Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 3, 2021

Pelosi sets new target date for House infrastructure vote, North Korea accuses U.N. Security Council of double standard, and more


Pelosi sets new target date for House infrastructure vote

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Saturday set Oct. 31 as the new target for the lower chamber to pass the Senate's $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. That's the day when the 30-day reauthorization of federal highway programs, which Congress just voted to temporarily extend, expires. In a letter to her colleagues, however, Pelosi said the goal should be to pass the infrastructure package "well before then." At the moment, progressives and moderates are still at an impasse, with the former group holding out against a vote on infrastructure until Democrats' more sweeping reconciliation bill is ready. They were successful in prompting a delay, but left some moderates fuming. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), for example, blasted the dual-track strategy on Saturday, arguing that the infrastructure bill is being held "hostage."


North Korea accuses U.N. Security Council of double standard

North Korea has accused the United Nations Security Council of applying double standards over military activities of U.N. member states, state media reports. Pyongyang has recently picked up the pace on weapons tests, including the firing of a newly developed anti-aircraft missile last week, prompting the United States and other countries to request the council meet on Friday. That angered the North Korean regime. Jo Chol Su, director of the North Korean foreign ministry's Department of International Organizations, said in a statement that the meeting was a "wanton encroachment" on its sovereignty and "an evident manifestation of double-dealing standard" because the council has not similarly responded to American joint military exercises and weapons tests. Jo also warned the council could face consequences if it continued its approach, though he did not clarify what that meant.


'SNL' returns with new Biden

Saturday Night Live kicked off its 47th season Saturday, and the long-running sketch show has a new President Biden. New cast member James Austin Johnson inherited the role from fellow cast member Alex Moffat, who portrayed Biden during the second half of last season after Jim Carrey's guest run during the presidential campaign ended. Deadline writes that Johnson's appearance as Biden in the season's initial cold open, which poked fun at the president's efforts to get Congress to pass his legislative agenda, was "probably the highest profile introduction of a new cast member ever." Actor Owen Wilson hosted the episode, and Kacey Musgraves was the musical guest.


Thousands gather across U.S. to march against Texas abortion law

Thousands of protesters marched in hundreds of rallies across the United States on Saturday, demonstrating against a new Texas law that bans most abortions after six weeks and warning that Roe v. Wade is under threat from the Supreme Court. "No matter where you live, no matter where you are, this moment is dark — it is dark — but that's why we're here," Alexis McGill Johnson, the president of Planned Parenthood, told the crowd at the flagship "Rally for Abortion Justice" in Washington, D.C. The protests were organized by the Women's March, marking the first time the group has organized a public rally since former President Donald Trump left office in January.


Chinese jets continue incursion into Taiwanese air defense zone

Chinese military planes continued to enter Taiwan's air defense zone on Saturday, Taipei's defense ministry said. Over the course of the day, 39 Chinese military jets reportedly flew into the designated area, which is not officially Taiwanese airspace, but is close enough that it requires monitoring for national security purposes. On Friday, 38 jets did the same. Both marked the largest single-day incursion by Beijing to date. The Chinese government, which claims Taiwan as its territory, has still yet to comment on the matter, but Taiwan clearly views the exercises as an act of aggression.


CDC releases recommendations for upcoming holiday season

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Saturday released its recommendations for celebrating the upcoming holiday season safely amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic. The agency is urging people to avoid large indoor gatherings, and instead wants people to celebrate only with members of a household. Other options could include a virtual celebration or meeting outdoors so long as everyone stands at least six feet apart. If people do go to events, though, the CDC recommends they be vaccinated against COVID-19 and, if in communities with high rates of transmission, wear makes, even outdoors. If celebrating indoors, doors and windows should be open, the agency said.


ISIS propaganda narrator faces prosecution in U.S.

Mohammed Khalifa, a 38-year-old Canadian man who narrated two Islamic State propaganda videos aimed at recruiting Westerners, has been transferred to the United States and faces federal prosecution in Virginia. He was charged with material terrorism that resulted in death, according to a criminal complaint that was made public on Saturday. Khalifa, who traveled to Syria in 2013 and eventually joined ISIS, was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led, U.S.-backed militia, in 2019. The SDF handed him over to the FBI this week, and he was flown to the U.S. where he's scheduled to make an appearance in court early next week. Prosecutors say he "played an important role in the production and dissemination of ISIS propaganda across multiple media platforms targeting Western audiences." Khalifa has previously claimed he played no physical role in any killings.


Memo: Facebook anticipating more accusations from whistleblower

An internal memo revealed that Facebook is bracing for new accusations from a whistleblower, whose identity has not been publicly disclosed after sharing thousands of pages of company documents with The Wall Street Journal. The anticipated allegations are reportedly about how the social media giant relaxed its security safeguards after the 2020 presidential election, freeing the platform up for use in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, The New York Times reports. In the memo, Nick Clegg, Facebook's Vice President of policy and global affairs, pushed back against the accusation that the company is a leading cause of political polarization in the United States. The whistleblower is reportedly planning to make the latest round of accusations during a segment on CBS' 60 Minutes on Sunday evening.


Hundreds flee from fire on Honduran island

Hundreds of residents were forced to flee for safety after a large fire destroyed or damaged dozens of houses and businesses on the Honduran island of Guanaja on Saturday. The blaze, the cause of which was not immediately clear, was eventually brought under control after the Honduran Air Force dropped water on the island, and the government confirmed there were no fatalities. But there were "vast material losses," Max Gonzales, Honduras' minister of the National System for Risk Management and National Contingencies agency, said. Tourism is the main economic driver for Guanaja.


MLB set for regular season finale chaos

Major League Baseball is entering its final day of the regular season, and the American League's two wild card spots remain up-for-grabs. The Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, and Toronto Blue Jays are all still alive, separated by just one game. Boston and New York can't be eliminated on Sunday, though there's a chance one or both could be forced to play a single-elimination playoff game on Monday to make it to the postseason. If they win their games Sunday, however, they'll be in. Seattle and Toronto, meanwhile, are in a win-or-go-home situation as they take on the Los Angeles Angels and Baltimore Orioles, respectively. In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers are still trying to catch the San Francisco Giants for the West division lead and force a one-game playoff to determine the champion. Both teams have clinched the postseason.


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President Biden (R) and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
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