News Wrap: Energy costs may soar by up to 54% amid this winter’s colder temperatures

In our news wrap Wednesday, a federal forecast says global inflation and supply shortages will boost energy costs as much as 54 percent over last year. The surge in inflation means social security recipients will get their biggest cost-of-living adjustment in 39 years, with an increase of 5.9 percent. U.S. land borders will reopen to non-essential travel for vaccinated foreigners.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: Household heating bills are expected to soar this winter. A federal forecast says global inflation and supply shortages will boost energy costs as much as 54 percent over last year. This winter is also forecast to be slightly colder nationwide.

    The surge in inflation means that Social Security recipients will get their biggest cost-of-loving adjustment in 39 years. The increase announced today amounts to 5.9 percent, an average of $92 a month. Increases had averaged less than 2 percent a year for the last 10 years.

    The nation's land borders will reopen to nonessential travel by foreigners after a pandemic era closure that lasted 19 months. The Biden administration says fully vaccinated visitors may enter from Canada or Mexico as of early November.

    In another development, the federal COVID coordinator, Jeff Zients, reported that vaccination rates are up 20 percentage points from mid-summer.

  • Jeffrey Zients, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator:

    Since late July, when the president first announced vaccination requirements and called on organizations to follow his lead, the number of eligible Americans who are unvaccinated has decreased by about one-third, from 97 million down to 66 million individuals.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Zients credited vaccine mandates with the increase.

    Meanwhile, Chicago's police union is urging officers to defy a city mandate. They have to report their vaccine status by Friday, or face unpaid leave.

    The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today on the fate of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the two Boston Marathon bombers. He is fighting reinstatement of a death sentence, which a lower court threw out. The 2013 bombing killed three people and wounded more than 260.

    We will take a closer look later in the program.

    Hurricane Pamela is moving inland tonight across Northwestern Mexico. It came ashore today north of Mazatlan on Mexico's Pacific Coast. The storm left flooded streets and downed trees in its wake. Forecasters say remnants of Pamela will bring heavy rain to parts of Texas and Oklahoma by Thursday.

    A wind-blown wildfire in Southern California has threatened more than 100 homes for a second day. One is near the ranch that was once owned by President Reagan and known as the Western White House. The fire in Santa Barbara county ignited Monday, and high winds quickly spread it. By this afternoon, it was only 5 percent contained.

    The White House today kicked off a virtual summit on cybersecurity involving 30 nation. But Russia was not invited. The focus is on ransomware attacks, and many of them originate in Russia.

    Still, at an energy conference in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin said he expects better ties ahead.

  • Vladimir Putin, Russian President (through translator):

    In general, President Biden and I have rather stable working relations. I assume that fundamental interests of the two countries will definitely lead one way or another to our relations being repaired.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The meeting will last two days.

    The Biden administration hopes to see as many as seven wind farms built off the East and West Coasts of the U.S. and in the Gulf of Mexico. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said today that lease sales could be held by 2025. Federal officials estimate that the projects, if built, would generate enough electricity for 10 million homes.

    The FDA released voluntary guidelines today on cutting sodium levels in food. They cover everything from cereals to french fries to condiments. The goal is a 12 percent reduction in sodium intake to 3,000 milligrams a day. The FDA envisions that happening over two-and-a-half years.

    On Wall Street, tech stocks advanced, but the rest of the market lagged. The Dow Jones industrial average lost half-a-point to close at 34377. The Nasdaq rose 105 points. The S&P 500 added 13.

    And Star Trek's Captain Kirk, William Shatner, rocketed briefly into space today. He traveled courtesy of Blue Origin, the space tourism company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Shatner and three others lifted off from West Texas. The suborbital flight carried them 66 miles high, and touched down after 10 minutes. At 90, Shatner is the oldest person ever in space.

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