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--> A midday take on what's happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.*
*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha--breaks down crying hysterically.
NEWS THIS MORNING
A World in Crisis
Things fall apart. And in the last 96 hours, it feels like the pace of catastrophe besetting the world has quickened. Consider:
— The Taliban is now firmly in control of Kabul, and of Afghanistan, almost two decades to the month since the September 11 attacks that set off the forever wars that have cost the United States so much blood and treasure. The military has resumed evacuation flights out of Kabul’s international airport, but thousands of Afghans who helped coalition forces — and perhaps as many as 10,000 American citizens — are still stuck in the city.
— Tropical Storm Grace is moving away from Haiti after dumping as much as 15 inches of rain on a nation still reeling from Saturday’s 7.2-magnitude earthquake. At least 1,400 are dead, a fraction of the shocking number who died in the 2010 quake that flattened buildings across Port Au Prince, but it’s another humanitarian crisis in a country that has suffered through no end of horror for centuries.
— The Bureau of Reclamation has declared the first-ever water shortage emergency on the Colorado River, a waterway that serves 40 million Americans. Lake Mead is just 35 percent full, its lowest level since the Hoover Dam was completed in the 1930s. Arizona and Nevada will feel the first cuts beginning in January. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned again of massive global impacts of climate change, impacts that many Americans are already feeling, as my colleague Rachel Frazin wrote today.
— And, lest we forget, the coronavirus pandemic is still causing disease and death on a mass scale here at home. Five states — Florida, Louisiana, Hawaii, Oregon and Mississippi — have reached their highest-ever seven-day averages in new infections, surpassing even the horrific winter surge. One in 5 hospitals report more than 95 percent of their ICU beds are occupied, a figure that has doubled in just the last few weeks, with a heavy concentration in Deep South states. The country reported more than 900,000 new infections in the last week alone, the most since the January apex.
President Biden ran a campaign of competence in 2020. His response to each of the mounting crises, whether in the short term in Afghanistan and Haiti, the medium term with the coronavirus or the long term challenge of climate change, will define his presidential legacy.
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It’s Tuesday. I’m Reid Wilson, filling in for Cate today with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to email@example.com.
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IN THE WHITE HOUSE
Shots, shots shots shots shots
The Biden administration is expected to announce that most Americans should receive a booster shot to protect against the coronavirus eight months after they become fully vaccinated, multiple outlets report today. The FDA has already authorized third shots for people with compromised immune systems, and Pfizer on Monday submitted phase one data on the efficacy of third booster shots.
30,000 feet: This is going to set off a new debate among international health experts over vaccine access. More than half of America’s 331 million residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Not a single dose of vaccine has arrived in Haiti or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and many African countries have yet to vaccinate even 1 percent of their populations.
The Looming Unemployment Cliff:
More than 7 million Americans stand to lose unemployment aid right after Labor Day if Biden doesn’t reverse himself. Even some Democrats — we’re looking at Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — say they’re done with benefit extensions as 10 million jobs stand open across the country.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
Dems Embrace the Mandate
A story I’m working on today: Democratic candidates running for governor are increasingly embracing coronavirus mandates — either masks or vaccines — in an effort to contrast themselves with their Republican rivals.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) “is protecting California, requiring vaccination for health workers and school employees,” a new ad from Newsom’s campaign says. Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is comparing his Republican rival, Glenn Youngkin, to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), in his own new spot. Speaking of Florida, Rep. Charlie Crist (D), challenging DeSantis for his old job, has a new digital spot focused on school districts that want to keep mask mandates in place.
This feels like an extension of the Biden team’s mantra that Twitter isn’t real life. Polls show the bulk of Americans back mandates and masks. The Democrats now leaning into the mandate fight are hoping that the silent majority is willing to stay cautious as the delta variant surges.
Via The Hill’s Tal Axelrod, former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R) will challenge Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) next year. In an announcement video, Laxalt took on Hollywood, “cancel culture” and the media.
Republicans haven’t won a Silver State Senate seat since Dean Heller won re-election in 2012. Masto beat ex-Rep. Joe Heck (R) 47 percent to 45 percent in 2016, but if 2022 is a better year for the GOP, this is a real race.
DNC Spending in … South Carolina?:
The Democratic National Committee will send $100,000 to its South Carolina affiliate to help with voter registration programs in the first grant from what the DNC calls its Red State Fund. DNC chair Jaime Harrison, we hasten to add, is a South Carolina native.
LATEST WITH THE CORONAVIRUS
The Las Vegas Raiders (still sounds weird, right?) will require all fans attending home games to prove they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. It’s the first NFL team to take the step, though they required all fans to wear masks at this weekend’s preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks.
Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 36,899,417, up 141,365 over yesterday.
U.S. death toll: 622,244, up 704 over yesterday, a daily average that’s starting to rise once again.
Breakdown of the numbers: https://cnn.it/2UAgW3y
Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 357 million shots have been given.
Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 768,951 doses
For context: The U.S. population is roughly 331 million.
Breakdown of the numbers: https://bloom.bg/3iVTPLH
Detour, Construction Ahead
A Humanitarian Disaster, Again
But amid the chaos...
Gurdeep makes Twitter smile!
The House and Senate are out. President BidenJoe BidenHouse passes 8B defense policy bill House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE is back at Camp David.
1 p.m. EDT: Biden receives his daily brief.
1:30 p.m. EDT: Press Secretary Jen Psaki and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan brief the media.
WHAT TO WATCH:
2:30 p.m. EDT: State Department Press Secretary Ned Price briefs the media. Livestream: https://www.c-span.org/video/?514120-1/state-department-press-secretary-...
NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF...:
Today is National Vanilla Custard Day. Who comes up with this stuff?
Flight of the Kiwis
Kiwis are making a comeback in their native New Zealand, according to an annual audio survey of the country’s wildland. Half the sites that were silent in the 2016 survey recorded a kiwi’s calls in the 2021 study. From The Guardian.
And because you made it this far, here’s a deer and a raccoon who love each other: https://bit.ly/3xogIN6