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Biden urges action on infrastructure and spending in New Jersey speech: ‘Let’s get this done’ – live

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Biden urges action on infrastructure and spending in New Jersey speech: ‘Let’s get this done’ – live

Early Newspaper

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Politics recap

That’s it for today. Here’s what’s happened:

  • Joe Biden visited New Jersey to promote his economic agenda, as Democrats continue to negotiate over the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package. Delivering a speech in a suburb of Newark, Biden argued the two bills would help make America more competitive in the global economy. “When we make these investments, there is going to be no stopping America. We will own the future,” Biden said. “So let’s get this done.”
  • Joe Manchin told reporters that he believes Democrats could reach a deal this week on the framework of the reconciliation bill. The centrist senator met with Biden in Delaware yesterday, and the president said their conversation “went well”, raising Democrats’ hopes of reaching an agreement.
  • Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before British MPs about the harm caused by the company. Haugen’s testimony comes as UK lawmakers consider a bill that places a duty of care on social media companies to protect their users.
  • The Biden administration outlined its new vaccination rules for international travel into the US. The rules indicate that nearly all foreign nationals flying into the US will be required to show proof of vaccination before boarding a flight, although there are exceptions for children who may not yet be eligible for a shot.
  • A Bannon associate is being privately questioned by Capitol riot investigators, according to a new Politico report. Dustin Stockton, a conservative activist connected to Steve Bannon, has not been charged with wrongdoing but is being questioned by the congressional committee investigating the 6 January insurrection.
  • Texas governor Greg Abbott signs anti-transgender sports ban into law. Texas governor Gregg Abbott signed HB25, which bans transgender students in grades K-12 from playing on sports teams that match their gender, making it Texas’s first statewide anti-trans bill.
  • The Biden administration reportedly plans to name a GOP official to lead election security efforts. CNN is reporting that the Biden administration expects to name Kim Wyman, Washington state’s Republican secretary of state known for publicly rejecting Trump’s claims of election fraud, to head up the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to protect future elections from any interference.

Thanks for tuning in.

Updated

Jim Waterson and Dan Milmo report from the UK:

Mark Zuckerberg “has unilateral control over 3 billion people” due to his unassailable position at the top of Facebook, the whistleblower Frances Haugen told MPs as she called for urgent external regulation to rein in the tech company’s management and reduce the harm being done to society.

Haugen, a former Facebook employee who released tens of thousands of damaging documents about its inner workings, travelled to London from the US for a parliamentary hearing and gave qualified backing to UK government proposals to regulate social media platforms and make them take some responsibility for content on their sites.

The company’s internal culture prioritised profitability over its impact on the wider world, said Haugen, and “there is no will at the top to make sure these systems are run in an adequately safe way”. She added: “Until we bring in a counterweight, these things will be operated for the shareholders’ interest and not the public interest.”

She warned that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook and used by millions of children worldwide, may never be safe for pre-teens.

Addressing a group of MPs and peers on Monday, Haugen said much of the blame for the world’s increasingly polarised politics lay with social networks and the radicalising impact of services such as Facebook Groups.

These can encourage small and intense communities that breed conspiracy theories, she said. “I am deeply concerned that they have made a product that can lead people away from their real communities and isolate them in these rabbit holes and these filter bubbles. What you find is that when people are sent targeted misinformation to a community, it can make it hard to reintegrate into wider society because now you don’t have shared facts.”

Read more:

Updated

Joe Biden has rejected another one of Donald Trump’s attempts at asserting executive privilege over documents requested by the congressional committee investigating the 6 January insurrection.

In a letter obtained by CNN, White House counsel Dana Remus instructed the National Archives to hand over the tranche of documents requested by the committee.

Last week, Trump filed a lawsuit against the House committee in order to block a separate group of documents from being produced. The lawsuit alleged the House requests for documents “are unprecedented in their breadth and scope and are untethered from any legitimate legislative purpose.” According to CNN, Trump may add the new set of documents the National Archives is being instructed to produce to that lawsuit.

The letter CNN obtained reads: “President Biden has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified, as to the documents provided to the White House on September 16, 2021, and September 23, 2021. Accordingly, President Biden does not uphold the former President’s assertion of privilege.”

Chipping away at executive privilege could set a tricky precedent for Biden in the future. But for now, Biden has shown he’s intent on ensuring documents relevant to the insurrection investigation are produced given the “extraordinary events” of that day.

Updated

Biden administration reportedly plans to name GOP official to lead election security efforts

CNN is reporting that the Biden administration expects to name Kim Wyman, Washington state’s Republican secretary of state, to head up the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to protect future elections from any interference.

Wyman is known for publicly criticizing and rejecting Donald Trump’s insistence that the election was rigged against him, saying at the time the claims were “scary” and “irresponsible.” Wyman also criticized the “audit” of the Arizona election results. “I can’t get to calling this an audit, or even a recount, because you’re not doing it with any kind of established ground rules or policies or procedures,” Wyman, who has been overseeing elections for three decades, said at the time. “It’s an exercise at best. It’s political theater at worst.”

Sean Lyngaas
(@snlyngaas)

Scoop —> The Biden administration is expected to name Kim Wyman, a Republican secretary of state who challenged former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud, to lead the DHS’s election security efforts https://t.co/3wZu0638Cb

October 25, 2021

Federal officials have been in talks with Wyman for weeks, according to CNN sources. As the election security lead for DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Wyman would act as “a federal liaison to state and local officials as they look for resources and support to protect election infrastructure from hacking and voters from disinformation campaigns,” the CNN report reads.

Wyman’s selection is not official yet and won’t be until all administrative paper work is cleared with the White House.

Updated

Texas governor Greg Abbott signs anti-transgender sports ban into law

Texas governor Gregg Abbott signed HB25, which bans transgender students in grades K-12 from playing on sports teams that match their gender, into law.

This is Texas’s first statewide anti-trans bill that has been signed into law and makes Texas the ninth state to restrict how trans athletes can participate in team sports.

Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, said they were devastated at the passage of the bill and that the organization will “begin to shift focus to electing pro-equality lawmakers who understand our issues and prioritize representing the vast majority of Texans who firmly believe that discrimination against trans and LGB+ people is wrong.”

As the Guardian’s LA correspondent Sam Levin previously reported, conservative state lawmakers have proposed more than 110 anti-trans bills in 2021. From his story in June:


This extraordinary legislative attack on trans rights has primarily targeted children and young adults and has dramatically escalated over the last several months, establishing anti-trans policy as a signature priority for state Republicans. The results could be catastrophic for vulnerable children, advocates and affected families say, given that the bills target healthcare, recreation and school life, with policies that intensify discrimination and exclusion of trans kids.

The proposals have spanned 37 states, affecting nearly every region of the country, according to Freedom for All Americans, a not-for-profit that has tracked the bills and compiled data for the Guardian.

Read more

Updated

The US Department of Justice has accelerated its two-year-old antitrust investigation into Apple, according to The Information. Sources familiar with the investigation who spoke to The Information on condition of anonymity say the investigation is likely to result in an antitrust lawsuit though the details are in flux.

Apple has so far largely escaped the antitrust scrutiny leveled at Facebook and Google. In August, the Federal Trade Commission revived its recently dismissed antitrust complaint against Facebook alleging the company engaged in an illegal “buy-or-bury” scheme to maintain its dominance when it couldn’t figure out how to innovate. As for Google, 36 states sued the company over antitrust violations related to its Android app store in July all while the company grappled with an ongoing DOJ lawsuit and preparations for a potential second inquiry from the department.

According to The Information, there has been a flurry of new activity in the Apple investigation. New investigators have been added to the probe and the DOJ has asked Apple as well as its competitors and customers questions about the control the company holds over the use of the iPhone, The Information’s sources said. That includes subpoenas that were sent to Apple’s business partners over the summer.

Apple has been victorious against recent antitrust complaints, namely the lawsuit the creators of video game Fortnite filed over the iPhone maker’s app development rules. The company was not found to be in violation of antitrust rules but was found to have violated unfair competition laws in California.

Updated

Eric Berger reports for the Guardian:

The number of new Covid cases and deaths in the United States has been in a steady decline since early September, prompting many infectious disease experts to conclude that the worst impacts of the pandemic in America are probably in the past.

But in the same breath, those experts also caution that it’s not yet safe to abandon safeguards against the virus. That’s because parts of the US population and much of the world remain unvaccinated, which could allow for outbreaks and dangerous new variants of the virus to emerge.

“My most optimistic assessment is that if we keep vaccinating, sometime during late fall, into the winter, the pandemic phase of Covid will be substantially reduced over much of the United States,” said William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

He added: “We could move from pandemic to endemic, and endemic means that the virus remains in the community, akin to influenza, smolders along, keeps being transmitted, but the rate of disease that occurs is profoundly diminished, and the impact on individuals and health systems is very much controlled.”

Read more:

Updated

Bannon associate privately questioned by Capitol riot investigators

A new report from Politico says that a conservative activist linked to Steve Bannon is being questioned by the congressional committee investigating the 6 January insurrection. Dustin Stockton, the Bannon associate in question, has not been charged with wrongdoing, according to Politico, but has been previously linked to the investigation.

The news comes days after the House of representatives voted to hold Bannon in criminal contempt for his refusal to comply with a subpoena to appear in front of the committee investigating the insurrection.

Stockton, who was also linked to the We Build the Wall crowdfunding effort that led to Bannon being charged with and later pardoned for defrauding donors, spent the weeks leading up to the 6 January rallies promoting the event. He later defended some of the militia groups involved in the riot.

From Politico:


The Jan. 6 select committee subpoenaed 11 organizers of the pro-Trump rallies that preceded the riot. Stockton was not among them, but he has ties to some of those involved. Several of the top organizers, including Women For America First leader Amy Kremer and “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander, were subpoenaed to testify this week. It’s unclear if they’ve indicated their plans to cooperate.

Updated

The Biden administration announced a couple of steps it plans on taking to make it easier and cheaper to access at-home rapid Covid tests. The announcement comes as businesses prepare to comply with the administration’s vaccine or test mandate that would apply to any company with more than 100 employees.

As a first step, the Food and Drug Administration will be streamlining its authorization process for at-home Covid tests. Second, the National Institutes of Health plans on spending $70m – which would come from the $1.9tn Covid relief package Joe Biden signed into law in March – on a program that would help test-makers through the regulatory hurdles.

The FDA announced it had also given emergency use authorization to Celltrion Diatrust. That would make it the tenth company that manufactures over-the-counter rapid Covid tests to be authorized to sell its products to the public. According to NBC News, the NIH, FDA and Centers for Disease Control will be working together to identify manufacturers of high quality tests to encourage them to bring their products to market.

“Access to easy-to-use, affordable and reliable Covid tests is key to bringing peace of mind to our families, especially as we approach winter,” said Xavier Becerra, secretary of the department of health and human services .

Updated

This is Johana Bhuiyan taking over from San Francisco.

Today the House oversight committee said that the US Customs and Border Protection agency did not sufficiently discipline agents who posted violent or offensive posts in a Facebook group in as early as 2016. The report the committee published today is a result of an investigation launched in 2019 into social media misconduct at the agency, specifically looking at a series of secret Facebook groups where some agents threatened violence against migrants and elected officials.

The committee found that the CBP was aware of misconduct in 2016 in a 9,500-member Facebook group, called “I’m 10-15”, but “took minimal action to strengthen social media training or guidance” until it was made public in 2019. The report found that only two of the 60 officers ultimately found guilty of misconduct were fired in spite of recommendations from the agency’s discipline review board. Most were given reduced penalties and continue to work with migrants today, according to the report.

Examples of agents who continued to work with migrants or faced lax discipline from the report include:


A Border Patrol agent who posted a sexually explicit doctored image and derogatory comments about a member of Congress had his discipline reduced from removal to a 60-day suspension and was awarded back pay.

A Border Patrol supervisor who improperly posted an internal CBP video of a migrant falling off a cliff to their death, as well as an explicit and offensive comment about a member of Congress, had their discipline reduced from removal to a 30-day suspension.

A Border Patrol agent with a history of multiple infractions was allowed to retire with disability benefits rather than face removal or any other discipline after posting a photograph of a drowned father and child and referring derisively to them as “floaters”.

In a press release, committee chair Carolyn B Maloney said she was “deeply troubled by CBP’s broken disciplinary process that allowed for significant reductions in discipline and allowed agents to resume work with migrants and children after engaging in serious misconduct”.

Updated

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Johana Bhuiyan, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden visited New Jersey to promote his economic agenda, as Democrats continue to negotiate over the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the reconciliation package. Delivering a speech in a suburb of Newark, Biden argued the two bills would help make America more competitive in the global economy. “When we make these investments, there is going to be no stopping America. We will own the future,” Biden said. “So let’s get this done.”
  • Joe Manchin told reporters that he believes Democrats could reach a deal this week on the framework of the reconciliation bill. The centrist senator met with Biden in Delaware yesterday, and the president said their conversation “went well”, raising Democrats’ hopes of reaching an agreement.
  • Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before British MPs about the harm caused by the company. Haugen’s testimony comes as UK lawmakers consider a bill that places a duty of care on social media companies to protect their users.
  • The Biden administration outlined its new vaccination rules for international travel into the US. The rules indicate that nearly all foreign nationals flying into the US will be required to show proof of vaccination before boarding a flight, although there are exceptions for children who may not yet be eligible for a shot.

Johana will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Updated

Kamala Harris made an unexpected appearance at a White House meeting with climate leaders to discuss the importance of addressing the climate crisis through Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda.

The meeting comes as progressives fear that the final version of the reconciliation package will not include robust climate initiatives, partly due to demands from centrist Senator Joe Manchin.

The Recount
(@therecount)

VP Kamala Harris pushes Biden’s climate agenda:

“You don’t wanna watch sausage be made, and you don’t want to watch a bill be made. Sometimes it’s not a pretty sight, but the end result — I mean, unless you’re a vegan, of course — the end result is usually pretty good.” pic.twitter.com/7cqc468sPS

October 25, 2021

“This is a moment of crisis. And as I think we all think of crises, also a moment of opportunity. And we cannot afford, at least in our fights, we cannot afford to be incremental. We cannot afford to be patient,” Harris said.

“Nonetheless, we also have a system where there must be consensus when we’re talking about the Build Back Better agenda, and we will work together to accomplish what we all know we must do.”

Emphasizing the administration’s “unwavering” commitment to climate action, Harris added, “There’s an old saying, you don’t want to watch sausage be made. And you don’t want to watch a bill being made.”

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats are closing in on a final deal over the reconciliation package after a “productive weekend” of talks.

“No one ever said passing transformational legislation like this would be easy, but we are on track to get this done,” Schumer said in a Senate floor speech moments ago.

The Democratic leader said earlier today that there are three or four outstanding issues in the negotiations, per Politico.

However, those outstanding issues account for some of progressives’ top priorities, including climate provisions.

Burgess Everett
(@burgessev)

New: Schumer says Democrats making progress on reconciliation bill and says “there are 3-4 outstanding issues” that need to be resolved.

October 25, 2021

Updated

Lauren Gambino

Other exemptions to the Biden administration’s new international travel rules include participants in certain Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials, those with medical contraindications to the vaccines and those who are permitted to travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons.

Additionally, very rare exceptions will be made for foreign nationals traveling on non-tourist visas from countries with low-vaccine availability, according to a senior administration official. There are currently about 50 countries considered to have “low-vaccine availability”, an official said.

Unvaccinated citizens and lawful permanent residents traveling to the US by plane will be required to produce a negative coronavirus test within one day of departure.

For purposes of travel, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will accept vaccines that have been authorized or approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or listed for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO).

That includes the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, widely available in the US, as well as the AstraZeneca vaccine that was quickly rolled out in Europe, and China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. Excluded is Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, which has yet to be authorized or approved by the FDA or WHO.

The CDC also issued new contact tracing rules that require airlines to collect personal information from international air passengers. Under the rules, airlines will be required to keep the information readily available for 30 days so public health officials can follow up with travelers who may have been exposed to the virus.

Updated

Source:
Biden urges action on infrastructure and spending in New Jersey speech: ‘Let’s get this done’ – live