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US to Lead in COVID-19 Vaccine Donations

Posted on September 22, 2021

Biden doubling vaccine purchase, calls for more global shots

President Joe Biden is set to announce that the United States is doubling its purchase of Pfizer’s COVID-19 shots to share with the world to 1 billion doses as he embraces the goal of vaccinating 70% of the global population within the next year.

The stepped-up U.S. commitment is to be the cornerstone of the global vaccination summit Biden is convening virtually Wednesday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, where he plans to push well-off nations to do more to get the coronavirus under control.

World leaders, aid groups and global health organizations are growing increasingly vocal about the slow pace of global vaccinations and the inequity of access to shots between residents of wealthier and poorer nations.

The U.S. purchase, according to two senior Biden administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview Biden’s remarks, will bring the total U.S. vaccination commitment to more than 1.1 billion doses through 2022. At least 160 million shots supplied by the U.S. have been distributed to more than 100 countries, representing more donations than the rest of the world combined.

The latest purchase reflects only a fraction of what will be necessary to meet a goal of vaccinating 70% of the global population — and 70% of the citizens of each nation — by next September’s U.N. meeting. It’s a target pushed by global aid groups that Biden will throw his weight behind.


Pfizer announces 500M more vaccines to lower-income countries; California has lowest virus transmission in US: COVID-19 updates

Fewer than one-third of Americans want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, new polling finds

Fewer than one-third of Americans want to see the Roe v. Wade decision overturned, according to a set of three polls released over the past week, with key elements of Texas' restrictive new abortion law also garnering relatively little support in the polls.

In a Marquette Law School survey released Wednesday, just 20% of the public favors overturning Roe v. Wade, with 50% opposed to doing so, and another 29% say they haven't heard anything or haven't heard enough to have an opinion on the ruling.

In a Monmouth University poll, 62% of Americans say the Supreme Court should leave the decision as is, compared with 31% who want to revisit it.

And in a Quinnipiac University survey, Americans say, 67% to 27%, that they generally agree with the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a woman's right to an abortion.

Those results track with polls earlier this year that also found majority opposition to the idea of overturning Roe v. Wade.

The Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on a Mississippi law that would ban abortion after 15 weeks, a case that represents a direct challenge to Roe. A decision is expected next summer as the congressional campaign season heats up.


Huge hack reveals embarrassing details of who’s behind Proud Boys and other far-right websites

Epik long has been the favorite Internet company of the far-right, providing domain services to QAnon theorists, Proud Boys and other instigators of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — allowing them to broadcast hateful messages from behind a veil of anonymity.

But that veil abruptly vanished last week when a huge breach by the hacker group Anonymous dumped into public view more than 150 gigabytes of previously private data — including user names, passwords and other identifying information of Epik’s customers.

Extremism researchers and political opponents have treated the leak as a Rosetta Stone to the far-right, helping them to decode who has been doing what with whom over several years. Initial revelations have spilled out steadily across Twitter since news of the hack broke last week, often under the hashtag #epikfail, but those studying the material say they will need months and perhaps years to dig through all of it.

“It’s massive. It may be the biggest domain-style leak I’ve seen and, as an extremism researcher, it’s certainly the most interesting,” said Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University who studies right-wing extremism. “It’s an embarrassment of riches — stress on the embarrassment.”

Epik, based in the Seattle suburb of Sammamish, has made its name in the Internet world by providing critical Web services to sites that have run afoul of other companies’ policies against hate speech, misinformation and advocating violence. Its client list is a roll-call of sites known for permitting extreme posts and that have been rejected by other companies for their failure to moderate what their users post.

Online records show those sites have included 8chan, which was dropped by its providers after hosting the manifesto of a gunman who killed 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019; Gab, which was dropped for hosting the anti-Semitic rants of a gunman who killed 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018; and Parler, which was dropped due to lax moderation related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.


U.S. default this fall would cost 6 million jobs, wipe out $15 trillion in wealth, study says

GOP signals refusal to help Democrats raise debt ceiling, in opposition to President Biden’s spending plans

The United States could plunge into an immediate recession if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling and the country defaults on its payment obligations this fall, according to one analysis released Tuesday.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, found that a prolonged impasse over the debt ceiling would cost the U.S. economy up to 6 million jobs, wipe out as much as $15 trillion in household wealth, and send the unemployment rate surging to roughly 9 percent from around 5 percent.

Lawmakers in both parties agree that the debt ceiling must be raised to avoid economic calamity, but their standoff over how to do so has intensified. Despite the national debt increasing by close to $8 trillion under President Donald Trump, Republicans have been adamant that they will refuse to help Democrats increase the debt ceiling, in opposition to President Biden’s spending plans.

The Treasury Department has said it will exhaust its “extraordinary measures” to pay the U.S. obligations sometime in October, giving lawmakers little time to act to head off calamity.

Democrats unveil new plan to fund government, suspend debt ceiling as major showdown with GOP looms

“This economic scenario is cataclysmic. … The downturn would be comparable to that suffered during the financial crisis” of 2008, said the report, written by Zandi and Bernard Yaros, assistant director and economist at Moody’s Analytics.


Here’s the big challenge confronting the Fed — and it’s not the taper

It would be a great few days to be a fly on the wall at the Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

Even were it normal times, there’s the scandal of regional Fed presidents engaging in stock-market trading, which at least one outside group has said was possibly illegal. But it’s not normal times.

A key issue is the fate of its bond purchase program. A slightly out-of-consensus call comes from Drew Matus, chief market strategist at MetLife Investment Management, who says the Fed will wait until the beginning of next year to start reducing its bond purchases. “They’re trying to find the perfect time to do something that people might not react kindly to, and you probably don’t want to upset the holidays for people,” he says.

There’s also the situation at property developer China Evergrande 3333, -0.44%, which has captured media headlines this week as it struggles to pay off creditors. Matus doesn’t expect China to be mentioned in the FOMC statement, and possibly not even the minutes. “Once they get to the point where they don’t think that there’s any sort of systemic risks to the U.S., and financial markets are functioning, that’ll be the end of the conversation, and they will migrate onto other things,” he says.

The big issue confronting the Fed is that demand has recovered more quickly than supply, creating all sorts of shortages as companies struggle to find the necessary workers and parts. “The more widespread shortages are, and the more that we talk about different products being in short supply, the more likely it is that a growing proportion of the consumer class is seeing their expectations for inflation de-anchor,” he says.

Matus says these shortages threaten the economic cycle. “It’s a race between how much do companies have to pay for things, and how much of that can they pass on to consumers,” he says. If corporate profit margins contract sharply, that would increase the chances of a recession, he says. The word “shortage” has received the most mentions in the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book of economic anecdotes since 1973, during the OPEC oil embargo. “If you think of 1973, the U.S. economy wasn’t really functioning all that well then,” he says.


Officials: Many Haitian migrants are being released in US

Many Haitian migrants camped in a small Texas border town are being released in the United States, two U.S. officials said, undercutting the Biden administration’s public statements that the thousands in the camp faced immediate expulsion.

Haitians have been freed on a “very, very large scale” in recent days, according to one U.S. official who put the figure in the thousands. The official, with direct knowledge of operations who was not authorized to discuss the matter Tuesday and thus spoke on condition of anonymity

Many have been released with notices to appear at an immigration office within 60 days, an outcome that requires less processing time from Border Patrol agents than ordering an appearance in immigration court and points to the speed at which authorities are moving, the official said.

The Homeland Security Department has been busing Haitians from Del Rio to El Paso, Laredo and Rio Grande Valley along the Texas border, and this week added flights to Tucson, Arizona, the official said. They are processed by the Border Patrol at those locations.

A second U.S. official, also with direct knowledge and speaking on the condition of anonymity, said large numbers of Haitians were being processed under immigration laws and not being placed on expulsion flights to Haiti that started Sunday. The official couldn’t be more specific about how many.

U.S. authorities scrambled in recent days for buses to Tucson but resorted to flights when they couldn’t find enough transportation contractors, both officials said. Coast Guard planes took Haitians from Del Rio to El Paso.


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