this witch’s brew that really hasn’t happened in America’s history. And if it has, it’s been decades if not centuries,” said Jared Maples, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. [Reuters]

3. CPD once again has an anti-violence unit. Here’s a look at the last one.

Earlier this year, during one of the most violent Chicago summers in history, Police Superintendent David Brown created two anti-violence teams to be deployed based on crime data. It’s not the first time CPD has tried this strategy.

WBEZ’s Elliott Ramos analyzed one similar effort, the expensive 2012 Violence Reduction Initiative. He found the unit logged more than 300,000 parking-related tickets and stopped to frisk residents more than 178,000 times — but only logged 500 gun-related charges. The cost: $4 million in overtime.

This policing took place mostly in South and West Side neighborhoods that already had other units performing similar activities.

There are some differences in the new plan, which is less tied to specific geographic zones. Early data shows the new plan has already issued significantly fewer parking tickets and recovered significantly more illegal guns in its first months. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, memos obtained by the Chicago Tribune indicate that more patrol officers are being sent downtown. [Chicago Tribune]

And Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office today released a 108-page plan that will attempt to reduce the city’s gun violence with improved responses to mental health crises, additional services to shooting victims and more jobs. [WBEZ]

4. Four more states added to Chicago’s quarantine list

Kentucky, Wyoming, Texas and Nevada will be added to Chicago’s quarantine list Friday, raising the tally to 22 states and Puerto Rico. States are placed on the list when they average more than 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period. [Chicago Sun-Times]

The news comes as children now make up 10% of all known U.S. coronavirus cases, largely from schools with in-person learning, according to a report released today. Children made up only 2% of the known cases in April. [AP]

And as the country waited to see how schools would reopen, top White House officials pressured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to downplay the risk of in-person learning, reports The New York Times.

The tactics — which included a search for data showing the pandemic was abating and posed little danger to children — left CDC officials and others alarmed at the degree of pressure from the Trump administration during an election year. [New York Times]

Meanwhile, a COVID-19 outbreak at a volleyball league may have exposed nearly 200 people to the virus in September, Lake County health officials said today. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Across the state, coronavirus cases remain low. Illinois officials today reported 1,362 new cases and 23 additional deaths in the past 24 hours. [WBEZ]

5. Two NFL teams suspend in-person activities as players test positive for COVID-19

Eight Tennessee Titans players and staff tested positive today for the coronavirus, forcing the team to suspend in-person activities. The Minnesota Vikings, who the Titans played on Sunday, also suspended in-person activities. This is the first COVID-19 outbreak for the NFL. [NPR]

The news comes just weeks into the season, and after doctors agreed the sport is a “perfect storm for transmitting the virus.” But, until today, more than 2,400 players had all tested negative.

Here’s a look at how the NFL is hoping aggressive testing and steep penalties for both players and teams will keep the virus in check. [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • A former ComEd executive pleaded guilty in the Springfield bribery scheme. [WBEZ]

  • Joe Biden released his income tax returns. [Washington Post]

  • The recording of the grand jury in the Breonna Taylor case will be released. [NPR]

  • Illinois’ first statewide legal marijuana competition has a clear favorite. [Chicago Tribune]

Oh, and one more thing …

It’s finally sweater weather in Chicago, and with the cooler weather I want to embrace all things fall: apple cider, bonfires and watching the leaves turn.

This map, which tracks when trees will reach their most colorful throughout the country, can help you plan a local leaf peeping expedition. Sadly, we have a few more weeks until max color in the Chicago area. The map predicts we’ll reach “peak fall foliage” from Oct. 19-Nov. 16. [Time Out]

And here are the best spots to view the fall colors in Chicago. [Time Out]

Tell me something good …

My favorite Halloween costume ever was this one. Which has me thinking, what’s your favorite costume?

Rachel Ellsworth writes:

“Back in the early 2010s, I sewed my first cosplay-type Halloween costume. I was Ms. Marvel (the Carol Danvers version). No one else in my friend group did superhero themed costumes, but I ended up finding enough random superheroes out at the bars here and there that we ended up with a full cast and a bunch of new friends.”

And Carrie writes:

“When I was about 7 years old, I demanded to be a burrito for Halloween. My mom made me a burrito costume, from scratch, complete with a red ‘salsa jar’ bag to collect candy. Still my best costume 20+ years later.”

Feel free to email or tweet us, and your response might show up here this week. 

Thanks for reading and have a nice night! We’ll see you tomorrow.