Gavin Newsom remains Governor after California recall election: 5 Things podcast

·10 min read

On today's episode of the 5 Things podcast: It's been one month since the Taliban took Kabul. The international community is still gauging how to recognize Afghanistan. Plus, Gavin Newsom remains governor of California, North Korea fires more missiles, 1 in 500 Americans have died from COVID-19 and SpaceX sends private citizens to orbit.

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 Wednesday, the 15th of September 2021. Today, one month since the Taliban took Kabul, plus Gavin Newsom remains the governor of California after the recall election and more.

Taylor Wilson:

Here are some of the top headlines.

  1. Nicholas has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical depression. It made landfall in Texas and is now moving across the Louisiana, which was already slammed by Hurricane Ida just weeks ago.

  2. British woman Shamima Begum, ran away from home when she was 15 to join the Islamic State in Syria as a Jihadi bride. The now 22-year-old living in a Syrian refugee camp is begging for forgiveness and to return home, but the British government revoked her citizenship and courts there have not allowed her to restore her passport.

  3. And Norm MacDonald has died. The legendary Canadian comedian was a former cast member on Saturday Night Live. He was 61.

Taylor Wilson:

It's been one month since the Taliban took the Afghan capital of Kabul. The regime is now back in power over all of Afghanistan since U.S. troops left at the end of August. Earlier this month they announced a new government with no other political factions, no women, and little ethnic diversity, while also including some men on international terror lists. The country's new Foreign Minister, a long-time Taliban negotiator, Amir Khan Muttaqi, gave a news conference yesterday. When asked if the Taliban would include women or ethnic and religious minorities in the government, he answered vaguely that they will decide in time.

Taylor Wilson:

But he also clarified that the current government is operating on an interim basis. The U.S. and other allies are pressuring the Taliban not to return to the repressive rule of the 1990s. In that period there were harsh restrictions on women and minorities and the country was a breeding ground for different terrorist movements. Muttaqi said repeatedly yesterday that other countries should not interfere. But the Taliban reached a deal with the United States during the Trump administration last year, something Muttaqi acknowledged.

Taylor Wilson:

That deal paved the way for the recent U.S. withdrawal where the Taliban also agreed to break ties with Al-Qaeda and other militant groups. Experts remained skeptical that they've actually done so. But Al-Qaeda has been significantly weakened and the U.S. now is more concerned about Islamic State militants in the country. They claimed responsibility for a bombing outside Kabul's airport that killed 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members last month. The Taliban have battled with them since 2014.

Taylor Wilson:

Around the world, official recognition of Taliban control in Afghanistan is still complicated. Several interim ministers, including Hakimi and Prime Minister Mohammed Hassan Akhund, are on the United Nations so-called blacklist of international terrorists and terrorist financiers. The UN previously refused to recognize Taliban rule in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The U.S.-backed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as the Taliban took over last month. The U.S. and other countries have promised millions in badly needed humanitarian aid for the UN to spend in Afghanistan. The country faces hunger and an economic crisis.

Taylor Wilson:

But that aid may depend on the Taliban's next steps. The Taliban have reportedly reimposed some gender divisions in public life and have also pushed back against protests, and in at least one case, beat journalists with iron rods. Also this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken faced questions from Congress about the Afghanistan withdrawal. He said the U.S. is dedicating attention to protect Afghan women and girls.

Antony Blinken:

We will soon appoint at my direction a senior official responsible for focusing and marshaling all of our efforts on support for women, girls, and minorities in Afghanistan. I think it's very important that we have a focal point in the U.S. government.

Taylor Wilson:

The U.S. and other countries continue to relocate Afghan refugees around the world but flights of Afghan refugees into the United States from other bases have been paused for another week because of measles outbreaks.

Taylor Wilson:

Gavin Newsom will remain the Governor of California. He easily fended off a recall attempt and was called the winner in less than an hour after polls closed in the Golden State last night. With two thirds of ballots counted, the answer of no to the question of whether to recall Newsom was ahead by 30 percentage points. The recall election spawned largely out of criticisms of Newsom's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. And as Los Angeles-based correspondent Christal Hayes says the vote may signal that lots of voters are actually on board with a level of COVID restrictions.

Christal Hayes:

California has elicited some of the most strictest mandates in the country when it comes to COVID and they are planning to still elicit even more mandates when it comes to vaccines. I mean, this sends a message here that what California is doing and what Biden and a lot of Democrats are looking to do when it comes to COVID policies is what voters are looking for.

Taylor Wilson:

And Newsom himself made similar remarks in his victory comments last night.

Gavin Newsom:

No is not the only thing that was expressed to them. I want to focus on what we said yes to as a state. We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic. We said yes to people's right to vote without fear of fake fraud and voter suppression. We said yes to women's fundamental constitutional right to decide for herself what she does with her body and her faith in the future. We said yes to diversity, and we said yes to inclusion.

Taylor Wilson:

Newsom's strongest opponent in the recall was conservative talk show host Larry Elder, who many Democrats pinned as a Donald Trump copy. He conceded last night.

Larry Elder:

We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war.

(Audience cheers)

Larry Elder:

Notice that all these people, whether they're Barack Obama, or Elizabeth Warren, or Bernie Sanders, all of whom cut a commercial for Gavin Newsom. Notice they never said the following words, "Gavin Newsom has done a good job for the people of California."

Taylor Wilson:

Even though COVID was at the heart of public discourse around the election, it was not the only issue. Exit polling from Edison Research found only about a third of voters had the pandemic as their top issue. That was also split among party lines. More than four in 10 Democrats felt that way compared with just two in 10 Republicans. Other issues included homelessness, the economy, and wildfires.

Taylor Wilson:

North Korea has fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, the water that separates Japan from the Korean Peninsula. The move goes against UN resolutions and is the second weapons test in several days for the country. Experts say the tests show North Korea is pushing ahead with plans to build up its weapons while nuclear diplomacy with the United States remains stalled. According to South Korea, the missiles were launched from Central North Korea and traveled about 500 miles to the east.

Taylor Wilson:

Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga said, "The firings threaten the peace and safety of Japan and the region and are absolutely outrageous. The government of Japan is determined to further step up our vigilance and surveillance to be prepared for any contingencies." There was no damage reported from the missiles but the launch violates UN Security Council resolutions that ban North Korea from participating in any ballistic missile activities. The latest launches come two days after the country said it tested a newly-developed cruise missile that can hit targets more than 900 miles away. That would put all of Japan and U.S. military installations there within reach.

Taylor Wilson:

Experts say the tests are also used to put pressure on President Joe Biden during the current nuclear diplomacy deadlock. The launches came while China's foreign minister was visiting South Korea to talk about stalled nuclear negotiations, and it's unusual for the North to make provocative launches when China, its last major ally and biggest aid provider is working in a major diplomatic event.

Taylor Wilson:

One out of every 500 Americans has now died from COVID-19. That latest grim milestone comes as the U.S. approaches 663,000 deaths from the virus, around 0.2% of the total population. Half of those deaths have happened since just before Christmas last year. Cases are again surging after dropping off dramatically earlier in the summer. As of last week the country has recorded more COVID cases this year than last. The CDC said this week that studies show unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die from the virus than the vaccinated. That backs up other similar research and comes as vaccine mandates continue to roll out nationwide.

Taylor Wilson:

President Joe Biden announced last week that all companies with 100 or more employees must require their workers to be vaccinated or to submit to weekly testing. And universities are increasingly requiring the jab with some students already facing consequences. At Cal State, Sacramento, more than 4,000 students failed to show proof they'd been vaccinated by the September 13th deadline and are being denied access to campus. 63.2% of Americans are at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, with 54% fully vaccinated.

Taylor Wilson:

SpaceX will send four private citizens into orbit today. Leading and funding the mission is Jared Isaacman, a billionaire who's promoting the flight as a fundraiser for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. The flight is historic as the first all-civilian mission to orbit the earth. It's called the Inspiration4 Mission and will also be way more advanced than recent orbit trips. Instead of just getting to the edge of space and then quickly returning, like Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos did, Inspiration4 will circle the earth for three days at a higher orbit than the International Space Station. The mission is also the subject of a Netflix documentary series.

Trailer audio:

What they're about to do will change the game entirely. Four civilians are going to space. They will orbit the earth for three days on their own.

Taylor Wilson:

The five-hour launch window opens tonight at 8:02 PM Eastern Time. Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us wherever you're listening right now, where we ask for a rating and review, if you have a chance. And don't forget to subscribe and follow. Thanks, as always, to Shannon Green and Claire Thornton for their great work on the show. I'll be back tomorrow with another edition of 5 Things, part of the USA Today Network.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: SpaceX to launch, Gavin Newsom fends off historic recall in California