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5 things to know for September 17: Australia, Afghanistan, Covid, immigrants, climate


By AJ Willingham, CNN

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month — and yes, it starts in the middle of September and runs to the middle of October. The date structure is a nod to several important dates in Latin American countries.

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1. Australia

European allies are grumbling over the new US security deal with the UK and Australia. France in particular is upset over the agreement, which includes a deal for the US to furnish nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. France already had a deal in place to provide conventional submarines to Australia, and the French foreign minister described the new agreement as a “real stab in the back.” EU officials have also expressed dismay, perhaps seeing the English-speaking alliance as a sign that Brussels is not taken seriously as a geopolitical player in the Indo-Pacific region. The new partnership, known as AUKUS, also draws deep lines for Australia. For years, the nation has balanced its relationships with the US and China. Now, it’s clear Australia has chosen to side with the US. This will undoubtedly cause strife with China, which is Australia’s largest trading partner, writes CNN’s Ben Westcott.

2. Afghanistan

The White House has primed governors on how many Afghan refugees they can expect to be resettled in their states in the coming weeks. The initial tally of arrivals under the new Afghan Placement and Assistance Program is roughly 37,000. Most of these people, who left Afghanistan in the final phases of the US troop withdrawal there, worked directly with the US government or are related to someone who did. Some worked as journalists, activists or humanitarian workers, US officials say. Under the plan, California and Texas will get the most refugees — 5,255 and 4,481, respectively. Eleven other states will be expected to resettle more than 1,000 refugees each.

3. Coronavirus

Is Covid-19 immunity waning among vaccinated people? If so, can booster shots help? Those are the big questions on the table when FDA advisers meet today to discuss the possibility of booster shots for Covid-19 vaccines. Booster shots are not unusual, and neither is a pharmaceutical company’s request to start giving people additional shots to improve immunity. But the question has been mired in politics. The FDA and CDC have been reluctant to appear overeager at the prospect of booster shots. But the White House and experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci have been more bullish on the subject. It will all come down to the data, and right now, multiple studies show that a third dose of Pfizer’s or Moderna’s vaccines, or a second dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, turbo-charge the production of antibodies.

4. Immigration

A federal judge has blocked the Biden administration from expelling migrant families with children apprehended at the US-Mexico border under a public health order purportedly designed to stop the spread of Covid-19. The judge acknowledged that the ruling will force the administration to make difficult decisions but said he was convinced the government has enough measures in place already to mitigate the virus’ spread. Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the shutdown of six points of entry along the US-Mexico border, saying agents are overwhelmed by the influx of migrants there. A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said the US government has not requested this and for Texas to unilaterally shut down points of entry would be a violation of federal law.

5. Climate

The House Oversight and Reform Committee is launching an investigation into fossil fuel industry disinformation on the climate crisis. Recent reports have suggested the fossil fuel industry has participated in campaigns aimed at creating confusion about the cause of the climate crisis or actively sown distrust in science. Lawmakers plan to invite the heads of six oil companies and major lobbying groups to testify next month. The hearing will align with Congress’s planned timetable to pass massive climate and clean energy investments as part of Biden’s budget bill, as well as the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow.


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All you acrophobes out there say, “Aaaaaah!”


The Department of Homeland Security has warned of potential violence stemming from a right-wing rally scheduled for tomorrow in Washington, DC. The “Justice for J6” rally aims to support insurrectionists charged in the deadly January 6 Capitol riot.



That’s how many mass shootings there were in the US in the 15 months between April 2020 and July 2021, according to the Gun Violence Archive. That means mass shootings actually increased during those months of the pandemic.


“We are not actually doing what we say we do publicly.”

A line from an internal review at Facebook that called the company out for misrepresenting itself in public and allowing some entities to flout the platform’s rules. The review was obtained by the Wall Street Journal, which released a series of scathing articles about Facebook this week as part of a wide-ranging investigation.


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Why are they like this? 

It’s Friday, so here’s the treat we all deserve: a compilation of cats casually intruding on work calls and other important business. (Click here to view.)

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