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Today is the first official day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, and you know the drill. Cozy sweaters, knit scarves, warm apple cider, pumpkin pie and scenic foliage. What’s not to love? Well, it may be a bit longer until it actually feels like fall for the southern tier of the US as heat waves continue to linger in much of the region.
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Just as the US was hitting its vaccine stride, a potential hiccup: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are recommending that the United States pause the use of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine over six reported US cases of a “rare and severe” type of blood clot. The recommendation comes as an average of 3.1 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine – from any of three manufacturers’ products approved in the US – were being given every day. At that rate, half of adults in the country were expected to have received at least one dose by the end of this week. There’s still controversy brewing, though. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has repeatedly asked the White House for more vaccine doses as her state sees a surge of cases driven by the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant. However, federal health officials have denied the requests, saying the variant is affecting other states, too. Two new studies suggest the B.1.1.7 strain, first discovered in the UK, is more transmissible but doesn’t increase disease severity. Meanwhile, the UK has also hit its latest vaccination target, offering doses to all adults over 50, the clinically vulnerable and social care workers.
Medical experts are warning of another deadly pandemic winter as Covid-19 numbers tick up and flu season threatens. The US is back at a point where more than 2,000 people are dying of Covid-19 every day on average, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, about 12,000 to 50,000 Americans lose their lives to flu every year. The best way to avoid another devastating season, doctors say, is to get vaccinated for both. Meanwhile, parts of Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, are coming out of long lockdowns and abandoning their “zero Covid” strategies. Leaders want to revive their countries’ economies, especially their tourism sectors, but experts are worried that low vaccination rates in the region could spell disaster.
2. Gas prices
Protesters and police clashed again last night in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, over the death of Daunte Wright. The 20-year-old was fatally shot by an officer Sunday during a traffic stop. Police Chief Tim Gannon said the officer who shot Wright, identified as Officer Kim Potter, meant to deploy a Taser instead of her gun. The NBA, MLB and NHL postponed games yesterday in Minneapolis following Wright’s death and the ensuing public outrage. All this is unfolding as the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd, continues. A cardiologist testified yesterday that Floyd died of cardiopulmonary arrest as a result of restraint and asphyxia. He was the fifth doctor in the trial to describe such a cause of death.
The climate crisis was front and center at the UN General Assembly yesterday. Chinese President Xi Jinping recorded a rare address to the UN body promising to halt coal projects, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will present the Paris climate agreement to its parliament next month, and US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stressed further climate action during an Oval Office meeting. An array of international points of conflict were also addressed by the dozens of world leaders present, including nuclear arms in Iran, free and fair elections in Venezuela, and competition between the US and China. The Taliban have also requested representation at this week’s meeting, a move that is expected to kick off a diplomatic battle with the preexisting Afghan envoy.
The Biden administration has secured agreements for Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala to tighten their borders with more troops and stem the flow of migration. Vice President Kamala Harris has also spoken to regional leaders about increasing humanitarian assistance and job opportunities in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to tackle the root problems leading people to flee northward. The Biden administration has struggled with an influx of migrants that have overwhelmed facilities at the southern border. Still, the number of unaccompanied minors in the custody of US Customs and Border Protection has dropped 45% as officials scrambled to find places to house the children.
Progressive Democrats have announced they will not vote for the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill without passing the $3.5 trillion package that is aimed at enacting President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. That vote is scheduled for next week, and as it stands, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can afford to lose only a handful of votes to get anything passed. President Biden will increase his engagement with Congressional Democrats today, including a meeting with Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, to try and get all the Democratic factions in line. Yesterday, the House also passed a bill to avoid a government shutdown and suspend the US debt limit. The bill is unlikely to pass the Senate, so the country is still approaching a possible shutdown and financial precipice in the coming weeks.
4. Hurricane Fiona
It’s been just over 100 days since Brexit began in earnest, and British exporters aren’t happy with how things are going. Trade with Europe has taken a major hit, with exports of goods to the European Union plummeting by more than 41% in January and recovering only modestly after that. The situation is especially dire for food exporters, who have seen exports all but wiped out by new trade restrictions. Now, businesses are asking the UK and the European Union to amend their trade agreement to reduce barriers. Some lawmakers, business leaders and economists have also announced an independent commission to scrutinize Britain’s trade deals with Europe and the rest of the world.
More than a million people in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic once again woke up without power this morning in the wake of Hurricane Fiona. The Category 4 storm is poised to sideswipe Bermuda later this week, forecasts show. At least five people have been killed in the Caribbean, including one in Guadeloupe, two in Puerto Rico and two in the Dominican Republic. Fiona also whipped parts of the Turks and Caicos islands on Tuesday with sustained winds of almost 125 mph, officials said. While the recovery process will likely take a long time, authorities have started visiting several islands to begin repairs.
One student was killed and an officer was injured during an armed encounter yesterday at a Knoxville, Tennessee, high school. Officers responded to a call about a potentially armed student. The student refused to come out of a bathroom and fired shots, prompting an officer to return fire. The district attorney said the event is not a “school shooting” but an “officer-involved shooting at a school.” Still, for the students and staff at Austin-East Magnet High School, it was a nightmare. The shooting is the latest gun violence incident to plague the school, which has already lost four students in the last few months.
Microplastics in our air ‘spiral the globe’ in a cycle of pollution, study finds
Did you know that even the tires on your car create microplastics? They’re everywhere!
Macaulay Culkin and Brenda Song welcome their first child together
Welcome to the world, Dakota Song Culkin!
Domino’s is launching a pizza delivery robot car
And it’s just as cute as you think a pizza delivery robot car would be.
New IBM spinoff joins a long list of questionable corporate names
Brazil is building a new statue of Jesus – and it’ll be bigger than Rio’s
‘Dancing with the Stars’ Season 30 premieres
That’s about how many metric tons of treated radioactive water Japan plans to release in two years from its destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant. The water will be released back into the ocean, raising concern among neighboring countries.
“It’s systemic. It goes much deeper than any one institution or any one administration. And it’s perpetuated by policies, practices and people to this day.”
“I started telling myself that it was okay. I was coming to terms with dying.”
Gotta stitch ‘em all!
Restoring an icon