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5 things to know for October 26: Biden, Covid, Facebook, Russia & China, supply chain


By AJ Willingham, CNN

The governors of New York and New Jersey have issued states of emergency as a nasty nor’easter sweeps in, bringing severe rain and other dangerous storm activity.

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. White House

President Biden has refused to assert executive privilege over more documents that former President Trump wants to keep out of the hands of the committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot. Trump has tried to keep the documents secret by claiming executive privilege, but since he is no longer president, legal experts agree Biden has final say on whether they’re covered by such a measure. Biden previously refused to assert executive privilege over a similar batch of Trump-related documents, and the White House has said Biden wants the committee to have as much information as possible about January’s attack. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is expected to name Kim Wyman, a Republican secretary of state who challenged Trump’s false claims of election fraud, to a key election security role with the Department of Homeland Security.

2. Coronavirus

The FDA’s vaccine advisory board plans to meet today to discuss whether the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine should be authorized for younger kids. Once the FDA makes its authorization, the issue goes to the CDC’s vaccine advisory group, which is set to meet November 2 and 3. In Europe, countries are looking uneasily toward another pandemic winter. Europe is the only region in the world reporting an increase in Covid-19 cases right now. Vaccination rates vary widely there, from as low as 24% in some eastern areas to a 74.6% average among EU nations and an 85% rate in Belgium. Some Eastern European countries like Latvia and Romania are imposing new lockdowns, curfews and other measures. Moscow is also in the middle of a 10-day lockdown as Russia faces its worst pandemic phase ever.

3. Facebook

A series of news stories dubbed “The Facebook Papers” — based on thousands of internal company documents — reveals how the platform has been used to sow political discord and extremism across the world, facilitate human trafficking, push hate speech and misinformation, and organize events like the January 6 insurrection. The documents also reveal that Facebook leaders sometimes knew to some extent the damage being caused by users. The Facebook Papers represents another crisis for the social media giant, which is already under scrutiny from the Senate and some within the company’s own ranks. It’s being published by a consortium of 17 US news organizations, including CNN. The documents were included in disclosures made to the Securities and Exchange Commission and provided to Congress in redacted form by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s legal counsel.

4. Russia & China

Russia and China recently joined forces for a naval exercise in which a flotilla of vessels nearly circled Japan’s main island. The countries say the joint show of force was meant to ensure stability in a volatile region. However, Japan may not see it that way, and analysts say the demonstration might enhance claims by the Japanese government that the country needs to spend more to counter Chinese aggression. Russia and China have an ongoing military partnership and have conducted drills and other displays together for years. This exercise, however, was characterized by one Japanese official as “unusual” and comes at a time of rising tensions between China and Japan. China’s recent aggression in the area, including its military pressure on nearby Taiwan, has put Japan on the defensive.

5. Supply chain

About $24 billion in goods is estimated to be sitting outside California’s two biggest ports as the shipping backup there continues to put pressure on an already-brittle supply chain. This animated time lapse shows how ships have to circle and circle the ports, waiting to dock. The problem extends far beyond California, though. Goldman Sachs estimates that, nationwide, the time it takes loaded ships to make it through US ports has tripled from historical norms. Officials have warned that the supply chain crisis, which has led to massive price increases on consumer goods, could last through the first half of 2022. Meanwhile, the related worker shortage issue is hitting American companies hard. In a recent national survey, 47% of businesses reported a shortage of skilled workers in the third quarter.


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