AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EDT | Nation & World

Date: 1970-01-01 00:00:00

FDA OKs mixing COVID vaccines; backs Moderna, J&J boosters

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. regulators on Wednesday signed off on extending COVID-19 boosters to Americans who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine and said anyone eligible for an extra dose can get a brand different from the one they received initially.

The Food and Drug Administration’s decisions mark a big step toward expanding the U.S. booster campaign, which began with extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine last month. But before more people roll up their sleeves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will consult an expert panel Thursday before finalizing official recommendations for who should get boosters and when.

The latest moves would expand by tens of millions the number of Americans eligible for boosters and formally allow “mixing and matching” of shots — making it simpler to get another dose, especially for people who had a side effect from one brand but still want the proven protection of vaccination.

Specifically, the FDA authorized a third Moderna shot for seniors and others at high risk from COVID-19 because of their health problems, jobs or living conditions — six months after their last shot. One big change: Moderna’s booster will be half the dose that’s used for the first two shots, based on company data showing that was plenty to rev up immunity again.

For J&J’s single-shot vaccine, the FDA said all U.S. recipients, no matter their age, could get a second dose at least two months following their initial vaccination.

Big changes in White House ideas to pay for $2 trillion plan

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — In an abrupt change, the White House on Wednesday floated new plans to pay for parts of President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion social services and climate change package, shelving a proposed big increase in corporate tax rates though also adding a new billionaires’ tax on the investment gains of the very richest Americans.

The reversal came as Biden returned to his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, to highlight the middle class values he says are at the heart of the package that Democrats are racing to finish. Biden faces resistance from key holdouts, including Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who has not been on board with her party’s plan to undo Trump-era tax breaks to help pay for it.

“This has been declared dead on arrival from the moment I introduced it, but I think we’re going to surprise them, because I think people are beginning to figure out what’s at stake,” Biden said in a speech at Scranton’s Electric City Trolley Museum, his first visit home since becoming president.

Negotiations between the White House and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are underway on what’s now a scaled-back package but would still be an unprecedented federal effort to expand social services for millions and confront the rising threat of climate change. It’s coupled with a separate $1 trillion bill to update roads and bridges.

Biden and his Democratic Party have given themselves a deadline to seal agreement after laboring to bridge his once-sweeping $3.5 trillion vision preferred by progressives with a more limited focus that can win over party centrists. He has no Democratic votes to spare for passage in the closely divided Congress, and leaders want agreement by week’s end.

‘The stakes are enormous’: Bannon case tests Congress’ power

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. House is expected to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. It’s up to the Justice Department, and the courts, to determine what happens next.

As lawmakers ready a Thursday vote to send a contempt referral to the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, there’s considerable uncertainty about whether the Justice Department will prosecute Bannon for refusing to cooperate with the investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection, despite Democratic demands for action.

The outcome could determine not only the effectiveness of the House investigation, but the strength of Congress’ power to call witnesses and demand information — factors that will certainly be weighing on Justice officials as they determine whether to move forward. While the department has historically been reticent to use its prosecution power against witnesses found in contempt of Congress, the circumstances are exceptional as lawmakers investigate the worst attack on the U.S. Capitol in two centuries.

If Congress can’t perform its oversight job, the message sent to “the general public is these subpoenas are a joke,” said Stephen Saltzburg, a George Washington University law professor and former Justice Department official. He said if Attorney General Merrick Garland, a former federal judge whom Saltzburg regards “as one of the most nonpartisan people I know,” doesn’t authorize a prosecution, “he’s going to be letting the Constitution, it seems to me, be placed in jeopardy. And it’s way too important for him to let that happen.”

Democrats are pressuring Justice to take the case, arguing that nothing less than democracy is at stake.

NFL, players agree to end ‘race-norming’ in $1B settlement

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The NFL and lawyers for thousands of retired NFL players have reached an agreement to end race-based adjustments in dementia testing in the $1 billion settlement of concussion claims, according to a proposed deal filed Wednesday in federal court.

The revised testing plan follows public outrage over the use of “race-norming,” a practice that came to light only after two former NFL players filed a civil rights lawsuit over it in 2019. The adjustments, critics say, may have prevented hundreds of Black players suffering from dementia to win awards that average $500,000 or more.

The Black retirees will now have the chance to have their tests rescored or, in some cases, seek a new round of cognitive testing, according to the settlement, details of which were first reported in The New York Times on Wednesday.

“We look forward to the court’s prompt approval of the agreement, which provides for a race-neutral evaluation process that will ensure diagnostic accuracy and fairness in the concussion settlement,” NFL lawyer Brad Karp said in a statement.

The proposal, which must still be approved by a judge, follows months of closed-door negotiations between the NFL, class counsel for the retired players, and lawyers for the Black players who filed suit, Najeh Davenport and Kevin Henry.

Senate GOP again blocks Democrats’ election bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — For the third time this year, Senate Democrats on Wednesday tried to pass sweeping elections legislation that they tout as a powerful counterweight to new voting restrictions sweeping conservative-controlled states.

Once again, Republicans blocked them.

But amid the ongoing stalemate, there are signs that Democrats are making headway in their effort to create consensus around changing Senate procedural rules, a key step that could allow them to muscle transformative legislation through the narrowly divided chamber.

Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucuses with Democrats, recently eased his longstanding opposition to changing the filibuster rules, which create a 60-vote threshold for most legislation to pass.

“I’ve concluded that democracy itself is more important than any Senate rule,” said King, who acknowledged that weakening the filibuster would likely prove to be a “double-edged sword” under a Republican majority.

White House details plans to vaccinate 28M children age 5-11

WASHINGTON (AP) — Children ages 5 to 11 will soon be able to get a COVID-19 shot at their pediatrician’s office, local pharmacy and potentially even their school, the White House said Wednesday as it detailed plans for the expected authorization of the Pfizer shot for elementary school youngsters in a matter of weeks.

Federal regulators will meet over the next two weeks to weigh the safety and effectiveness of giving low-dose shots to the roughly 28 million children in that age group.

Within hours of formal approval, which is expected after the Food and Drug Administration signs off and a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory panel meets on Nov. 2-3, millions of doses will begin going out to providers across the country, along with the smaller needles needed for injecting young children.

Within days of that, the vaccine will be ready to go into arms on a wide scale.

“We’re completing the operational planning to ensure vaccinations for kids ages 5 to 11 are available, easy and convenient,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said. “We’re going to be ready, pending the FDA and CDC decision.”

FBI: Items linked to Laundrie, potential human remains found

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Potential human remains were found Wednesday in a Florida wilderness area along with items believed to belong to Brian Laundrie, whose girlfriend, Gabby Petito, was found slain after he returned home alone from their cross-country road trip, according to the FBI.

Michael McPherson, chief of the Tampa FBI office, said at a news conference that it will take time to identify the remains, which forensic teams were examining. McPherson said they were found near a backpack and a notebook linked to Laundrie.

“We are working diligently to get those answers for you,” McPherson said, adding that the items and remains were found in a swampy area — home to alligators, snakes, coyotes and other wildlife — that had previously been underwater. “It’s likely the team will be on site for several days.”

Laundrie’s parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, took part in the search Wednesday with the FBI and police from North Port, Florida, more than a month after Laundrie was reported missing after heading to the vast Carlton Reserve park.

“After a brief search off a trail that Brian frequented some articles belonging to Brian were found,” Laundrie family attorney Steven Bertolino said in a text to The Associated Press. “As of now law enforcement is conducting a more thorough investigation of that area.”

Coast Guard had earlier notice about California oil spill

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The Coast Guard received multiple reports of a possible fuel spill off the Southern California coast earlier than previously disclosed and asked local authorities to investigate about 15 hours before its own personnel confirmed a large oil slick, which came from a leaking undersea pipeline, records show.

The initial reports of a possible spill north of the Huntington Beach pier came into the Coast Guard about 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 1, according to an Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s memo provided Wednesday to The Associated Press. The documents said there were multiple similar calls over a marine radio emergency channel from boats leaving the Huntington Beach air show.

The department, which runs the county’s harbor patrol, sent a fireboat to search for the spill, but the crew lost visibility as darkness fell, according to the memo obtained through the California Public Records Act. The spill wasn’t confirmed until about 9 a.m. Saturday.

The Coast Guard did not immediately comment on the documents, which raise more questions about the agency’s response to a spill that forced the closure of some of the region’s signature beaches and harmed animal and plant life.

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, who chairs a state legislative committee looking into the spill, said she was told the spill was reported much later Friday evening when it was too late to detect because of darkness.

FBI: Cash, shredded papers seen at couple’s home in spy case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI found a trash bag of shredded documents, thousands of dollars in cash, latex gloves and a “go-bag” when they searched the home of a Maryland couple accused of trying to sell information about nuclear-powered warships to a foreign country, an agent testified Wednesday.

Jonathan Toebbe, a Navy nuclear engineer, and his wife, Diana, were arrested in West Virginia this month. Prosecutors allege that Jonathan Toebbe tried to pass secrets about sophisticated and expensive Virginia-class submarines to someone he thought was a representative of a foreign government but who was actually an undercover FBI agent. The government accuses Diana Toebbe of serving as a lookout for her husband at several “dead drop” locations at which sensitive information was left behind.

The couple pleaded not guilty in federal court in Martinsburg, West Virginia to espionage-related charges that carry life in prison. The Toebbes have been jailed since their arrests.

The country to which Toebbe was looking to sell the information has not been identified in court documents and was not disclosed in court during a detention hearing Wednesday. A judge heard arguments but did not immediately rule on whether Diana Toebbe should continue to be locked up. Jonathan Toebbe waived his right to a detention hearing, meaning he continues to be held.

Peter Olinits, a Pittsburgh-based agent specializing in counterintelligence investigations, testified in support of the government’s argument that Diana Toebbe was a potential flight risk and should remain jailed as the case moved forward.

Astros’ Valdez goes 8, beats Red Sox 9-1 for 3-2 ALCS lead

BOSTON (AP) — Framber Valdez lost his perfect game in the fifth inning and then bounced the next pitch off the batter’s leg.

Astros manager Dusty Baker headed for the mound.

“It was surprising more than anything,” Valdez said, noting that a visit from the manager usually means his night is over. “The first thing I did was look back to the bullpen to see if anyone was out there. I saw nobody was there.

“He just came out and told me … ‘You know what you’re doing out here, so just breathe,'” Valdez said. “He gave me the confidence to get out of the inning.”


Source link

Images:

Videos:

Address:

Scroll to Top