5 things to know for September 21: Ginsburg, Covid-19, Trump, UN, China

A person pauses to photograph a painting in a storefront on Broadway of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg who passed away in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., September 18, 2020.

Storm surge from Tropical Storm Beta is already causing damage as the storm prepares to make landfall along the Texas coast.

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1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg 

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday, sparking a wave of tributes in the nation's capital and around the country. She was 87. The second woman ever appointed to the bench, she was known for her fiery dissents, often in cases involving civil rights or equal protections. Those dissents and key cases that she worked on as a lawyer made her a cultural touchstone across generations, earning the nickname the "Notorious RBG."

Ginsburg's death comes less than two months from Election Day and sets the stage for a divisive political fight over the future of the Supreme Court. President Trump said he would choose a candidate to fill her seat this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is vowing that whoever Trump nominates will get a vote on the Senate floor, despite blocking President Barack Obama's nominee in 2016 and arguing that voters should determine the future of the high court in an election year. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, meanwhile, said, "The voters should pick the president, and the president should pick the justice."

2. Coronavirus

More than half of US states are reporting a rise in Covid-19 cases as the nation closes in on the somber milestone of 200,000 deaths from the virus. Wisconsin, Idaho, South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas are among the states reporting more new cases in the last seven days, along with a coronavirus positivity rate above 15%. Still, some states are seeing improvements. Meanwhile, the CDC says there is growing evidence that the coronavirus can be spread through viral particles lingering in the air and that those droplets can travel distances beyond 6 feet.

3. President Trump

A woman suspected of sending a letter containing the poison ricin to President Trump has been arrested as she tried to enter the US from Canada, and US prosecutors are expected to bring charges against her. Law enforcement intercepted a package containing ricin, a highly toxic compound that has been used in terror plots, that was sent to Trump last week. Authorities are also investigating similar packages mailed to addresses in Texas that may be connected to the same sender in Canada.

4. United Nations

The United Nations General Assembly kicks off this week, and as many events this year, it'll be unlike any other. The UNGA is seen as the Super Bowl of international diplomacy. But the global pandemic means that this year, the session is being held without the face-to-face meetings that are so crucial to dealmaking -- even President Trump won't be attending in person. Leaders from around the world will make pre-recorded speeches, and virtual meetings will take place on topics including climate change, biodiversity and Lebanon.

5. China

Chinese officials have officially acknowledged birth rates in the western region of Xinjiang dropped by almost a third in 2018, compared to the previous year.  But in a letter to CNN, the government also denied reports of forced sterilization and genocide against the Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority group numbering more than 10 million people. The claims came in response to a CNN article published in July that found Uyghur women were being forced to use birth control and undergo sterilization as part of a deliberate attempt to push down birth rates among minorities in Xinjiang.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

The Emmy Awards go virtual

To make up for being remote this year, the awards show definitely tried it all. Check out who won.

American golfer Bryson DeChambeau wins the US Open

He was also the only golfer to finish the tournament with a score under par.

A firefighter goes viral for fighting conspiracy theories on TikTok

A humpback whale is free after swimming out of a crocodile-infested river

A Wisconsin man was shocked to discover a brain washed up on the beach

It was wrapped in a package with pink flowers and foreign money. We have questions.

TODAY'S NUMBER

103,135

That's how many acres have been scorched by the Bobcat Fire in Los Angeles County as of last night, making it one of the largest fires in the county's history.

TODAY'S QUOTE

"Some news media reported that TikTok will set up a $5 billion education fund in the United States. We would like to clarify that it was also our first time hearing about the news."

TikTok's Chinese parent company, ByteDance, responding on Chinese social media to President Trump's assertion that a tentative deal between ByteDance, Oracle and Walmart that would temporarily avert a ban on TikTok in US app stores will include a $5 billion fund to "educate people" about the "real history of our country"

TODAY'S WEATHER

AND FINALLY

Do you remember the 21st night of September? 

Forget all the world's troubles, at least for a moment, and rock out to this Earth, Wind & Fire classic. (Click here to view.)

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