Biden warns against ‘MAGA forces’, Mississippi water crisis continues: 5 Things podcast

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Biden warns against ‘MAGA forces’ in speech

White House correspondent Joey Garrison recaps a controversial speech. Plus, a water crisis continues in Mississippi’s capital, wellness reporter Alia Dastagir looks at parental fears around comprehensive sex education, the CDC signs off on new COVID boosters and Serena and Venus fall in US Open doubles.

Podcasts: True crime, in-depth interviews and more USA TODAY podcasts right here.

Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Friday, the 2nd of September, 2022. Today, how Biden bashed “MAGA Republicans” in a speech last night, plus the latest from Mississippi’s water crisis, and more.

Here are some of the top headlines:

  1. A man has been arrested after pointing a handgun at point-blank range towards the vice president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández. The country’s president, Alberto Fernández, called it a homicide attempt.

  2. A retired New York police officer and Marine veteran was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison for assaulting police in the January 6th Capitol attack. It’s the longest sentence yet from the riot.

  3. College football’s return continued last night as Penn State beat Purdue, Missouri beat Louisiana Tech, and Pittsburgh held off West Virginia. For full scores and coverage, head to USA TODAY Sports.

At a speech last night in Philadelphia, President Joe Biden said that so-called “MAGA Republicans” threaten American democracy.

President Joe Biden:

Equality and democracy are the rock upon which this nation is built. But as I stand here tonight, equality and democracy are under assault. We do ourselves no favors to pretend otherwise. Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal. Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.

Taylor Wilson:

Biden’s comments came during his second of three trips to Pennsylvania over a one-week stretch. The state is a major Senate battleground ahead of this fall’s midterms. For more on what Biden said last night and to put things in context, White House Correspondent Joey Garrison reports.

Joey Garrison:

President Biden made the case Thursday night that democracy, really the fate of American democracy is at stake. It comes, as he pointed out, amid rising threats of political violence, and this is coming from what he’s called is the “MAGA Republicans.” He’s called it the “ultra-MAGA Republicans.” This is really an attempt to label these individuals as extreme. The White House called the speech not a political one, but obviously there’s politics inherent in this, especially when he gave the speech in Philadelphia, which is the site of… in Pennsylvania where it’s one of the crucial set of battleground states that’ ll decide the fate of the control of the Senate in the fall.

Usually a midterm election turns into a referendum of the incumbent president. Biden has seen his poll ratings tick up a little bit, but still, that kind of dynamic favors the Republicans. The Republicans would rather have this election be an up and down vote whether you like Biden or not. What Democrats and the president are trying to do is say, “Hey, there’s much more at stake here.” Abortion rights, as we saw with Roe v. Wade getting overturned by the Supreme Court, and this group of Republicans, that they call “MAGA Republicans.” who’s still denying the 2020 election in which Trump lost. They’ve criticized the FBI amid the investigation into classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, and some have called to defund the FBI.

Really with that backdrop, President Biden gave this address last night. As much as it fits in the themes that he’s said before, in which he said that there’s a battle for the soul of this nation. Last night, he said it was a continued battle for this soul of this nation. But really there’s a major political emphasis on this speech to really highlight a choice for voters heading into the voting, which is really 70 days away now, really half that, 35 days away if you count the beginning of early voting.

Taylor Wilson:

For Joey’s full story, you can click a link in today’s episode description, and for more on Biden’s speech, head to USATODAY.com.

The water crisis continues in Mississippi. Heavy rains and flooding made already existing problems worse at a water treatment facility in the capital of Jackson this week, and 80% of the water systems’ customers had little or no water as recently as Wednesday morning. Many of the city’s 150,000 residents have been unable to take showers or flush toilets this week, although some service was restored yesterday. Governor Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency on Monday, but he said yesterday that things were improving.

Governor Tate Reeves:

Today, I am announcing the launch of seven state-run water distribution sites throughout the area affected by the water crisis. We are continuing to work diligently at the OB Curtis Water Treatment Plant to get everyone in Jackson sustainable running water for the long term. As we have said, this is a challenge that many have been dealing with. We are extremely grateful to those operators and those city employees that are in the facility and have been in the facility. We also welcome the help and support of both the state entities as well as our federal partners in that process.

Taylor Wilson:

Officials said they made progress in refilling tanks, treating water, and increasing pressure at the OB Curtis Water Plant, the facility at the heart of water problems. In a news release, the city said residents closer to the plant had pressure approaching normal levels again, while many still had little or no water pressure. Jackson resident, Shirley Harrington, explained the situation this way to the AP.

Shirley Harrington:

You don’t know if you’re going to wake up with water. You don’t know if you got water. You don’t know what condition the water is in.

Taylor Wilson:

Jackson schools held classes online from Tuesday through Thursday, and some restaurants have closed for the week. Portable toilets are parked outside the Capitol, and Jackson State University brought in temporary restrooms for students. President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for the state on Tuesday, and FEMA administrator, Deanne Criswell, plans to visit Mississippi today, according to the White House.

Most parents support sex education for middle and high school students, but they’re more hesitant for younger kids. Parental fears around comprehensive sex education are driven by the misbelief that it’s just about sex. But what actually is comprehensive sex ed? Producer PJ Elliott spoke with Wellness reporter Alia Dastagir to find out.

Alia Dastagir:

Proponents of comprehensive sex education say that it is an approach to sex education that begins early, so many would argue it should start in kindergarten, and covers emotional, intellectual, and social elements of sexual health. Comprehensive sex and uses a scaffolding approach to educating kids about sex, gender, and reproduction. This is how we teach almost every other subject. With math, you’re not going to do long division before you learn how to count. That’s sort of the idea, that you teach smaller, simpler concepts to young kids, build upon those concepts as the kids move through grades. So a kindergartner or a first grader who is getting comprehensive sex ed would be learning things like the proper names for body parts and what to do if someone touches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, and a high schooler who is getting comprehensive sex ed would be learning things like how to navigate a situation with consent in a sexual relationship.

PJ Elliott:

Alia, what are the benefits of teaching comprehensive sex ed?

Alia Dastagir:

The benefits of comprehensive sex ed are wide-ranging. I think this is such an important thing to focus on because there is a misperception, a misbelief, which some of it might be legitimate, like you are calling it sex ed, that this is really an education that just focuses on sex and is focused on preventing teen pregnancy, on preventing sexually transmitted infections. But comprehensive sex ed, because it is this really all-encompassing education around sexuality, which is so fundamental to sort of everything about who we are, its benefits are wide-ranging in that it addresses a social/emotional health. It addresses anti-violence. It addresses prevention of child sexual abuse. It addresses bullying. It helps with media literacy. The research is really strong. There was a meta-analysis that was recently done that looked at 30 years of research on comprehensive sex ed and found that the benefits were wide-ranging, long-lasting, and most impactful when the education started in elementary school.

Taylor Wilson:

The CDC has officially endorsed new versions of COVID-19 boosters for all Americans aged 12 and older. A federal advisory panel voted 13 to 1 yesterday to recommend the boosters. That’s after members spent six hours reviewing data on the current state of the pandemic and the new shots. CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, then signed off on the panel’s recommendation.

The new boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna target both the original virus and the most recent variants, BA.4 and BA.5, which now dominate infections in the US and around the world. Pfizer shots will be available to anyone 12 and older, while Moderna shots are just for adults.

Data on effectiveness remains incomplete, but officials expect the more targeted boosters will increase protection against severe disease and prevent milder infections for some period of time. They could also help with long-COVID, which leads to lingering symptoms like fatigue and brain fog. More than 5,000 Americans a day are still hospitalized with COVID-19, while about 400 every day die from the virus.

It was not to be for the Williams sisters last night, as Serena and Venus fell in straight sets, 7-6, 6-4, to the Czech pairing of Lucie Hradecká and Linda Nosková. It was the Williams sisters’ first doubles match together in four and a half years, and maybe the last one. Serena has hinted that this might be the final tournament of her career. On the singles side, though, she keeps rolling with a third round match set for tonight. She’ll take on Australian Ajla Tomljanovic at 7:00 pm Eastern. On the men’s side, two-seed, Rafael Nadal, also at the tail end of his career, held off Fabio Fognini last night, despite dropping the first set. You can watch the US Open on the ESPN networks and streaming online.

You can find 5 Things every day of the week right here wherever you’re listening right now. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show, and I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden slams ‘MAGA forces’, Mississippi’s water crisis: 5 Things podcast

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