10 things you need to know today: June 18, 2022

FDA clears COVID vaccines for kids as young as 6 months, Russian media broadcasts messages from captured U.S. military veterans, and more

Child getting vaccine
(Image credit: Soumen Hazra/iStock)

1. FDA clears Moderna, Pfizer vaccines for kids as young as 6 months

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized both Moderna's and Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use in kids as young as 6 months. The agency's decision arrived after a group of independent advisers voted unanimously on Wednesday to recommend the shots. Pfizer's three-dose regimen has now been authorized for use in children ages 6 months to 4 years old, while Moderna's two-dose regimen is now cleared for children ages 6 months to 5 years old. Before vaccinations can officially begin, however, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky must issue her own recommendation, which will likely happen following a vaccine advisory panel vote this weekend.

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2. Russian media broadcasts messages from captured U.S. military veterans

On Friday, Russian news outlet RT broadcast messages from Alex Drueke and Andy Huynh, two U.S. military veterans from Alabama who traveled to Ukraine to help defend the country against Russia's invasion and went missing last week. "Mom, I just want to let you know that I'm alive and I hope to be back home as soon as I can be," Drueke said. According to RT, the two are being held by Russian-backed separatist forces. A third American veteran, Grady Kurpasi, is also reportedly missing in action in Ukraine. "We don't know where they are, but I want to reiterate: Americans should not be going to Ukraine now," President Biden said Friday.

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3. Colbert show production team detained by Capitol Police, CBS confirms

A production team for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert was detained by U.S. Capitol Police in a congressional office building on Thursday and charged with unlawful entry, CBS and the USCP said Friday. The team reportedly entered the building to conduct pre-arranged interviews between several members of the House of Representatives and the puppet character Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Then, after finishing the last interview, "the production team stayed to film stand-ups and other final comedy elements in the halls when they were detained by Capitol Police," explained Renata Luczak, CBS' vice president of entertainment communications. The USCP warned that the investigation could lead to "additional criminal charges."

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4. European Commission recommends EU candidate status for Ukraine

The European Commission on Friday recommended candidate status for Ukraine in its quest to become a member of the European Union, formally kicking off an accession process that typically lasts more than ten years. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU's executive body, said Ukraine will need to "carry out a number of further reforms" but "has clearly demonstrated the country's aspiration and the country's determination to live up to European values and standards." Ukrainians, she added "are ready to die for the European perspective. We want them to live with us the European dream." The commission also recommended candidate status for Moldova, which applied shortly after Ukraine, but not for Georgia.

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5. Bill Cosby civil jury to restart deliberations Monday after almost reaching verdict

The jury in Bill Cosby's civil trial will have to restart its deliberations from the beginning on Monday after nearly reaching a verdict on Friday. Cosby is being sued by Judy Huth, who claims the comedian forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion in 1975. Cosby cannot be charged criminally for the alleged incident due to the statute of limitations. By the end of the day on Friday, the jury had reached a verdict on eight of the nine questions they were instructed to answer, but the court building closed before they could answer the last question.

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6. Flooding in India and Bangladesh leaves millions homeless and at least 28 dead

Millions of homes are underwater and at least 28 people have died as widespread flooding caused by monsoons ravaged Bangladesh and northeastern India. 15 people were reportedly killed by lightning strikes, while four died in landslides. At least nine people have been killed in India's Assam state. Rain is expected to continue through Sunday, at least, exacerbating what one Bangladeshi government expert described as the region's worst flooding since 2004.

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7. S&P 500 posts biggest decline since March 2020

The S&P 500 recorded its biggest loss since March 2020 on Friday, having fallen 5.8 percent for the week. Though the index actually rose by 0.2 percent on Friday, it nonetheless finished the week in the negative. It was S&P's 10th decline in the past 11 weeks. The Nasdaq Composite, meanwhile, rose 1.4 percent on Friday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.1; they too finished at a loss. Cryptocurrencies also had a rough week, with one of the largest lending platforms — Celsius Network — pausing all withdrawals and exchange platform Coinbase announcing layoffs.

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8. Death toll rises to 3 in church shooting near Birmingham, Alabama

The death toll following a shooting inside a church near Birmingham, Alabama on Thursday night rose from two to three on Friday, after an 84-year-old victim being treated at a hospital died from her injuries, authorities said. On Thursday evening, a 71-year-old man allegedly opened fire during a "Boomers Potluck" event at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Vestavia Hills, killing three. The suspect — identified as Robert Findlay Smith — is said to have been an "occasional attendee of the church" and has been charged with capital murder.

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9. Auction winner pays $19 million for lunch with Warren Buffett

The unknown winner of an eBay auction that ended Friday night paid $19 million for a lunch with Warren Buffett. The 91-year-old billionaire has held this auction annually since 2000, though he skipped 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Proceeds benefit Glide, a San Francisco charity that helps the poor, homeless, and addicts. This year's winning bid smashed Buffett's previous record — the winner of the 2019 auction paid $4.57 million — and set the record for the most lucrative charity auction in eBay history. The winner and up to seven guests can ask Buffett almost anything during their meal at a Manhattan steakhouse, but Buffett won't discuss his plans for future investments.


10. Vince McMahon steps aside as WWE CEO amid misconduct investigation

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. said Friday that Vince McMahon will step back from his role as the company's CEO as the board investigates allegations of misconduct. McMahon's daughter, Stephanie McMahon, has been named interim CEO and chairwoman. The move comes after The Wall Street Journal revealed the WWE board is investigating a secret $3 million settlement between McMahon and a former employee, with whom he allegedly had an affair. During the investigation, the board reportedly turned up other nondisclosure agreements with former female employees who alleged misconduct by McMahon and head of talent relations John Laurinaitis. "I have pledged my complete cooperation to the investigation by the special committee," McMahon said.

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