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Need2Know: Pandemic of the Unvaccinated, Alexa's New Voice & Making It Rain

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In this Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 file photo, sunlight reflects off the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, during a rain shower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell, File)
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Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Thursday, July 22, 2021:

BIDEN ON VAX

President Biden predicted during a CNN town hall event in Ohio that the FDA will fully authorize the coronavirus vaccines “quickly” and that they would be approved for children under 12 on an emergency basis “soon.” The president also said: “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.” That is not entirely accurate, as breakthrough infections are occurring, including among staffers in the West Wing. AP

'PANDEMIC OF THE UNVACCINATED'

A doctor in Alabama penned a Facebook post describing the scene at her hospital that has since gone viral as an example of the risk that the Delta variant poses to the unvaccinated. Dr. Brytney Cobia described how all but one of her COVID patients did not get the vaccine, and many of them were young and otherwise healthy. Some have died, while the vaccinated patient is expected to fully recover. Cobia writes: “One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.” Alabama is last in the U.S. in terms of its rate of fully-vaccinated adults. AL.COM

JAN. 6 INVESTIGATION

Speaker Nancy Pelosi banned two House Republicans from sitting on the committee investigating the Capitol riot, saying they would harm the “integrity” of the probe due to their outspoken support of former President Trump. Reps. Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio were put forward by GOP leadership for seats on the panel even though they both voted to overturn the results of the election hours after the Jan. 6 siege. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy responded by pulling all five of his picks from the committee, calling it a “sham.” REUTERS

CHINA FLOODING

At least 33 people have died in record-breaking rainfall that swept through Henan province in central China. The flooding overwhelmed the city of Zhengzhou’s subway system, with videos on social media showing straphangers stranded in chest-high water. An astonishing eight inches of rain fell in a single hour on Tuesday: SEE IT

OPIOID SETTLEMENT

A bipartisan group of state attorneys general has reached a $26 billion settlement with Johnson & Johnson and three major drug distributors over their role in the opioid epidemic. All 50 states and D.C. need to approve the settlement. If they do, billions of dollars for addiction and prevention services would start being distributed across the country. In return, states would drop thousands of pending lawsuits against these specific companies. Many others would remain. Opioid overdoses hit a record high last year, according to the CDC. NPR

ALEXA MALE VOICE

Alexa is getting a makeover, if you want it. Amazon has started rolling out a version of its popular voice recognition software that has a more masculine-sounding voice. They’re calling it Ziggy, and you can set it by telling Alexa to “change your voice”: HEAR A SAMPLE

TEAM USA

The Olympics don’t officially  start until tomorrow, but some tournaments are already underway. The U.S. women’s soccer team went down in their Olympic opener, losing 3-0 to Sweden. Five years ago, it was the Swedes who knocked the American women out of gold medal contention in Rio. Meanwhile, the U.S. softball team is undefeated after their first two games as the sport is reintroduced to the Olympics for the first time since 2008. WASH POST

TED LASSO RETURNS

Apple’s breakout hit Ted Lasso has shot to the top of the streaming platform’s viewership ranks on the heels of its 20 Emmy nominations, a record for a freshman comedy. The Jason Sudeikis-starring show is a bona fide smash for Apple TV+, which is making inroads in the streaming wars with its new focus on comedies. Physical and Schmigadoon! are also said to be performing well, though it’s impossible to know how many people are watching any of these shows because Apple, like the other streamers, does not disclose ratings data. Season 2 of Ted Lasso premieres tomorrow, and critics are calling it as good or better than the first. DEADLINE

SPOTTED...

...Prince George, who turns 8 today, in a new portrait taken by his mother: SEE IT
...Britney Spears, behind the wheel for the first time in 15 years after she was granted the right to drive by herself: SEE PICS
…a teaser for Andy Cohen’s new project, a dating reality show in which ex-partners rate each other’s personalities and sexual abilities in front of them. Ex-Rated premieres on Peacock next month: WATCH

LEFTOVERS: MAKING IT RAIN

Dubai’s government has started using drones to create artificial rain as a way to battle the extreme heat the city faces in the summer. Meteorologists in the UAE released a video showing a rainstorm that was the result of drones zapping the clouds with electrical charges. The electricity creates large raindrops that would have otherwise evaporated before they hit the ground in the desert climate. Dubai’s dealing with an exploding population and dwindling water resources; the city gets almost no rain in the summer and temps regularly reach 120F. INDEPENDENT
Listen to the N2K Podcast! Looking for more context and analysis on the big stories of the day? Check out our podcast! Hosts Jill and Carlo break down the headlines, every weekday morning Listen on Apple or Spotify, or watch on YouTube, and send us your feedback!
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