Will tapping the US oil reserve lower gas prices?, Black Friday is here: 5 Things podcast

On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Will tapping the US oil reserve lower gas prices?

White House reporter Matthew Brown says analysts are skeptical. Plus, consumer news reporter Kelly Tyko fills us in on Black Friday, scientists are scrambling after the latest COVID-19 variant has been detected, we talk leftovers and how long they’re good for and a pair of golf rivals face off in ‘The Match.’

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 26th of November, 2021. Today, rising gas prices and the government’s response. Plus we have you covered for Black Friday and more.

Here are some of the top headlines.

  1. The European Union’s drug regulator has given the green light for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11. That should clear the way for millions of kids to get the jab in time for Christmas, though, Austria has already begun doing so.
  2. The polyp removed from President Joe Biden’s colon last week was benign, but potentially pre-cancerous. That’s according to a memo from his doctor this week.
  3. And a gray wolf has been found dead after being hit by a car in California. The animal found 70 miles north of Los Angeles was the first wolf recorded so far south since 1922.

President Joe Biden earlier this week ordered the Energy Department to release some 50 million barrels of crude oil from the country’s energy reserves.

President Biden:

The big part of the reason Americans are facing high gas prices is because oil producing countries and large companies have not ramped up the supply of oil quickly enough to meet the demand. And the smaller supply means higher prices globally, globally for oil.

Taylor Wilson:

That’s after weeks of concerns surrounding rising gas prices around the country. But as White House reporter Matthew Brown tells us analysts are skeptical about the impact the move will have.

Matthew Brown:

So this week’s announcement that the White House is going to release 50 million barrels of crude oil from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve was seen as a bit of a disappointment from analysts who were expecting a much more significant investment from the White House on this front. Now, the White House has been going around for the past several weeks saying that they were going to have a significant announcement in this space. And many people were expecting a large coordinated effort from non-OPEC countries, and that maybe the White House was going to make negotiations with OPEC, which is a group of petroleum producing nations that they might see progress there to convince them to start producing more.

But fundamentally what you’re seeing in this situation is that the limits of a lot of the White House’s levers here in terms of reducing the price of crude oil globally. This is a dynamic market where you’re seeing countries all around the world are going through an energy crisis, and the White House is having to manage not just the price of oil here in the United States, but coordinate with other countries to see what they can do and what they can influence.

So, while Biden has a lot of influence here in that the United States is a very influential and powerful country that consumes a lot of oil, we’re not the only factor here in terms of who’s able to produce the oil, in terms of who’s able to consume the oil and in terms of what the supply chain looks like in getting the oil from countries that are producing it to countries that need it, like high energy consumers like the United States.

American consumers can expect that around the holidays we can probably expect a decrease in gas prices just off the backs of the time of year that we’re in, with the market for gas prices usually decreasing around this time of year, and also the efforts that the White House is doing here. While this initial effort from the strategic petroleum reserve was a bit of a disappointment for markets, it’s by no means necessarily the end of the story for what the administration can do here.

Taylor Wilson:

You can read the full story with a link in today’s episode description. And if you get hit with a paywall, a reminder, you can subscribe today as part of our Black Friday deal. For only a dollar a week, you get access to all great USA Today content.

It’s Black Friday. The shopping holiday these days has already been going on for weeks, and there will likely be deals for weeks to come, too. But the second holiday shopping season of the pandemic is again different from past years. And Consumer News reporter Kelly Tyco says that product shortages this year are again changing the game.

Kelly Tyco:

I think this year Black Friday is more about finding the items than about the prices. If you really want an item, you really will have to jump on it when you see it. And you might not get the lowest price, but some items are really hard to find, like iPads, Playstations, Xbox’s, those are the kind of items if you find an item in store or online, you’re going to want to buy it when you see it. I’m the not talking about sites that you don’t know are legitimate. I’m talking about actual sites like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s. You want to shop at stores that you know are legitimate.

Yeah, there’s a triple whammy right now. We have supply chain issues. Supply chain issues is a really big one. Will the items get to us in time? Will the items get to stores in time? There’s so many out-of-stock items right now. The percentage of out of stock items has been higher than ever before this time of the year and it’s because of COVID. It’s because of the port issues in Los Angeles and other parts of the country. But there’s just so many reasons why it’s harder to shop this year, and why shopping early, it’s more important. If you wait till December, if you wait till right before Christmas, you really might be out of luck.

I think if a store has the item available to order it online, to pick up in store, that’s an option that consumers should really try to take advantage of because then you have it in your hands sooner. I’m making purchases and buying items to ship to me all the time. I’m not that concerned that the items are going to get here in time. I’m more concerned that my orders are going to be canceled.

Taylor Wilson:

We’ve got all kinds of Black Friday coverage up on the site today. That includes more than 300 deals recommended by our partners at Reviewed. Plus the best Black Friday TV deals and a guide of what to bring to stores to help you find deals. Plus a reminder that Cyber Monday is on the other side of the weekend.

A new COVID-19 variant has been detected in South Africa and scientists are worried because of an already high number of mutations and spread among young people there. The variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong in travelers who arrived from South Africa both this week. Officials from the World Health Organization will meet today to assess the new variant. They also may or may not give it a letter from the Greek alphabet. Britain, meanwhile, responded by banning flights from South Africa and other European countries are expected to announce similar measures later today.

Well, Thanksgiving might be in the book, but leftover season is just beginning. And it’s also a time for lots of food poisoning. According to the CDC, food poisonings from a bacteria called Clostridium Perfringens happen the most in November and December. That bacteria grows on food left out at room temperature with most outbreaks linked to turkey and roast beef. So if you’re just now realizing you forgot to put something in the fridge last night, it might already be too late. Once in the refrigerator, leftovers stay good for about three or four days, though, if you froze anything you might get about three or four months. Food scientist, Lisa Yakas, recommends labeling food with an expiration date to keep track of when it’s no longer safe to eat.

The fifth edition of The Match is today. The golf event pits two players against each other and this year, it’s one of the best rivalries in the sport: Brooks Koepka against Bryson DeChambeau. The two have taken shots at each other for months though supposedly eased some bad blood when they were United States teammates at the Ryder Cup in September. Still, they seem to have continued their trolling in recent weeks. They’ll play 12 holes at Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas today at 4 p.m. Eastern, 1 Pacific. And you can tune in on TNT and TBS.

You can also find 5 Things seven mornings a week right here, wherever you’re listening right now. Thanks as always to PJ Elliot for his awesome work on the show. And I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.

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