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Inflation, Johnson & Johnson, William Shatner: your Wednesday night briefing

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Have a good evening. Here is the last Wednesday at the end of the day.

1. Rapid inflation persists, causing political problems for the Biden administration and an economic dilemma for the Federal Reserve.

Consumer prices jumped more than expected last month, with the costs of food, rents and furniture soaring. The consumer price index climbed 5.4% in September from the previous year.

Officials hoped the rapid price increases would fade despite a limited supply of housing and a shortage of goods linked to supply chain problems. The data raises the stakes for the Fed and the White House, which are now facing a period of rapid inflation that is much longer than expected.

To alleviate some of the growing backlog of critical cargo in the United States, President Biden has announced that the Port of Los Angeles will begin operating 24/7.

Another upward adjustment in the cost of living: Social security benefits will increase by 5.9% in 2022, the highest in four decades.

2. People who have received a vaccine against the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus may be better off with a booster from Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, a new study found.

The researchers found that those who received an injection of Johnson & Johnson followed by a Moderna booster saw their antibody levels rise 76 times in 15 days, while those who received another dose of Johnson & Johnson did ‘saw that four times more during the same period. A booster injection of Pfizer increased antibody levels 35-fold in Johnson & Johnson recipients.

Nonetheless, the authors cautioned against the small size of the study. A separate FDA analysis questioned the strength of the evidence submitted by Johnson & Johnson. An advisory committee will decide on Friday whether to recommend allowing the recall of Johnson & Johnson, as well as that of Moderna.

3. The safety net spending bill proposed by Democrats in Congress would offer four big benefits to families. But in negotiations over the size of the invoice, they may have to choose.

Senator Joe Manchin, one of two centrists Democrats must persuade to vote with them, suggested they choose only one: paid leave, child care, pre-kindergarten or family allowance. So we asked 18 academics which one they would choose. The winner: The public nursery school for children aged 3 and 4, half of the experts having chosen it.

Separately, Democratic leaders are considering adding a long-term proposal to the social policy bill that would grant temporary legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants.

4. The Biden administration announced a plan to develop large-scale wind farms along most of the coastline of the United States

Home Secretary Deb Haaland said her agency would officially begin the process of identifying federal waters for lease to wind developers by 2025, as part of the government’s first long-term strategy to generate electricity. electricity from offshore turbines.

In other climate news, Private equity firms have invested at least $ 1.1 trillion in the energy sector since 2010, according to a new study. Companies buy assets cheaply and keep some of the most polluting inefficient wells, coal plants and other properties running.

5. A Czech coalition defeated the country’s populist prime minister in the elections, a sign of growing opposition to strongman leaders in Eastern and Central Europe.

The seemingly unbeatable Andrej Babis, the country’s billionaire prime minister, lost his support because opposition parties put aside ideological differences and came together to oust the leader who they say has eroded the country’s democracy .

The success of a coalition of a wide range of parties could have major repercussions in the region and beyond.

In other European news: Several people were killed and others injured in an attack by a man using a bow and arrows in a town in Norway, police said. A suspect is in custody.

6. You may want to think twice before asking to pass the salt.

The FDA, citing an outbreak of food-related illnesses, has asked food manufacturers, restaurants and food service companies to voluntarily reduce their salt intake by 12% over the next two and a half years. That goal translates into 3,000 milligrams of salt – a little more than a teaspoon – compared to the 3,400 milligrams the average American typically consumes in a day.

Reducing sodium intake by 40% over a decade could save 500,000 lives, the FDA said. But the acting FDA commissioner declined to say whether the agency would consider mandatory limits if the food industry failed to meet the targets.

7. Captain James T. Kirk returned to space today.

William Shatner, made famous by the role of “Star Trek”, and three other people traveled to the outer reaches of space in a tourist spaceship built by Blue Origin, the company of Jeff Bezos. At 90, Shatner became the oldest person to ever reach such heights. The mission lasted about 10 minutes. Watch the launch here.

“I am so filled with emotion with what just happened,” Shatner said once back on the ground, bursting into tears. “I hope I never get over it.”

Blue Origin has declined to publicly say what the price of a ticket to fly on New Shepard is. The company is approaching $ 100 million in sales so far, Bezos said, but it’s unclear how many ticket holders that includes. The launch comes amid accusations of a toxic workplace at Blue Origin.

8. The MLB playoffs move to league championship territory.

In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers forced Game 5 yesterday against their bitter rivals, the San Francisco Giants. They will play a game on Thursday where the winner will win everything. “That’s what baseball wants,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after a grueling 3 hour 38 minute game. One of them will meet the Atlanta Braves for the National League Championship Series.

Much to the chagrin of many around baseball, the Houston Astros – a franchise still dragged by a cloud of suspicion for cheating in the winning 2017 World Series season – qualified for the American League Championship series for the fifth consecutive year. They will face the Boston Red Sox, who launched a wave of attacks in the ALCS, in Game 1 on Friday.

9. Selma Blair presents herself in the most honest way possible: as the subject of a new documentary, “Introducing, Selma Blair.”

The film is a seamless retelling of Blair’s life with multiple sclerosis and the stem cell transplant she had to treat it in 2019. Blair hopes the documentary can help others as it has helped her. – by determining to what extent his identity has been shaped by his illness.

Separately, the novel “Dune” has such a graveyard of cinematic hopes that the phrase “the curse of Dune” haunts the Internet. Has Denis Villeneuve finally made a film version that fans will love? For Villeneuve, it was “the book, the book, the book.”

10. And finally, Earth is doomed, but Jupiter could be fine.

In five billion years, our sun will incinerate the Earth and then dramatically collapse into a dead embers known as the white dwarf. Scientists are unsure whether more distant planets, like Jupiter or Saturn, would survive the ordeal. Now, astronomers have observed a tantalizing glimpse of our solar system’s beyond: a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting a white dwarf some 6,500 light-years away.

The study adds to growing evidence that planets can survive the death of their star. It can also provide information on the search for extraterrestrial life and the potential habitability of white dwarf systems. As for us humans, if we lived another five billion years from now, we would have a better chance of surviving on a Jupiter moon than on Earth, said the study’s lead author.

Have an extraordinary evening.

Bryan denton photos compiled for this briefing.

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