Start Your Day Here: An apparent coup in Sudan; vaccines for kids could be days away; and weekend news you might have missed
Here's what we're following today:
Coup in Sudan: Military forces arrested Sudan's acting prime minister after weeks of rising tensions.
Vaccines for kids 5-11: Shots for this age group could begin early next month. An FDA advisory panel takes up Pfizer's application tomorrow.
Weekend roundup: A "bomb -cyclone" hits the Bay Area in California; more details emerge in the deadly shooting on the set of Rust; remembering the actor who played Gunther on Friends.
🎧 Also, on Up First, our daily podcast, organizers of the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., are going on trial.
— The Morning Edition live blog team
(Carol Ritchie, Rachel Treisman, Nell Clark, Joe Hernandez, Scott Neuman and Chris Hopkins)
Doggone scary: See pictures from this weekend's dog costume parade
Man's best friend dressed up as man's worst nightmare this weekend for a New York City Halloween tradition.
Decked out in Halloween costumes, pooches were on parade during the 31st Annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade on Saturday.
The event brought together all types of dogs strutting their Halloween finest, alongside their owners and hundreds of spectators.
The event, which calls itself "The Country's Biggest Halloween Parade for Dogs," also awards prizes to the best costumes.
Categories this year included "scariest costume," "punniest costume" and "best pop-culture reference." There were even breed-specific categories, such as "hottest hot dog costume" for dachshunds and "Chi-lloween," meant for chihuahuas and chihuahua mixes. (Fun fact: Musician Snail Mail was among the costume contest's judges.)
Winning pups won prize packs with dog toys, coupons for free doggy spa services and other treats.
I’m not sure the dog parade can get better than this: puppy Obama, by way of Kehinde Wiley. pic.twitter.com/tktTTDNly3— 🎃Howeird Scareman 🎃 (@HESherman) October 23, 2021
For more costumed pups, check out the parade's Facebook page.
A new weather channel is here ... and it's from Fox News
It's launch day for Fox Weather, a new streaming service that promises to "change how Americans consume weather news [and] analysis."
Fox News says the free (ad-supported) service will feature cutting-edge tools like 3D mobile radar, high-tech severe weather alerts and advanced weather forecasts for the months ahead.
It also says it will rely on science and technology. And that promise is giving some climate scientists pause.
That's because Fox Weather is an offshoot of Fox News Media, a network with a "long history of dismissing, discrediting and discounting the threat of climate change," as NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik puts it.
But behind the scenes, the Murdoch family — the controlling owners of Fox Corp. and its sister company, News Corp. — have not only acknowledged the impacts of climate change but actually adjusted their business practices in response to it.
Investigative climate reporter Geoff Dembicki recently wrote about this for Vice News. He spoke with Folkenflik about why a climate-conscious Fox Weather could leave audiences confused. Listen here, read the transcript or get highlights below.
Disclosure: Folkenflik, who has reported extensively on the Murdochs, spoke to Dembicki once before when he was interviewed in this Vice story.
The Murdoch media empire's track record on climate coverage is spotty
The vast Murdoch empire includes major U.S. outlets like Fox News, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, as well as others in the U.K. and Australia. To put it charitably, Dembicki says, it hasn't covered climate change very constructively in the past.
"To this day, outlets like Fox News continue to give an absolutely massive media platform to people who sometimes say that climate change is not real; it's not happening," he says. "Or it might give a platform to people who say the climate emergency is something we should be paying attention to, but extreme weather events such as hurricanes and wildfires are definitely not related to climate change."
But its business model actually takes climate change seriously
Dembicki says the Fox Corporation, perhaps surprisingly, is seen as an industry leader in acknowledging climate change at the corporate level.
It's been tracking its carbon footprint for more than 15 years, quantified the damages that extreme weather has done with some of its media properties, worked to transition to things like renewable energy, and considered relocating offices away from areas exposed to climate risk.
"And so when Fox Weather says it's going to be taking the issue seriously and reporting on it in a fact-based way, I think that's a credible promise because that's the companywide level, that's exactly what they've been doing for well over a decade," he says.
The disconnect may come down to profits
One stark example: Murdoch-owned outlets ran opinion pieces around Hurricane Sandy in 2012 dismissing the idea that the hurricane had anything to do with climate change. But in the disclosures it filed at the same time, it was quantifying the delays and financial damage caused by Sandy, and explicitly acknowledged that such extreme weather events were linked to climate change.
So why the contradiction? NPR invited several Fox Weather and Fox News hosts and executives on to talk about their new venture, but they said they were too busy preparing for Monday's launch.
Dembicki reached out to "all sorts of different media outlets in the Murdoch empire" to ask them about the difference between its corporate positions and public-facing content, but never got a response. (He was able to report out this story using thorough reports that News Corp. has filed annually with the Carbon Disclosure Project since 2006.)
From a distance, he says, it does seem contradictory. But the company does appear to have a simple strategy behind it all: Doing whatever will make it the most money in a given situation.
"For example, when Fox News hosts climate denial, that's a business model. That helps attract viewers, and it's part of a range of opinions that have made Fox shows some of the highest watched on cable news," he explains. "Then behind the scenes, switching to renewable energy just makes financial sense, and the company has said that that has saved the company tens of millions of dollars."
Ed Sheeran has COVID-19, which may mean he won't perform on SNL as planned
Ed Sheeran announced on Instagram that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is self-isolating.
"Hey guys. Quick note to tell you that I’ve sadly tested positive for Covid, so I’m now self-isolating and following government guidelines.," the singer wrote in a post Sunday.
"It means that I’m now unable to plough ahead with any in person commitments for now, so I’ll be doing as many of my planned interviews/performances I can from my house. Apologies to anyone I’ve let down. Be safe everyone x."
This comes at a busy time for Sheeran, whose upcoming fourth solo studio album releases in less than a week. He's been doing appearances and interviews in advance of the album out Oct. 29, titled "=," and says that although COVID will force him to cancel in-person performances, he'll do virtual appearances as much as possible.
No word from SNL or parent network NBC yet on whether Sheeran will be replaced, and if so, who might go on instead. During the earlier days of the coronavirus pandemic, musical guests on SNL performed via video while the show paused production from Studio 8H in 30 Rockefeller Plaza and instead taped from staff members' homes. Sheeran has performed on SNL before, including in 2017.
The Russian hacker group behind the SolarWinds attack is at it again, Microsoft says
Last year a hacker group used a bit of malicious code it hid in a software update by the company SolarWinds to launch an immense cyberattack against U.S. government agencies and corporations.
The group behind the attack, Nobelium, is reportedly being directed by the Russian intelligence service. And they’re at it again.
According to Microsoft, one of the victims of the SolarWinds hack, the group is targeting technology companies that resell and provide cloud services for customers.
“Nobelium has been attempting to replicate the approach it has used in past attacks by targeting organizations integral to the global IT supply chain,” Tom Burt, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Customer Security & Trust, said in a blog post on the company’s website.
“We believe Nobelium ultimately hopes to piggyback on any direct access that resellers may have to their customers’ IT systems and more easily impersonate an organization’s trusted technology partner to gain access to their downstream customers,” he added.
The hacker group hasn’t tried to ferret out vulnerabilities in software, Burt said, but rather has been using techniques like phishing and password spray to gain entry to the targeted networks.
AFI honors Halyna Hutchins with a scholarship for female cinematographers
The American Film Institute has created a scholarship in honor of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer who died on the set of Rust when Alec Baldwin discharged a prop gun.
"As is profoundly true in the art of cinematography, words alone cannot capture the loss of one so dear to the AFI community," the nonprofit said in announcing the initiative. "At AFI, we pledge to see that Halyna Hutchins will live on in the spirit of all who strive to see their dreams realized in stories well told."
The scholarship is for the AFI Conservatory, a prestigious film school in Los Angeles. The Ukraine-born cinematographer graduated from AFI Conservatory after completing UCLA's Professional Producing program, according to Variety.
Matt Hutchins, Halyna's husband, said in a tweet that the fund will "honor her memory and support aspiring female cinematographers." He thanked her AFI friends and mentors for creating the fund and encouraged anyone seeking to honor her memory to direct their giving to it.
Director and writer Olia Oparina told Variety that the fund aims to help female cinematographers "build sustainable careers in the movie business." In a statement, Oparina recalled how Hutchins — whom she described as "her closest friend" — brought her unique vision and voice to every project, and advocated for female directors and directors of photography.
"Her passing is a tragedy, not only for her family and friends, but also for the world of film she so loved, which has been forever deprived of her great talent," she concluded.
How COVID-19 is impacting a global climate summit in Scotland
As a global climate conference gets underway in Glasgow to deal with one public health crisis, it risks being disrupted by another: COVID-19.
Scotland’s health secretary, Humza Yousaf,told the BBC that organizers are taking precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus at the summit — such as daily testing and face mask requirements in certain areas — but that a spike in infections is possible.
"There is no public health expert in the world who would say there is no risk in the midst of a global pandemic to have tens of thousands of people descending onto largely one city,” Yousaf said. “So there is absolutely a risk of Covid cases rising thereafter, but we’ll do everything we can to mitigate that.”
The so-called COP26 summit kicks off Sunday and is expected to draw around 25,000 people to work on solutions to the global climate crisis.
While President Biden is scheduled to attend, other world leaders have decided to skip COP, including Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who reportedly hasn’t left the country since the beginning of the pandemic.
Organizers have encouraged attendees to get vaccinated.But the United Nations, which is hosting the summit, doesn’t require people to be vaccinated in order to attend its meetings, according to the New York Times.
Some 'Unite the Right' organizers go on trial in Charlottesville
Jury selection begins today in a civil trial aimed at holding organizers of the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va., account and disrupting their future operations.
The rally turned deadly when one neo-Nazi drove a car into a crowd, killing Heather Heyer and injuring 30 others. He's serving two life sentences.
Odette Yousef covers domestic extremism for NPR. As she explained on Up First, this is a very different kind of case.
The civil case is playing out in the Western U.S. District of Virginia. It involves nine plaintiffs, all of whom lived in Charlottesville at the time of the rally. The 24 defendants include some individuals and some groups. The trial is expected to last four weeks and include up to 150 witnesses.
Yousef says there are some security concerns surrounding the trial. As a result, once the jury is selected it will be partially anonymous — the parties involved in the lawsuit will know jurors' identities, but the public will not. Also, because of the pandemic, there will be limited courtroom attendance and strict rules around things like masking.
The strategy of using civil litigation to hold people accountable for hate-fueled violence dates back to landmark anti-hate cases headed by the Southern Poverty Law Center in the 1980s and 1990s. Plaintiffs' goal is to bankrupt and disrupt the groups they allege were behind the events in Charlottesville, by creating financial and operational consequences.
Read more from Yousef on how previous cases have played out and what we might expect in the weeks ahead.
Ohio reversed course after its new license plates showed a plane flying backwards
Officials in Ohio had to — literally — reverse course when they realized their new state license plate design featured a plane flying backwards.
Let's back up. The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles recently redesigned its standard license plate for the first time since 2013, and unveiled the new look in a tweet last week.
This morning Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio BMV Registrar Charlie Norman unveiled Ohio's new standard license plate. The new plate will be available to drivers starting Dec. 29. Ohio last updated its standard license plate design in 2013. pic.twitter.com/tIOaeycgh5— Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (@Ohio_BMV) October 21, 2021
It depicts a brown field of wheat, green hills, blue waters, grey skyscrapers, a child and dog playing beneath a leafy tree and a yellow sun shining in the sky. At the very top, a historic-looking plane carries a banner reading "Ohio: Birthplace of Avaiation."
The illustration is a nod to the Wright Brothers (who lived in Dayton for most of their lives), who created and flew the world's first successful motor-operated plane in 1903. But eagle-eyed viewers quickly pointed out that the plane appeared to be pushing the banner, not pulling it.
Within hours, the BMV had apologized for the error and released an updated version with the plane facing the other way.
We are aware that the plane on the new Ohio license plate unveiled this morning was oriented in the wrong direction. We regret this mistake and have fixed the image. This is the correct design that will be reflected on all new plates issued to Ohio drivers. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/HAire7kr9M— Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (@Ohio_BMV) October 21, 2021
Officials said the state would recycle the roughly 35,000 plates it had already printed, according to The Mercury News.
But that wasn't the end. Some critics took issue with another aspect of the design: The Wright Brothers' historic first flight (and presumably the model for the plate design) actually took place in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
North Carolina and Ohio have long been at odds over who gets the title of "first in flight," as Cincinnati Public Radio reported. Ohio is where the Wright Brothers were born and created the first airplane, while aviation history was actually made in North Carolina.
The two states briefly set aside their bickering to celebrate the anniversary of the first flight in their first-ever joint ceremony last December (it was virtual because of the pandemic).
So it was only a matter of time before North Carolina weighed in on the license plate flop:
Greenhouse gases reached record levels in 2020, despite the pandemic
Despite a world economy that slowed significantly due to COVID-19, the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record last year, putting the goal of slowing the rise of global temperatures “way off track,” according to the World Meteorological Organization.
The United Nations body said Monday that carbon dioxide had risen by more than the 10-year average in 2020 to 413.2 parts per million, despite a slight decrease in emissions due to the pandemic. Methane and nitrous oxide, two other potent greenhouse gases, also showed increases, the WMO said in the latest issue of its Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.
The report comes ahead of next week’s international climate meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, known as the Conference of Parties, or COP, which is meant to take stock of global progress toward cutting emissions. The Biden administration is also struggling to save its Clean Electricity Performance Program, or CEPP, legislation that aims to reduce U.S. emissions to about half 2005 levels by the end of the decade.
Together, the U.S., China and the European Union are responsible for more than 40% of global carbon emissions.
"At the current rate of increase in greenhouse gas concentrations, we will see a temperature increase by the end of this century far in excess of the Paris Agreement targets of 1.5 to 2C above pre-industrial levels," the WMO’s Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.
"We are way off track,” he said.
Taalas said the last time the Earth had a comparable level of CO2 in the atmosphere was 3-5 million years ago, when the average global temperature was 2-3 Celsius hotter and sea level was 10-20 meters (32-65 feet) higher than today.
The WMO says that only half of human-emitted CO2 is absorbed by oceans and land ecosystems, the other half remains in the atmosphere — and the overall amount in the air is sensitive to climate and land-use changes. Since carbon emissions increased in the last decade, even though there was a decrease last year due to reduced economic activity, atmospheric levels continued to increase progressively from the accumulation.
On the CDC and FDA's agenda this week is considering COVID vaccines for kids
Here's what we're interested in:
- The next step towards a greenlit COVID vaccine for millions of little ones.
Tomorrow, a committee of FDA advisors will meet to assess whether a kid-sized dose of the Pfizer vaccine should be recommended for kids as young as 5. They'll take a look at the data from a recent Pfizer clinical trial that found its vaccine was about 91% effective at preventing symptomatic infection in the children involved in the trial. The company says its data supports its vaccine being granted authorization for use in kids. That decision will ultimately fall to the CDC and FDA, though, and it could come swiftly after tomorrow's meeting of FDA advisors. Experts predict that if it is authorized, kids 5-11 across the country will be able to start getting their shots. by early November.
- Mix-and-match COVID boosters are here.
They were authorized last week by the CDC along with authorization for Moderna boosters for certain groups and all adults who got the Johnson & Johnson shot. Experts are excited because the mix-and-match approach makes booster logistics easier, and experts say that extra convenience will be vital to getting the most Americans protected. There is some data to suggest that those who got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could benefit from getting one of the MRNA vaccines as a booster, but the biggest message from experts is this: All the vaccines are effective and any is worth getting as a booster if you qualify. The science doesn't point to an optimal choice, so going with preference or convenience is alright when selecting a booster.
- Halloween isn't canceled because of COVID, but stay safe.
Halloween can still be celebrated this year, with COVID protections in mind, like masks for kids indoors around a crowd. "... Put on those costumes, get outside and enjoy your trick-or-treating," as CDC director Rochelle Walensky put it. She notes the more people vaccinated among your trick-or-treating or other holiday group, the better. Click here to read more from Allison Aubrey and the rest ofNPR'sCOVIDcoverage team.
And if you're haunted by supply chain delays this year, have no fear because NPR's All Things Considered has you covered on how to DIY a spooky look worthy of a costume contest win. 🎃
Soldiers have arrested Sudan’s prime minister in an apparent coup
Authorities say Sudan’s acting prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, is under house arrest and other top government officials have been arrested, in what activists are calling a military coup.
It comes shortly before the military was set to hand over power to a new civilian government and complete Sudan’s transition to a democratic state.
Internet and cell phone networks have been almost entirely cut off, and protesters have taken to the streets to express their displeasure with the military’s consolidation of power.
Just two years earlier, the country’s military ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir amid growing calls for him to leave office. Many saw that as a turning point for the African nation.
“This was a fantastic time in Sudan. I was there. There was music. There was hope. It was a country that suddenly found itself liberated from an extremely conservative interpretation of Islamic law,” Peralta said. “You could feel, like, an awakening in that country.”
Now there are worries that the country may return to military rule. Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, said the U.S. is “deeply alarmed” by the reports of a military takeover in Sudan and that if true, it would be “utterly unacceptable.”
Catching up on the weekend's biggest stories
It's the last Monday of October. 🎃 Here are the weekend developments we're following today:
A 'bomb cyclone' blasts Northern California
Northern California is still feeling the effects of a powerful storm known as a "bomb cyclone" and "atmospheric river," which is bringing flooding, mudslides and widespread power outages to the region. It's reportedly the strongest storm to hit the Bay Area in more than 25 years.
Utility company PG&E said some 380,000 customers lost power at the height of the storm, with San Mateo, Santa Clara and Marin counties most heavily impacted.
Heavy rainfall is expected to continue at least throughout the day — and that poses a continued threat of landslides and flash flooding, especially in burn areas that have less vegetation to soak up the deluge. Member station KQED reports that this storm will effectively end wildfire season in California, but the state will still need more than 140% of normal rainfall for the season to end its long-running drought.
We're learning more about the tragic on-set shooting
New details are emerging about what exactly happened on the New Mexico set of the movie Rust, where actor Alec Baldwin accidentally killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins with a prop gun last week.
The Associated Press reports that an assistant director told Baldwin the prop gun was "cold," meaning it didn't carry live rounds and was ready to fire. Neither that assistant director nor the film's armorer responded to the AP's questions. The gun had reportedly misfired before on set. The shooting is prompting calls to ban real guns from sets, as NPR's Joe Hernandez reports.
Bigger picture: Several members had previously voiced complaints about conditions ranging from their accommodations to COVID-19 protocols to weapons safety training. In fact, seven camera crew members walked off the set to protest those production issues just hours before Hutchins was killed. More on that here.
Mourners are continuing to hold vigils and pay tribute to Hutchins, who is being remembered as a talented artist and a team player. Read NPR's remembrance.
Remembering James Michael Tyler, best known as Gunther from Friends
Actor James Michael Tyler died of prostate cancer on Sunday at the age of 59. You may know him as Gunther, the eccentric, love-worn barista who, over the course of the beloved sitcom, went from being a background character to "the seventh Friend."
Tyler didn't have a single line of dialogue for his first 33 appearances on the show — but by the end of the series had appeared in 150 of the show's 236 episodes. He acted in other shows and short films, including two released in 2020. Read more here.
"The world knew him as Gunther (the seventh "Friend")," his manager, Toni Benson, said in a statement, "but Michael's loved ones knew him as an actor, musician, cancer-awareness advocate, and loving husband. Michael loved live music, cheering on his Clemson Tigers, and would often find himself in fun and unplanned adventures. If you met him once you made a friend for life."
Tributes are pouring in, with the "Friends" offering their condolences and gratitude in social media posts.
David Schwimmer thanked Tyler for "playing such a wonderful, unforgettable role in Friends and for being such a big hearted gentleman and all around mensch off screen." Matt LeBlanc reminisced on the laughs they shared, while Courtney Cox wrote that "The size of gratitude you brought into the room and showed every day on set is the size of the gratitude I hold for having known you."
As Lisa Kudrow put it: "Thank you for being there for us all."