California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency yesterday in response to the oil spill currently coating parts of the Southern California coast. Though teams are working to contain the spill, it’s still threatening the local environment, and the extent of the damage may not be known for weeks.
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While congressional Democrats try to reach an agreement on the multi-trillion-dollar spending bill, another priority on the Hill this week will be staving off the looming debt crisis. The deadline to suspend or lift the debt ceiling is October 18, as predicted by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. However, that’s really just an estimation, and there’s a possibility the government could risk default days before that — or days after. Republicans as a whole don’t want to raise the debt limit, and have blocked Democratic attempts to do so. Democrats could get it done alone, but that would require a convoluted method like reconciliation. If they do decide on a go-it-alone path, they need to do so quickly as such processes could take days or even weeks to complete. Yesterday, President Joe Biden said he couldn’t guarantee the debt ceiling will be lifted due to what he called the GOP’s “hypocritical, dangerous and disgraceful” opposition.
2. Pandora Papers
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has released an exposé of the financial secrets and offshore dealings of dozens of heads of state, public officials and politicians from 91 countries and territories. Hundreds of journalists spent two years investigating the nearly 12 million confidential files, now known as the Pandora Papers. In all, they reveal a parallel financial universe where great wealth is kept beyond the reach of taxes, creditors and accountability. The ICIJ pointed out that many who could end offshore practices actually benefit from it. Washington Post reporter Greg Miller says that these accounts often aren’t illegal, because they abide by the local jurisdictions where this offshore wealth is kept. But it’s a practice that’s highly exploitative and contributes to wealth inequality. Such practices, Miller says, also frequently go hand and hand with corruption and criminal activity.
Vaccination rates in the US have improved only modestly since the FDA gave full approval to Pfizer’s vaccine in August, despite hopes that it would counter widespread vaccine hesitancy. From August 23 to September 3, the seven-day average of new Pfizer doses increased by 16%, from 575,000 per day to 668,000 per day. Yet, only 15% of newly vaccinated people during that time said full approval was a major reason they got the shot. Meanwhile, Europe’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, has decided to recommend Covid-19 vaccine booster shots for the immunocompromised. In India, the country’s top court has approved a government plan to pay $670 for every coronavirus death in the country, given as compensation to their next of kin. That comes out to more than $300 million.
4. Church abuse
Members of the Catholic clergy in France sexually abused more than 200,000 minors over the last seven decades, according to a landmark report set to be published today. The numbers are based on estimates from a survey for the commission, led by the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. When including victims of abusers who were not clergy but had other links to the Church, such as Catholic schools and youth programs, the number of possible abuse victims rises to 330,000. In presenting the findings, Jean-Marc Sauvé, the president of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church, said children were more likely to be abused within Catholic Church settings than in state-run schools, summer camps or in any setting other than the family. The investigation was commissioned in 2018 by French Catholic clergy groups, and many church leaders hope the findings, as horrific as they are, will lead to real change within the church.
China has sent a record number of warplanes into Taiwan’s defense zone over the last few days. While they haven’t breached what Taiwan considers its sovereign airspace, and no suggestion has been made of actual combat, it’s still a provocative show of force by Beijing. Experts say the practice has a few goals: Intimidate Taiwan, wear out their military resources, and gain experience in the area. This has happened before, usually after Taiwan or one of its allies does something to upset China. The past week’s incursions came as the US, Japan, the UK, New Zealand and the Netherlands conducted multilateral naval exercises near Japan. However, they could also have been planned to coincide with the anniversary of China’s founding on October 1.
Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were down for a while yesterday
It was tough, but we found other ways to scroll in an endless distraction.
See who tops this year’s list of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women
William Shatner, 90, is headed to space on Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin mission
Censored letters between Marie-Antoinette and her rumored lover revealed in full with X-rays
Among the censored words: “beloved,” “tender friend,” “adore,” and “madly,” ooh!
The Earth isn’t as bright as it once was
Not like, smarts-wise. That would be a really insulting thing to hear this early in the morning.
That’s how many US states have passed new laws this year that make it harder to vote, according to an updated analysis by the liberal Brennan Center for Justice.
“Some people see this as a job, some are just psychopaths.”
A Chinese ex-detective, identified only as “Jiang” for his safety, who revealed rare details on what he described as a systematic campaign of torture by police against ethnic Uyghurs in the region’s detention camp system. China has denied these claims for years.
Into the blue
Just a little reminder that the world is magical (unless you’re this giant cloud of krill being eaten by a blue whale). (Click here to view)
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