Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2021

Divided Supreme Court declines to block Texas 6-week abortion ban, Ida's remnants disrupt travel in N.Y. and N.J., and more

1

A sharply split Supreme Court refuses to block Texas abortion law

A sharply divided Supreme Court late Wednesday ruled 5-4 against blocking Texas' new law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The law, which took effect Wednesday, lets people file lawsuits against any clinic or doctor who provides abortions after six weeks, effectively banning 85 percent of abortions. The conservative majority said the challenge by abortion providers "raised serious questions regarding the constitutionality of the Texas law at issue," but failed to justify blocking it. The court's three liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts dissented. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the Texas law was a "flagrantly unconstitutional" attempt to "circumvent" the court's precedents, which clearly establish the right to abortion up to fetal viability at 22 to 24 weeks.

2

Hurricane Ida's remnants hit N.Y., N.J. with historic rains

The remnants of Hurricane Ida hit the New York City region with heavy rains on Wednesday night, disrupting subway service, delaying the U.S. Open in Queens, and prompting the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood emergency in the city for the first time. Central Park got 3.1 inches of rain within an hour, shattering the record of 1.94 inches set just last week during Tropical Storm Henri. Ida was blamed for one death in Queens and another in Passaic, New Jersey. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a travel ban lasting from just before 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Thursday. "All non-emergency vehicles must be off NYC streets and highways," the emergency management office said on Twitter. New Jersey Transit said all rail service except the Atlantic City line was suspended.

3

3 Colorado police officers, 2 paramedics indicted over Elijah McClain's death

Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced Wednesday that three suburban Denver police officers and two paramedics were indicted on manslaughter and other charges over the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, after he was put into a chokehold and injected with a powerful sedative when he was stopped walking home from a convenience store in Aurora, Colorado, two years ago. Police body camera video showed McClain, described by family and friends as a kind, gentle introvert, pleading with officers not to hurt him, saying, "I'm just different." Stories about the gentle nature of McClain, a massage therapist who volunteered to play violin to comfort cats at an animal shelter, spread quickly on social media, fueling outrage over the case and making it a focus of protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

4

Thousands get power back in New Orleans but 1 million still wait

Utility crews have started restoring power to some parts of New Orleans, although more than 1 million customers in the area remained without electricity early Thursday as residents desperately awaited aid after Sunday's Hurricane Ida. Entergy New Orleans said Wednesday it managed to restore some service by getting the first power plant and transmission lines restored in New Orleans late Tuesday. Deanna Rodriguez, CEO of Entergy, said the first group of customers brought back online included about 11,500 homes and businesses, including a Veterans Administration hospital. The New Orleans Fire Department also got power back. All 200,000 of Entergy's business and residential customers in New Orleans lost power during the storm, as did about 800,000 Entergy Louisiana customers in surrounding areas.

5

California's Caldor Fire pushes toward Nevada state line

The fast-growing Caldor Fire, which has already forced thousands of people to evacuate the Lake Tahoe basin in California, pushed toward the Nevada state line on Wednesday. A red flag warning of potential fire danger remained in effect in the area. The National Weather Service said low humidity and wind gusts as strong as 45 miles per hour could produce new flames on Sierra ridge lines. The fire now covers about 320 square miles, and is only 20 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Nevada authorities opened evacuation centers to accommodate the 22,000 South Lake Tahoe residents and others forced to flee their homes.

6

Poll: Most vaccinated people want COVID-19 booster shot

Most vaccinated Americans want to get a coronavirus booster shot when they become available, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Wednesday. The Biden administration hopes to launch a national campaign to make an additional dose available to eligible people starting Sept. 20, provided health regulators give their approval. Studies show protection against COVID-19 infections gradually wanes, but a booster shot after six to eight months can dramatically increase protection, although some scientists argue the need hasn't been proven. The Reuters/Ipsos survey found that 76 percent of adults who have received at least one dose want to get a booster. Six percent didn't want one, and 18 percent were undecided. The government has already started offering third shots to immunocompromised adults.

7

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma dissolved in settlement

Purdue Pharma was dissolved Wednesday as part of a bankruptcy settlement requiring the company's owners to hand over $4.6 billion as payback for the drug maker's role in the opioid epidemic. The settlement, which still requires minor adjustments, included the controversial condition that it essentially absolves the owners — the Sackler family — and Purdue Pharma of further liability related to opioid addictions and deaths. The agreement will end thousands of lawsuits brought by state and local governments, tribes, hospitals, and individuals over the role of Purdue Pharma, maker of the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin, in a crisis that has resulted in the deaths of more than 500,000 people nationwide. Judge Robert Drain of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York, called the result "bitter," saying he had expected a higher settlement.

8

Air travel falls to lowest level since May

The number of people passing through airport security has fallen to a four-month low as summer travel season ends and rising coronavirus cases reduce demand at airlines. The Transportation Security Administration screened just under 1.35 million people on Tuesday, falling to the lowest point since May 11. Business travel normally picks up after summer vacation season ends and schools reopen, but airline executives at Frontier, Southwest, American, and Spirit airlines last month warned that their revenue and profit could be weaker than previously forecast as rising coronavirus cases fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant resulted in weakening bookings. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leaders this week urged unvaccinated people not to travel over the coming Labor Day weekend.

9

2 Trump Organization employees expected to testify to grand jury

Two Trump Organization employees are set to testify before a grand jury this week in Manhattan prosecutors' investigation into the business practices of former President Donald Trump's company, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. One of the employees is Matthew Calamari Jr., corporate director of security and son of the Trump Organization's chief operating officer. Calamari received an apartment from the company, and prosecutors are examining how he reported this on his taxes, the Journal reported. The other, Jeffrey McConney, is a senior financial executive who prepared Calamari Sr.'s personal tax returns. The Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, were charged with tax fraud in July for allegedly failing to report employee perks like apartments and private school tuition.

10

Joe Rogan says he's taking ivermectin for COVID-19

Joe Rogan, host of the nation's most popular podcast, announced Wednesday that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and was taking numerous treatments, including the human version of the horse dewormer ivermectin. The comedian, who has downplayed the importance of coronavirus vaccines on his Joe Rogan Experience podcast, said he returned home from the road Saturday and experienced a headache and fever. A test confirmed he had COVID. He said he "immediately threw the kitchen sink" at the virus, including taking ivermectin, which is used to kill parasites in animals and humans but unproven as a treatment for COVID-19. Poison control centers have reported a spike in calls about illnesses from ivermectin exposure after conservative media figures and some doctors pushed it as a COVID treatment despite FDA warnings. 

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