G.D.P., Election Day, Anglerfish: Your Thursday Evening Briefing

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services, fell 9.5 percent in the second quarter of the year, the most devastating three-month collapse on record. That translates to a 32.9 percent annual rate of decline.

The drop would have been even steeper had it not been for trillions of dollars in government aid to households and businesses.

For context, the G.D.P. fell 4 percent during the entirety of the Great Recession — and took 18 months to get there. In essence, the U.S. wiped out five years of economic growth in a matter of months. Here’s a breakdown of the numbers.

And another 1.4 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, the 19th straight week that the tally exceeded one million.

2. The economy is shrinking. The virus is surging. President Trump is trailing badly in the polls. His idea: delay the election.

Minutes after news of the economic contraction, Mr. Trump suggested in a tweet that the Nov. 3 general election be delayed, something he has no authority to order and that top Republicans quickly rejected.

He defended the tweet at a White House briefing later in the day, falsely warning that “hundreds of millions of mail-in ballots” would be cast, suggesting voter fraud and delays.

Mr. Trump’s tweet seemed “as impotent as it was predictable,” our reporter writes in an analysis — less an assertion of authority than a lament of his dimming political prospects.

3. Lawmakers are scheduled to leave Washington on Friday after failing to agree on extending jobless benefits.

The $600 weekly federal aid payments are set to expire tomorrow. Senator Mitch McConnell forced a vote to continue them at $200 in a bid to compel Democrats, who wanted to maintain the full payments, to go on the record opposing an extension.

Without the supplement, many Americans may face hunger, evictions or bankruptcy. “When the $600 is gone, we’re going to totally have to rethink our lives,” Sara Gard, above, said.

There is little overlap in the proposals released by Democrats and Republicans for another aid package to address the pandemic. These charts break down the differences.

4. Herman Cain, a businessman and former presidential candidate, died after he was hospitalized with the coronavirus. He was 74.

The former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza ran for the Republican nomination in 2012. His revered style and rags-to-riches story made him an unlikely hero of Tea Party conservatives. Mr. Cain, pictured in 2014, tested positive for the virus on June 29, days after attending President Trump’s indoor rally in Tulsa, Okla., among other travels.

In other coronavirus developments, a computer model of the outbreak on the Diamond Princess cruise-ship found that the virus spread most readily in microscopic droplets light enough to linger in the air. The January outbreak provides a valuable case study about virus transmission.

5. New research suggests children can carry the virus at high levels, complicating the ongoing debate about reopening schools.

Infected children have at least as much of the coronavirus in their noses and throats as infected adults, according to a new study. And children younger than 5 may host up to 100 times as much of the virus in the upper respiratory tract as adults. Above, testing in Los Angeles this month.

Many of the nation’s largest school districts plan to start the academic year online. It’s unclear when students and teachers will return to the classroom. But if and when they do, we came up with an illustrated guide for eliminating one big factor: proximity.

Former President Barack Obama was one of three living presidents to speak about Representative John Lewis at his funeral. Without naming him, Mr. Obama laced into President Trump on voting rights issues (Mr. Lewis’s life’s work) and over Mr. Trump’s deployment of federal agents to Portland, Ore., in one of his most public criticisms yet.

The civil rights leader, who died on July 17, was laid to rest in Atlanta, the city he represented in Congress for more than three decades. In his final days, Mr. Lewis wrote an Opinion essay to be published on the day of his funeral. “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America,” he wrote.

So what is the next step as America confronts its racism? A truth and reconciliation event, our critic Wesley Morris writes, that could look like court, a telethon, therapy, an Oprah show — and more.

Separately, another prosecutor declined to charge the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014.

7. NASA launched its rover to Mars, capping a summer of missions to the red planet.

Perseverance, a robotic wheeled vehicle designed to look for signs of past life on Mars, is heading to Jezero, a former lake-turned-crater. Scientists believe it is a promising location to look for evidence of extinct Martian life.

A trio of missions — the Hope orbiter for the United Arab Emirates, Tianwen-1 for China, and Perseverance — will join dozens of active and inactive spacecraft beyond Earth’s orbit.

Scientists are cheering these missions. But many have started asking why we’re going back to Mars yet again when there’s an entire solar system to explore.

Live from the bubble at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., and without fans, above, some of the league’s biggest stars — LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and maybe Zion Williamson — will be in action for the opening night of the resumed season. The Jazz and Pelicans christen the festivities at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, followed by the Clippers and the Lakers at 9 p.m. We’ll have live updates here.

Here’s a guide for tonight’s matchups, and what to look for from the Western and the Eastern conferences in the coming season.

9. Ballads are easy for Phoebe Bridgers. But sometimes her collaborators will convince her to add some pep to a track, if only to disguise its melancholy.

That’s the story of “Kyoto,” her new straight-ahead indie rock song on her album “Punisher,” one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the year so far. Bridgers breaks down the making of her hit song, which uses a bare bones voice memo from a tour and shared memories of childhood, on the latest “Diary of a Song.”

And in quarantine, our reporter tried to learn as many theater, dance, musical and knife-wielding skills as she could. A theater major in college 20 years ago, could she retrain through online tutorials and Zoom lessons? The result was humbling and at times humiliating.

The males of certain anglerfish species take togetherness to a new level. When a male locates a female, he will nip at her belly, at which point his mouth dissolves in a sludge of chemicals that physically fuse him to his bioluminescent bride. And sexual parasitism, as it’s known, is not the weirdest part.

Two genetically distinct animals shouldn’t be able to merge their flesh without serious consequences, for the same reason that some bodies reject transplanted organs. With the help of modern genetic sequencing, scientists have determined that the males jettison a branch of the immune system in order to survive. So far, no other animals have been documented doing the same.

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Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/briefing/gdp-election-day-anglerfish.html

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