Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 3, 2021

Biden orders federal effort to counter Texas abortion law, Ida's flooding kills dozens on East Coast, and more


Biden orders federal effort to counter Texas abortion law 

President Biden on Thursday slammed the Supreme Court for declining to block Texas' new law banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, saying the court's conservative majority's ruling "unleashes unconstitutional chaos" by defying long-established precedent guaranteeing broader abortion rights. Biden said he had directed a gender-focused White House policy council, the Office of the White House Counsel, and both the Health and Human Services and the Justice departments to "launch of a whole-of-government effort" to see how the administration could respond to the decision and protect existing constitutional abortion rights. The Texas law gives individuals the right to sue anyone involved in an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, typically around six weeks. The landmark Roe v. Wade decision established the right to abortion until fetal viability at 22 to 24 weeks.


Death toll rises from Ida's flooding on East Coast

The death toll from the record-breaking rain the remnants of hurricane Ida dumped from Maryland to New York rose to at least 45. The storm hammered the East Coast with heavy flood and tornado damage. In New York City, one person was killed in a car and at least 11 others died in flooded basement apartments. Deborah Torres escaped her first-floor apartment in Queens after the water rose knee-high. Three people, including a baby, died in the basement apartment underneath hers. "How can something like this happen?" she asked. At least 23 people were killed in New Jersey. One person was killed by a falling tree in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Two others drowned, one in a car and the other in a home.


Japan prime minister to step down after just 1 year

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced Friday that he would not seek re-election as leader of the country's ruling Liberal Democratic Party in late September. The decision signals the end of his term after only one year following rising criticism over his government's handling of a coronavirus surge fueled by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. Suga's support has fallen below 30 percent in recent polls, dropping even after the Tokyo Olympics ended without pandemic-related disasters some had feared. Japan's next leader isn't expected to change basic policies or close ties to the U.S., but Suga's departure brings political uncertainty as the Biden administration works on restoring alliances in the region that were strained by former President Donald Trump's "America first" focus.


EPA report warns people of color face disproportionate harm from climate change

People of color will face disproportionate harm from climate change, including disproportionate deaths from extreme heat and property loss from flooding, the Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday in a new analysis. Joe Goffman, acting head of the EPA Office of Air and Radiation, said the comprehensive review was the "first of its kind." The report looked at the possible impacts of a global temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to preindustrial levels. American Indians and Alaska Natives are 48 percent more likely than other groups to live in areas that would face flooding from sea level rise. Latinos are 43 percent more likely to live in areas where intense heat would reduce work hours. Black people would have elevated death rates.


Former Georgia DA indicted over handling of Ahmaud Arbery killing

Former Georgia prosecutor Jacquelyn Lee Johnson was indicted Thursday by a grand jury for allegedly "showing favor and affection" for the white men who killed Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was running through their neighborhood last year. Arbery was fatally shot after Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, his son, followed Arbery in their pickup. They said they thought he was a burglar. Arbery's family said he was jogging. Johnson, who was Brunswick Judicial Circuit district attorney when Arbery was killed in February 2020, was indicted on charges of violation of oath of public office and obstruction of a police officer by saying Travis McMichael should not be arrested, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced. She lost re-election in November.


Virginia Supreme Court clears way for removing Lee Monument

The Virginia Supreme Court on Thursday rejected appeals seeking to block Gov. Ralph Northam's 2020 order to take down Richmond's iconic but divisive Lee Monument. The justices unanimously rejected appeals to preserve the statue made by five nearby property owners and an heir of the family that donated the land for the monument to the Confederate general. Northam called for moving the statue last year as racial justice protests erupted in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police. Northam's office said preparations for removing the 130-year-old, 60-foot-tall statue of Lee on a horse began months ago, and the ruling cleared the way for the Department of General Services to get started.


Judge orders Capitol riot defendant back to jail

A judge on Thursday ordered Capitol riot suspect Doug Jensen to return to jail because he violated the conditions of his release by using the internet to watch conspiracy theory content, including some on presidential election recounts from MyPillow guy Mike Lindell. Jensen wasn't supposed to use the internet after his release. He is accused of leading a mob that chased a Capitol Police officer in the Jan. 6 riot by former President Donald Trump's supporters aiming to overturn Trump's election loss to President Biden. His lawyer had argued that he has since recognized that he "bought into a pack of lies," according to BuzzFeed News. But District Judge Timothy Kelly said Thursday it was "clear that he has not experienced the transformation that his lawyer previously described."


Renaissance hedge fund executives to pay billions in back taxes

A group of current and former executives at pioneering hedge fund Renaissance Technologies have agreed to pay up to $7 billion in back taxes, interest, and penalties, the company told investors Thursday. The tax settlement, possibly the largest in U.S. history, ends a long dispute with the Internal Revenue Service over how Renaissance's key Medallion fund booked short-term gains for tax purposes. Among those paying the IRS are Renaissance founder and quantitative-investing pioneer James Simons, a mathematician who used algorithms to exploit lucrative short-term patterns in financial markets, and former co-CEO Robert Mercer. Simons, 83, is a longtime Democratic donor. Mercer, 75, was former President Donald Trump's largest financial backer in 2016, and helped found Cambridge Analytica, the consulting firm embroiled in scandal for harvesting Facebook data to aid Trump's campaign.


Ohio man arrested over confrontation with NBC News correspondent

Authorities on Thursday arrested Benjamin Eugene Dagley, the Ohio man who aggressively accosted NBC News' Shaquille Brewster as he was reporting on Hurricane Ida's aftermath. Dagley, 54, was taken into custody at a shopping plaza in Dayton, Ohio, U.S. Marshal Pete Elliott said in a statement. A warrant was issued for Dagley's arrest on two counts of assault, one count of disturbance of the peace, and one count of violation of emergency curfew after the confrontation in Gulfport, Mississippi, officials said. "This violent fugitive was attempting to flee from his charges in Gulfport but the swift work of our task force members resulted in a timely arrest," Elliott said. Brewster was doing a live MSNBC shot on the coast when a man later identified by police as Dagley pulled up in a white pickup truck and got in Brewster's face, shouting at Brewster to "report accurately."


ABBA to release first studio album in 40 years

ABBA, the iconic 1970s Swedish group known for huge hits like "Dancing Queen," is returning to release its first studio album in 40 years, Variety reported on Thursday. The group also will launch a concert set for London in May 2022 called "ABBA Voyage." It will feature singers Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, and instrumentalists/songwriters Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus performing as digital avatars designed by George Lucas' visual effects company, Industrial Light & Magic. "We're going to be able to sit back in an audience and watch our digital selves perform our songs on a stage in a custom-built arena in London next spring," the group said on its website. "Weird and wonderful!"


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