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Debt Ceiling, Pfizer, Nobel Prize: Your Thursday Evening Briefing | tnewst.com Press "Enter" to skip to content

Debt Ceiling, Pfizer, Nobel Prize: Your Thursday Evening Briefing


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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Thursday.

1. The Senate is preparing to vote on raising the debt ceiling, temporarily staving off a fiscal crisis.

Top Senate Democrats and Republicans struck a deal to allow the federal government to continue borrowing through early December after the G.O.P. agreed to temporarily drop its blockade of an increase. The Treasury Department estimated that the government would no longer be able to pay all of its bills by Oct. 18.

The agreement comes a day after Senator Mitch McConnell backed down partially from his refusal to allow any such increase. But today, McConnell and his top deputies worked feverishly to persuade his members to put aside their objections and speed the way to a vote.

Here’s what to know about the debt limit, how it got here and why the U.S. doesn’t do away with it entirely.

2. Parents anxiously awaiting a Covid vaccine for young children may have some relief in sight.

Pfizer asked the F.D.A. to authorize its Covid vaccine for ages 5 to 11, bringing more than 28 million children closer to being eligible for the shot. The agency has promised to move quickly on the request. A ruling is expected between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

3. A day after a federal judge stopped enforcement of a Texas law banning nearly all abortions in the state, most clinics were weighing the risk in resuming the procedure.

At least six clinics out of about 24 across Texas had returned to performing the procedure. But the law, which banned most abortions after six weeks, includes the ability for clinics to be retroactively sued for up to four years for any abortions they provide while the measure is blocked.

The state of Texas has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, one of the most conservative courts in the country, which could overrule the suspension, possibly within days, legal experts said.

4. A new Senate report provides fresh details on how officials fought off Donald Trump’s efforts to push the Justice Department to pursue voter fraud claims.

In the final weeks of Trump’s presidency, Justice Department officials scrambled to stave off a series of events including Trump’s plan to install a loyalist as acting attorney general to pursue unfounded reports of fraud. Richard Durbin, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the report shows how Trump would have “shredded the Constitution to stay in power.”

Separately, an accused rioter has told the F.B.I. that Joseph Biggs, a leader of the far-right Proud Boys, directed him to challenge the police during the Capitol Hill attack. Biggs’s lawyer denied it.

5. Just weeks before a U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, attention is on China and whether it will do more to cut emissions. Its actions could be consequential for the planet.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has promised to start reducing carbon dioxide and other gases generated by coal, gas and oil by 2030, and to stop financing new coal power plants in other countries. But China is also currently building several huge gas-fired power plants and still plans to build 247 gigawatts of new coal power — nearly six times Germany’s entire coal capacity.

In other climate news, two dozen federal agencies flagged the biggest dangers posed by a warming planet. Among them: less food, more traffic accidents and extreme weather hitting nuclear waste sites.

6. The Nobel Prize in Literature went to Abdulrazak Gurnah “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism.”

The Tanzanian writer, who moved to Britain as a refugee in the 1960s, became the first African in almost two decades to win the award, which is considered literature’s most prestigious honor. Gurnah described to The Times how he “stumbled into writing,” partly as a way to cope with his sense of dislocation as a young refugee. “The thing that motivated the whole experience of writing for me was this idea of losing your place in the world,” he said.

Many of his novels draw on the themes of exile, displacement and fractured identities. Here are The Times’s reviews of his work.

7. Eighteen former N.B.A. players were charged with conspiracy to defraud an N.B.A. health plan of nearly $4 million, the authorities said.

The scheme lasted from at least 2017 through last year and involved the submission of fraudulent claims for reimbursement of medical and dental services that were not provided, according to a federal indictment. Most of the players charged in the scheme played in the N.B.A. in the late 1990s and the 2000s, including Glen Davis, Tony Allen and Terrence Williams, who orchestrated the scheme, according to the indictment.

Separately, members of the National Women’s Soccer League stopped play last night in the sixth minute and stood arm in arm at midfield, a symbolic pause that represented the six years it took for a group of former colleagues who had filed abuse complaints to be heard.

8. The fall movie festival circuit is wrapping up, which means the 2022 Oscar race has begun. Our awards season columnist is already making projections.

Among the significant contenders: Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast,” the black-and-white story of an Irish family trying to stay together amid the Troubles of the 1960s; “The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion’s psychological drama about a cruel rancher who tries to destroy his brother’s new wife; and “King Richard,” which casts Will Smith as the larger-than-life father of Venus and Serena Williams, a role that could give Smith his first Academy Award.

On the small screen, “Squid Game,” Netflix’s hit dystopian television show, taps South Korea’s worries about costly housing and scarce jobs, concerns familiar to its American and other international viewers.

9. If you’re frustrated by trying to grow figs in a cold climate, you’re not alone.

Our garden expert, Margaret Roach, spoke to an expert about how to get your tree to fruit. The no-frills way to grow figs is in a pot, and it requires some combination of proper pruning and adequate protection. A sunny spot during the outdoor growing season and good drainage are also needed. Here’s what else you need to know.

In other fall pursuits, try this miso-maple syrup loaf cake from Dorie Greenspan. It’s sweet enough to be called cake but savory enough to be as good with a slice of Cheddar or with warm jam.

10. And finally, a pandemic hobby with a bang.

In the early days of the pandemic, Dawn Riegner, a chemist at West Point, filled her downtime with an explosive diversion: studying various gunpowder recipes from the Middle Ages. Joined by her scientist daughter and colleagues, Riegner tested the recipes with replica cannons in the firing range at the military academy.

The team measured the oomph of nearly two dozen gunpowder recipes used by gunners from 1338 to 1460, including some that featured special ingredients like brandy and vinegar. The team found that the amount of heat released during an artillery burn fell steadily from the 1330s to 1400 — suggesting the need for safer recipes that did not put medieval gunners at risk.

Have an impactful night.

David Poller compiled photos for this briefing.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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