5 things to know for October 6: Facebook, Congress, coronavirus, NYPD, Ethiopia

5 things to know for October 6: Facebook, Congress, coronavirus, NYPD, Ethiopia

The US admitted 11,411 refugees during the 2021 fiscal year — the lowest number in 40 years.

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1. Facebook

Frances Haugen, the Facebook whistleblower whose complaints about the company have raised new questions about the platform’s impact, appeared before a Senate subcommittee yesterday in a highly anticipated hearing. Haugen claimed Facebook knows how to make its products safer, but chooses not to in favor of profit. In addition to addressing recent concerns over Instagram’s effects on teen girls (Facebook owns Instagram), Haugen’s testimony led some lawmakers to consider whether to meet separately just to discuss national security concerns. When asked by one senator whether Facebook is used by “authoritarian or terrorist-based leaders,” Haugen said yes, and pointed to Myanmar and Ethiopia as examples of how the platform can be used to sow violence. Facebook has repeatedly denied or discounted Haugen’s claims, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said reactions to the situation are painting a “false picture” of the company.

2. Congress

Democrats are now facing the task of paring down the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation plan to appease the moderate wing of their party. President Joe Biden has urged Dems to shoot for a range of $1.9 trillion to $2.2 trillion, aligning with the wishes of key moderate votes like West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. That likely means lots of cuts in proposed programs like free community college, universal pre-K and paid family leave. Or, lawmakers could choose to delay or truncate such programs to lower the cost. Now, in addition to trying to woo more progressive members who aren’t happy with the new price tag, Democrats may end up duking it out over which priorities survive the reductions, and which need to be altered or eliminated.

3. Coronavirus

Covid-19 hospitalizations have decreased sightly across the US over the last week. The question is, is this the beginning of the end or just a temporary blip? Only 56% of Americans are fully vaccinated — far below the threshold experts say is needed for herd immunity. Plus, children under 12 still aren’t eligible for vaccination, which means there’s still a lot of risk in that population. Children under 18 make up 22% of the population, but now represent 27% of Covid-19 cases — a sign that the pandemic is now disproportionately affecting them. According to the CDC, 645 children have died from Covid-19 in the US. As officials prepare to review vaccines for young children, they are also considering authorizing a booster dose for people who got the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

4. NYPD

The president of the New York Police Department’s second-largest union has resigned after the FBI searched his home and the union’s headquarters. The executive board of the Sergeants Benevolent Association asked Ed Mullins to resign, saying in a statement that, although the specifics of the investigation haven’t been determined, Mullins is apparently of interest to federal authorities. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was similarly opaque when discussing the reason for the raids, saying he was simply told “it’s in connection with an ongoing investigation.”

5. Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s government has used the country’s flagship commercial airline to shuttle weapons to and from neighboring Eritrea during the civil war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, a CNN investigation has found. Cargo documents, manifests, eyewitness accounts and photographic evidence confirm that arms were transported between Addis Ababa’s international airport and airports in the Eritrean cities of Asmara and Massawa on board multiple Ethiopian Airlines planes in November 2020 during the first few weeks of the Tigray conflict. It’s the first time this weapons trade between the former foes has been documented during the war. Experts said the flights would constitute a violation of international aviation law, which forbids the smuggling of arms for military use on civil aircraft. Read the rest of the CNN investigation here.

This just in

The Nobel Prize in chemistry has been awarded to Benjamin List and David W.C. MacMillan, two scientists honored for creating “an ingenious tool for building molecules” that helped develop new drugs and made chemistry greener.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

These are the world’s 50 best restaurants for 2021

Reservations required … and probably a plane ticket.

Planet with iron rainfall is even more extreme than scientists thought

That’s (literally!) so metal.

Halloween Peeps are back after disappearing from store shelves last year

Do they taste the same as regular peeps? Yes, but those little sugar pumpkins just hit different.

Wendy’s is turning its Frosty into a cereal

Wait, hear me out: Frosty cereal in a Frosty. Too much?

Grey Poupon has a wine now

Exhausted from all the weird food news? Take a load off with some mustard wine!

TODAY’S NUMBER

30%

That’s how much the US homicide rate rose between 2019 and 2020, according to provisional data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. It’s the highest yearly increase in modern history, and confirms recent patterns previously identified only through crime statistics.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“I want more. I want more justice, I want better policies, I want players to be protected.”

Former National Women’s Soccer League player Mana Shim, speaking to NBC about recent sexual abuse and harassment claims against NWSL coaches. Shim has accused former NWSL coach Paul Riley of sexual harassment, calling him a predator.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

A big green makeover

The MLB playoffs are underway. Congrats and condolences, respectively, to the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Boston won the AL Wildcard Game last night, so here’s a nifty video of Fenway Park being renovated in 2005. (Click here to view)

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