Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 4, 2021

Oil spill shuts down Huntington Beach, California, the Supreme Court starts new term with abortion and gun cases looming, and more

1

Oil spill shuts down Southern California's Huntington Beach

Oil from an offshore spill reached the coast of Southern California on Sunday, threatening wildlife and forcing authorities to shut down Huntington Beach. The Pacific Airshow's final day was canceled to avoid complicating the cleanup, and people were urged not to swim or surf nearby. The city said workers were using skimming equipment and booms to prevent the oil from reaching the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve and Huntington Beach Wetlands. The U.S. Coast Gard reported the spill on Saturday. Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr said 3,000 barrels, or about 126,000 gallons, leaked from an oil production facility about 4.5 miles offshore.

2

Supreme Court starts new term with abortion, guns on the docket

The Supreme Court will convene Monday to hear its first in-person arguments since the March 2020 coronavirus lockdown. The high court, with a newly expanded 6-3 conservative majority, has a politically charged docket. The court will consider trimming or eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion established in the landmark Roe v. Wade case. The justices also will hear cases that could lead to expanded gun rights and a narrowing of the separation between church and state. Chief Justice John Roberts, who once firmly guided the court as its ideological center, now has five more conservative justices to his right, with the replacement of liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Polls show Americans increasingly see the court as partisan rather than impartial.

3

Facebook whistleblower reveals identity on '60 Minutes'

A Facebook whistleblower who released internal research indicating the company was aware its social media platforms, including Instagram, could harm teens revealed her identity Sunday night on CBS' 60 Minutes. "The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook, and Facebook over and over again chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money," said the whistleblower, Frances Haugen, a 37-year-old former Facebook product manager who worked on civic integrity issues. Facebook has called the allegations "misleading." "To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true," said Facebook spokesperson Lena Pietsch.

4

Bomb kills at least 5 outside Kabul mosque

A roadside bomb exploded outside a mosque in the Afghan capital of Kabul, killing at least five civilians, the Taliban said Sunday. The blast occurred at the gate of the Eid Gah Mosque during a memorial service for the mother of chief Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. The Taliban committed many similar attacks over the course of a 20-year insurgency they waged after being driven from power by a U.S.-led invasion, but since they returned to power in mid-August they have faced bombings and shooting sprees blamed on rival groups. Three suspects were arrested for the Sunday explosion, which reportedly didn't injure any members of the Taliban.

5

Report: Pandora Papers show how world leaders hide wealth

The Washington Post reported Sunday that millions of private financial records shared with the newspaper showed that members of the global elite, including King Abdullah II of Jordan and other country leaders, used a secretive offshore system to hide billions of dollars from tax authorities, creditors, criminal investigators, and others. The documents detailed the Jordanian king spent more than $100 million on luxury homes in Malibu, California, and other places. Leaders of the Czech Republic, Kenya, Ecuador, and other nations hid millions of dollars' worth of property and cash. The trove of documents, called the Pandora Papers, was far larger than the Panama Papers disclosed in an investigation five years ago.

6

Fauci says 'too soon to tell' if Americans can gather for holidays

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that the United States was "turning the corner" on the current coronavirus surge driven by the Delta variant, but that it's "just too soon to tell" if Americans will be able to safely gather in larger groups during the coming holiday season. Fauci, President Biden's top public adviser, told CBS News' Margaret Brennan on Sunday's edition of Face the Nation that if the country stays "laser focused" on getting COVID-19 cases down that it may be possible, adding that increasing the number of vaccinations and booster shots (where applicable) could go a long way toward achieving that goal. The comments come a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its latest recommendations for celebrating the holidays, urging people to keep windows open for better air circulation if gathering indoors.

7

Japanese lawmakers elect Fumio Kishida as prime minister

Japan's parliament formally elected Fumio Kishida as the country's new prime minister on Monday. The selection of the former foreign minister to succeed outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was all but guaranteed after he was elected leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party last week. Kishida, who is the country's 100th prime minister, is stacking his Cabinet with allies of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, although 13 of the 20 members have no previous Cabinet experience. He inherits an economy battered by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as intensifying security threats from China and North Korea. Suga decided not to seek another term as leader of his party following a rough year in which his popularity sank over complaints about his government's response to the pandemic.

8

Biden to promote infrastructure in trip to Michigan

President Biden plans to travel to Michigan this week to rally support for his economic agenda as Democrats continue to fight internally over the legislation, the White House said Sunday. "I believe I can get this done," Biden said over the weekend. Biden's Build Back Better agenda includes a $1 trillion infrastructure bill with $550 billion in new spending, and a $3.5 trillion spending package that would expand the social safety net and fund climate initiatives, all largely paid for by raising corporate and wealth taxes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) last week delayed a vote on the infrastructure bill as Democrats fought over the size of the larger spending package.

9

Merkel urges Germans to unite to protect democracy 

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to keep fighting to strengthen the country's democracy in an address marking the 31st anniversary of the reunification of East and West Germany. "Democracy isn't simply there," Merkel said in what was likely to be one of her last major speeches after a decade and a half in power. "Rather, we must work for it together, again and again, every day." Merkel warned that the current climate of misinformation threatened the progress the country had made since the Soviet-allied East German, where she grew up, reunified with West Germany at the end of the Cold War. Merkel cited such incidents as the killing of one of her party's regional politicians, an assault on a synagogue in the eastern city where she spoke, and the recent fatal shooting of a gas station clerk who told a customer to wear a mask as examples of dangerous radicalization.

10

Tom Brady sets record in triumphant return to New England

Superstar quarterback Tom Brady made football history Sunday night as he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 19-17 win over his former team, the New England Patriots, in his first game back in Foxborough, Massachusetts, since leaving his old team in 2020. On the Buccaneers' second offensive series of the night, Brady became the NFL's career leader in passing yards when he completed a 28-yard pass to Mike Evans, pushing him past Drew Brees' mark of 80,358 yards. Brady also became only the fourth NFL quarterback — along with Brees, Brett Favre, and Peyton Manning — to lead his team to victory against all 32 NFL teams. Brady said his former teammates and rookie Patriots quarterback Mac Jones "have a really good football team and made us earn it."

Recommended

Biden zings Glenn Youngkin for refusing to campaign with Trump in Virginia
Joe Biden, Terry McAuliffe
'Is there a problem with Trump being here?'

Biden zings Glenn Youngkin for refusing to campaign with Trump in Virginia

Minneapolis kids launch community newspaper to keep neighbors informed
A stack of newspapers.
here's the scoop

Minneapolis kids launch community newspaper to keep neighbors informed

Report: White House telling Democrats climate spending could top $555 billion
President Biden.
fighting climate change

Report: White House telling Democrats climate spending could top $555 billion

Judge in Kyle Rittenhouse trial rules prosecutors can't refer to men shot as 'victims'
Kyle Rittenhouse.
words matter

Judge in Kyle Rittenhouse trial rules prosecutors can't refer to men shot as 'victims'

Most Popular

The other parenting problem
A baby.
Stephanie H. Murray

The other parenting problem

5 toons about Bannon's contempt of Congress charge
Political Cartoon.
Feature

5 toons about Bannon's contempt of Congress charge

The 'Trump app' will be the insurrection on steroids
Donald Trump.
Picture of Damon LinkerDamon Linker

The 'Trump app' will be the insurrection on steroids