“Tens of millions of Americans are now cleared to get booster shots for all three Covid-19 vaccines offered in the U.S.
Among those who received two doses of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine six or more months ago, here’s who is eligible for a booster right now: people 65 and older; those 18 and older who live in long-term care; and those 18 and older who have underlying medical conditions or work or live in high-risk settings. For those who received the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, anyone 18 and older who was vaccinated two or more months ago is eligible. (Read the C.D.C.’s full guidelines).
The C.D.C. also gave a green light to a mix-and-match strategy, so people who are eligible for boosters can decide to get a dose of a different brand than the one they first received.
Next up for shots: children. F.D.A. regulators said the Pfizer vaccine’s benefits outweigh the risks for 5- to 11-year-olds. Emergency authorization could come as early as next week.
The country has suffered through five waves of the coronavirus pandemic now, depending on how you count. Here’s why few experts are forecasting a substantial winter peak.” Read more at New York Times
“President Biden pushed for a big agenda knowing that he would most likely have to pare it back. But accepting less and calling it a win has its limits — and consequences.
After pushing for months for a $3.5 trillion bill, the president is likely to end up with a measure including less than $2 trillion in spending spread across various initiatives. That could create a sense of disappointment that could hurt his party at the polls.
Negotiations are continuing on the final framework of the package, but among the initiatives to be cut are free community college for everyone; free dental, hearing and vision coverage from Medicare; and a new system of penalties for the worst polluters.
Biden’s new plan relies on tax credits, regulation and state action. It could meet his climate goals, but it faces many hurdles.” Read more at New York Times
“Two months after the evacuation of 80,000 Afghans fleeing the Taliban takeover, most evacuees have cleared vetting for admission into the U.S. But dozens have been red-flagged and are now in limbo.
Though the flagged evacuees helped America during its 20-year war in Afghanistan, screenings uncovered apparent records of violent crime or links to Islamist militants that follow-up evaluations have not cleared, officials said. The military transferred most of them to a NATO base in Kosovo, but because many will be barred from the U.S., the Biden administration has been meeting to determine what to do with them.
In Kabul, the Taliban brought together families of suicide bombers at a publicized event, praising their actions while alienating those who have suffered at their hands. It seemed to be an effort to appease the aggrieved families of the bombers and an overt attempt to rewrite the history of the war.” Read more at New York Times
“LOS ANGELES -- Atlanta is still seething that Major League Baseball stripped the All-Star Game away from their beloved city this summer.
Well, politics or not, there’s absolutely nothing MLB can do to stop Atlanta now.
Atlanta will host the World Series for the first time since 1999.
The Braves knocked off the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-2, winning the National League pennant Saturday night.
It was sweet revenge, Southern style, with a sellout crowd of 43,060 at Truist Park loving every minute.
Atlanta won the National League Championship Series 4 games to 2, and will face the Houston Astros in the World Series beginning Tuesday night (8:09 p.m. ET, FOX) at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Whoever wins the World Series, it promises to be quite the World Series trophy presentation.
If it’s Atlanta, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is going to be booed from Cobb County to Savanah for moving the All-Star Game to Denver in protest of Georgia’s voting laws.
And if it’s Houston, Manfred will be booed from Minute Maid Park to the Alamo for exposing the Astros’ cheating scandal, which led to the firing of GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch, and national embarrassment.” Read more at USA Today
A distraught Alec Baldwin outside the Santa Fe County sheriff's offices after questioning about a shooting on a movie set. Jim Weber/The New Mexican
“A picture of chaos and concern on the set of Alec Baldwin’s new western, Rust, has emerged from fresh accounts of the lead-up to the fatal shooting during filming on Thursday.
Only days into the three-week production schedule, new reports suggest that a worker had been so worried about weapon safety he had sent a text message to his manager warning of ‘super-unsafe’ conditions.
The claim follows news that six hours before the firing of the shot that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, half-a-dozen camera crew walked off the set at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe in protest at the working environment on the low-budget film. Complaints ranged from long hours, delayed pay cheques, and a 50-mile daily commute to accommodation in Albuquerque.
Hutchins, 42, was named a ‘rising star’ by American Cinematographer magazine in 2019. She grew up in the Arctic on a Soviet military base and had begun her working life as a journalist, moving into cinema after work on British film productions in eastern Europe. In America she took a series of production-assistant roles, eventually making her own acclaimed short films. She had one son, Andros, with her husband, Matthew.
The text sent to the unit production manager from an anonymous alarmed worker, and seen by the Los Angeles Times, reads: ‘We’ve now had 3 accidental discharges. This is super unsafe.’
Sources on Rust have also told the LA Times that vital safety protocols, including regular gun inspections, were not strictly followed, and at least one camera operator working alongside Hutchins alleges there had been two accidental prop gun discharges on the set days earlier.
‘There should have been an investigation into what happened,’ a crew member told the newspaper. ‘There were no safety meetings. There was no assurance that it wouldn’t happen again. All they wanted to do was rush, rush, rush.’
The film’s head armourer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, had expressed doubts about her level of experience. On a podcast recorded a month ago she said she had almost turned down her last job ‘because I wasn’t sure if I was ready’.” Read more at The Guardian
“They called it the ‘command center,’ a set of rooms and suites in the posh Willard hotel a block from the White House where some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal lieutenants were working day and night with one goal in mind: overturning the results of the 2020 election.
The Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse and the ensuing attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob would draw the world’s attention to the quest to physically block Congress from affirming Joe Biden’s victory. But the activities at the Willard that week add to an emerging picture of a less visible effort, mapped out in memos by a conservative pro-Trump legal scholar and pursued by a team of presidential advisers and lawyers seeking to pull off what they claim was a legal strategy to reinstate Trump for a second term.
They were led by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani. Former chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon was an occasional presence as the effort’s senior political adviser. Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kerik was there as an investigator. Also present was John Eastman, the scholar, who outlined scenarios for denying Biden the presidency in an Oval Office meeting on Jan. 4 with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
They sought to make the case to Pence and ramp up pressure on him to take actions on Jan. 6 that Eastman suggested were within his powers, three people familiar with the operation said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. Their activities included finding and publicizing alleged evidence of fraud, urging members of state legislatures to challenge Biden’s victory and calling on the Trump-supporting public to press Republican officials in key states.
The effort underscores the extent to which Trump and a handful of true believers were working until the last possible moment to subvert the will of the voters, seeking to pressure Pence to delay or even block certification of the election, leveraging any possible constitutional loophole to test the boundaries of American democracy.” Read more at Washington Post
Barack Obama campaigns with Terry McAuliffe, second from right, who is running for governor of Virginia.Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images
“Barack Obama vehemently warned Virginia voters on Saturday against any complacency that what was now a ‘blue’ state would stay that way, as he spoke at a rally to support Terry McAuliffe in the tightening race for governor.
The former president urged supporters to turn out, despite this being an off-year election, in order to keep Democrats in control of not just the state but ultimately the nation.
‘For the direction of Virginia and the direction of this country for generations to come,’ Obama said, ‘don’t sit this one out – vote.’
Virginia’s governor’s race is the first big chance voters get to express their approval of Joe Biden’s administration and is widely viewed as an indicator of whether the Democrats will keep control of Congress in next year’s midterm elections.
The former president’s appearance in Richmond on Saturday followed several other high-profile visits to the state by Democrats this month, including Vice-President Kamala Harris and two of Georgia’s big names, the activist and former candidate for governor Stacey Abrams and the Atlanta mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms.” Read more at The Guardian
“The effort to select 12 jurors and four alternates in the Ahmaud Arbery case continues. So far, 23 potential jurors have qualified for the next round of jury selection. Attorneys are working to narrow down the number of potential jurors from the 1,000 jury duty notices mailed.
A motions hearing is scheduled in the case of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse is charged with killing two people and injuring a third during violent protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in August 2020. The trial is set to begin on November 1.” Read more at CNN
“In February 2019, not long before India’s general election, a pair of Facebook employees set up a dummy account to better understand the experience of a new user in the company’s largest market. They made a profile of a 21-year-old woman, a resident of North India, and began to track what Facebook showed her.
At first, her feed filled with soft-core porn and other, more harmless, fare. Then violence flared in Kashmir, the site of a long-running territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, campaigning for reelection as a nationalist strongman, unleashed retaliatory airstrikes that India claimed hit a terrorist training camp.
Soon, without any direction from the user, the Facebook account was flooded with pro-Modi propaganda and anti-Muslim hate speech. ‘300 dogs died now say long live India, death to Pakistan,’ one post said, over a background of laughing emoji faces. ‘These are pakistani dogs,’ said the translated caption of one photo of dead bodies lined-up on stretchers, hosted in the News Feed.
An internal Facebook memo, reviewed by The Washington Post, called the dummy account test an “integrity nightmare” that underscored the vast difference between the experience of Facebook in India and what U.S. users typically encounter. One Facebook worker noted the staggering number of dead bodies.
About the same time, in a dorm room in northern India, 8,000 miles away from the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters, a Kashmiri student named Junaid told The Post he watched as his real Facebook page flooded with hateful messages. One said Kashmiris were ‘traitors who deserved to be shot.’ Some of his classmates used these posts as their profile pictures on Facebook-owned WhatsApp.
Junaid, who spoke on the condition that only his first name be used for fear of retribution, recalled huddling in his room one evening as groups of men marched outside chanting death to Kashmiris. His phone buzzed with news of students from Kashmir being beaten in the streets — along with more violent Facebook messages.
‘Hate spreads like wildfire on Facebook,’ Junaid said. ‘None of the hate speech accounts were blocked.’
For all of Facebook’s troubles in North America, its problems with hate speech and disinformation are dramatically worse in the developing world. Internal company documents made public Saturday reveal that Facebook has meticulously studied its approach abroad — and was well aware that weaker moderation in non-English-speaking countries leaves the platform vulnerable to abuse by bad actors and authoritarian regimes.” Read more at Washington Post
On Friday, the White House announced another administrative casualty: a delay in the release of a trove of records related to the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy.
The White House statement, signed by President Biden, did not make clear exactly how the coronavirus had delayed the release of the records, which must be released to comply with a 1992 congressional act, but said that the national archivist had reported that the pandemic had had a ‘significant impact on the agencies’ that need to be consulted on redactions.
The archivist of the United States directs the National Archives and Records Administration, the repository of public governmental records. The position has been held since 2009 by David S. Ferriero, a former librarian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University and the New York Public Library. He is the 10th person in the role since the National Archives were established in 1934.
The White House statement said that the National Archives required additional time to conduct research and work with the agencies, which include the Defense, Justice and State departments.
The assassination of the 35th president, on Nov. 22, 1963, still holds a grip on the public imagination. It has also been the subject of an endless stream of conspiracy theories.” Read more at New York Times
Otters scan their surroundings in Singapore, with the Gardens by the Bay development and the Marina Bay Sands and its Sky Park in the background. Wild otters are making a comeback in the city-state. (NurPhoto/Getty Images)
“SINGAPORE — Standing on a manhole cover in downtown Singapore, dodging double-decker buses and motorcycles, Marjorie Chong sniffs the air and listens for squeaks. ‘Do you hear that?’ she asks.
Chong is searching for otters.
Pollution and deforestation drove away Singapore’s otter population in the 1970s. But as the country cleaned up its waters and reforested land in recent years, otters came back in full force, integrating into urban spaces and learning to navigate one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities.
Today, to the annoyance of some and the joy of others, the island is home to more than 10 otter romps, or families.
In the Marina Bay area, known for architecturally audacious hotels and for one-bedroom apartments that sell for $1.8 million, otters bop in the water and the crunch of fish bones echoes along the boardwalk. Using drainpipes as highways, the carnivorous mammals traverse the city, sometimes popping up in rush-hour traffic, or racing through university campuses.
Otters pushed out of the local rivers and bays by rival families dig homes between buildings. They visit hospital lobbies and condominium pools, hunting for koi fish and drinking from fountains. New families fight for access to food and shelter, in battles that are covered by the local papers and dissected online.
As the otter population has boomed, so has otter mania. Otter watchers like Chong spend days tracking the whereabouts of different families, documenting their rivalries, love stories and territorial clashes on social media.” Read more at Washington Post
Charities say owners are turning up with their dogs after failing to sell them, claiming they are strays.Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
“People are pretending that dogs they acquired during lockdown are strays so that rescue centres take them in, after failing to sell them online, animal rescue charities and shelters have warned.
Figures from March revealed that more than 3.2m pets were bought by UK households during lockdown. Since Covid restrictions were lifted and people have started to return to the office, charities have reported a growing trend of people abandoning their pandemic pets as they no longer have as much time for them.
Many of these pets were bought online and their true origins and medical issues were not disclosed. They often have a higher incidence of behavioural and health problems and are thus more difficult to rehome.” Read more at The Guardian
“Kellogg’s strawberry-flavored Pop-Tarts need more strawberries, according to a lawsuit filed against the company in August.
A class-action lawsuit, filed by Anita Harris in the Southern District of Illinois, argues that the Kellogg Sales Company is misleading consumers by promoting the breakfast pastry’s strawberry filling in its labels and marketing, giving an impression that the fruit filling contains ‘a greater relative and absolute amount of strawberries than it does.’
In reality, the company’s ‘Frosted Strawberry Toaster Pastries’ contain 2% or less of ‘dried strawberries, dried pears, dried apples’ and ‘red 40,’ according to its nutrition label.” Read more at USA Today