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Jerry Harris had a meteoric rise, and an even faster fall

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A report on the threats to minority voters has been shelved. Another 790,000 Americans filed for unemployment last week. And how is climate change worsening both the wildfire and hurricane seasons?

It’s Alex. Welcome to Thursday.

But first, don’t be fooled: Debunked QAnon conspiracy theories are seeping into mainstream social media.

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Jerry Harris from ‘Cheer’ charged with producing child porn

Jerry Harris, who experienced a meteoric rise to fame this year when he was featured in Netflix’s “Cheer” docuseries, has been arrested by the FBI and charged with producing child pornography, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday. According to federal court records, Harris admitted to agents that he solicited and received explicit messages on Snapchat from at least 10 to 15 individuals he knew were minors, had sex with a 15-year-old at a cheerleading competition in 2019, and gave a 17-year-old money in exchange for nude photos. If convicted, Harris faces 15 to 30 years in federal prison. The U.S. Attorney’s Office encouraged others who may be “a victim of sexual exploitation by Jeremiah Harris” to contact the FBI at (312)-421-6700. 

  • Help USA TODAY investigate misconduct in cheerleading. If you are an athlete, parent, coach, gym owner or someone else with a connection to cheer, we want to hear your story

AG Barr’s slavery comparison sharply criticized

House Majority Whip James Clyburn reacted sharply to Attorney General William Barr’s comment comparing coronavirus restrictions to slavery, calling it “the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful thing I’ve ever heard.” Barr’s remark came during a Wednesday question-and-answer session at Hillsdale College, where he said: “Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.” Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American member of Congress, told CNN Thursday that it was “incredible” that the “chief law enforcement officer in this country would equate human bondage to expert advice to save lives. Slavery was not about saving lives, it was about devaluing lives.” 

What everyone’s talking about

Report on threats to minority voters in 2020 won’t see the light of day

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights spent months analyzing threats to minority voting rights during the coronavirus pandemic. And no one will see their findings. Conservative commissioners recently voted to shelve the report, its findings and a “behemoth” set of recommendations. The commissioner who led the research provided a glimpse of the report’s contents during an August meeting, noting it covers problems with in-person and mail-in balloting faced by voters of color, people with disabilities, and those with medical conditions that make them vulnerable to the virus. 

Could 2020 get any worse? Probably

This year has been marred by devastating hurricanes in the South and catastrophic wildfires in the West — dual disasters bookended by the coronavirus pandemic. But the record-breaking season isn’t over yet, and the role of climate change is becoming front and center. Yet a question arises: How could climate change worsen both the wildfire and hurricane seasons? Aren’t they “opposite” weather phenomena? “We’ve always known that climate change would make extremes more extreme on all sides of the ledger,” said J. Marshall Shepherd, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Georgia. 

Real quick 

The tale of two vaccines

The president and head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are at odds on the readiness and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Robert Redfield testified ahead of a Senate panel Wednesday that a limited supply of the vaccine may be available between November and December, but that it was unlikely to be available to the general public until the summer or fall of next year. “I believe he was confused,” Trump said, insisting that the U.S. is ready to distribute the vaccine to much of the country whenever it is available. Redfield’s remarks ultimately contradicted Trump, who has said a vaccine could be available by the end of the year — perhaps by the Nov. 3 election.

Is that likely? USA TODAY created a panel of experts to estimate how close we are to securing a vaccine. With three experimental coronavirus vaccines now in large, human clinical trials in the U.S. and a government expectation at least one could be approved by January, the mantra among experts is “data, data, data.”

A break from the news

  • The Playstation 5 is available to pre-order now — if you hurry.

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Want this news roundup in your inbox every night? Sign up for The Short List newsletter here.

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