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Here’s the biggest news you missed this weekend – USA TODAY

In the US, more than 700,000 dead from COVID-19

The United States passed the dark threshold of 700,000 COVID-19 deaths Friday evening as more than 2,000 Americans die per day from the virus. Soon it will be winter, indoor venues will draw crowds, people will go inside to socialize. And 800,000 deaths — or even 1 million — is possible. The U.S. reached 600,000 deaths in June, when daily deaths had dropped to under 400 and many were optimistic the end was near for the ruthless world crisis, at least at home. Vaccines were widely available to all American adults and teens. But three-plus months and 100,000 deaths later, millions have lost interest in the fight.

Will the pandemic ever end? Masks and social distancing were the world’s first remedy, but every time the curve of infections – then deaths – headed down, a “surge” pushed it back up. Ogbonnaya Omenka, an associate professor and public health specialist at Butler University in Indianapolis, said it’s difficult to anticipate what comes next because of the “myriad uncertainties” surrounding the virus and American reaction to it. “But if we don’t get things under control, that is tantamount to allowing all the numbers to keep rising,” Omenka warned.

Oil spill fouls beaches, wildlife along Southern California coast

Authorities are racing to minimize the ecological damage from a massive oil spill off the coast of Southern California. Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley tweeted Sunday that oil had begun washing ashore in Huntington Beach, 30 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Foley blamed a pipeline breach linked to an oil rig about five miles off the coast. “We’ve started to find dead birds & fish washing up on the shore,” she tweeted. Huntington Beach Police spokeswoman Jennifer Carey said 126,000 gallons of oil had created a spill almost six nautical miles long and warned of “substantial ecological impacts” for the beach and wetlands. She warned those in the area to “remain clear of the beach.” The Coast Guard is leading the spill response, saying details on the cause of the spill were under investigation.

Bomb targets mosque in Kabul, killing civilians

At least five civilians were killed after a bomb blast at the entrance of a mosque in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday, a Taliban Interior Ministry spokesman said. Qari Saeed Khosti confirmed the deaths. Initial reports indicate the explosion was caused by a roadside bomb. Three suspects have been arrested, Bilal Karimi, Taliban official spokesman said. The bomb targeted the sprawling Eidgah Mosque in Kabul, where a memorial service was being held for the mother of Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, who later tweeted the attack had claimed civilian lives. Taliban fighters were not harmed in the attack, Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi told the Associated Press. Those killed in the attack were civilians outside the mosque gate. He did not provide a figure for the number killed and said an investigation was ongoing.

Real quick

‘Pandora Papers’ reveal financial secrets of world leaders, politicians

Hundreds of world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers have been hiding their investments in mansions, exclusive beachfront property, yachts and other assets for the past quarter-century, according to a review of nearly 12 million files obtained from 14 different firms located around the world. The report released Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists involved 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. It’s being dubbed the “Pandora Papers” because the findings shed light on the previously hidden dealings of the elite and the corrupt, and how they have used offshore accounts to shield assets collectively worth trillions of dollars. The more than 330 current and former politicians identified as beneficiaries of the secret accounts include Jordan’s King Abdullah II, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, and former associates of both Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Many of the accounts were designed to evade taxes and conceal assets for other shady reasons, according to the report.

‘SNL’ opens 47th season with a new Joe Biden

‘Saturday Night Live’ is back with a new season, new cast members and a new President Joe Biden impersonation. James Austin Johnson opened the show with his take on an exasperated Biden addressing the country about his infrastructure legislation and the general state of everything. “Broadway’s back, that’s exciting right?” he said to thunderous applause. But quickly snuck in: “So is the Taliban. So, win-some, lose-some.” (Guest performer Jim Carrey famously appeared as the president last season.) The iconic late-night series also paid tribute to the late Norm Macdonald during its season premiere by showing footage from his stint hosting “Weekend Update.” “Tonight, we thought we’d turn the last few jokes of ‘Update’ over to Norm,” Colin Jost said.

College football: Oregon crashes, Big Ten ascends, Clemson unranked for first time since 2014

Teams are jockeying for position behind two SEC stalwarts: No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Georgia. Oregon dropped from No. 3 to No. 8 in the AP top 25 rankings after collapsing down the stretch in a loss against unranked Stanford, making room for Iowa in the top three after the Hawkeyes impressed in a road win against Maryland. Led by Iowa and No. 4 Penn State, the Big Ten boasts five teams in the top 11. No. 5 Cincinnati is trying to become the first non-Power Five team to snag a playoff spot after beating Notre Dame on the road. Meanwhile, Clemson fell out of the top 25 for the first time since 2014.

P.S. Like this roundup of stories? Sign up for “The Short List” newsletter here.

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Contributing: Associated Press.

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