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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
A commission appointed by President Biden to examine Supreme Court reform expressed skepticism toward proposals to expand the size of the Court in approximately 200 pages of draft discussion materials released yesterday. There is, however, “something closer to a consensus that imposing term limits on the justices is worth exploring.” Yet “the materials indicated differing appraisals of the two most discussed proposals” related to Supreme Court reform. “‘Commissioners are divided on whether court expansion would be wise,’ one draft paper said. ‘The risks of court expansion are considerable, including that it could undermine the very goal of some of its proponents of restoring the court’s legitimacy.’” Justice Stephen Breyer has raised similar concerns about increasing the number of justices. Adam Liptak reports for the New York Times.
Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that he would schedule a vote for next week to open debate on voting rights legislation even as Republicans will likely maintain their filibuster against the legislation, which is supported by every Senate Democrat. In his letter laying out the upcoming Senate agenda, Schumer said, “We cannot allow conservative-controlled states to double down on their regressive and subversive voting bills.” This letter can also be viewed as putting pressure on Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) who initially opposed a “sweeping” voting rights bill passed by the House and in response helped draft a compromise version that he suggested could draw bipartisan support. So far there is no indication that Republican senators have embraced Manchin’s proposal. Carl Hulse reports for the New York Times.
The Biden administration is preparing to revise a Trump-era border policy, commonly known as the “remain in Mexico” policy, which requires migrants to stay in Mexico until the date of their immigration court hearing. The administration had first suspended and then terminated this policy, but a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Biden administration had violated the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Supreme Court declined the administration’s request to stay the lower court order. Priscilla Alvarez reports for CNN.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not effectively monitor its use of solitary confinement in immigration detention facilities around the country, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general. Although the problem has drawn scrutiny for years, this is the first time a watchdog has conducted such a systematic review. The report raises particular concerns in the context of detainees with mental health issues. Geneva Sands reports for CNN.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 yesterday to keep in place its own previous order from last week allowing for the ongoing enforcement of a near-total ban on abortions in Texas. The decision overturns the lower federal court in Austin which had previously sided with the Biden administration and halted the enforcement of the law. This decision will almost certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court. Katie Benner reports for the New York Times.
President Biden signed into law a bill raising the U.S. debt limit until early December. The House passed the $480 billion increase in the borrowing ceiling on Tuesday after the Senate approved the bill on party lines. Republicans have insisted that Democrats use a budgetary maneuver to pass an increase in the debt limit without Republican support, but Democrats have resisted this approach thus far. Alexandra Jaffe reports for the Associated Press.
Researchers at the Center for Social Media and Politics at New York University found that YouTube’s decision on Dec. 8 to remove videos that promoted certain election misinformation resulted in a sharp decline in the prevalence of false and misleading videos posted on Facebook and Twitter. YouTube has generally lagged behind Facebook and Twitter with respect to cracking down on various categories of disinformation, but this has changed in recent weeks as the platform has banned anti-vaccine misinformation entirely and also suspended the accounts of certain anti-vaccine activists. Davey Alba reports for the New York Times.
Gina Peddy, the executive director of curriculum and instruction in a Texas school district, informed educators that books about the Holocaust in their classroom would have to be accompanied with books with “opposing” viewpoints. Peddy has not responded to requests for comment, and a school district spokesperson did not directly address the comments in a response to a question about Peddy’s remarks. The incident is part of a larger debate in Texas and the country at large over which books should be permitted in schools with many parents opposing lessons on issues such as racism. Mike Hixenbaugh and Antonia Hylton report for NBC News.
All public high school students in California will soon have to take an ethnic studies course to graduate because of a bill signed by Governor Gavin Newsom earlier this month. The course is supposed to teach about the struggles and contributions of historically marginalized groups such as African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans, though the specifics of what will be taught are up to local school districts. A model curriculum approved by the California Department of Education includes sample lessons on the Black Lives Matter movement, Chinese railroad workers, and housing inequality stemming from redlining and racial housing covenants. Previous drafts of the teaching guide were criticized by some for being too left-leaning and others for being not sufficiently expansive with some Jewish groups, for example, condemning the guide for barely mentioning the Holocaust. Soumya Karlamangla reports for the New York Times.
The S&P 500 rose 1.7% for one of its best days in months with the rise fueled by a surge in stock prices of materials, technology, and health care companies. Strong reports on corporate earnings from large banks along with softer inflation data and a positive job market update contributed to the strong market day. Matt Phillips reports for the New York Times.
Mark Forkner, a former chief test pilot for Boeing, has been charged with fraud for allegedly withholding critical information from the Federal Aviation Administration in connection with its efforts to investigate two plane crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people. In January, Boeing agreed to pay more than $2.5 billion in a settlement with the Justice Department, which alleged that the company’s employees had engaged in “fraudulent and deceptive conduct.” Devlin Barrett and Michael Laris report for the Washington Post.
Former President Trump is expected to testify on Monday as part of a lawsuit brought by a group of activists, all of whom are of Mexican descent, who assert that his bodyguards violently attacked them during a protest outside of Trump Tower against Trump’s use of racist rhetoric in the early days of his presidential campaign. Lawyers for Trump and the other defendants moved to have the case dismissed in 2015, but they were unsuccessful. According to Benjamin Dictor, one of the activists’ lawyers, the testimony will focus in part on “Donald Trump’s individual control over and responsibility for the violent actions of his bodyguards.” Jonah Bromwich reports for the New York Times.
Lawyers for Kimberly Potter, the officer who killed Daunte Wright in Brooklyn center Minnesota in April 2021, argued in a recent court filing that she mistakenly believed that she had grabbed her taser before she shot Wright. With Potter facing charges of first- and second-degree manslaughter, her lawyers have indicated that they plan to make four claims in court: “innocent mistake,” “innocent accident,” her perceived use of a taser was reasonable,” and “lack of causation.” Wright was pulled over for having an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror and for expired tabs on his license plate. Joe Barrett reports for the Wall Street Journal.
JAN. 6 ATTACK
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the chairperson of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6. attack, announced that the committee would move to recommend that Steve Bannon face criminal contempt charges for his refusal to cooperate with its investigation. If the House approves this referral, the Justice Department could then decide whether to accept it and pursue a criminal case. “Mr. Bannon has declined to cooperate with the select committee and is instead hiding behind the former president’s insufficient, blanket and vague statements regarding privileges he has purported to invoke,” Thompson said. Last week, Bannon informed the panel that he would defy a subpoena under the direction of former President Trump, who has argued that the information requested from his former aides and advisers is shielded by executive privilege. Luke Broadwater and Katie Benner report for the New York Times.
In Afghanistan, a deadly explosion inside a Shia mosque during Friday prayers killed at least 32 people and wounded at least 45 more in the southern city of Kandahar. Hospital sources warned that there would likely be a higher casualty toll based on the increasing number of intakes. Interior ministry spokesman Qari Sayed Khosti wrote on Twitter that Taliban special forces had arrived in the area “to determine the nature of the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.” As of now, there has been no immediate claim of responsibility. Al Jazeera reports.
Haji Najibullah, a former Taliban commander previously accused of kidnapping an American journalist, will plead not guilty today to charges related to his alleged murder of three U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan in 2008. Luc Cohen reports for Reuters.
The State Department announced that it plans to resume regular evacuation flights from Afghanistan before the end of this year for U.S. citizens and residents as well as some visa applicants. The action will “require coordination with the Taliban and other governments” and given the closure of Kabul’s international airport to regular passenger aviation, “it remains unclear who will manage air-traffic control and ground operations.” The State Department is continuing to cooperate with neighboring countries before it schedules new evacuation flights. Jessica Donati reports for the Wall Street Journal.
After Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu met with his acting counterpart from the Taliban, Amir Khan Muttaqi, in Ankara in closed-door talks, he urged international engagement with the Taliban while carefully emphasizing that this engagement did not constitute recognition of the Taliban government in Afghanistan. Cavusoglu suggested that countries that froze Afghanistan’s accounts should act “more flexibly” to help the Afghan economy and address the country’s humanitarian crisis. Al Jazeera reports.
The Taliban is pressing President Biden to release approximately $8 billion in Afghan foreign assets that were frozen by the U.S. in the wake of the group’s takeover of Afghanistan. A senior administration official has told Axios that the funds could not be released “with the snap of a finger” given the existing terrorism sanctions against the Taliban and its leaders as well as various legal cases in which “several groups of plaintiffs are seeking to attach the funds.” This official also said that the financial reserves would “not solve the lasting economic challenges Afghanistan is facing,” though as Afghanistan becomes increasingly strapped for cash, pressure to release these funds will grow. Dave Lawler reports for Axios.
Over a dozen cybersecurity experts “criticized plans by Apple and the E.U. to monitor people’s phones for illicit material, calling the efforts ineffective and dangerous strategies that would embolden government surveillance.” Client-side scanning, the name for the technology in question, allows Apple and European law enforcement officials “to detect images of child sexual abuse in someone’s phone” by scanning images uploaded to iCloud. “It should be a national-security priority to resist attempts to spy on and influence law-abiding citizens,” the researchers warned. Kellen Browning reports for the New York Times.
The U.S. has been reelected to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the first time since withdrawing under former president Trump in 2018 on the basis of so-called “chronic bias” against Israel. “We will work hard to ensure the Council upholds its highest aspirations and better supports those fighting against injustice and tyranny around the world,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. In Congress, meanwhile, the Human Rights Council has “faced bipartisan criticism” over its reports on human rights violations committed by Israel against Palestinians. In a statement yesterday, Blinken agreed that the council pays “disproportionate attention” to Israel, but the Biden administration has argued that the U.S. could better serve Israel’s interests by being part of the international organization. Al Jazeera reports.
As the Lebanese state faces near-collapse, armed clashes between sectarian militias have broken out in neighborhoods in Beirut, killing at least six people and wounding at least 30 more. This involves some of the worst violence in Beirut in years, “aggravating the sense of instability in a small country already buffeted by devastating political and economic crises.” Since two years ago, Lebanon’s currency has decreased in value by over 90%, and poverty rates have increased dramatically, even among formerly middle class Lebanese. All but the richest Lebanese have faced power blackouts, and numerous professionals have fled the country, severely depleting the “once vaunted” banking, medical, and education sectors. According to the World Bank, this economic collapse is one of the three worst in the world since the mid-1800s. This crisis has spurred political infighting that has caused many Lebanese to recall the worst days of the civil war that ended more than three decades ago. Ben Hubbard and Marc Santora report for the New York Times.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun vowed to arrest those responsible for the violence that broke out in Beirut and bring them to justice. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati also promised that today would be a day of public mourning for those killed. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the State Department called for an end to the violence. Tamila Varshalomidze and Arwa Ibrahim reports for Al Jazeera.
Ramesh Rajasingham, the U.N. deputy humanitarian chief, issued a dire warning yesterday about the state of Yemen, saying that its economy was collapsing, the already horrific humanitarian situation was worsening, and the civil war was becoming more violent. More than 20 million Yemenis, representing two-thirds of the population, require humanitarian assistance, and aid agencies are beginning to run out of money. Edith Lederer reports for the Associated Press.
Fighting between Yemeni government forces and Houthi rebels in the oil-rich central province of Marib killed at least 140 fighters according to statements by tribal leaders and security officials. In recent weeks, the Shiite Houthis, backed by Iran, have escalated the fight in Marib and launched cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia, which is leading a military coalition fighting with the Yemeni government against the Houthis. Ahmed Al-Haj reports for the Associated Press.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which consists of the top diplomats in the region, will discuss in an emergency meeting whether to allow the military leader of Myanmar to attend an annual summit. This discussion comes after Erywan Yusof, the special envoy appointed by ASEAN to negotiate a peace to the crisis in Myanmar, was informed by Myanmar officials that he would not be allowed to meet with the former leader of the country, Aung San Suu Kyi. ASEAN has faced significant international pressure to force the generals of Myanmar to free political leaders led by Suu Kyi, ousted in a Feb. 1 military takeover, to reestablish democracy in Myanmar in the midst of violence that has resulted in the deaths of over 1,100 civilians. Some ASEAN members worry that permitting Myanmar to participate in the annual summit taking place on Oct. 26-28 would effectively constitute a recognition of the military takeover of Myanmar, but it is likely that ASEAN members will consider a number of strategies to deal with Myanmar. Eileen Ng reports for the Associated Press.
Khin Maung Zaw, the lawyer for Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, said that the country’s military authorities imposed a gag order on him on the basis that his communications could cause instability. Zaw reports that the action against him was taken under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, “a broadly worded statute from British colonial times intended to deal with emergency situations that threaten public safety.” As a result of this order, it will be nearly impossible to obtain any firsthand accounts of the ongoing trials of Suu Kyi and her other co-defendants. Grant Peck reports for the Associated Press.
According to a leaked copy of an agreement between the U.N. and Bangladesh which allows the international body to have “unhindered access” to Bhasan Char, an island in Bangladesh where the Bangladeshi government has moved about 19,000 Rohingya refugees, provides no guarantee that the refugees will be allowed to move freely to the mainland. Along with past statements by refugees and rights groups claiming that some refugee relocations were involuntary, the revelation will likely only intensify criticism of Bhasan Char as an “island jail.” Refugees have insisted that they be granted freedom of movement between the “remote and flood-prone island” and the “sprawling mainland camps” near the port town of Cox’s Bazar. Al Jazeera reports.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Norwegian police have said that the recent mass killing committed by a Danish man armed with a bow and arrow appears to be a “terrorist act.” Police emphasized that the investigation will clarify in more detail as it continues. Ellen Francis, Erin Cunningham, Rachel Pannett, and Rick Noack report for the Washington Post.
The State Department said that next month’s presidential elections in Nicaragua “have lost all credibility” as a result of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s arrests of critics, including seven potential challengers. The families of 155 political prisoners have stated that these individuals have faced “mistreatment and torture” in prison. The Associated Press reports.
Hundreds of protestors have lynched the policeman who shot and killed a five-year-old girl in Buea, Cameroon. The incident, which took place in the capital of the English-speaking Southwest region of the country, follows “a bitter four-year-old conflict” that has killed more than 3,500 people and forced approximately 700,000 more to flee their homes. Al Jazeera reports.
South African special forces freed three government ministers who were being held hostage in a hotel in Pretoria by veterans seeking compensation for fighting against apartheid. No shots were fired, but at least 56 people were arrested in the aftermath of the standoff. The veterans will likely face kidnapping charges according to police spokesperson Vish Naidoo. Al Jazeera reports.
In Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland), Africa’s last absolute monarchy, the military has been deployed to quash pro-democracy school protests. Anger has been building against King Mswati III for years as he has consistently ignored calls for democratic reforms. Lunga Masuku reports for Reuters.
Tens of thousands of Georgians rallied in the capital of Tbilisi demanding the release of Mikheil Saakashvili, the ex-president and opposition leader. Saakashvili is a pro-Western reformer who was “convicted in absentia on charges of abuse of office and sentenced to six years in prison,” though he has “denied wrongdoing.” Al Jazeera reports.
Armenia accused Azerbaijan in the International Court of Justice of inciting ethnic hatred against Armenians. Specifically, Armenia accused Azerbaijan of violating the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which both countries have signed. Azerbaijan denied the claims and filed a counterclaim accusing Armenia of violating the treaty through its involvement in “decades-long ethnic cleansing.” Al Jazeera reports.
Poland’s parliament passed a new law allowing border guards to immediately expel migrants illegally crossing the border, potentially violating international law, which requires that anyone seeking international protection must be given access to the asylum process regardless of whether their border crossing was legal. President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the government, must sign the law for it to become effective. BBC News reports.
Rwandan authorities arrested six people including Theoneste Nsengimana, who runs Umubavu TV, an online YouTube channel that is often critical of the government. “They are accused of publication of rumours intended to cause uprising or unrest among the population,” Thierry Murangira, a spokesperson for the Rwandan Investigation Bureau, said. Al Jazeera reports.
A bipartisan group of senators is pressing Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to be more proactive in addressing Havana Syndrome, a neurological ailment that has affected hundreds of U.S. diplomats and officers in recent years. The letter from these senators comes just days after the U.S. embassy in Bogotá, Colombia was targeted by attackers behind Havana Syndrome. Vivian Salama and Warren Strobel report for the Wall Street Journal.
As Western energy giants such as BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, and Chevron slow oil and gas production as they transition to renewable energy, state-owned oil companies in the Middle East, North Africa, and Latin America are responding by dramatically increasing their production. President Biden has effectively acknowledged that the result of this trend will be that the U.S. will be forced to rely more on foreign oil in the short-term. Even as Biden seeks to encourage the world to move away from fossil fuels, he is facing a conflicting priority of keeping domestic energy prices low. Clifford Krauss reports for the New York Times.
The Itaipu hydroelectric dam located along the border of Brazil and Paraguay, sometimes described as one of the seven modern wonders of the world, is feeling the heat of the worst drought in Brazil in 90 years. Last year, the dam’s power output was at its lowest level since 1994, and Hugo Zarate, the plant’s superintendent, has said that production this year will likely be lower still, by about 15%. Emilio Sanabria and Diane Jeantet report for the Associated Press.
LinkedIn has announced that it will be shutting down its professional networking service in China later this year due to “a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements.” LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft, has indicated that it would offer a new app for the Chinese market. In China, where Twitter and Facebook have been blocked for years and Google exited more than a decade ago, the departure of LinkedIn ends “one of the most far-reaching experiments by a foreign social network in China.” Karen Weise and Paul Mozur reports for the New York Times.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum announced on Tuesday that a statue of Christopher Columbus, which was erected in 1877 and taken down last year by government officials “amid threats of further damage,” is being replaced by a pre-colonial Indigenous woman named “the Young Lady of Amajac.” This decision was made after “prolonged debate” amid “fierce debates” over the legacy of European conquest and colonialism. Both sides of the cultural divide have expressed dissatisfaction regarding the decision. “They are focusing on the statue, without focusing on the rights of women who are alive,” said Fatima Gamboa, an activist with the Indigenous Lawyer Network, a Mexican advocacy group. Meanwhile, former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, a conservative, classified the removal of the Columbus statue as “a crime” and called it a valuable piece of the country’s heritage. Anatoly Kurmanaev and Oscar Lopez report for the New York Times.
At least 46 people were killed and dozens more were injured by a fire in Kaohsiung, the main port city in Taiwan. The fire began in a 13-story building known as the city’s “No. 1 ghost building,” a formerly prosperous property that had deteriorated for at least two decades. Lee Ching–hsiu, the city’s fire chief, said that the cause of the fire was still being investigated. Amy Qin and Amy Chang Chien report for the New York Times.
The Israeli military reported yesterday that it had killed a Palestinian who was throwing firebombs at cars on a highway in the occupied West Bank. The Associated Press reports.
General Lucky Irabor, Nigeria’s chief of defense staff, claimed yesterday that Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the leader of a violent extremist group linked to the Islamic State responsible for killing hundreds of civilians in the northeastern parts of the country, has died. He did not provide any additional information, and there has been no independent corroboration of the claim. Chinedu Asadu reports for the Associated Press.
U.S. climate envoy John Kerry said that crucial climate talks next month at the U.N. are unlikely to meet the global target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions even after a year of “climate diplomacy.” Kerry emphasized that he was not trying to lower expectations for the summit. Ellen Knickmeyer reports for the Associated Press.
After threatening to boycott the COP26 U.N. climate conference last month, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that he will attend the conference being held between Oct. 31 and Nov. 15 in Glasgow, Scotland. Morrison had drawn global criticism from climate activists when it appeared as though he would not attend the summit given that Australia is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters on a per capita basis. BBC News reports.
Climate activists are marching to the U.S. Capitol today to demand that President Biden “stop approving fossil fuel projects and declare a national climate emergency.” The protests are the last of the People vs. Fossil Fuels protests, a series of protests led by Indigenous people from around the country who are sharing the consequences of climate change on the health of their communities. Yesterday, dozens of Indigenous leaders and other climate activists “occupied the Interior Department,” prompting Federal Protective Service personnel to respond. Ellie Silverman reports for the Washington Post.
The coronavirus has infected over 44.76 million and has now killed over 721,500 people in the United States, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Globally, there have been over 239.56 million confirmed coronavirus cases and over 4.88 million deaths. Sergio Hernandez, Sean O’Key, Amanda Watts, Byron Manley, and Henrik Pettersson report for CNN.
An advisory panel of independent experts to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously to recommend a half-dose booster for people over 65 and high-risk individuals who received the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. Those eligible for such a booster are the same groups eligible for a Pfizer booster. A ruling from the agency, which typically follows the panel’s advice, will likely be announced in a few days. The vote considering the merits of authorizing a Moderna booster was “considerably smoother” than the one held to discuss the Pfizer booster. This same committee will meet today to discuss whether those who received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine should be eligible for booster doses. Sharon LaFraniere and Noah Weiland report for the New York Times.
Although preliminary data from a federal clinical trial suggested that individuals who received a Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine may be better off with a booster shot, the Food and Drug Administration has raised questions regarding the strength of the case presented by the company. Many experts anticipate that the agency will nevertheless clear the boosters. Carl Zimmer and Noah Weiland report for the New York Times.
The Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that it would assemble outside experts to meet in late November to evaluate Merck’s pill to treat Covid-19, meaning that federal regulators will likely not make a final decision on the safety and effectiveness of the experimental drug until December. Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutic filed their application on Monday, requesting emergency use authorization from the agency for adults with mild to moderate Covid-19 “who are at risk for severe disease or hospitalization.” Although “three IV antibody drugs have been authorized since last year to cut Covid-19 hospitalization and death,” they are costly, difficult to produce, and “require speciality equipment and health professionals to deliver.” Molnupiravir, the drug produced by Merck, could be taken home by patients. Preliminary results from Merck released earlier this month show that molnupiravir cut hospitalizations and deaths by half among individuals with early Covid-19 symptoms. Matthew Perrone reports for ABC.
John Catanzara, Chicago’s police union chief, has urged officers to defy a requirement to report their Covid-19 vaccination status to the city by today. “It’s safe to say that the city of Chicago will have a police force at 50% or less for this weekend coming up,” Catanzara said in a video shared on YouTube. Marlene Lenthang reports for ABC.
In his meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday, Biden announced the donation of 17 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine to the African Union. The meeting was Biden’s first in-person meeting at the White House with an African leader. Just one month ago, Kenyatta publicly pleaded for more equitable vaccine distribution around the world at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, criticizing countries like the U.S. for administering booster shots instead of donating vaccines to countries in desperate need. During the meeting, which was partially intended to help “bolster” his country’s relationship with the U.S., Kenyatta nevertheless suggested that the donation was not enough, saying, “As a continent, we are lagging well behind the rest of the world in terms of being able to vaccinate our people.” Zolan Kanno-Youngs reports for the New York Times.
There is a significant gender gap in Africa with respect to Covid-19 vaccination rates with many women worried that their current or future pregnancies will be threatened or that the side effects of the vaccine will force them to miss crucial days of work. Part of the vaccine hesitancy among women in Africa can be blamed on vaccine misinformation, which has flourished as impoverished countries have struggled to obtain access to vaccines, as well as “a deep mistrust of government and a belief that Africans were getting shots no one else wanted.” Krista Larson and Maria Cheng report for the Associated Press.
After a “brutal summer surge,” Covid-19 is in retreat in the U.S. with infections down more than 40% since August and hospitalizations and deaths falling as well. Yet various public health experts emphasized that the next few months are hard to predict and warned that this steady decline in cases may not continue. The fact that Britain and Israel, which both have higher vaccination rates than the U.S., are nevertheless struggling with outbreaks should be a wake-up call, according to Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Osterholm said, “Do not go back into the pre-Fourth-of-July mind-set again, where everybody thought it was done and over with.” The emergence of a new variant is also a worrying possibility. Overall, although public health experts are not currently recommending that individuals cancel holiday plans, they do suggest taking “sensible precautions.” Emily Anthes reports for the New York Times.
A map and analysis of the vaccine roll out across the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
A map and analysis of all confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. is available at the New York Times.
U.S. and worldwide maps tracking the spread of the pandemic are available at the Washington Post.
A state-by-state guide to lockdown measures and reopenings is provided by the New York Times.
Latest updates on the pandemic at the Guardian.