Conspiracies Add Fuel To An Already Challenging Wildfire Season

Wildfires in Western states aren’t slowing down and conspiracy theories about who started them are only making things harder for responders.

Conrad Wilson from Oregon Public Broadcasting reports on how claims of Antifa arsonists have clogged up the phone lines for 911 dispatchers in some Oregon towns.

And NPR’s Audie Cornish talks with Nick Clegg, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communication, about the company’s decision to remove some misinformation about the fires — and their broader attempts to stop the spread of misinformation online.

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Journalist Bob Woodward Says Trump Is ‘The Wrong Man For The Job’

If President Trump knew how contagious and potentially deadly the coronavirus was back in February, why didn’t he express that to the American public?

That’s the question Trump has been facing since last week, when a recording of him expressing a desire to “play down” the virus went public. The audio came from interviews with Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward that he conducted for his latest book, Rage.

In an interview with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly, Woodward comes to the conclusion that the president failed to protect the country from the virus and is “the wrong man for the job.”

Listen to more of the Bob Woodward interview.

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Wildfires Have Gone From Bad To Worse — And More Are Inevitable

More than 3 million acres have burned in California this wildfire season. The previous record in a single season was 1.7 million, two years ago.

Towns are being decimated across California, Oregon and Washington — and firefighting resources are maxed out, as NPR’s Kirk Siegler reports from Boise, Idaho.

In California, NPR’s Lauren Sommer reports on an effort to fight fire with fire — something some Native American tribes have been doing for a long time.

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Why Are So Many Americans Hesitant To Get A COVID-19 Vaccine?

As trials continue for a coronavirus vaccine, some of the world’s biggest drug companies have come together in an unusual way. This week, nine drugmakers released a joint statement pledging to not submit a coronavirus vaccine to the Food and Drug Administration unless it’s shown to be safe and effective in large clinical trials.

NPR’s Sydney Lupkin reports that the statement comes as a commitment to science, at a time when some Americans have expressed concern that the trials are being rushed.

Part of this concern comes from those who feel politics are influencing the processes vaccines must go through. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have told states a potential vaccine may be ready for distribution as soon as late October — right before Election Day. But when speaking with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said there is a “very low chance” a vaccine will be ready by then.

While some Americans are skeptical about a coronavirus vaccine, it doesn’t seem like many of those people work on Wall Street. Each time a new vaccine trial phase is announced or a new scientific hurdle is cleared, drug company stock goes up. NPR’s Tom Dreisbach reported that executives at one company took advantage of those rising stock prices.

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Gen Z Is Getting Ready To Vote. Are Political Parties Speaking To Them?

Youth voter turnout exceeded expectations in 2018 and may do so again in 2020. Generation Z — those born after 1996 — is the most pro-government and anti-Trump generation, according to the Pew Research Center. But Democrats can’t count on those voters to be automatic allies.

Gen Z voters in the LA area spoke with NPR host Ailsa Chang ahead of November’s election. They discussed today’s Democratic party, and why they will — and won’t — be voting for Joe Biden.

While Gen Z Democrats are split on Biden, young Republicans are deciding whether they will support President Trump. NPR political reporter Juana Summers spoke to young Republicans about their choices and the future of the GOP.

Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, told NPR that young voters are more concerned with issues and values than with identity and branding.

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School Is Off To A Slow Start, And It’s Going To Be A Long Year

With Labor Day weekend gone, summer is unofficially over — and millions of children head back to school this week, many virtually.

Two teachers — Rosie Reid in California and Lynette Stant in Arizona — share how things are going in their schools so far.

Many states have decided to allow high school football to go forward, even if kids are not in school. NPR’s Tom Goldman reports that one coach in Alabama is demanding a coronavirus testing program for his players.

Students who are not in school are not just missing out on in-person education. Many are missing free or reduced-cost meals. NPR’s Cory Turner reports on how some school districts are trying to feed students when they’re not in school.

And for many parents who can’t work at home, no school means a need for child care. But a recent study suggests millions of child care centers may not reopen after the pandemic, as Kavitha Cardoza with member station WAMU reports.

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What’s Driving California’s Biggest-Ever Wildfire Season

California set a new record high this week for the most acres burned in a single wildfire season.

In an average season, 300,000 acres burn. This year more than 2 million acres have been scorched — and the season isn’t over yet.

Some communities have taken actions to prevent fires from spreading, but as NPR’s Nathan Rott and Lauren Sommer report, those efforts may not be enough.

Fire itself isn’t the only threat to people. NPR’s daily science podcast Short Wave looked into the science of wildfire smoke and how far-reaching it can be. Listen on Apple or Spotify.

Reporter Erika Mahoney from member station KAZU has more on dual threats facing farmworkers: wildfire smoke and COVID-19.

As these fires have been burning, other regions across the country have also faced extreme weather. Hurricane forecasters are watching multiple storm systems in the Atlantic that could develop into tropical storms in what has already been an extremely busy hurricane season. NPR’s Rebecca Hersher, Nathan Rott, and Lauren Sommer on the growing threat of extreme weather due to climate change.

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Banning Evictions Should Help The Economy. But Can The CDC Do That?

Jerome Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, told NPR today that keeping people in their houses and ‘connected to the economy’ will cost money now, but pay dividends later.

But the White House and Congress have been unable to agree on a deal for additional economic relief, millions of people are still unemployed, and many states now have no eviction protection. The Trump administration issued an eviction ban through the CDC this week.

NPR’s Chris Arnold and Selena Simmons-Duffin reported on the CDC’s temporary halt on evictions and the legal issues that will likely follow.

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The President’s New Advisor Is A Fan Of ‘Herd Immunity’ — And Scientists Are Worried

As the Northern Hemisphere prepares for a flu season with COVID-19, there are lessons to be learned from the south. Countries like Australia and Argentina made it through the middle of winter with very few cases of the flu. That could be thanks to social distancing measures in place to fight the coronavirus.

NPR’s Nell Greenfieldboyce reported on flu in the southern hemisphere and the possibility that it could mix with the coronavirus.

NPR’s Tamara Keith and Geoff Brumfiel take a look at President Trump’s new health advisor, Dr. Scott Atlas. He has no background in infectious diseases and his ideas are worrying scientists who do.

Mary Louise Kelly spoke with Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser for the coronavirus vaccine development program, Operation Warp Speed, about the status of vaccines in the U.S.

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President ‘Heaping Fuel On The Fire’ Of Unrest, Ex-Trump DHS Official Says

President Trump has stoked tensions and repeatedly failed to condemn acts of violence from racially — and ethnically — motivated attackers, says Elizabeth Neumann, former assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security.

Neumann left her job in April and is now speaking publicly about her experience in the administration. She told NPR’s Steve Inskeep why she no longer supports the president — and how his rhetoric has fueled unrest in Kenosha, Wis., and elsewhere across the country.

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