Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 16, 2021

FDA panel recommends Johnson & Johnson booster shot, a British lawmaker is fatally stabbed, and more

1

FDA panel recommends authorizing Johnson & Johnson's booster

A panel of Food and Drug Administration advisers on Friday recommended emergency use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus booster shot to increase protection for people who have already received the single-dose vaccine. The outside experts said people should get the second dose at least two months after the first one. The panel's decision isn't binding, but the FDA usually accepts its advice. A top FDA official, Dr. Peter Marks, said regulators also might let people who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine get a booster made by Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, although he gave no target date for that decision. Some experts on the panel said it might have been a mistake to approve the Johnson & Johnson shot as a single dose. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines come in two doses.

2

British lawmaker fatally stabbed during meeting with constituents

British lawmaker David Amess died Friday after a man stabbed him during a meeting with voters in his district east of London. The attacker walked into the Methodist church where Amess, a member of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's ruling Conservative Party, was talking to constituents, and stabbed him multiple times in what police called an act of terrorism. "David was a man who believed passionately in this country and in its future," Johnson said. "We lost today a fine public servant." Essex police said Amess was treated by emergency responders but died at the scene. Officers arrested a 25-year-old suspect, and recovered a knife. The killing was the second of a British lawmaker in five years.

3

ISIS-K suicide bombers kill 50 at Afghanistan mosque

A suicide bombing killed at least 50 people at a Shiite mosque in Afghanistan on Friday. At least 100 others were injured, and many victims "remain under the ruined mosque," said provincial health director Hafiz Abdul Hai Abbas. The attack was the second in a week, fueling fears of mounting violence as an Islamic State affiliate challenges the Taliban, which regained control of the country following the U.S. military withdrawal two months ago. In Friday's attack, suicide bombers hit the mosque in the southern city of Kandahar during Friday prayers. The Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, claimed responsibility hours later, saying two bombers carried out the attack. ISIS-K also said the previous Friday that it was behind a similar bombing in northern Kunduz.

4

White House announces lifting of travel ban for vaccinated foreigners

The White House announced Friday it will lift COVID-19 travel restrictions to let fully vaccinated international visitors into the United States starting Nov. 8. The move will end 21 months of unprecedented restrictions that had barred millions of visitors from China, Canada, Mexico, India, Brazil, much of Europe, and elsewhere from entering the U.S. White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said the policy "is guided by public health, stringent, and consistent." Many countries had lobbied for the Biden administration to ease its travel rules. Sweden's ambassador to the U.S., Karin Olofsdotter, called the new policy "very welcoming news."

5

Biden administration to ask Supreme Court to halt Texas abortion law

The Biden administration said Friday it would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block the Texas law that has banned most abortions in the state since September. The announcement came after a federal appeals court panel on Thursday allowed the restrictions to stay in effect, marking the third court defeat for opponents of the law in the last several weeks. The Texas law is the most restrictive in the nation. It bans abortions once cardiac activity can be detected, about six weeks into a pregnancy, often before a woman knows she is pregnant. The law makes no exception in cases of rape or incest. Since the law took effect, many Texas women have driven to abortion clinics in neighboring states. The Supreme Court allowed the restrictions to take effect, but didn't rule on the law's constitutionality.

6

Manchin opposition likely to keep clean-power program out of spending bill

Sen. Joe Manchin III, a Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia, has told the White House he firmly opposes a clean electricity program that is a major part of President Biden's climate agenda, suggesting it is likely to be removed from a massive spending bill before Congress, The New York Times reported Friday, citing congressional staffers and lobbyists. The $150 billion program would speed up the replacement of coal- and gas-fired power generation with wind, solar, and nuclear energy. Democrats can pass the budget legislation without Republican votes using a process known as budget reconciliation, but with the Senate split 50-50, they can't afford to lose a single vote from their own caucus. That has forced White House staffers to write a new version of the legislation deleting the clean energy program and trying to come up with replacement policies to reduce emissions.

7

78 arrested for blocking traffic in last day of D.C. fossil-fuel protests

Police arrested 78 people Friday as Indigenous groups and other environmental activists wrapped up five days of People vs. Fossil Fuels demonstrations in Washington, D.C. The arrests came after about 100 people sitting in the street refused to leave when U.S. Capitol Police warned them to disperse or face arrest for obstructing traffic. Three of those arrested also were charged with assault on a police officer, Capitol Police said. During the week, hundreds of protesters called for political leaders to reject fossil fuels to fight climate change and show respect toward Indigenous communities. On Thursday, 55 people were arrested after protesters trying to occupy the Interior Department clashed with security personnel, causing injuries on both sides.

8

Goldman Sachs profit, revenue surge 

Goldman Sachs on Friday reported that its quarterly profit surged by 60 percent and its revenue increased by 26 percent, boosted by a record $1.65 billion from advising on mergers and acquisitions. The investment bank's quarterly results beat analysts' expectations, and rounded out earnings season for the biggest U.S. banks, all of which reported double-digit profit increases. Goldman CEO David Solomon told analysts the worst damage from the coronavirus pandemic appeared to be over, although the Delta variant of the coronavirus, Washington politics, inflation, and the "complicated" U.S. relationship with China still threatened to combine to form a "headwind to growth."

9

Report: Netflix fires a leader of trans employee walkout sparked by Dave Chappelle controversy

Netflix has fired a leader of the company trans employee resource group helping to organize a walkout on Oct. 20, The Verge reported Friday. The company has faced a backlash over comedian Dave Chappelle's latest Netflix special, The Closer, in which he jokes about transgender people and the LGBTQ community. The resource group has encouraged trans employees and supporters to walk out in protest on Wednesday. The employee, who is Black and pregnant, was terminated for allegedly leaking to Bloomberg News internal metrics related to Chappelle's special. "We understand the employee may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix, but maintaining a culture of trust and transparency is core to our company," a Netflix spokesperson said.

10

Consumer spending rises despite supply-chain problems

Consumers ramped up their spending in September, pushing up retail sales by 0.7 percent, the Census Bureau reported Friday. Dow Jones had forecast a 0.2 percent decline due to ongoing, widespread supply bottlenecks. But as coronavirus cases dropped, easing a surge driven by the highly infectious Delta variant, shoppers began venturing out more. Sporting goods, music, and book stores powered the gains, with sales increasing by 3.7 percent. General merchandise sales rose by 2 percent. "Students heading back to school and workers returning to the office are likely the catalysts for the increased retail sales," said Natalie Kotlyar, national leader of BDO's retail and consumer products practice. Sales were up by 13.9 percent compared to a year ago, or by 15.6 percent excluding auto sales.

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