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AP News in Brief at 11:04 p.m. EST

Pfizer asks FDA to OK COVID-19 booster shots for all adults

Pfizer asked U.S. regulators Tuesday to allow boosters of its COVID-19 vaccine for anyone 18 or older, a step that comes amid concern about increased spread of the coronavirus with holiday travel and gatherings.

Older Americans and other groups particularly vulnerable to the virus have had access to a third dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine since September. But the Food and Drug Administration has said it would move quickly to expand boosters to younger ages if warranted.

Pfizer is submitting early results of a booster study in 10,000 people to make its case that it’s time to further expand the booster campaign.

While all three vaccines used in the U.S. continue to offer strong protection against severe COVID-19 illness and death, the shots’ effectiveness against milder infection can wane over time.

Pfizer’s new study concluded a booster could restore protection against symptomatic infection to about 95%, even as the extra-contagious delta variant was surging. Side effects were similar to those seen with the company’s first two shots.


House Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 10 former White House aides

WASHINGTON (AP) — House investigators issued subpoenas Tuesday to 10 former officials who worked for Donald Trump at the end of his presidency, an effort to find out more about what the president was doing and saying as his supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in a bid to overturn his defeat.

The subpoenas, including demands for documents and testimony from former senior adviser Stephen Miller and former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, bring the House panel tasked with investigating the insurrection even closer inside Trump’s inner circle — and closer to Trump himself. They come a day after the committee subpoenaed six other associates of the former president who spread mistruths about widespread fraud in the election and strategized about how to thwart President Joe Biden’s victory.

“The Select Committee wants to learn every detail of what went on in the White House on January 6th and in the days beforehand,” said Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chairman of the panel. “We need to know precisely what role the former president and his aides played in efforts to stop the counting of the electoral votes and if they were in touch with anyone outside the White House attempting to overturn the outcome of the election.”

Later Tuesday, a federal judge rejected Trump’s request to block the National Archives from releasing White House documents concerning the Jan. 6 insurrection to the House committee. Trump has filed notice that he will appeal the ruling, and it is likely to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is so far unclear if the Jan. 6 panel will subpoena Trump, though the committee’s leaders have said they haven’t ruled anything out. The panel has now issued more than 30 subpoenas, including to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, longtime ally Steve Bannon and others who were close to the former president.


Despite reopening, the US is still closed to many in world

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. says that it's inviting the global community to visit now that the government has ended the ban on travelers from 33 countries.

In reality, however, it will still be difficult — if not impossible — for much of the globe to enter the country and experts say it will take years for travel to fully recover.

For starters, half the world isn't vaccinated and therefore doesn't meet the U.S. requirement for visiting foreigners. So while many Europeans may now be able to come in, people from poorer countries where vaccines are scarce remain cut off, with limited exceptions.

For some public health experts, that raises ethical questions about the policy.

“The concern is not limiting access based on vaccination status,” said Nancy Kass, deputy director of public health in the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins University. “It is that it’s systemically making it impossible for people, generally from poor countries, whose governments have been unable to secure anything near the supply they need, to be able to come and see their loved ones.”


White House rushes with infrastructure fixes for US economy

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Biden administration is relying on infrastructure dollars to help fix the clogged ports and blanket the nation with internet access — but a series of initiatives rolled out on Tuesday show that the urgent pace might not be fast enough to address the immediate needs of an economy coping with a supply chain squeeze and a shift to remote work.

President Joe Biden spoke with the CEOs of Wal-Mart, Target, UPS and FedEx on Tuesday about how to relieve the supply chain challenges as ships are still waiting to dock at some of the country's leading ports. The key problem is that these ports are experiencing record volumes of shipping containers as the economy has recovered from the pandemic.

Biden received updates from the CEOs on how deliveries are being sped up to ensure that store shelves will be well-stocked this holiday season, according to a White House official. Bloomberg News first reported Biden's conversations with the corporate leaders.

Yet the concrete policy steps being discussed by the administration show that there is no quick fix to supply chain issues that are still hurting smaller businesses and causing consumers to face higher prices. Nor can the administration build out a national broadband network fast enough as more Americans are pivoting toward remote work.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo highlighted at the White House briefing the $65 billion for broadband access in the the $1 trillion infrastructure package that cleared the House on Friday. She said that jobs would be created and poorer Americans would receive “affordable” internet service, though she did not spell out a precise dollar amount on what the monthly bills could be.


Rapper's rowdy past raises red flags in Astroworld lawsuits

Lawsuits are piling up less than a week after the deadly crowd crush at the Astroworld concert, and legal experts say the risk is mounting that juries could decide against rapper Travis Scott and the companies behind the tragic event in Houston.

Several legal experts told The Associated Press that Scott’s past incitement of concertgoers offers a history that could make it easier to pursue negligence claims against companies that planned and managed the show, which killed eight people and left hundreds injured. And although the investigations have just begun, experts expect dozens more lawsuits seeking damages that could climb into hundreds of millions of dollars.

At the center of the legal maelstrom is Scott, a 30-year-old rapper famous for whipping fans into a frenzy who has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges tied to stirring up crowds at previous concerts.

“This put everyone on notice: ‘This is what has happened, and there is no reason it can’t happen again,’” said John Werner, a lawyer in Beaumont, Texas, who is not involved in Astroworld cases. “They know this is a situation that can get out of hand.”

“This tragedy was months, if not years, in the making,” wrote Houston lawyer Steve Kherkher in a lawsuit demanding more than $1 million for a man trampled in the melee, which he said was “predictable and preventable” given the rapper's history.


Federal judge refuses Trump request to block Jan. 6 records

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge on Tuesday rejected former President Donald Trump's request to block the release of documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan declined to issue a preliminary injunction sought by Trump's lawyers. Chutkan said President Joe Biden was “best positioned” to determine whether to waive executive privilege on documents sought by the House.

“At bottom, this is a dispute between a former and incumbent President," Chutkan wrote. “And the Supreme Court has already made clear that in such circumstances, the incumbent’s view is accorded greater weight.”

Trump “does not acknowledge the deference owed” to Biden's judgment as the current president, Chutkan said. However, she added, “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”

The National Archives has said it would turn over records by Friday absent a court order stopping it from doing so. Minutes after Chutkan's order became public, Trump filed notice that he would appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The case is likely to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.


APEC finds agreement on vaccines, carbon but tensions remain

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Making coronavirus vaccines more accessible and reducing carbon emissions were two key pledges that Pacific Rim senior officials could agree to Wednesday.

But what went unstated were the deep tensions that run through the unlikely group of 21 nations and territories that include the U.S., China, Taiwan, Russia, and Australia. Those tensions have raised questions about who can join a Pacific trade deal and whether the U.S. will get to host a future round of meetings.

Trade ministers met online over two days as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. It is being hosted by New Zealand in a virtual format due to the pandemic. The officials highlighted areas where they could find agreement ahead of a leader's meeting later in the week.

New Zealand Trade Minister Damien O’Connor said after the meeting that the members had committed, as they did last year, to jointly fighting the pandemic.

“We all know that none of us are safe until we are all safe,” O’Connor said, adding that 17 APEC members "have either lowered or completely removed tariffs on vaccines and related products, making them easier to access.”


Satellite signals suggest Vietnam ship seized by Iran freed

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Satellite tracking data and other signals on Wednesday suggested a Vietnamese oil tanker earlier seized by Iran had been freed by the Islamic Republic, ending the latest maritime confrontation involving Tehran amid stalled negotiations over its tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

The Sothys left a position off Iran's Bandar Abbas port and had reached international waters in the nearby Gulf of Oman early Wednesday, the data analyzed by The Associated Press from MarineTraffic.com showed. The vessel appeared anchored there, but there was no information about its crew.

Iran did not acknowledge releasing the vessel and its mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Vietnamese officials could not be reached for comment, though its officials earlier acknowledged trying to obtain more information about the seizure from Iran.

The U.S. Navy's Mideast-based 5th Fleet did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iran’s powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guard troops on Oct. 24 took control of the MV Sothys, a vessel that analysts suspect of trying to transfer sanctioned Iranian crude oil to Asia. U.S. forces had monitored the seizure but ultimately didn’t take action as the vessel sailed into Iranian waters.


Little time, but 'mountain to climb' at UN climate talks

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — The United Nations climate summit in Glasgow has made “some serious toddler steps” toward cutting emissions but far from the giant leaps needed to limit global warming to internationally accepted goals, two new analyses and top officials said Tuesday.

And time is running out on the two weeks of negotiations.

The president of the climate talks, Alok Sharma, told high-level government ministers at the U.N. conference to reach out to their capitals and bosses soon to see if they can get more ambitious pledges because “we have only a few days left.”

This month's summit has seen such limited progress that a United Nations Environment Programme analysis of new pledges found they weren't enough to improve future warming scenarios. All they did was trim the “emissions gap” — how much carbon pollution can be spewed without hitting dangerous warming levels— a few tenths of a percentage point, according to the review released Tuesday.

The analysis found that by 2030, the world will be emitting 51.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide each year, 1.5 billion tons less than before the latest pledges. To achieve the limit first set in the 2015 Paris climate accord, which came out of a similar summit, the world can only emit 12.5 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2030.


Brian Williams says he's leaving NBC News at end of year

NEW YORK (AP) — Brian Williams, who remade his career as an MSNBC host after losing his job as NBC “Nightly News” anchor for making false claims about a wartime story, is leaving the network after 28 years.

Williams said in a note to colleagues that “following much reflection,” he had decided to exit when his contract ends in December.

“This is the end of a chapter and the beginning of another,” Williams wrote. “There are many things I want to do, and I'll pop up again somewhere.”

Willliams, 62, said he will take a few months off to spend time with his family.

Williams was NBC News' top anchor from 2004 until 2015, when he was suspended for falsely claiming that he had been in a helicopter hit by enemy fire during the Iraq War. A subsequent investigation found that he had made other inaccurate statements about his experiences covering events, and he lost the job.

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