Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 30, 2021

The FDA approves Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, G-20 leaders endorse global minimum tax, and more


FDA approves Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday backed emergency-use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for U.S. children ages 5 to 11. The decision, which was expected after FDA advisers endorsed the shots, marked one of the final steps toward making the two-shot regimen available to the roughly 28 million American children in this age group. Public health experts have called the move a major milestone in the fight against the pandemic. "Vaccinating younger children against COVID-19 will bring us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy," FDA acting commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement, adding that a review of test data showed the vaccine is safe and effective. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could give final approval at a Nov. 2 meeting.


G-20 leaders back global minimum tax

President Biden and other leaders of the Group of 20 major economies endorsed a global minimum corporate tax on Saturday at the start of a two-day summit in Rome. The landmark agreement seeks to prevent major companies such as Apple and Bristol Myers Squibb from moving profits and jobs across borders to avoid taxes. A deal has been in the works for years, but Biden's Treasury Department made a sustained push to finalize it at the summit. G-20 leaders also hope to take a common stand on ways to honor the 2015 Paris climate agreement ahead of next week's United Nations climate conference, COP26. On Friday, senior G-20 leaders announced the creation of a global body to coordinate government responses to the next pandemic.


Frequent Trump critic Kinzinger says he won't seek re-election

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), one of the 10 House Democrats who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, announced Friday that he would not run for re-election in 2022. Kinzinger, along with Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), is one of two Republicans on the House select committee investigating the insurrection by a mob of Trump supporters. He said Congress was too bitterly divided to work together in a civil manner, with "little to no desire to bridge our differences." Kinzinger's announcement followed the redrawing of his congressional district by the Democrat-led Illinois legislature. The new congressional map would have forced him into a race against fellow Republican Rep. Darin LaHood.


Biden calls submarine deal 'clumsy,' makes peace with Macron

President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday held their first face-to-face meeting since a diplomatic clash over a U.S. deal to provide nuclear submarine technology to Australia. That deal resulted in the cancellation of an agreement for Australia to buy conventional subs from France, angering Macron's government. Biden conceded that his administration had been "clumsy" in its handling of the announcement of the Australia deal. "It was not done with a lot of grace," Biden said, adding that the U.S. should have informed France, "an extremely, extremely valued partner," ahead of time. Macron said he was satisfied that the close relationship between the two allies had been repaired.


Supreme Court declines to block Maine vaccine mandate for health care workers

The Supreme Court on Friday declined to block Maine's coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers. The majority gave no reasons for the emergency ruling. The court's three most conservative justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito Jr., and Neil Gorsuch — issued a dissent, saying the fact that the state's policy includes no religious exemption meant that "health care workers who have served on the front line of a pandemic for the last 18 months are now being fired and their practices shuttered. All for adhering to their constitutionally protected religious beliefs." Two other conservatives, Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, filed a brief concurring opinion, siding with the majority and saying major decisions shouldn't be made "on a short fuse without benefit of full briefing and oral argument."


Biden administration launches 2nd attempt to end 'Remain in Mexico' policy

The Biden administration said Friday it was trying for a second time to end former President Donald Trump's "Remain in Mexico" policy for migrants seeking to cross the southern border into the United States to pursue asylum claims. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas conceded in a memo that the Trump-era policy probably reduced unauthorized migration, but said it did so at "substantial and unjustifiable human costs." Mayorkas said the Biden administration can reduce migration more humanely with other policies, including fast-tracked immigration hearings, and a proposed rule change permitting asylum officers to decide on applications more quickly. The latest Biden administration move won't immediately change the court-mandated resumption of the Remain in Mexico policy.


Biden says Pope Francis called him a 'good Catholic'

President Biden said Friday after meeting with Pope Francis that the pontiff told him he was a "good Catholic" and should continue receiving Communion, despite a push by conservative U.S. bishops to deny him the sacrament over his support for abortion rights. Biden has met with Francis four times, but this was his first such visit as president. The two leaders talked at the Vatican about policy issues, including climate change and the coronavirus pandemic, as well as what Biden described as personal things. Biden gave Francis a coin with the insignia of the National Guard unit of his late son Beau Biden. Francis privately counseled Biden and his family after Beau Biden, who had brain cancer, died in 2015.


Letitia James announces run for NY governor

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Friday that she is running for governor, setting up a competitive and historic Democratic primary. James, who oversaw the sexual-harassment investigation that led to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's resignation, would be the state's first Black female governor. She immediately became the most formidable challenger of Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), who replaced Cuomo and is the state's first female chief executive. James said she has "the experience, vision, and courage to take on the powerful on behalf of all New Yorkers." She said she was running "for good-paying jobs, a health care system that puts people ahead of profits, to protect the environment, make housing more affordable and lift up our schools in every neighborhood."


Wall Street finishes best month this year with new records

The S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the Nasdaq all gained on Friday to close Wall Street's best month this year at record highs. The S&P 500 gained 0.2 percent. The Dow and the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose by around 0.3 percent. Stocks have been getting a boost from a strong earnings season, although Amazon and Apple shares fell Friday by about 2 percent after the two tech giants reported disappointing quarterly results. So far, about half of the companies in the S&P 500 have reported third-quarter results, and more than 80 percent of them have beaten analysts' expectations, despite disruptions of the global supply chain and other damage from the Delta-variant-driven summer coronavirus surge. 


Oklahoma to continue lethal injections after inmate vomits during execution  

Oklahoma's prison system director, Scott Crow, said Friday the state would not change its lethal injection protocols after the first person executed by Oklahoma since 2015 vomited and convulsed after receiving the first drug in the state's three-drug execution sequence. Reporters who have witnessed previous executions said it was extremely rare for a condemned inmate to vomit during an execution. But Crow said the doctor who monitored John Marion Grant's execution told him it was "not a completely uncommon occurrence" for a person to vomit when given a sedative like the first drug in Oklahoma's execution protocol. Before last week, Oklahoma was under a capital punishment moratorium due to mistakes in previous executions.


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