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Steven Marson had more than 100 contracts for public fireworks displays, the majority of them scheduled for this weekend, before the pandemic hit Maine and prompted cancellations. Now he has eight.

Marson, who runs Central Maine Pyrotechnics, says the steep decline in business has cost him about $1 million so far.

"I could be out of business if this continues into 2021 because I don't have the means to keep going when you have not revenue coming in," he says.

Marson's not alone.

In a year marked by coronavirus fears, a slowing economy and nationwide protests calling for an end to systemic racism, more and more Americans are looking to arm themselves, according to a key government indicator.

The FBI reported that Americans set a new record of 3.9 million background checks to purchase or possess firearms in June. That eclipsed the previous record set in March of 3.7 million background checks.

If you're traveling this holiday weekend or if you have guests coming your way, there's a good chance you live in a state affected by a mandatory 14-day travel quarantine.

As new COVID-19 hot spots erupt around the country, some public health officials said the measures could help contain the spread. But the rules are a patchwork, and enforcement differs state by state.

"We have a $5,000 penalty" for violating the traveler quarantine, Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors said. "It's a misdemeanor, which means it's punishable by up to a year in prison."

Updated at 7:43 p.m. ET

Florida's surge of COVID-19 cases shows no signs of slowing down. The state Department of Heath reported Florida set another daily record Thursday, with 10,109 cases, surpassing Saturday's record of 9,585 cases. That brings Florida's total confirmed coronavirus cases to nearly 170,000 and a death toll of 3,617 (with 67 new deaths reported Thursday).

After playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation for seven seasons — more than 170 episodes — and in four movies, Patrick Stewart was ready to say goodbye to the role in 2002.

"Star Trek had taken over my life," Stewart says. "I got to a point ... when I felt that I had said everything that I wanted to say about Jean-Luc Picard and his life on the Enterprise."

Wynton Marsalis has always been deeply engaged in the subject of American race relations. The issue was a crucial part of his education as a young musician in New Orleans, and it has been a core preoccupation of his own work going as far back as Black Codes (From the Underground), a trailblazing album from 1985.

A Black Facebook employee is accusing his employer of racial discrimination.

In a complaint filed Thursday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Oscar Veneszee Jr. said the social network does not give Black workers equal opportunities in their careers.

Mourners gathered Thursday to bury Haacaaluu Hundeessaa, a popular singer and activist whose killing has catalyzed massive protests and stoked ethnic tensions for days across Ethiopia. Dozens of people have died in the unrest after the singer was shot to death earlier this week — but the violence didn't dissuade scores from seeking to attend his funeral in the town of Ambo.

Protests are unfolding across the country over the death of Elijah McClain at the hands of police in Aurora, Colo. Now, frustration is also building over local law enforcement’s use of force this past weekend at a vigil in Aurora honoring him — frustration that was visible at a city council meeting Tuesday night dedicated to the response. 

Updated July 3 at 11:34 a.m. ET

With around four out of 10 homes in the U.S. yet to be tallied for the national head count, the Census Bureau has announced the first six places in the U.S. where unresponsive households will get in-person visits starting later this month.

Updated at 2:35 p.m. ET

The FBI has arrested British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell on multiple charges related to the serial sexual abuse of girls and young women by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein.

"Maxwell was among Epstein's closest associates and helped him exploit girls who were as young as 14 years old," Audrey Strauss, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a news conference Thursday.

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

Employers added a record 4.8 million jobs last month, as the U.S. economy continued to slowly bounce back from a deep and painful coronavirus recession. The unemployment rate dipped to 11.1%.

Job growth accelerated from May, when revised figures show employers added 2.7 million jobs.

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Chile looked as if it were well prepared to deal with the new coronavirus.

It's a rich country — classified as high income by the World Bank. Life expectancy is roughly 80 years — better than the United States'. It has a solid, modern health care system, and when the outbreak began spreading, officials made sure they had plenty of ventilators and intensive care beds at the ready.

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With a boost from the Republican-led Senate, President Trump has now confirmed 200 federal judges. Each one has a life term, representing a legacy that could extend for a generation.

The president often trumpets the achievement in speeches and on Twitter. But the credit belongs as much to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who took a victory lap last week.

In El Cajon, Calif., a procession of cars carrying 600 soon-to-be U.S. citizens from 68 countries passed through a series of stations behind a local community center earlier this week, where they were asked a series of final questions: "Any coronavirus symptoms? Have you been arrested since your interview? No tickets, nothing like that?"

One of a series of reports looking at Joe Biden's potential running mates


Many progressives are loudly calling for Joe Biden to pick Elizabeth Warren as his running mate. They insist the liberal senator, who's long been a darling of the left, would help the presumptive Democratic nominee win over skeptical young voters.

In a grim accounting of the coronavirus's progress in the United States, another milestone was reached Wednesday: more than 50,000 new cases reported in a single day.

Johns Hopkins University & Medicine's Coronavirus Resource Center, which tracks the virus worldwide, says the total number of cases reported in the U.S. stands at 2,686,480, an increase of 50,700 over Tuesday's figure. U.S. deaths attributed to the coronavirus stand at 128,062.

As protests swept the nation following the police killing of George Floyd, there was a surge of reports that Nextdoor, the hyperlocal social media app, was censoring posts about Black Lives Matter and racial injustice.

In an interview with NPR, Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar said the company should have moved more quickly to protect posts related to Black Lives Matter by providing clearer guidance.

The surge in COVID-19 infections throughout Alabama is forcing Gov. Kay Ivey to rethink plans to reopen the state.

For the last seven days, Alabama has logged an average of nearly 1,000 new daily coronavirus cases, with hospitalizations at their highest level since the pandemic began.

So you want to wear a face mask? Good call.

A growing body of evidence supports the idea that wearing face masks in public, even when you feel well, can help curb the spread of the coronavirus — since people can spread the virus even without showing symptoms. That's the main reason to wear a mask: to protect other people from you.

Dr. Basim Ali graduated at the top of his medical school class in Pakistan and landed a residency at a renowned teaching hospital in Texas, where he'll be on the front lines of one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the U.S.

"There's obviously some degree of anxiety about what that's going to be like," Ali said by phone from Karachi before coming here. "But there's also this understanding that this is what we signed up for."

The federal agency charged with preventing terrorist attacks and securing the border announced Wednesday that it would deploy personnel across the country to carry out President Trump's orders to protect statues and monuments from vandalism amid ongoing protests for racial justice.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the department has established a Protecting American Communities Task Force to secure historic landmarks against "violent anarchists and rioters."

Gov. Gavin Newsom is ordering 19 counties to shift many business operations outdoors or close them immediately, citing a sharp spike in new coronavirus cases. The state recorded nearly 6,000 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the governor said.

Updated July 3 at 2 p.m. ET

More than two months after Spc. Vanessa Guillen was last seen at Fort Hood in Texas, her family's lawyer said they believe "her remains have been found."

Attorney Natalie Khawam revealed the news at a press conference Wednesday in Washington, D.C., as the Guillen family called for a congressional probe into the U.S. military's response to her disappearance.

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