Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Wake-Up Call: Biden Expected Sign Debt Limit Increase

The House yesterday passed a short-term debt limit increase that pushes off a possible unprecedented U.S. default to December, after the Senate approved it last week. As in the Senate, the House approval was on a party-line vote, and it now goes to President Biden for his signature. Senate Republicans had been refusing to provide votes to lift the debt ceiling, with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying the Democrats had to do it on their own, even as Republicans were also using the filibuster to block Democrats from doing so. Last week, 11 Senate Republicans joined the Democrats to block the filibuster and allow the short-term increase. However, McConnell has said the Republicans won't do so again in December, insisting that the Democrats raise the debt limit through the more cumbersome reconciliation procedure in which 50 votes are sufficient.

➤U-S TO REOPEN LAND BORDERS IN NOVEMBER TO THOSE FULLY VACCINATED: The U.S. will reopen its land borders with Canada and Mexico starting early next month for non-essential travel to those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. The new rules, which will align with a similar easing of restrictions for air travel to the U.S., are set to be announced today. Over the last 19 months, travel between the U.S., Canada and Mexico has mostly been allowed only for essential travel, such as trade. Unlike air travel, for which proof of a negative Covid test is required, no testing will be required to enter the U.S. by land or sea, as long as the travelers meet the vaccination requirement.

➤TWO KILLED IN SHOOTING AT MEMPHIS POSTAL FACILITY: Two U.S. Postal Service workers were killed in a shooting yesterday at a postal facility in Memphis, Tennessee. A third Postal Service employee, who's believed to be the shooter, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. No information was released about the identities of the victims or the shooter or a possible motive. The site of the shooting was the East Lamar Carrier Annex, a facility that's only used by Postal Service employees. The shooting comes after two other recent ones in the Memphis area. The owner of a sushi counter in a Kroger supermarket in suburban Collierville killed one person and wounded 14 others before killing himself on September 23rd, and a teenage boy was shot and critically wounded in a Memphis school a week later. Another boy was arrested in that shooting.

NY Post 10/13
: Teton County, Wyoming, coroner Dr. Brent Blue said Tuesday that Gabrielle "Gabby" Petito was strangled to death, and that the 22-year-old died three to four weeks before her body was found on September 19th along the border of Grand Teton National Park. 

Blue had previously classified her death as a homicide, but hadn't disclosed how she was killed as he awaited the full autopsy results. Petito's boyfriend, Brian Laundrie, is considered a person of interest in her case, and remains missing after he disappeared almost a month ago. Petito and Laundrie had been on a months-long cross-country van trip. He returned to his parents' home in Florida in early September with the van, but without Petito. Her parents reported Petito missing on September 11th when she didn't respond to calls or texts for several days, but Laundrie refused to talk to them or police before vanishing. 

Federal officials charged him last month with unauthorized use of a debit card, alleging he used the card and someone’s personal ID number to make unauthorized withdrawals or charges. They didn't say whose card it was, but it was during the period when Petito was missing.

➤PARENTS SUE WISCONSIN SCHOOL DISTRICTS AFTER CHILDREN CONTRACT COVID-19: The parents of two Wisconsin elementary school-age boys are suing their school districts after their children contracted Covid-19, blaming what they charge are lax policies on masks, quarantining and contact tracing. Shannon Jensen's son is in the School District of Waukesha and Gina Kildahl's is in the School District of Fall Creek. When school resumed this fall, masks weren't required, after both school boards voted to end many of the Covid mitigation policies that were in effect the previous school year, including universal mask requirements. The lawsuits say that defied recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Jensen and Kildahl's sons both wore masks anyway, but still contracted Covid, with their parents saying they got it from unmasked students. Jensen also said she was notified a day after her son tested positive that another student in his class had Covid, but that quarantining was optional, and she also said contract tracing wasn't being done. Her lawsuit says that the school board's actions, quote, "needlessly and recklessly placed Wisconsin school children and their communities at risk of serious illness and death."

➤RECORD 4.3 MILLION QUIT THIS JOBS IN AUGUST: A record 4.3 million people quit their jobs in August, representing 2.9 percent of the workforce, up from 2.7 percent in July, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report out yesterday. That's the highest rate since the report began more than 20 years ago in 2000. People are walking away from their jobs as more of them demand higher pay, better working conditions and more flexible working arrangements. The data backs up the complaints from employers who are having a hard time finding people to hire.

🛫SOUTHWEST AIRLINES HAS LESS THAN 100 CANCELLATIONS TUESDAY: After several days of disruption, Southwest Airlines' operations were closer to normal Tuesday, with about 90 cancellations, down from more than 350 a day earlier and a total of more than 2,200 since Saturday. Southwest says the problems began Friday with bad weather and air traffic control issues in Florida that led to snowballing problems with planes and pilots out of position for their next flight. The crisis hit its peak on Sunday, with more than 1,100 flights canceled. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told CNBC yesterday, "When you get behind, it just takes several days to catch up." The airline's pilots' union blames Southwest's crew scheduling system, which it contends is antiquated and "cracks under the slightest pressure."

🍬DENTISTS REVEAL THE WORST HALLOWEEN CANDIES FOR YOUR TEETH:  If you haven’t eaten any Halloween candy yet– good for you. As it turns out some types of candy are worse than others for your teeth. Dr. Hajera Ali is a dentist based in New Jersey and says gummy candy is the worst because it sticks to your teeth, takes a long time to chew, and often sticks in hard-to-clean areas. Caramels pose a similar threat since they’re sticky and take a long time to dissolve, and tacky candies, like Starburst, can pull on crowns and fillings. Another candy to be weary of: lollipops. Dr. Joyce Kahng, another dentist, says, “Lollipops are also sneaky– they are not as sticky, but the activity of eating them takes a long time. The longer someone spends eating candy, the longer the mouth is in an acidic state, so it is best to keep these activities as short as possible.” Other candy to look out for: sour powder candies, and sugar-free candies, as both can be very acidic. Finally, the experts say chocolate is your safest option as it can be eaten quickly, dissolves quickly, and can be washed away easily from your teeth with brushing.

➤A REVIEW OF RESEARCH INTO SOCIAL MEDIA USE HAS IDENTIFIED 46 HARMFUL EFFECTS:   Using social media isn’t a risk-free activity. University of Technology Sydney reviewed more than 50 research articles about social media use and were able to break down 46 negative effects into six themes: 1) cost of social exchange (depression, anxiety or jealousy, and/or wasted time, energy, and money), 2) annoying content (content that annoys, upsets, or irritates- including disturbing, sexual, or obscene content), 3) privacy concerns (any threats to personal privacy), 4) security threats (harms from fraud or deception), 5) cyberbullying (abuse or harassment by groups or individuals such as abusive messages, lying, stalking, or spreading rumors), and 6) low performance (negative impact on job or academic performance). Researcher Dr. Eila Erfani adds, “The World Health Organization has recognized the need for further research on information technology addiction and the need to develop strategies for preventing and treating this problem.”

➤FDA AUTHORIZES E-CIGARETTE FOR FIRST TIME: The Food and Drug Administration yesterday (October 12th) authorized an electronic cigarette for the first time, saying RJ Reynolds' Vuse Solo e-cigarette can help smokers cut back on regular cigarettes. The FDA has been conducting a review of vaping products to determine which should be allowed to remain on the market, according to AP. Yesterday's decision only applies to Vuse’s Solo e-cigarette and its tobacco-flavored nicotine cartridges. At the same time, the FDA stressed that while they can now be legally sold, they are not "FDA approved," and that people who don’t smoke shouldn’t use them. Vuse is the Numeber 2 vaping brand in the U.S. after Juul.

BRAVES, ASTROS WIN DIVISION SERIES: The Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros are moving on to their League Championship Series after winning their Divison Series yesterday. The Braves beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4, getting the win on a Freddie Freeman tie-breaking home run with two outs in the eighth inning to wrap up their National League Divison Series three games to one. 

Things weren't as suspenseful for the Astros, who dominated the Chicago White Sox with a 10-1 win to take their American League Division Series three games to one. Jose Altuve drove in three of those runs on a three-run homer in the ninth inning. The Astros will face the Boston Red Sox in the AL Championship Series.

  • The defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Franciso Giants 7-2 to force a deciding Game 5 Thursday in San Francisco in their NL Divison Series. The winner will play the Atlanta Braves in the NL Championship Series.

🏒PENGUINS, GOLDEN KNIGHTS WIN TO KICK OFF NHL SEASON: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Vegas Golden Knights won last night as the NHL kicked off its new season. The Penguins beat the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2 in the first game of the season. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was on hand as Tampa Bay unveiled its 2020-21 Stanley Cup banner during a pregame ceremony. In the later game, Vegas downed the Seattle Kraken 4-3 in the Kraken's NHL franchise debut. But Seattle put up a fight, erasing a 3-0 deficit to tie the game before Vegas scored the winning goal midway through the third period.

🏈TOM BRADY PLANS TO PLAY THURSDAY DESPITE INJURED HAND: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady said yesterday that he plans to play in the Bucs' game against the Philadelphia Eagles tomorrow night despite his injured right hand. Brady hurt his throwing hand in the first half of Tampa Bay's win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. He said Tuesday, "It’s a little sore but I expected it to be. We signed up for a contact sport. You get different bumps and bruises throughout the year and we’ll just deal with it the best we can."

🏀NETS WON'T PLAY IRVING UNTIL HE'S VACCINATED AGAINST COVID: The Brooklyn Nets announced yesterday that Kyrie Irving won't play or practice with the team until he can be a full participant, meaning until he's fully vaccinated against Covid-19. There had been talk that Irving might be allowed to play only in road games, since a New York City mandate requires him to be vaccinated to play in home games in the city. But General Manager Sean Marks said, "We respect the fact that he has a choice, he can make his own and right now what’s best for the organization is the path that we’re taking." NBA players aren't required to be vaccinated, but they have more testing and restrictions and have to follow local mandates. The league has said players wouldn’t be paid for games they miss because they are ineligible to play. Marks said, however, that Irving will be paid for road games.

🏈PLAYERS UNION TO REQUEST NFL RELEASE ALL EMAILS FROM WASHINGTON PROBE IN WAKE OF GRUDEN REVELATIONS: The NFL Players Association told USA Today Tuesday that it will request that the NFL release the rest of the 650,000 emails that were reviewed as part of the investigation into workplace misconduct in the Washington Football Team organization. Leaked emails from that probe led to Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden resigning on Monday after they showed him using racist, anti-gay and misogynist language, including about DeMaurice Smith, the head of the players' union. An NFL spokesperson told USA Today it had no plans to release the remaining emails for confidentiality reasons.

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