SUPREME COURT RULES 5-3 TO NOT INTERVENE IN NC BALLOT DEADLINE EXTENSION: North Carolina voters will have more than a week for their ballots to reach election officials and still be counted after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene Wednesday night. The new deadline for mail-in ballots to be received is Nov. 12, though ballots must still be postmarked on or before Nov. 3, Election Day. The previous deadline for ballots to be received by local boards was Nov. 6, as set by state lawmakers. The Supreme Court declined to overturn lower court rulings in a 5-3 decision. New Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate in the consideration or decision. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals permitted the Nov. 12 deadline on Oct. 27.
DAN FOREST HELD (ANOTHER) SUPERSPREADER RALLY IN NC MOUNTAINS: State health officials said Wednesday that at least one coronavirus case has been linked to a political rally Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest held in western North Carolina two weeks ago. Forest, who is running for governor against Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, was kicking off early voting in the state with an Oct. 15 rally in Burnsville. The rally was billed on social media as both a "Back the Blue" rally for law enforcement and a "Yancey County Trump Cruisin'" with people parading in vehicles with flags supporting President Donald Trump. Mark Robinson, the Republican candidate to succeed Forest as lieutenant governor, and Madison Cawthorn, the Republican candidate in the 11th Congressional District, also were to speak at the rally, according to advertisements online. Forest posted online that more than 4,000 people attended the event. "People who have attended a mass gathering of any kind, including rallies, are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19," she added.
HURRICANE (NOW TROPICAL STORM) ZETA HEADING FOR NORTH CAROLINA TODAY: Zeta weakened over central Alabama but its strong winds continued across portions of the state and the Florida Panhandle early Thursday. The storm was about 50 miles (80 kilometers) west of Asheville, North Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph). Zeta was moving quickly toward the northeast at 39 mph (63 kph). The storm killed at least one person, a 55-year-old man who a Louisiana coroner said was electrocuted by a downed power line in New Orleans. In Georgia, authorities said a man was killed when high winds caused a tree to fall onto a mobile home in Cherokee County. Power outages were reported across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, according to the website PowerOutage.us. Georgia had the most outages before dawn Thursday with more than 1 million customers in the dark. It set a new record as the 11th named storm to make landfall in the continental U.S. in a single season, well beyond the nine storms that hit in 1916.
ANOTHER BLACK MAN DIES AT THE HANDS OF POLICE, THIS TIME IN PHILADELPHIA: The deadly police shooting of a Black man in Philadelphia has roiled the presidential campaign in a key battleground state just days before the election, igniting tensions over race, violence and law enforcement that pose political challenges for Joe Biden and President Trump. Trump has seized on riots and looting that erupted in the aftermath of Monday’s shooting in an effort to portray Biden as soft on crime, while selling himself as the “law and order” candidate. “You can’t have chaos like that — and he’ll be very, very weak,” Trump predicted Wednesday of the Democratic nominee. Biden has pushed back on those attacks, saying repeatedly that he does not condone looting and has no tolerance for violence against police. He also expressed outrage at the killing of Walter Wallace Jr., condemning in strong terms “another Black life in America lost.” Trump on Wednesday called the shooting a “terrible event” and said the federal government is looking into it. Philadelphia was under a curfew Wednesday night. “There is no excuse whatsoever for the looting and the violence. None whatsoever,” said Biden, speaking after casting his ballot in Delaware. He cited Wallace’s father’s pleas to stop destroying the city. Biden also said the county must “deal with how you diminish the prospect of lethal shooting in circumstances like the one we saw,” and said he would establish a commission to tackle that topic.
TRUMP CONTINUES WITH HIS "ROUNDING THE CORNER" NONSENSE ON CORONAVIRUS: As an immense new surge in coronavirus cases sweeps the country, President Trump is closing his re-election campaign by pleading with voters to ignore the evidence of a calamity unfolding before their eyes and trust his word that the disease is already disappearing as a threat to their personal health and economic well being. The president has continued to declare before large and largely maskless crowds that the virus is vanishing, even as case counts soar, fatalities climb, the stock market dips and a fresh outbreak grips the staff of Vice President Mike Pence. Hopping from one state to the next, he has made a personal mantra out of declaring that the country is “rounding the corner.” Mr. Trump has attacked Democratic governors and other local officials for keeping public-health restrictions in place, denouncing them as needless restraints on the economy. And venting self-pity, the president has been describing the pandemic as a political hindrance inflicted on him by a familiar adversary. “With the fake news, everything is Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid,” Mr. Trump complained at a rally in Omaha on Tuesday, chiding the news media and pointing to his own recovery from the illness to downplay its gravity: “I had it. Here I am, right?” Allison Drennan, an independent voter from Gastonia, N.C., said she was voting for Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, in part because of Mr. Trump’s mishandling of the coronavirus. Last week, she was dismayed to see that Mr. Trump was holding a rally in her area, because it had the potential to help spread the disease. “I think it’s a huge mistake,” Ms. Drennan, 29, said of the rally, citing specific details about the local impact of the pandemic. “We have 77 people in our hospitals in Gastonia with Covid already. I’ve decided I’m going to self-isolate to the extent that I can for the next two weeks.” The numbers in North Carolina support her inclination toward caution. While the state has managed to keep the disease more contained than some other large states, its average daily case count has risen by 13 percent over the last two weeks. There have been more than 266,000 cases in the state, with a death toll of 4,269 as of Wednesday afternoon.