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Nov 04, 2021
Despite heavy losses at the polls for Democrats during Tuesday’s midterm election, President Joe Biden remains optimistic that voters will be moved by the real results of his administration. In that vein, the House is preparing to debate and possibly vote today on a revised draft of President Biden’s now- $1.85 trillion domestic policy package as well as a companion $1 trillion infrastructure bill. The new draft adds back several important social benefits. In other news, relief comes to millions of young U.S. children who are now eligible for the vaccine against coronavirus and race for their appointments. All this and more in today’s Presidential Daily Brief.
1 - No Reason to Panic
Biden downplays tough election results for Democrats
Despite heavy losses in the midterm elections for Democrats, President Joe Biden remains optimistic about the electorate’s mood-- emphasizing Democratic fortunes — will improve when he gets Congress to pass his domestic agenda. “People need a little breathing room. They’re overwhelmed. And what happened was I think we have to just produce results for them to change their standard of living and give them a little more breathing room,” Biden said Wednesday. The polls, however, tell a clear story for reasons of concern. Democratic stalwart Terry McAuliffe fell to first-time Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin in the governor’s race in Virginia,and many of the state seats were won by Republicans. In New Jersey, incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy barely wonin a race that didn’t appear to be hotly contested.The president now sees his support diminished, with 47% of Virginia’s voters approving of his job performance and 53% disapproving — a split similar to U.S. adults nationwide in recent AP-NORC polling. (Source: AP)
2 - One More Time
The House readies to debate and vote on an improved Biden bill
Propelled by election results, Democrats are anxious to show voters that they can deliver. The House is preparing to debate and vote on a revised draft of President Joe Biden’s now-$1.85 trillion domestic policy package as well as a companion $1 trillion infrastructure bill. In a last minute attempt to bolster the bill, Democrats added key provisions to the already lengthy package— adding back a new paid family leave program,work permits for immigrants and changes to state and local tax deductions. Voting could happen as soon as today. (Source: AP)
3 - Fear of War
China’s advice to stockpile sparks speculation of a Taiwan war
A flurry of panic-buying and online speculation started after a Chinese government recommendation called for Chinese people to store necessities for an emergency. The fear that emerged from the social media posts and the intense purchases, was that war was imminent between China and Taiwan. Most analysts, however, don’t think military hostilities are imminent. Instead, it highlights the general mood of the population who have seen increased state media coverage of the rising tensions with Taiwan, including the often-tough words exchanged between China on one side and the U.S. and Taiwan on the other. Taiwan is a self-governing island of 24 million people China regards as a renegade province that should come under its rule. The government moved quickly to try to tamp down fears with assurances of sufficient supplies. (Source: AP)
4 - Protect Our Children
America’s children now rushing to receive first coronavirus vaccines, as newly eligible
Relief comes to millions of young U.S. children who are now lining up for vaccines to protect them from the virus that upended their childhoods, in many cases keeping them away from schools, playdates and vacations. Almost a year after their parents and grandparents became eligible, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signed off late Tuesday night on smaller doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. (Source: WaPo).
5 - Briefly
Here are some things you should know about today:
Nearly all-White jury selected for trial in Ahmaud Arbery’s killing, over prosecution’s protests. An overwhelmingly White jury will evaluate murder charges in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery after the defense struck 11 out of 12 Black people from the final pool for a nationally watched case in which race looms large. (WaPo)Biden weighs in Justice Departments’ case and rejects $450,000 payments for separated migrants.“That’s not going to happen,” the president said about proposed compensation for a Trump administration policy that divided thousands of parents and children. The current proposal calls for $450,000 for each member affected. (NYT) Senate Republicans block debate on a third major voting rights bill. On Wednesday, Republican senators voted to block debate on the third major voting rights bill that congressional Democrats have sought to pass in response to the state-level GOP push to restrict ballot access following former president Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen 2020 election. (Source: WaPo)
WATCH CNN’s Lisa Ling on Fertility:
Why Aspirational Young Women Should Consider Freezing Their Eggs
1 - Strike Pays Off
N.Y.C. Cabbies Win Millions More in Aid After Hunger Strike
A deal was finally struck with the largest holder of taxi loans in the city to help rescue thousands of cabbies who have been crushed under paralyzing debt after years of exploitative practices in the industry.It is a major win for drivers. Overall, the city could spend $100 million or more in a bid to potentially eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in debt owed by the drivers. The roots of the crisis began about two decades ago, when a group of industry leaders began steadily and artificially inflating the price of medallions, which are regulated by the city. As the price soared to $1 million, drivers who wanted to own their own cab, instead of working for a taxi fleet, took on hefty loans that they could not afford, while lenders pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars. With the market collapsing in 2014, if left drivers in debt they could not repay. Hundreds went bankrupt. This deal will end a perilous situation for many. (Source: NYT)
2 - Google for Gov
Google angles to work with the Pentagon again, despite employee concerns
Three years after employee activism forced Google to abandon work on a Pentagon program that used artificial intelligence, the company is aggressively pursuing a major contract to provide its technology to the military. The company’s plan to land the potentially lucrative contract, known as the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability, could raise a furor among its outspoken work force and test the resolve of management to resist employee demands. In 2018, thousands of Google employees signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in Project Maven, a military program that uses artificial intelligence to interpret video images and could be used to refine the targeting of drone strikes. Google management caved and agreed to not renew the contract once it expired. Now, as Google positions cloud computing as a key part of its future, the bid for the new Pentagon contract could test the boundaries of those A.I. principles. (Source: NYT)
3 - COVID Blues
Green Bay Packers’ star, Aaron Rodgers positive Covid status raises questions
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers indicated in August that he was vaccinated against Covid-19. Now he has tested positive and been placed in the NFL’s protocols for unvaccinated players, raising questions about whether he or the team violated the league’s pandemic policies related to vaccines. The situation presents a number of thorny problems for Rodgers, the Packers and the NFL—and not just because the reigning Most Valuable Player will miss time on the field. The league will be looking into whether his “immunization” while not possibly being covered placed others at risk. (Source: WSJ)
4 - Silenced No More
In Florida, political meddling accusations fuel protests over silenced UF professors
A decision by the University of Florida to bar three professors from testifying in a lawsuit against the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis has ballooned into a political and public relations firestorm, one that could grow as other professors consider whether to step forward with stories of university pressure. Since Friday, when the university’s decision was disclosed in a federal court filing, five more professors have offered accounts of being barred from testifying or ordered to omit mention of their university positions in court statements. The body that accredits the university has opened an inquiry into whether its orders violate long-established principles of academic freedom or involve “undue political influence.” On Monday, the university’s president and provost ordered a review of its policy on conflicts of interest, the stated rationale for the decisions to silence the professors. “The University of Florida stands firmly behind its commitment to uphold our most sacred right as Americans, the right to free speech, and to faculty members’ right to academic freedom,” they said in a statement. “Nothing is more fundamental to our existence as an institution.” (Source: NYT)
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