US must face up to ‘shameful past’ with tribal nations, Harris says | First Thing

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Promising to speak the truth about America’s past, Kamala Harris told the National Congress of American Indians that the Biden administration would not shy from a history since the first arrival of European explorers that she said was “shameful”.

The US vice-president also highlighted an “epidemic” of murders of Native American women and girls, which she said “must end”.

Harris delivered a virtual address the day after a federal holiday originally named for Christopher Columbus, the Italian explorer who arrived in the Americas in 1492.

The naming of the holiday for Columbus, a slaveholder and trader who brought disease as well as oppression to the Americas, has proven increasingly controversial, criticized on the left and defended on the right and among some Italian heritage groups.

The White House this year issued twin proclamations, greeting both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

  • Why is the name of the day so controversial? In a bitterly divided country, the teaching of American history has become a political flashpoint, attracting fierce attacks from conservatives everywhere from school boards to universities, the media and beyond.

  • What else did Harris say about it? “Since 1934, every October, the United States has recognized the voyage of the European explorers who first landed on the shores of the Americas. But that is not the whole story. That has never been the whole story … We must not shy away from this shameful past.”

Drug trial offers new hope for those with metastatic breast cancer

Breast scan
Secondary breast cancer occurs when the cancer spreads to other parts of the body. Photograph: Bsip Sa/Alamy

Scientists have launched a trial that could offer hope to people with incurable breast cancer. They are studying whether an existing drug, talazoparib, also known by the brand name Talzenna, may offer a new treatment to people with incurable breast cancer that has spread to the brain.

Secondary breast cancer, also known as metastatic breast cancer, occurs when the cancer has spread from the breast to other parts of the body, where it becomes incurable. Last month it claimed the life of the Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding.

In the new trial, funded by the charity Breast Cancer Now, researchers will assess whether talazoparib could help people with terminal breast cancer. The drug is a PARP inhibitor, which works by preventing cancer cells from repairing.

Experts from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences in Dublin will use tumours and breast cancer cells donated by patients to see in the lab whether talazoparib is effective in treating secondary breast cancer in the brain.

  • Prof Leonie Young, one of the co-leads of the research team, said: “Our previous research has shown that in many cases secondary breast cancer tumours in the brain have changes in the way they repair their DNA, and we believe this could make them vulnerable to PARP inhibitor drugs like talazoparib.”

House passes bill to raise US debt ceiling through early December

Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, on the way to the chamber on Tuesday
Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, on the way to the chamber on Tuesday. Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure into law this week. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The US House of Representatives gave final approval on Tuesday to a Senate-passed bill temporarily raising the government’s borrowing limit to $28.9tn, putting off the risk of default at least until early December.

Democrats, who narrowly control the House, maintained party discipline to pass the hard-fought $480bn debt limit increase. The vote was along party lines, with every yes from Democrats and every no from Republicans.

Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure into law before next Monday when the treasury department has estimated it would no longer be able to pay the nation’s debts without congressional action.

Republicans insist Democrats should take responsibility for raising the debt limit because they want to spend trillions of dollars to expand social programs and tackle climate change. Democrats say the increased borrowing authority is needed largely to cover the cost of tax cuts and spending programs during Donald Trump’s administration, which House Republicans supported.

  • House passage warded off concerns that the world’s largest economy would go into default for the first time, but only for about seven weeks.

  • Lawmakers have until 3 December to pass spending legislation to prevent a government shutdown.

William Shatner to blast off on Bezos rocket to become oldest person in space

This undated photo made available by Blue Origin in October 2021 shows, from left, Chris Boshuizen, William Shatner, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries. Their launch scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021 will be Blue Origin’s second passenger flight, using the same capsule and rocket that Jeff Bezos used for his own trup three months earlier. (Blue Origin via AP)
Shatner, second left, with his New Shepard rocket colleagues Chris Boshuizen, Audrey Powers and Glen de Vries. The rocket will lift off at 8.30am Texas time. Photograph: AP

William Shatner, the veteran actor who spent four decades playing the fearless commander of Star Trek’s USS Enterprise, was set for a real-life leap into the stars on Wednesday on the next stage of Jeff Bezos’s quest to dominate the fledgling space tourism industry.

The successful completion of the 11-minute flight alongside three civilian crew mates, with lift-off of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket scheduled for 8.30am CT from its Van Horn, Texas, launchpad, would make Shatner, 90, the oldest human to fly into space.

It also marks the second attempted crewed flight of the rocket system that lifted Bezos, the 57-year-old Amazon founder and world’s richest man, and his brother Mark 66.5 miles into space in July.

Bezos hailed his joyride – which came nine days after the British billionaire Sir Richard Branson’s flight to the edge of space onboard Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity – as “the best day ever”. The two tycoons are sparring with a third wealthy entrepreneur, Elon Musk of SpaceX.

  • Who else is beaming up with Shatner? The three other passengers are Audrey Powers, a Blue Origin executive; Chris Boshuizen, a former Nasa engineer and founder of the satellite Earth imaging company Planet Labs; and Glen de Vries, chief executive of the clinical research firm Medidata Solutions.

In other news…

Diana Morgan Magda, 58, at home in Girard, Ohio
Diana Morgan Magda, 58, at home in Girard, Ohio. Photograph: Justin Merriman/The Guardian

Stat of the day: Squid Game is Netflix’s biggest debut hit, reaching 111m viewers worldwide

Squid Game
Squid Game blends a tight plot, social allegory and uncompromising violence to create the latest South Korean cultural phenomenon to go global. Photograph: Youngkyu Park/Netflix/AFP/Getty Images

The dystopian South Korean drama Squid Game has become Netflix’s most popular series ever, drawing 111 million viewers since its debut less than four weeks ago, the streaming service said Tuesday. The unprecedented global viral hit imagines a macabre world in which marginalised people are pitted against one another in traditional children’s games. While the victor can earn millions in cash, losing players are killed. Spreading around the world by word of mouth, especially via social media, Squid Game has topped Netflix charts in more than 80 countries.

Don’t miss this: why white people get wealthier after disasters but others suffer – an illustrated story

People who are already comfortably well-off are more likely to get assistance after a natural disaster.
People who are already comfortably well-off are more likely to get assistance after a natural disaster. Illustration: Wang Xulin/The Guardian

People who are already comfortably well-off are more likely to get assistance after a natural disaster, which means the government programs end up reinforcing inequality. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, one family, the Johnsons, received money from their employers as well as tax breaks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They were able to move to a nicer neighbourhood with flood defence infrastructure. Meanwhile Lees, a single mother whose place of work was destroyed, became homeless.

Climate check: carbon emissions ‘will drop just 40% by 2050 with countries’ current pledges’

FILE PHOTO: Steam rises at sunrise from the Lethabo Power Station, a coal-fired power station owned by state power utility ESKOM near Sasolburg, South Africa, March 2, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo
Sections of the report show coal use growing strongly, contributing to the second-largest increase in CO2 emissions in history. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Current plans to cut global carbon emissions will fall 60% short of the 2050 net zero target, the International Energy Agency has said, as it urged leaders to use the upcoming Cop26 climate conference to send an “unmistakable signal” with concrete policy plans. In its annual World Energy Outlook, redesigned this year as a “guidebook” for world leaders attending the summit in Glasgow, the IEA predicted that carbon emissions would decrease by just 40% by the middle of the century if countries stick to their climate pledges.

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Last thing: how increasingly elaborate decorative baking became an online obsession

Decorated cakes
‘It is mesmerising to watch the labour people devote to something whose sole purpose is destruction’. Composite: Instagram/@hamishblakeshotz/@amauryguichon/Tuba Geçkil

In July last year a video showed knives slicing into a Crocs shoe, a pot plant and a roll of toilet paper – all revealing spongy innards layered with icing. “These are all cakes,” said the caption on the video, which has been viewed more than 33m times on Twitter. They were the creations of Red Rose Cake’s Tuba Geçkil, a visual artist turned self-described haute couture cakemaker. As surely as it was a sign that people had lost their minds in lockdown, the transient is-this-cake obsession stemmed, perhaps, from the uneasiness these culinary illusions evoke: they mess with our tenuous construction of reality.

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