👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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1/ Early turnout in Georgia’s Senate runoff between Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker has broke daily voting records three times since polls opened. Ahead of the Tuesday runoff, more than 1.85 million Georgians have voted early, including more than 76,000 who didn’t turn out in the general election. Although Democrats have already secured control of the Senate, the party is seeking an outright majority instead of a 50-50 split and power-sharing agreement that’s currently in place. Polls indicate that Warnock is leading Walker by a margin of 52% to 48%. (NBC News / ABC News / Politico / CNN / Bloomberg)
2/ The Supreme Court seemed sympathetic to an evangelical Christian graphic designer in Colorado who doesn’t want to create wedding websites for same-sex couples despite the state’s anti-discrimination law. The case concerns Lorie Smith, who wants to create customized wedding websites the tell the stories of heterosexual couples “through God’s lens.” Smith claims that the state’s law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation is a violation of her First Amendment right because it forces her to provide services to gay and lesbian couples and engage in speech she doesn’t agree with. The conservative justices have viewed the case through the lens of free speech and suggested that Smith, who sees themselves as artists, could not be forced to create speech that violates her religious belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman. (NPR / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg)
3/ Chinese government-linked hackers stole at least $20 million in U.S. Covid relief benefits. The Secret Service accused the Chengdu-based hacking group known as APT41 of defrauding Covid-related unemployment insurance funds and Small Business Administration loan money in more than a dozen states. The theft of taxpayer funds by APT41 is the first time the Secret Service has publicly connected pandemic fraud tied to foreign, state-sponsored cybercriminals. The agency says it has seized over $1.4 billion in stolen funds since 2020. (NBC News / CNN)
4/ The Manhattan district attorney hired a former Justice Department official who led the New York attorney general’s civil inquiry into Trump and the Trump Organization. Alvin Bragg said that Matthew Colangelo will work on the office’s “most sensitive and high-profile white-collar investigations.” In addition to working on the New York attorney general’s investigation of the Trump Organization, Colangelo also served as acting associate attorney general at the Justice Department. Colangelo led dozens of lawsuits against the Trump administration, as well as oversaw an investigation into Trump’s charity, which caused the organization to dissolve. Bragg took office in January, and despite the departure of two of his most senior prosecutors in February, he’s said his office’s investigation of Trump is ongoing. (New York Times / Bloomberg)
5/ Trump, falsely citing “massive fraud” in his 2020 loss to Biden, called for the “termination” of the Constitution and “all rules” to declare himself the “RIGHTFUL WINNER.” Despite only a handful of Republican lawmakers condemning his assertions, the twice-impeached former president denied he actually wanted to “‘terminate’ the Constitution” two days later. Trump’s rant on his personal social network came after the release of internal Twitter emails showing deliberations over the company’s decision in 2020 to block links to a New York Post article that described emails found on Hunter Biden’s laptop. “Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation and should be universally condemned,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement, adding: “You cannot only love America when you win.” (CNN / Politico / The Hill / Washington Post / Axios / New York Times)
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