All eyes on battleground states as Trump and Biden eye final stretch
President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden are both showing up in Florida on Thursday during a busy campaign schedule, just five days away from Election Day. Trump is scheduled to speak at a rally in Tampa in the afternoon before jetting off to Fayetteville, North Carolina, for another appearance. Meanwhile, Biden will appear in Broward County before heading to Tampa to speak at a drive-in rally. He is expected in Iowa on Friday, underscoring how competitive the state has become in the closing days of the 2020 presidential race. Approximately 75 million people have already voted, according to numbers compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.
Remnants of Zeta to wallop eastern US with rain, wind
Hurricane Zeta made landfall Wednesday near Cocodrie in Louisiana, with winds estimated at 110 mph, before weakening to a tropical storm early Thursday over central Alabama. Louisiana has had the worst of it this year, hit by two tropical storms and now three hurricanes. New Orleans has been in the warning area for potential tropical cyclones seven times this year, with each one veering to the east or west. At least one person was reported dead from Zeta, a 55-year-old man who a Louisiana coroner said was electrocuted by a downed power line in New Orleans. Zeta is the 11th tropical storm or hurricane to hit the U.S. this year, an all-time record high for the nation. It’s also the fifth tropical storm or hurricane to hit Louisiana this year, an all-time record for the state.
Tech giants announce their earnings. Here’s what we can expect
Apple, Amazon, Google parent company Alphabet and Facebook will announce their earnings Thursday, telling us a great deal about where we are as consumers. In the last earnings, Amazon stunned investors — the retail giant replaced the neighborhood store for many people — when COVID first hit while Apple sold more products as essential work tools. Meanwhile, Google and Facebook saw advertising dip as coronavirus hit retailers in the pocketbook. But as one expert predicts, investors might be in store for encouraging news as revenue bumps are expected from both tech giants.
California wildfires: Progress but work remains to control blazes
Firefighters are working to contain blazes in California Thursday as fires threaten upscale neighborhoods. The Silverado Fire, which prompted the evacuation orders of tens of thousands in California’s Orange County, has charred over 13,000 acres and injured five firefighters — two critically — since it broke out Monday. To the east, the Blue Ridge Fire has blackened more than 22 square miles — including 56% of Chino Hills State Park at the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains, Assemblyman Philip Chen reported in his email newsletter to constituents. High winds, which grounded firefighting aircraft on Monday, were much less of a factor on Wednesday.
Google’s Pixel 5 smartphone will be released in the US
Pixel 5, Google’s successor to last year’s Pixel 4 smartphone, will be released in the U.S. on Thursday. The phone has a lower starting price than its predecessor ($699 versus $799) and like most new phones for 2020, also connects to 5G. Marketing materials push the faster speed, camera features for photo buffs and a brand new feature called “Hold for Me.” As USA TODAY tech writer Jefferson Graham explains, the feature “kicks in once those pesky airlines, hotels or other concerns put us on hold on a toll-free phone call. Then, when the music stops and a live person comes through, a tone rings to let us know it’s time to pay attention again and come back to the phone to talk.” But while discussing the feature Graham also says, “Give Google five stars for PR savvy, but only two stars for reality.”