👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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1/ Biden endorsed “getting rid of the filibuster” in order to pass voting rights legislation. With less than 10 months until the 2022 midterms, Biden said “this is the moment to defend our democracy” and that the repeated obstruction of election reform by Senate Republicans had left Democrats with “no option but to change the Senate rules […] to prevent a minority of senators from blocking action on voting rights.” In his remarks, Biden cited the Jan. 6 insurrection, characterizing the “violent mob” of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol to try to stop Biden’s electoral college win as an “attempted coup.” He added that the only way to protect the right to vote and ensure election security was to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. “Pass it now,” Biden said. “I am tired of being quiet.” Changing the Senate rules, however, would require the support of all 50 Democrats and the vote of Kamala Harris to break a tie. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, meanwhile, have expressed strong public opposition to changing filibuster rules, and several other Democrats, including Mark Kelly, Jon Tester, and Jeanne Shaheen, haven’t committed to changing the Senate rules to allow elections reform legislation to pass by a simple majority. (NBC News / New York Times / ABC News / Politico / Washington Post / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / CNN)
2/ A record 145,982 people are in U.S. hospitals with Covid-19, passing the record of 142,273 set on Jan. 14, 2021. Overall the seven-day average of new cases stood at more than 714,600 – up 74% from a week ago. The U.S., however, reported 1.34 million cases in a single day on Monday, beating the previous record of 1,044,970 cases, which was set on Jan. 3. The daily average of new deaths was 1,674 – up 6% from a week earlier. (Washington Post / NBC News)
3/ The CDC is considering updating its mask guidance to recommend that people opt for N95 or KN95 masks rather than cloth face coverings. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky previously declined to officially recommend Americans wear N95s regularly. The White House, meanwhile, is weighing whether to offer better, higher quality masks, like KN95 or N95s, to all Americans for free. A senior administration official, however, said the effort would make little difference because “half the country won’t wear any mask.” A half dozen former health policy makers, including members of Biden’s transition team, said the Biden administration needs a reset on its Covid-19 strategy because “trust in the CDC, it feels like we have gone backwards.” (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)
4/ The Justice Department is forming a new domestic terrorism unit. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said the number FBI investigations into domestic terrorism has more than doubled since March 2020. “We have seen a growing threat from those who are motivated by racial animus, as well as those who ascribe to extremist anti-government and anti-authority ideologies,” Olsen added. Republican senators, meanwhile, accused the FBI and the Justice Department of giving more attention to the Jan. 6 insurrection than to the 2020 racial justice protests. (Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN)
5/ Trump asked a federal judge for a preliminary injunction to stop a civil investigation into his business practices by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Trump called James’ investigation into how the Trump Organization valued its real estate holdings a “targeted attack against a political adversary.” James, meanwhile, called the filing a delay tactic and “neither Donald Trump nor the Trump Organization get to dictate if and where they will answer for their actions. Our investigation will continue undeterred because no one is above the law, not even someone with the name Trump.” (ABC News)
6/ House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened to remove some Democratic members from their committee roles if Republicans win control of House in the midterms. McCarthy called out Reps. Eric Swalwell, Ilhan Omar, and Adam Schiff as Democrats he’d remove from their committee assignments in retaliation to Democrats removing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene from her assignments for social media posts spreading baseless conspiracy theories and encouraging violence against Democrats. (NBC News)
7/ Republican state lawmakers in Florida are planning to pass legislation this year that bans abortions after 15 weeks, except if two doctors agree a fetus is suffering from a fatal abnormality. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. Florida’s current law restricts abortions after 24 weeks. (Politico)
poll/ 55% of Americans believe returning to their normal pre-coronavirus life poses no or little risk to their health – up from 40% in August. 58% of vaccinated Americans consider themselves to be less at risk of contracting the virus compared to 31% who are unvaccinated. 36% of vaccinated Americans, however, have self-reported a “breakthrough case.” (Axios)
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