Daily briefing

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

Biden tours Ida damage in Louisiana, White House reportedly may need to scale back COVID-19 booster shot plan, and more

1

Biden tours Ida damage in Louisiana

President Biden on Friday traveled to areas of Louisiana that were damaged by Hurricane Ida earlier this week. He vowed to not "leave any community behind: rural, city, coastal, inland." Biden met with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), emergency officials, and local leaders in LaPlace, Louisiana, where he was briefed on the fallout of the storm, which includes damaged homes, flooded streets, and downed power lines. In New Orleans, people without power were encouraged to evacuate amid high temperatures. Power, though, is reportedly due back for almost all of the city by next week.

2

White House may need to scale back booster shot plan

Top health officials are urging the White House to scale back the COVID-19 booster shot plan because more time is needed to review the data, The New York Times reported. CNN also reported that the Biden administration is discussing whether to scale the plan back, citing an official as saying the FDA doesn't currently have enough data to recommend a third dose of the Moderna vaccine. A White House spokesperson told the Times that "we always said we would follow the science, and this is all part of a process that is now underway." When announcing the booster rollout last month, health officials said all Americans would be eligible for an extra shot starting Sept. 20, with individual appointments taking place sometime around six to eight months after the last dose.

3

Texas group temporarily blocked from suing abortion providers under new law

A county judge in Texas on Friday granted a temporary restraining against anti-abortion rights group Texas Right to Life, preventing it for now from suing abortion providers employed by Planned Parenthood under the Lone Star State's restrictive new abortion law. The law effectively bans abortions after as early as six weeks into pregnancy and allows private citizens to file civil suits against anyone who helps a woman obtain an abortion. Travis County Judge Maya Guerra Gamble ruled that the medical providers face "probable, irreparable, and imminent injury" if they are sued. Texas Right to Life responded to the temporary measure by noting on Twitter that it only applies to the group, adding that it "does not stop other individuals not associated or working with TRTL from suing."

4

Latest jobs report falls short of expectations

The Labor Department said Friday the U.S. economy added just 235,000 jobs in August. That was down from the 1.1. million jobs that were added in July and under the 720,000 jobs that economists were expecting, CNBC reports. The unemployment rate declined to 5.2 percent, the report said. "That is what one would call a big, big miss," CNN's Phil Mattingly wrote. The latest numbers came as the Delta variant of COVID-19 has sparked a surge in coronavirus cases in the United States, and experts had their eye on how this would affect the hiring numbers last month. The Labor Department said that in August, "employment in leisure and hospitality was unchanged," whereas it had increased by an average of 350,000 monthly for the last six months. Additionally, there was a loss of 42,000 jobs in food services and drinking places. 

5

Blinken to visit Afghan evacuees in Qatar, Germany

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday said he's heading to Doha, Qatar, on Sunday to meet with Afghans who evacuated their home country last month after the Taliban took Kabul ahead of the end of the United States' 20 year military mission. Blinken will also reportedly express his gratitude toward the Qatari government, which played a significant role in aiding the evacuation effort. After the Qatar visit, Blinken said he'll travel to the U.S.'s Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where many other Afghan evacuees are waiting for flights to take them to the U.S. He'll also meet with his German counterpart, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and the two will have a virtual meeting with representatives from more than 20 countries that have all pledged to help relocate and resettle Afghans.

6

Biden orders Justice Department to review 9/11 documents

President Biden on Friday signed an executive order directing the Justice Department and other government agencies to review documents related to the FBI's 9/11 investigation, which could potentially lead to declassification. Biden promised to declassify the documents during his presidential campaign last year, and has faced pressure to do so from victims' family members and others directly affected by the terrorist attacks as the 20th anniversary approaches. Many of the people involved in the effort particularly want the federal government to reveal whether there's information possibly suggesting Saudi involvement in financing the attacks.

7

New Zealand aims to strengthen anti-terror laws after supermarket attack

After a "known violent extremist" stabbed seven people, three of whom are in critical condition, in an "ISIS-inspired terrorist attack" at an Auckland, New Zealand, supermarket this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vowed to strengthen the country's anti-terror laws. The attacker, who was shot dead by police, had been under constant police surveillance for a while, but a judge reportedly turned down charges against him because New Zealand law does not criminalize planning a terror attack if the person has not taken action. Ardern is confident that parliament will back proposed changes to that by the end of September. The attack comes more than two years after a white supremacist terrorist killed 51 worshippers at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

8

Former Cardinal McCarrick pleads not guilty to sexual assault

Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick on Friday pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception in Massachusetts decades ago. The 91-year-old, who was defrocked by the Vatican in 2019 in the wake of sex abuse allegations, did not speak at the hearing at suburban Boston's Dedham District Court; the court entered the not guilty plea on his behalf, set bail at $5,000, and ordered him to stay away from the victim and have no contact with minors. A former archbishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, McCarrick is the first American Catholic cardinal, current or former, to be criminally charged with child sex crimes.

9

'QAnon Shaman' pleads guilty to Capitol riot charge

A Capitol rioter known as "QAnon Shaman" pleaded guilty Friday to felony obstruction of Congress on Jan. 6. Jacob Anthony Chansley, who infamously donned red, white, and blue face paint while wearing a fur-lined headdress with horns while standing on the Senate dias after lawmakers had abandoned the chamber, could face at least three years in prison. Chansley, as his nickname suggests, has acknowledged he's a follower of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Chansley submitted his plea by video-teleconference from a low-security prison complex in Littleton, Colorado, where he was taken for psychiatric evaluation in July. He's one of more than 50 people who have pleaded guilty to charges connected to the Capitol riot among 600 people who have been charged so far.

10

Osaka hints at extended leave from tennis after early U.S. Open exit

Naomi Osaka on Friday lost her third-round U.S. Open match 5-7, 7-6, 6-4 to Leylah Fernandez. The earlier-than-expected exit prompted the 23-year-old Osaka, one of tennis' best players, to weigh stepping away from the sport for an extended period. "I honestly don't know when I'm going to play my next tennis match," she said during a press conference after the loss. "I think I'm going to take a break from playing for a while." Osaka said she has only felt relief, not happiness, when winning lately, while losing makes her "feel very sad," a dichotomy she said she doesn't think is "normal." Earlier this year, she withdrew from the French Open and skipped Wimbledon to focus on her mental health, but decided to return for the Olympics in her home country, Japan, as well as the U.S. Open.

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