Congress, Teen Vaping, October Books: Your Thursday Night Briefing

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Have a good evening. Here is the last one at the end of Thursday.

1. Congress passed a bill that avoided a government shutdown, but the fate of President Biden’s infrastructure plan was in limbo.

The spending bill would extend federal funding until Dec. 3 and provide emergency assistance for the resettlement of Afghan refugees and for disaster recovery efforts across the country. He now goes to Biden’s office for signature. Lawmakers came to a deal after Democrats agreed to remove a provision that would have raised the debt ceiling.

Now all eyes are on the $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill. President Nancy Pelosi advances the vote scheduled for tonight as she tries to involve both moderates and progressives. Sen. Joe Manchin, a key figure, said he supports a $ 1.5 trillion social safety net bill, less than half of Biden’s proposal. The Liberal Democrats threatened to oppose the infrastructure package without substantial progress towards the passage of the second, much larger bill.

If you’re struggling to keep up with all the moving parts, here are the four key issues Congress is facing right now.

2. Employer mandates increase coronavirus vaccination rates.

California’s requirement that all healthcare workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus by today appears to have forced tens of thousands of employees to be vaccinated in recent weeks. Most healthcare employers reported immunization rates of 90% or more this week, as more workers chose to be vaccinated rather than seek an exemption. Los Angeles also appears to be on the verge of requiring proof of vaccination to enter many indoor public spaces.

3. About 77 percent of adults in the United States received at least dose a vaccine against the coronavirus. But in a stark turnaround, countries in Asia are starting to accelerate vaccination rates ahead of the United States.

South Korea, Japan and Malaysia administered more doses of the vaccine per 100 people than the United States – a rate that seemed unthinkable in the spring. Several have passed the United States by fully vaccinating their populations or are on track to do so, limiting the possible damage from the Delta variant. The turnaround is testament to Asia’s success in securing supplies and resolving program issues.

Separately, only nine African countries have reached the goal of vaccinating 10 percent of their population by the end of September, the WHO said.

4. Three Democratic MPs testified before a House panel about their personal experiences with terminating a pregnancy.

With abortion rights under threat after a major Supreme Court setback, lawmakers – Cori Bush from Missouri, Pramila Jayapal from Washington state and Barbara Lee from California – told their stories in emotional but concrete terms. Bush said she was no longer ashamed to share her story. “In the summer of 1994,” she said, “I was raped, got pregnant and chose to have an abortion.

Democrats are looking to push forward legislation that would codify Roe v. Wade, but the bill is unlikely to advance in the Senate.


5. A House committee examining the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill issued 11 other subpoenas, targeting Donald Trump’s allies who helped organize the rally that fueled the mob violence.

Among those summoned to appear was one of the organizers of the rally; a Trump fundraiser listed as a “VIP advisor” for the event; a former senior Melania Trump aide who was on the rally’s “project leader” list; and Trump’s former national campaign spokesperson, who was in direct communication with Trump about the rally.

Separately, a recent indictment suggested that cybersecurity experts who found strange internet links between a Russian bank and the Trump organization didn’t really believe in their own work. Now they are pushing back.


6. The use of e-cigarettes by teens fell sharply in 2021, the second consecutive year of steep declines, new data shows.

This year, 11.3% of high school students said they currently vaped – up from 19.6% in 2020 and lower than the 27.5% reported in 2019, according to a report released by the CDC. experts wondered if the data signaled a long-term change.

Even with the decline, the survey found that more than two million high school and college students are currently using e-cigarettes. The director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products said the new data remained of concern, especially statistics that showed the popularity of flavored e-cigarettes. Almost 85% of young e-cigarette users reported using flavored products.


7. A program at Yale that trains future leaders to navigate rough waters of history faces a crisis of its own.

Beverly Gage, a 20th-century political historian who has led the program since 2017, said she resigned because the university failed to defend academic freedom amid inappropriate efforts by its donors to influence its program studies and the hiring of professors. The university planned to create a new advisory board dominated by conservative figures chosen by donors, including, against strong objections from Gage, Henry Kissinger.

Gage led the prestigious Brady-Johnson program in Grand Strategy. It allows about two dozen students to study history and the art of government while rubbing shoulders with distinguished guest instructors.


8. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to swim with sharks?

We spoke to underwater filmmaker Ron Elliot about what he learned from his encounters with sharks near the Farallon Islands in Northern California. A former commercial sea urchin diver, Elliot found peace and beauty when he transitioned from fisherman to filmmaker around 2005. Even nearly losing his arm in a shark encounter hasn’t stopped him.

“I challenged myself to be in the present and observe the enormity of sharks and what they do,” he said.

For a safer experience on earth, a week-long horticulture course at Great Dixter, a six-acre garden in England, is like getting a doctorate. in gardening. The Northiam Estate in East Sussex has been celebrated for decades as a source of experimentation and creativity.


9. “You teach children to get up when they fall.”

Pearl Jam’s Jeff Ament is seven years away from his self-proclaimed mission to bring premium skate parks to every town and town in Montana that will have one. Ament, who grew up in a remote Montana town, paid for or helped pay for 27 skate parks, most of them in Montana. He also helped build three on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, with three more planned for other reservations in neighboring states.

Skateboarding and going to skate parks “gives kids a reason to see the rest of the state, the rest of the country and maybe the rest of the world,” Ament said.


10. And finally, new month, new books.

No matter what you love to read – thrillers, spy novels, cultural stories, news – there is a book for you in October. Novels by Jonathan Franzen, Amor Towles and Tiphanie Yanique; the stories of black cinema and music in America; and many more on the shelves. Here are 14 titles our editors are looking forward to.

But beware, the Times Book Review did not always get it right. Some of today’s most beloved books – “Catch-22”, “Tender Is the Night” and even “Anne of Green Gables” – have received a stormy reception on our pages. Virginia Woolf was “sorely lacking in coherence and narrative interest.” F. Scott Fitzgerald was “a disappointment”. LM Montgomery was “totally too strange”. Read reviews that have swept away their work.


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