Judge asked to mandate counting of ballots received too late

DOVER, Del. (AP) — A Delaware judge is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit by the ACLU asking him to override state election law and allow the counting of absentee and mail-in ballots received after the state-mandated deadline in November’s general election.
Tuesday’s hearing involves a complaint filed by the ACLU on behalf of the League of Women Voters.
Delaware requires that absentee ballots and ballots cast under a universal vote-by-mail law enacted specifically for this year’s elections because of the coronavirus be received by the time polls close at 8 p.m.
The ACLU wants to force elections officials to count ballots received up to 10 days after Election Day if they were mailed on or before Election Day.
Movie theaters remain shut in New York, one of several reasons the industry is under pressure.
Credit...Gabby Jones for The New York Times
Hollywood studios are delaying blockbuster films, and its taking a big toll on the cinema business.
On Monday, Cineworld, the parent company of Regal Cinemas, one of the largest theater chains in the country, said it would temporarily close its 663 theaters in the United States and Britain this week. The decision affects 40,000 employees in the United States and 5,000 more in Britain, and raises questions about what other chains will do if Hollywood’s release schedule remains barren.
AMC said on Tuesday that it would not be following Regal’s lead. More than 80 percent of the chain’s theaters in the United States are open, and the company plans to open additional theaters, particularly in New York and California, when allowed to by state and county officials. “Fortunately for AMC, our groundbreaking agreement with Universal Studios announced earlier this summer puts AMC in a position where we can open our theaters when others may feel the need to close,” said AMC’s president and chief executive, Adam Aron.
Here are just a few of the movies that have been delayed.
  • Late last week, MGM/Universal announced that it was delaying the release of the new James Bond film, “No Time to Die,” until next year, the latest in a slew of big-budget movies that have been moved out of 2020 by Hollywood studios.
  • Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” whose Labor Day weekend release was intended to herald the return of movie theaters, continues to struggle at the U.S. box office, at least in part because audiences are wary of theaters.
  • Warner Bros. is postponing releasing the remake of “Dune,” once scheduled for December, until Oct. 1, 2021, according to two people familiar with the studio’s plans who spoke on condition of anonymity because they had not been made public. Warner Bros. declined to comment.
  • Still hopeful for 2020 is “Wonder Woman 1984,” though Warner Bros. has already delayed its release from October to Christmas Day. “Soul,” the latest from the Walt Disney Company’s Pixar animation studio, is scheduled for a Nov. 20 release.

England’s virus-tracking system enters the annals of spreadsheet horror stories.

Nearly 16,000 positive coronavirus cases recently went unrecorded in England’s tracking system, officials said on Monday. The glitch led to an undercount of the country’s tally and a delay in tracing infected people’s contacts, leaving tens of thousands of people in the dark about their potential exposure.
The culprit was a spreadsheet snafu, explains today’s DealBook newsletter. Specifically, the system relied on files formatted for an older version of Microsoft Excel, which can only handle a certain number of cells. When key files got too big, thousands of entries were skipped. To fix the problem, large files are now split before feeding them into the system — in other words, more spreadsheets.
Spreadsheets’ power comes from their flexibility, which also makes them dangerous. Mistakes managing spreadsheets have thwarted genetic research, enabled billion-dollar trading losses and led to misguided notions about fiscal austerity. The European Spreadsheet Risks Interests Group, which has been holding conferences about the perils of spreadsheet applications for the past 20 years, maintains an extensive list of other horror stories.
That England’s much-maligned test-and-trace system succumbed to such a mundane error — and that it relied so heavily on spreadsheets at all — led to geeky humor on social media that might be amusing, if it weren’t so serious.
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How struggling hotels are transforming themselves to survive.

Credit...Jeenah Moon for The New York Times
Across the country, as the hospitality industry grapples with a severe downturn, hotels have been trying to reinvent themselves — as schools, emergency housing, wedding halls or homeless shelters — even as the new uses may come up short on revenue.
There are signs of financial distress. In New York, 44 hotel loans backed by bonds totaling $1.2 billion are delinquent, according to September data from Trepp, an analytics firm. In second place was Houston, with 39 delinquent loans at $682 million, followed by Chicago with 29 at $990 million.
Though a foreclosure would not necessarily cause a hotel to close, many analysts do not expect the industry to fully recover till 2023. Many hotels are doing what they can to hang on:
  • The 607-room InterContinental Times Square in New York transformed into housing for doctors and nurses treating coronavirus patients.
  • Five hotels in Miami, including the Doral Inn and Suites, were designated as housing for doctors, the homeless and Covid-19 patients, for a total of more than 2,100 people from July to September, officials said.
  • At London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills, a 226-unit property in Los Angeles, beds were removed to create work spaces more like boardrooms.
  • Five families rented a conference room at a Courtyard by Marriott in suburban Elmhurst, Ill., so their first-grade students could comfortably engage in remote learning.
But the money can be a pittance compared with what came before. “For some properties, just keeping the lights on could cost $1 million a month,” said Jeffrey Davis, a broker with the commercial real estate firm JLL and co-head of its hospitality group.

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