5 things to know for October 18: Supply chain, Congress, coronavirus, China, Sudan

The recent oil spill off the coast of California has caused less damage than feared so far. However, it’s brought the issue of offshore drilling into a new environment: state congressional races.

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1. Supply chain

Supply chain issues that have led to empty shelves, rising prices and consumer frustration could continue well into 2022. That’s the prediction of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who said Sunday that some of those troubles could be alleviated if Congress passes President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal. These issues have huge political implications for Biden and Democrats as the midterm election season approaches, but they are also affecting consumers in unexpected ways. For instance, some toymakers are adjusting the kinds of toys they’re shipping this holiday season to accommodate a scarcity of shipping containers.

2. Congress

Democrats are still trying to decide how to bring down the cost of the $3.5 trillion spending bill, and highly-prized health care measures could be on the chopping block. The proposed package includes broadening Medicare to provide dental, vision and hearing benefits, and expanding Medicaid in the 12 states that refused to adopt the Affordable Care Act provision. Democrats would also enable Medicare to negotiate drug prices to help pay for these measures. However, it looks like the spending bill could have to be shrunk down to between $1.5 trillion and $2.2 trillion to appease moderate party members. (Remember, the package needs all 50 Dem votes to pass.) Even the most widely supported health care measures in the package have their detractors. Some fear that beefed up Affordable Care Act subsidies would eventually require a difficult rollback if they aren’t extended indefinitely, and moderate Democrats and pharmaceutical companies have pushed back on allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

3. Coronavirus

The US is now averaging about 85,000 new Covid-19 infections a day, which is down by more than 8,000 from the week before. Covid-19 deaths are also down. This could be an optimistic sign if the US manages to avoid a seasonal spike. It’s possible, but Dr. Anthony Fauci and other experts are still worried about low overall vaccination rates. While boosters are becoming widely available, there’s also concern that an additional shot could widen the gap between vaccinated Americans and those skeptical of the vaccines’ efficacy. Meanwhile, countries in the Asia-Pacific region are scrambling to place orders for an antiviral pill produced by US drug manufacturer Merck that’s supposed to be an effective treatment against Covid-19. It’s not authorized for use yet, but health experts are already warning it’s not a replacement for vaccination.

4. China

China is urging its citizens to be on the lookout for American espionage after the CIA announced the launch of a mission center dedicated to China earlier this month. Chinese state broadcaster CCTV published a video, without citing sources, that the CIA was recruiting Chinese-speaking agents. The claim has lit up Chinese social media networks. However, it’s not unusual for the Chinese government to push the narrative that the country’s national security, and the lives of its everyday citizens, are under grave threat from American espionage. In 2015, China set up a national hotline for citizens to report on suspected spies or espionage activities. In 2016, Beijing launched the first annual National Security Education Day.

5. Sudan

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Sudan’s capital city of Khartoum this weekend calling for the military to seize power. The east African nation is grappling with its biggest political crisis since long-standing President Omar al-Bashir was ousted during a coup in 2019. Military and civilian groups have been sharing power since then, but a failed coup attempt in September attributed to forces loyal to Bashir led military leaders to demand a new cabinet and coalition. Now, protesters want General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the armed forces and Sudan’s joint military-civilian Sovereign Council, to initiate a coup and overthrow the government. Several political conundrums, like the restructuring of the military and disputes around justice issues, have contributed to the current crisis.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Chicago Sky defeat Phoenix Mercury for first WNBA championship win

And to think they were seeded sixth at the beginning of it all!

A permanent residence? Fans weigh in on potential London NFL franchise

Let’s all spend the rest of the day thinking of possible London NFL team names.

‘Halloween Kills’ slays at the box office

Proof that classics never die.

Tony Bennett has set a new Guinness World Record for being the oldest person to release an album of new material

The man is still churning ’em out at 95 YEARS OLD.

Chlamydia is so widespread among koalas, researchers are vaccinating them

Well, now you know what they’re doing when they’re not sleeping or eating.

HAPPENING LATER

Jury selection will begin today for the state trial of three men facing charges in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia last year. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was out for a jog near Brunswick, Georgia, on February 23, 2020, when he was chased down and fatally shot. Here’s a timeline of the case so far.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Truth, Justice and a Better Tomorrow.”

Superman’s new motto, as announced by DC Chief Creative Office and Publisher Jim Lee. The motto is an update to the iconic line, “Truth, Justice and the American Way.” Lee said the motto was changed to “better reflect the storylines that we are telling across DC and to honor Superman’s incredible legacy of over 80 years of building a better world.”

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

Here’s hoping for a happy week

And we have Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland, together in a remarkable 1963 recording, to start us off right. (Click here to view)

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