Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 14, 2021

Nicholas strengthens into a hurricane just before hitting Texas, Biden urges California recall voters to keep Newsom, and more

1

Nicholas strengthens before hitting Texas as hurricane

Tropical Storm Nicholas strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast early Tuesday, bringing potentially "life-threatening" flooding from storm surge and heavy rainfall, the National Hurricane Center said. Parts of Texas and southwestern Louisiana braced Monday for 6 to 12 inches of rain, with isolated areas expected to get up to 20 inches. Nicholas hit about 20 miles northeast of Matagorda, Texas, and 25 miles west-southwest of Freeport, Texas, with top sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, just above the threshold for a hurricane. The storm is expected to move across parts of the upper Texas Gulf Coast into far southwestern Louisiana, threatening more rain in some areas still recovering from Hurricane Ida. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency.

2

Biden urges California voters to back Newsom in recall election

President Biden on Monday made a last-minute appeal to California voters to back Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in the state's Tuesday recall election. Biden praised Newsom and called leading Republican candidate Larry Elder "the clone of Donald Trump." Biden said the election could determine the nation's direction on issues that were at the center of his 2020 election victory over Trump, such as the pandemic, reproductive rights, and the fight against climate change. "The eyes of the world are on California," Biden said. Voters will be asked whether Newsom should be recalled and, if so, who should replace him. The latest polls show Newsom is favored to keep his job. A website backed by Elder is already claiming fraud resulted in a Newsom win.

3

Democrats unveil tax hikes proposed in spending bill

House Democrats on Monday unveiled details on the tax increases they are proposing to impose on corporations, investors, and high-earning business owners to help pay for their $3.5 trillion spending plan. The proposal would increase the corporate tax rate to 26.5 percent from 21 percent. It also would add a 3-percentage-point surtax for people making more than $5 million. It additionally would hike capital-gains taxes, while leaving out changes to taxation at death that the Biden administration wants. The proposals would raise more than $2 trillion to help cover the spending legislation's expansion of Medicare and other social safety net programs, and measures to fight climate change. Democrats plan a committee vote on the plan this week.

4

Blinken defends Biden's handling of Afghanistan withdrawal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday defended President Biden's handling of the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Afghanistan, saying Biden "inherited" a looming disaster from former President Donald Trump. "We inherited a deadline. We did not inherit a plan," Blinken testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Blinken said if Biden hadn't kept Trump's promise to leave, Taliban forces would have resumed attacks on American and allied forces. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the committee, said America's "standing on the world stage has been greatly diminished" by the withdrawal and the "betraying" of Afghan allies. Democrats on committees investigating the withdrawal and the Taliban's return to power are seeking to broaden the focus to include mistakes made under Republican and Democratic presidents alike.

5

Experts argue general population doesn't need COVID booster shots

A group of international experts said in a new paper published Monday in the Lancet that it wasn't necessary to offer the general population coronavirus vaccine booster shots. The Biden administration plans next Monday to start offering third doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and later Moderna's. But the World Health Organization has called for delaying broad booster programs until countries that lack sufficient vaccine supplies have obtained enough to give their populations the initial two doses. The paper's authors, who included two outgoing Food and Drug Administration vaccine regulators, said boosters aren't necessary for most people because there is no evidence the vaccines' protection against hospitalization or death from COVID-19 has weakened significantly over time. Most experts agree that people with compromised immune systems should get the extra shot.

6

Capitol Police arrest man found with knives near DNC headquarters

U.S. Capitol Police on Monday arrested a California man found near Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., with a bayonet and a machete inside his Dodge Dakota pickup truck. The vehicle had "a swastika and other white supremacist symbols painted on it," the department said. It had a picture of an American flag where its license plate should have been. The suspect, 44-year-old Donald Craighead, was charged with possession of prohibited weapons. Craighead reportedly said he was "on patrol," and "began talking about white supremacist ideology and other rhetoric pertaining to white supremacy," the Capitol Police said. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger praised officers for spotting Craighead and making the arrest. "This is good police work plain and simple," Manger said in a statement.

7

Texas judge bars anti-abortion group from suing Planned Parenthood

A Texas state judge issued an injunction barring the anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life from suing Planned Parenthood for violating Texas' new six-week abortion ban. Judge Karin Crump of the Travis County court said the ruling applies to anyone affiliated with the group. The ruling replaces a temporary restraining order, and will remain in place until a trial next year. In a court hearing Monday, Planned Parenthood attorney Julie Murray said the organization was complying with the Texas ban "because of the overwhelming threats of litigation" and that the injunction "will not restore abortion services ... but it will prevent and reduce the litigation exposure and constitutional harms that [Planned Parenthood] will experience." The Justice Department last week sued Texas in another effort to block the law.

8

Poll: Most Americans support Biden vaccine mandate 

Fifty-eight percent of participants said in a new Morning Consult/Politico survey that they support the White House's latest vaccination mandate for companies with more than 100 employees. The supporters said President Biden's recently unveiled vaccine policy, which is part of a multi-pronged plan to fight the pandemic, will reduce nationwide COVID-19 infection rates, and increase vaccination. The respondents were sharply split along partisan lines, with 80 percent of Democrats supporting the mandate compared to just 33 percent of Republicans. Sixty-six percent of Republicans said they consider federal vaccine mandates to be a violation of their rights. Sixty-seven percent of Democrats said they believed such policies protected their rights.

9

Trump pushes back against Bush over domestic terror threat

Former President Donald Trump on Monday sharply criticized former President George W. Bush for saying in his 9/11 commemoration speech over the weekend that international and domestic terrorists and violent extremists are "children of the same foul spirit." Both, he suggested, pose significant threats to the United States, despite their contrasting worldviews. Bush didn't specify which domestic terror groups he meant, but many listeners assumed that some of those he was referring to were in the mob of Trump supporters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. Trump said Bush was saying that domestic terrorists "on the right" are "a bigger problem" than "those from foreign countries that hate America," and added that Bush shouldn't be "lecturing" anybody because 9/11 happened "during his watch."

10

Report says climate change could force millions to move

A World Bank report released Monday found that climate change could force more than 200 million people to leave their homes over the next three decades. The Groundswell report, in its second part, looked at the impact of gradual climate change on water scarcity, falling crop yields, and rising sea levels, and found that rising temperatures could trigger a wave of "climate migrants," depending on different levels of development and climate action. Up to 216 million people could be pushed to move within their own countries in the six regions analyzed in the report — Latin America; North Africa; Sub-Saharan Africa; Eastern Europe and Central Asia; South Asia; and East Asia and the Pacific. Even the most climate-friendly scenario could result in 44 million climate migrants.

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