Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 17, 2021

Thousands of Haitian migrants reach South Texas through Mexico, Idaho expands health-care rationing, and more


Thousands of Haitian migrants shelter in impromptu Texas camp

About 10,000 Haitian migrants are sheltering under a border bridge in South Texas after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico. Authorities in Del Rio said they expected more people to arrive at the camp in the coming days, exacerbating an unprecedented humanitarian and logistical crisis. Many people in the wave of Haitians heading north spent years in Brazil or other South American nations following Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake, and have resorted to using smuggling operations to get into the United States. Customs and Border Protection said "drinking water, towels, and portable toilets have been delivered for migrants to use while they await to be transported to a facility." The sudden influx comes as illegal crossings are already at a 20-year high.


Idaho expands health care rationing as COVID cases strain hospitals

Idaho public health leaders announced Thursday that they were expanding health care rationing statewide because a huge increase in coronavirus patients has overwhelmed hospital resources. The policy previously applied only to northern parts of the state. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said hospitals should observe "crisis standards of care," allotting ICU beds and other limited resources first to patients most likely to survive. Individual hospital systems in Alaska and Montana have enacted similar policies. Hospitals lack resources to adequately treat patients, "whether you are there for COVID-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident," Idaho Department of Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said. About 40 percent of Idaho residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, making it one of the least vaccinated states.


Judge orders Biden to stop using health law to expel migrant families

A federal judge on Thursday blocked the Biden administration from continuing to expel migrant families with children caught at the Mexican border under a public health order aiming to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The ruling amounted to a significant defeat for the administration. Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia District Court acknowledged that the ruling would create difficulties for the government, but said that "in view of the wide availability of testing, vaccines, and other minimization measures, the Court is not convinced that the transmission of COVID-19 during border processing cannot be significantly mitigated." President Biden has faced criticism from immigrant advocates for continuing the policy, which was launched under former President Donald Trump.


France vents anger over nuclear-submarine deal for Australia

French officials expressed outrage Thursday against a pact President Biden announced that will help Australia deploy nuclear-powered submarines. Biden said when he announced the agreement with Australia and the U.K. that it would reinforce U.S. alliances, a goal as the U.S. seeks to counter China's influence in the Pacific. But France's foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said the pact would prompt Australia to withdraw from a $66 billion deal struck in 2016 to buy submarines from France, calling it a "unilateral, brutal, unpredictable decision" similar to unpredictable and destabilizing policy changes made by former President Donald Trump. Nicole Bacharan, a researcher at Sciences Po in Paris, said this could mark the start of a "very hard" period in the longstanding alliance between Paris and Washington.


Roger Stone served with Capitol riot lawsuit during radio interview

Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of former President Donald Trump, reportedly was served with papers related to a lawsuit over the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol attack while he was being interviewed on a St. Louis radio show, Tomorrow's News Today with Joe Hoft & Kell Brazil. As the hosts asked Stone whether Trump would run for president again in 2024, he said, "Hold on a second, I have a process server at my front door." Stone, a self-described "dirty trickster," paused to answer his front door and talk to the process server. The complaint, filed by seven Capitol Police officers, accuses Stone, Trump, far-right "violent extremist groups," and others of responsibility for the siege of the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters trying to block Congress from certifying his election loss.


Ohio Republican who voted for Trump impeachment won't seek reelection

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) said Thursday that he will retire from Congress at the end of his second term rather than face an ugly primary challenge from a challenger backed by former President Donald Trump. Gonzalez was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over his role in encouraging supporters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, hoping to prevent Congress from certifying Trump's election loss to President Biden. Gonzalez, a Cuban-American former Ohio State football star, called Trump "a cancer for the country." He said he could have beaten a primary battle against Max Miller, a former Trump White House aide that Trump endorsed in February, but preferred to get out of the "toxic" political environment of a party still enthralled with the former president.


Retail sales rise unexpectedly despite Delta-variant spread

U.S. retail sales rose by 0.7 percent in August, bouncing back unexpectedly from a decline in July, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The gains came despite concerns that a coronavirus surge driven by the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant was dragging down the economy. Restaurant sales were flat after rising for most of 2020. Initial jobless claims, a key indicator of layoffs, rose by 20,000 last week but remained near pandemic-era lows. "Delta? What Delta?" Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomic Advisers, said in a note to clients. He later added in an interview that the Delta-variant surge wasn't ending the recovery. "Absolutely not," he said. "It's an external shock that's denting it temporarily."


Special prosecutor charges former Clinton adviser with lying to FBI

Washington attorney Michael Sussman, a cybersecurity attorney who advised Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, was indicted Thursday on charges that he lied to the FBI during its investigation of ties between Russia and former President Donald Trump's campaign. Sussman represented the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign in connection with Russia's hack of their computer system. He is accused of falsely telling the former FBI general counsel, James Baker, in September 2016 that he wasn't representing any client when he gave the FBI evidence of cyber connections between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank. The charges mark the second criminal case filed as a result of U.S. Special Counsel John Durham's inquiry into the origins of the FBI investigation of Russia's election meddling and its ties to Trump's campaign.


Sears to close last store in Illinois, its home state

Long-troubled retailer Sears is closing its last store in its home state of Illinois in November, CNBC confirmed Thursday. Sears, which was founded in Chicago in the 1890s, still had 34 stores in operation in August, down from about 700 when it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2018. Sears' parent company, Transformco, acquired the company after the bankruptcy filing. Transformco said it would continue to manage the space after the last Illinois Sears shuts down, but hasn't found a tenant yet. "This is part of the company's strategy to unlock the value of the real estate and pursue the highest and best use for the benefit of the local community," Transformco said in a statement.


Trump calls Saturday rally a 'set-up' for Jan. 6 defendants' supporters

Former President Donald Trump told The Federalist on Thursday that the Saturday "Justice for J6" rally was "a setup" for supporters of the 600-plus people charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot by a mob of Trump's supporters. "If people don't show up they'll say, 'Oh, it's a lack of spirit.' And if people do show up they'll be harassed," Trump said. Authorities in Washington, D.C., are bracing for hundreds of far-right demonstrators expected to attend the planned Saturday event. The Department of Homeland Security issued an internal memo warning of the possibility of violence. Trump issued a statement Thursday expressing support for "people being persecuted so unfairly relating to the January 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election."


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