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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Wednesday.
1. The U.S. appears on track to avert its first-ever default on federal debt — for at least two months.
Senator Mitch McConnell offered to allow a debt-limit increase until December, bowing to the threat of a default within days. But he refused to lift his blockade of a long-term increase in the government’s borrowing limit.
If Democrats agree to the proposal, they could face three choices: bow to McConnell’s demand and begin a budget maneuver called reconciliation that would ultimately bypass the blockade; move to change the Senate’s filibuster rules and allow a simple majority vote to raise the debt ceiling; or keep trying and hope that Republicans eventually fold. They appear to be nowhere close on a deal.
If Congress does not increase the borrowing limit, the government would be unable to pay its bills. Here’s what that could mean for you.
2. The World Health Organization approved the first malaria vaccine, which could save the lives of tens of thousands of children in sub-Saharan Africa.
The vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline, encourages a child’s immune system to thwart the deadliest and most prevalent of the five malaria pathogens. Clinical trials showed an efficacy of about 50 percent against severe malaria in the first year, but that figure dropped to close to zero by the fourth year.
Some experts questioned whether the vaccine, with its moderate efficacy, is a worthwhile investment. But the director of the W.H.O.’s global malaria program described the new vaccine as a historic event. Malaria kills about 500,000 people a year.
3. Los Angeles will require proof of Covid vaccination to enter many indoor businesses, in one of the strictest rules in the country.
The new law, which will take effect on Nov. 4, includes restaurants, gyms, museums, movie theaters and salons. Canada will also make vaccination mandatory as of next Tuesday for air and rail passengers, and as of Oct. 29 for federal workers.
In other virus news, the U.S. will spend $1 billion to quadruple the availability of at-home rapid coronavirus tests by the end of the year, White House officials said. Officials said that 200 million rapid tests will soon be available to Americans each month.
4. Twitch, the live-video site popular with gamers, endured a “potentially disastrous” data breach.
Security researchers believe the breach to the platform, which is owned by Amazon, may have provided sweeping insight into the platform’s computer code, security vulnerabilities and payments to its content creators. A spokesman for Check Point, a cybersecurity company, said that it was the company’s “strong suspicion” that Twitch’s code had truly been leaked.
In other tech news, the congressional testimony from the Facebook whistle-blower has intensified calls in Europe for new laws aimed at the social media company, proposals considered by many to be among the most stringent in the world. Our Tech columnist had some suggestions of her own.
5. As Democrats try to trim a $3.5 trillion social safety net spending bill, we took a close look at one key part of the proposed legislation: child care.
In the developed world, the U.S. is an outlier in its low level of financial support for young children’s care. Rich countries contribute an average of $14,000 per year for a toddler’s care, compared with $500 in the U.S. The Democrats’ spending bill tries to shrink the gap by establishing universal public preschool and making licensed child care centers free for the lowest-earning families, among other provisions.
Separately, the Biden administration is overhauling a student loan forgiveness program for public service employees that it says will help more than a half-million people get closer to relief. Here’s a guide to the changes.
6. A humanitarian crisis is growing on the border between Poland and Belarus.
Poland’s right-wing government, which is determined to keep out refugees and economic migrants, says that more than 11,000 migrants tried to enter from Belarus in August and September, compared to around 120 during all of last year. At least five people who crossed in freezing conditions have died in recent weeks, and three nearly drowned in a Polish swamp.
There is strong evidence that President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus is using migrants, many of whom are escaping poverty in Africa and war in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a weapon to punish the E.U. for imposing sanctions on him. The migrants are allowed to enter Belarus, and then encouraged to cross over into Poland, a member of the bloc.
7. This Times Magazine story is one of the most read Times articles in the past 24 hours.
Dawn Dorland was so moved by donating one of her kidneys that she wrote a heartfelt letter about it on Facebook. And then the letter turned up in the short story of a member of her writing group. Art often draws inspiration from life — but what happens when it’s your life?
The Times Magazine also spoke to the artist Laurie Anderson ahead of a new show at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington. Anderson, who has taken the things we know best and shown us how strange they really are for half a century, “is the American heartland affectionately alienated from itself,” writes Sam Anderson.
8. The single-elimination wild-card game is not fair — but it is fun, writes Tyler Kepner, our baseball columnist.
The Yankees fell to the Boston Red Sox, 6-2, in the American League wild-card game on Tuesday, and tonight the Los Angeles Dodgers play the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League game. The winner of each advances to a division series, meaning that the Dodgers are already facing elimination despite tying their franchise record for victories with 106.
The reason is a quirk: As great as the Dodgers were, they played in the same division as the San Francisco Giants, who were one game better. First pitch is at 8:10 p.m. Eastern. We have live coverage here.
The Red Sox will now face the Tampa Bay Rays in the division series. With their loss Tuesday night, the Yankees are becoming exactly what they fear, Kepner writes: ordinary.
9. Nicholas Braun is not like his hopelessly unprepared alter ego on “Succession,” Cousin Greg. He’s a guy with regular problems.
He’s vexed by leaky pipes in his apartment, hopes for a long-term romantic relationship and counts himself lucky to find himself with a popular part on a hit show. Braun said that some portion of his true self is present in Greg, a first-rank buffoon on the cutthroat comedy-drama, though perhaps not as much as viewers might think.
“I pick a bunch of traits that are me trying too hard or feeling uncomfortable in a room, or wanting to speak up but I don’t quite get permission, so it comes out in a weird way,” he said.
We also spoke to Clint and Ron Howard about their experiences growing up as showbiz siblings. In a new memoir, they reveal they weren’t all happy days.
10. And finally, we have a new heavyweight champion at Katmai National Park Preserve.
In the battle of the bulkiest bear in Alaska, 480 Otis was declared the winner of Fat Bear Week, an online competition that celebrates the bears’ pre-hibernation weight gain from late June to October. Nearly 800,000 votes were cast in the weeklong contest, which featured 12 bears.
At more than 25 years old, Otis is one of the older bears at the park, which is home to about 2,200 brown bears. According to his bio, “While Otis occasionally appears to be napping or not paying attention, most of the time he’s focused on the water, and he experiences a relatively high salmon catch rate as a result.”
Have a hefty evening.
Bryan Denton compiled photos for this briefing.
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