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Thursday | September 30th, 2021

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1) Military Leaders Contradict Biden

The Topline: After U.S. military leaders testified to Congress this week about the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden is facing further questions about the decision-making behind the widely criticized strategy.

Quote Of The Day: “Speaker of the House Pelosi called me to inquire about the president’s ability to launch nuclear weapons … She was concerned and made various personal references characterizing the president.”

– General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Rod Lamkey-Pool/Pool/Getty Images

The Context

On Tuesday, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley, head of CENTCOM, General McKenzie and the commander on the ground, General Miller all testified that they recommended that 2,500 troops remain in place in Afghanistan.

However, Biden previously claimed in an ABC interview that he was never warned and had the full support of his military leadership.

George Stephanopolous: But your top military advisors warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops.

Biden: No, they didn’t. It was split. Tha– that wasn’t true. That wasn’t true.

Stephanopoulos: They didn’t tell you that they wanted troops to stay?

Biden: No.

Criticism

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) tweeted, “Someone is lying,” saying either Biden ignored the advice of his top military advisors, or these advisors lied under oath. 

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) said Biden was “as dishonest as he is incompetent,” saying he lied about not being warned, lied we’d evacuate all Americans, and lied about the withdrawal from Afghanistan, claiming it was an extraordinary success.

Biden’s Ongoing Crises

The government’s estimate of the number of Americans still trapped in Afghanistan likely falls far short of reality, according to volunteers on the ground. The Biden administration also reportedly blocked a charter flight from Afghanistan to the U.S. which had over 100 American citizens and green card holders.

The border crisis also continues to unfold. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Tuesday, targeting the federal government’s “catch-and-release” policy.

David McNew/Staff/Getty Images

2) Record Shipping Backlog Worsens

The Topline: A record-breaking backlog in the global supply chain has left dozens of massive cargo ships stuck outside ports around the country.

The Backlog

Nearly half of all imported goods come into the U.S. through ports on the coast of California, which ordinarily have one cargo ship waiting to unload at most.

Currently, at two ports in Los Angeles, there are 62 cargo ships waiting to unload goods. The average ship is now sitting untouched for nine days before being offloaded. 

Once the ships are unloaded, the cargo containers are either loaded onto trucks or shipped via train, but there are also backups at railyards. The average shipping container is now sitting untouched for nearly 9.8 days at the ten largest rail yards in the country.

Why?

The labor shortage and COVID-19 precautions have played a role, as government health regulations slowed down the amount of time it takes to process each container being offloaded.

The problem is mostly impacting businesses relying on goods from Asia because the products are imported through California.

Possible Solutions

Many businesses are now lobbying for looser COVID-19 protocols at ports and others are chartering their own cargo ships or planes to cut out the middleman. 

The Biden administration has considered lowering the minimum age for truck drivers from 21 to 18 and loosening immigration restrictions for trucking companies so they can hire more workers from abroad. 

Going Forward: Consumers can expect an increase in waiting times for ordered items and an increase in prices.

Experts predict a toy shortage at Christmas this year and fewer Black Friday sales.

Wally Skalij/Contributor/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images

3) NBA Push Back On Vaccine Mandates

The Topline: On Monday, the main topic of conversation at NBA Media Day was the COVID-19 vaccine.

Quote Of The Day: “We’re talking about individuals’ bodies. We’re not talking about something that’s, you know, political or racism or police brutality … So I don’t feel like, for me personally, that I should get involved in what other people should do for their bodies.”

– LeBron James

Players 

The league is reportedly 90% vaccinated, and referees and team staff who work within 15 feet of players are required to have the vaccine. 

Washington Wizards all-star guard Bradley Beal said he was unvaccinated.

Beal was the second-leading scorer in the NBA last season, is the eleventh ranked player in the NBA by ESPN, and is now the most high profile NBA player to say he has not received the vaccine. Beal missed the Tokyo Olympics after contracting COVID-19 and told reporters he is unvaccinated. 

He said he now has antibodies, and questioned reporters in the room about why vaccinated people are also getting COVID-19.

Can They Play?

Unvaccinated players can still play, but New York City and San Francisco will require professional athletes to show proof of at least one dose of the vaccine to play indoors, impacting 2014 number one overall pick Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors and Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets. 

Wiggins is not vaccinated and was recently denied a religious exemption by the NBA, so he won’t be able to play in his home arena if he isn’t vaccinated. 

Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/Contributor/LightRocket/Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

Youtube

On Wednesday, Youtube announced they are expanding their “medical misinformation policies” with new guidelines regarding COVID-19 vaccines. Content will be removed if videos allege that certain approved vaccines are actually dangerous and could cause chronic adverse health reactions, do not reduce transmission or contraction of disease, or contain misinformation on the substances contained in vaccines.

Oregon School Board

An Oregon school board voted this week to ban educators from displaying “political, quasi-political or controversial” symbols in the classroom. Among the banned items are Pride flags and Black Lives Matter symbols.

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