5 things to know for September 16: Covid-19, law enforcement, Nassar, US debt, China

It is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The Jewish holy day began last night at sundown and is considered the most important and sacred of Jewish religious holidays.

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Coronavirus

Three reports published yesterday support the argument that booster doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine would be safe and effective and may be needed. These and other reports will be on the docket tomorrow when FDA vaccine advisers meet to discuss booster doses, though the agency has signaled it has a lot of factors to consider before making an official move on the subject. What’s not up for debate, experts say, is that the vaccines work to reduce infection, spread and serious illness. Meanwhile, the rise of child cases of Covid-19 is sounding alarm bells. About 60% of all cases in Georgia over the last 60 days occurred in K-12 schools, representing about a sevenfold increase. In the past week, Ohio has seen a 44% increase in cases among school-age children, compared to a 17% jump in the rest of the population.

2. Policing

The Justice Department has announced that federal law enforcement officers will be banned from using neck restraints (commonly known as chokeholds) during arrests and using no-knock entries while executing warrants except in rare cases. As the federal government looks to increase policing accountability, some states are facing issues within their own justice systems. In Colorado, a 14-month investigation into the Aurora police department found a pattern of practicing racially biased policing and excessive force. In Georgia, the US Justice Department announced a statewide investigation into the state’s prisons, focusing on prisoner-on-prisoner violence and sexual abuse of gay, lesbian and transgender prisoners by prisoners and staff.

3. Larry Nassar

Acclaimed gymnasts who were abused by former physician Larry Nassar testified yesterday in a powerful Senate hearing. Simone Biles, McKayla Maroney, Maggie Nichols and Aly Raisman all accused the FBI of botching its investigation into allegations against Nassar and called out intimidation by the sport’s governing bodies. The gymnasts gave new insight into how the FBI had mishandled their allegations. For instance, Maroney said when she related graphic details of her abuse to the FBI in 2015, the formal summary from the agent contained false information that she said minimized the abuse. They also expressed anger over the decision by the Justice Department not to charge two former FBI employees involved in the investigation who were referred by the department’s inspector general for potential prosecution.

4. Debt ceiling

The clock is ticking on raising the debt ceiling. In short, if Congress doesn’t raise the limit on federal borrowing soon, the government will default on its debt by the end of next month and risk serious damage to both the US economy and its international reputation. However, the issue has created divisions in Congress. Many Republicans don’t want to be involved in the vote to raise the debt ceiling because they say Democrats have driven up spending with Covid-19 relief plans and their domestic agenda. Democrats are considering tacking the borrowing increase onto a must-pass spending bill to keep the government open to force the GOP’s hand. But if Republicans block that plan, things would get even uglier.

5. China

Major powers are pushing back on China’s increasingly aggressive military posturing. President Biden and the UK government will work together on an effort to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines to try to counter Beijing’s influence in the region. While the trilateral partnership isn’t specifically about responding to issues with China, the US says it’s important to have an allied front against possible Chinese aggression. Meanwhile, Japan has asserted that the Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyu Islands in China, are unquestionably Japanese territory. These islands are also claimed by China, so Japan’s pushback could set up a new conflict between the region’s two biggest powers.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Apple’s iPhone 13 secret weapon is, surprisingly, its price

New colors and gizmos are great, but nothing’s prettier than a nice discount.

Rivian beats Tesla, GM and Ford to build the first electric pickup truck

For when you want to be environmentally responsible but still have to haul a few loads to the dump.

RuPaul has a new namesake: A rainbow-colored fly

And it’s fabulous, baby!

Meghan and Harry are named ‘icons’ in Time’s list of 100 most influential people

We’re going to need a new word for “power couple.” 

The Crystal Cabin Awards recognize the airplane interior designs of the future

See, a future with more legroom is possible!

TODAY’S NUMBER

40%

That’s about how much of the US electricity sector is powered by methane, the main component of natural gas. Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than the longer-lasting carbon dioxide. The US and EU are expected to announce a plan tomorrow to cut methane emissions by nearly a third by 2030.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“The problem is not theological, it’s pastoral. How we bishops deal with this principle. We must be pastors, also with those who are excommunicated. Like God with passion and tenderness. The Bible says so.”

Pope Francis, addressing the ongoing debate within the US Catholic Church over granting communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, including President Biden. The Pope said bishops should be pastors, not politicians, in such situations.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

How high can you go? 

Les oiseaux dans la charmille,” also known as Olympia’s Song or the Doll Song from Jacques Offenbach’s opera “The Tales of Hoffman,” is considered one of the hardest pieces of music ever written for soprano voice. It’s also bizarre and delightful — after all, she’s playing a wind-up doll! (Click here to view.)

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