Booster Shots, Bob Dole, “Sex and the City”: your Thursday night briefing
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Good evening. Here is the latest at the end of Thursday.
1. The FDA has cleared Pfizer booster injections for 16 and 17 year olds, paving the way for several million adolescents.
The CDC director quickly signed off on the move, saying the agency has encouraged teens to receive a booster dose as unknowns of the Omicron coronavirus variant loom.
2. The New York Attorney General is considering subpoenaing Donald Trump to testify as part of a civilian fraud investigation into his business practices.
Letitia James, whose office is also involved in the Manhattan District Attorney’s criminal investigation, wants to question Trump as part of his separate civilian investigation. Civilian investigations can’t lead to criminal charges, but if James finds evidence of wrongdoing, she could take legal action against Trump.
James and District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. focused on whether Trump inflated the value of his property to secure financing. Separately, James has said she is dropping out of the New York governorship race and running for re-election instead.
In other news related to Trump, an appeals court ruled that Congress can see White House records on the former president’s communications and movements related to the Jan.6 attack.
3. It has been a busy day in Washington.
The Senate has lifted the last major obstacle to raising the debt ceiling, while ensuring that the government can avoid a first default. Fourteen Republicans joined all Democrats in voting in favor of legislation allowing an increase in the debt ceiling with a simple majority vote, bypassing the filibuster.
At the White House, President Biden brought together officials from more than 100 countries holding multi-party elections to discuss how to solidify the values of democracy. But in a sign of the times, even the organization of events raised questions about the definition of democracy and who should – and should not – be invited.
The day started for many lawmakers on a dark note. Bob Dole, a Senate veteran, lay in the Capitol rotunda. Biden described Dole, who died Sunday, as one of “America’s greatest patriots.”
4. Starbucks employees at a Buffalo-area store voted to unionize. They are the only workers to do so in nearly 9,000 company-owned stores in the United States.
The vote was a direct challenge to the coffee giant’s working model. Workers expressed frustration at the understaffing and insufficient training, issues that have haunted the company for years but appeared to worsen during the pandemic.
Workers at a second store in the area voted against unionization, and the votes were still being counted at a third store.
In other economic news, A new report set for release tomorrow is expected to strengthen concerns over inflation. A major index could show that inflation has risen 6.8% in the past year, the fastest pace in almost 40 years.
5. The Sackler name will be deleted from seven exhibition spaces at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Family Links to the Opioid Crisis.
The deletion represents a significant break between the world’s greatest museum and one of the world’s greatest benefactors. The museum had previously severed ties to family funding, announcing in 2019 that it would no longer accept gifts from the Sacklers, given their ties to the maker of OxyContin.
The Sackler family’s contributions to the Met go back decades. Forbes valued the family’s net worth at $ 10.8 billion in 2020. Two spaces at the Met will continue to carry their Sackler names.
The announcement is likely to prompt other institutions to reconsider their own Sackler galleries. The Serpentine Gallery in London refused Sackler’s money, and the Louvre in Paris removed Sackler’s name.
6. Two Times investigations reveal the roots of tragedies.
Most suicide websites focus on prevention, but not this one. It is linked with a long trail of shortened lives. Tens of thousands of visitors use the site to discuss explicit instructions on how to die. The Times has identified at least 45 members, many of them young, who have committed suicide. The number is probably much larger.
Australia, Germany and Italy have restricted access to the site, but U.S. law enforcement authorities, lawmakers and tech companies have been reluctant to act.
In another survey, The Times examined how the worst nursing home offenses are hidden from the public. A secret appeals process has veiled thousands of issues at American retirement homes, including sexual assault, our reporters found.
7. The creator of a Gen Z fueled conspiracy theory is ready to tell the truth.
Peter McIndoe is the 23-year-old creator of the viral movement Birds Aren’t Real, which postulates that the birds are actually replicas of drones set up by the US government to spy on Americans. Hundreds of thousands of young people joined in what started as a spontaneous joke.
McIndoe and the movement’s supporters are in the game: What birds aren’t real, they say, is a parody with a purpose, an attempt to overthrow the den of misinformation through absurdity.
“It’s about putting up a mirror of America in the Internet age,” said McIndoe, who grew up in a deeply conservative and religious community marinated in conspiracies.
8. For better – and, according to our reviewer, for worse – Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte are back.
“Sex and the City” returns today on HBO Max as “And Just Like That,” a later-in-life limited-edition postscript. The reboot is sometimes “depressing” as women navigate their 50s, “but it takes risks and within moments it’s just fine,” writes James Poniewozik, our chief TV critic. But attempts to update its branded sass in an era of diversity get cranky, quickly.
Poniewozik couldn’t help but wonder, “Was it really necessary? Major spoilers, including what happened to Samantha.)
Before you start, pick up where the friends left off.
9. “We have become the city’s sound ambassadors. “
Yves Castagnet, master organist of Notre-Dame, has played for 33 years in the most visited church in the world. But the cathedral remains closed and its musical tradition silenced, two and a half years after a devastating fire. However, the old music school of the cathedral and its choirs preserve the spirit of Notre-Dame outside its walls. Here’s how to follow their music this holiday season, in Paris or online.
For party-goers who stay closer to home, these 13 albums revisit holiday classics. Kelly Clarkson, Bryson Tiller, Nat King Cole, and Pistol Annies seasonal releases span genres and generations.
10. And finally, an X-ray of the cosmos.
Early this morning, NASA launched the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, or IXPE, to better measure black holes, supernovas and other phenomena. The all-new telescope could reveal a hidden view of the universe, potentially transforming our understanding of some of the most bizarre and exciting objects in space and even the nature of the universe itself.
Going forward, the James Webb Space Telescope is slated to launch on December 22. The long-awaited successor to the Hubble Telescope could solve mysteries about how and when the first stars and galaxies emerged 13 billion years ago.
Have a starry night.
Bryan denton photos compiled for this briefing.
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