Now, a kidnapping plot

Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY
·6 min read

A terror plot to kidnap a governor? A hurricane barreling toward the Gulf Coast? The fate of the next presidential debate in question?

It's Ashley, with a reminder that 2020 is a year that just won't quit. Let's get to it.

But first, treat yourself: This week has been a lot, so why not make some festive fall pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies? While you're at it, email me your favorite cookie recipe at theshortlist@usatoday.com. I've got something cooking up.

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Six people charged in plot against Michigan governor

A team of militia operatives has been charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a domestic terror plot in which they considered storming the state Capitol in a commando raid that would use Molotov cocktails to keep police cars at bay, according to newly unsealed court records. (Yes, really.) The FBI became aware early in 2020, through social media, that a militia group was "discussing the violent overthrow of certain government and law enforcement components," and "agreed to take violent action," according to a sworn affidavit. Members of the group bought weapons, conducted surveillance and held training meetings, but they were foiled in part because the FBI infiltrated the group with informants. Six were charged with federal kidnapping offenses and at least seven others face state charges.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks during the Aretha L. Franklin Memorial Highway dedication ceremony in Detroit, Monday, August 24, 2020.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks during the Aretha L. Franklin Memorial Highway dedication ceremony in Detroit, Monday, August 24, 2020.

Gulf Coast, time to prepare for Hurricane Delta

Hurricane Delta roared across the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday, a havoc-wreaking storm that strengthened to a 115-mph Category 3 "major" hurricane as it set its sights on the beleaguered Louisiana coast. Delta's latest path presents a "worst-case scenario" for Lake Charles and southwestern Louisiana, though its effects will be felt all the way into Mississippi. Speaking about its potential landfall along the southwestern Louisiana coast, National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Schott said "it's the worst-case scenario." AccuWeather said Delta was expected to grow in size and strength over the Gulf before slamming into the Louisiana coast late Friday. A Category 3 hurricane has sustained winds of 111 to 129 mph and is considered to be a "major" hurricane.

Hurricane Delta's projected path as of 1 p.m. CT. Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020.
Hurricane Delta's projected path as of 1 p.m. CT. Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020.

What everyone’s talking about

Is the next presidential debate happening? TBD

The fate of the next presidential debate is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. President Donald Trump said this morning that he would not take part in the next scheduled debate with former Vice President Joe Biden after it was moved to a virtual format over COVID-19 safety concerns, calling it a "joke" and an effort "to protect Biden." Trump asked that the next two debates be delayed a week instead. Meanwhile, the debate commission said it would not host a solo debate. While they work that out, let's talk about last night's veep debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris. There were moments of civility: Pence congratulated Harris on making history. But there were also plenty of skirmishes:

  • Pence defended the administration's refusal to follow CDC guidelines, like mask wearing, at the White House event with Trump's Supreme Court pick.

  • Harris dodged questions about expanding the Supreme Court.

  • Harris and Pence had a sharp exchange over climate change. Pence said Biden would ban fracking, which Harris denied.

While there's no "winner" of the debate, we asked our election text group which candidate they thought reigned supreme. A total of 53.9% chose Harris. But many also tossed their vote to the unexpected guest of the evening: a fly. Here's what some readers texted us:

  • "There’s a fly on Mike Pence’s head. There’s a fly on Mike Pence’s head. There’s a fly on Mike Pence’s head ... " (this went on for quite awhile)

  • "Let the fly talk."

  • "Do you think the fly was a Democrat or Republican?"

A fly that landed on Vice President Mike Pence's head during the vice presidential debate has become an internet star.
A fly that landed on Vice President Mike Pence's head during the vice presidential debate has become an internet star.

Real quick

Top White House security official hospitalized with COVID-19

The head of the White House security office is gravely ill with COVID-19 and has been hospitalized since September, a White House official has confirmed. Crede Bailey leads the office in charge of credentialing people for access to the White House and works closely with the Secret Service, according to Bloomberg. Bailey got sick before the now-infamous Sept. 26 Rose Garden event, where Trump announced his pick of Judge Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court, according to Bloomberg. Several people who attended that event, including Trump and first lady Melania Trump, have tested positive for COVID-19. Trump returned to the White House Monday after spending three days in the hospital to receive treatments for COVID-19.

A break from the news

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Gretchen Whitmer, Trump, Hurricane Delta, Pence, Harris: Thursday's news