10 things you need to know today: March 22, 2021
Mayorkas says U.S.-Mexico border is "closed," U.S. trial shows AstraZeneca's vaccine is 79 percent effective against COVID, and more
Mayorkas says U.S.-Mexico 'border is closed'
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Sunday that "the border is closed" on the southern edge of the United States, where a surge of undocumented migrants from Central America and Mexico threatens to overwhelm Border Patrol facilities. Mayorkas said the Biden administration was expelling adults and families but would not turn away "young, vulnerable children" because "that's not who we are." Speaking on NBC's Meet the Press, Mayorkas accused former President Donald Trump of having "dismantled the orderly, humane, and efficient way" of handling migrant children, and said the administration was "rebuilding those orderly and safe processes as quickly as possible." The rising number of migrants trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border has become an urgent challenge for the Biden administration. Border agents caught more than 100,000 migrants in February, 28 percent more than in January.
U.S. trial: AstraZeneca vaccine 79 percent effective against COVID
A large U.S. trial found that AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine is 79 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19, and 100 percent effective at preventing severe cases and hospitalization, according to an analysis published Monday. The latest news on the vaccine, which AstraZeneca developed with Oxford University, came after major European countries briefly suspended use of the vaccine due to concerns it could be linked to blood clots in small numbers of vaccinated people. European regulators have since declared that the vaccine is safe and effective, and Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and other countries have resumed its use. Trials have shown that Moderna's vaccine is more than 94 percent effective in preventing COVID, and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 95 percent effective.
Prosecutor: Evidence in Capitol attack 'trending' toward sedition charges
Michael Sherwin, the former acting U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., told CBS News that evidence collected as part of the investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot most likely could support sedition charges. "I personally believe the evidence is trending toward that, and probably meets those elements," he said during an interview with 60 Minutes that aired Sunday night. "I believe the facts do support those charges. And I think that, as we go forward, more facts will support that." So far, the government has charged more than 400 people in connection with the riot, Sherwin said, with many accused of trespassing and more than 100 charged with assaulting law enforcement officers. Sherwin led the inquiry into the riot until this last week, when he returned to his position as a federal prosecutor in Miami.
Austin meets with Ghani on surprise trip to Afghanistan
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday shortly after arriving in Kabul on a surprise visit. The meeting took place a few weeks ahead of a May 1 deadline, set by an agreement between the Trump administration and the Taliban, calling for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. Austin said the Biden administration is working toward "a responsible end" to the war in Afghanistan, America's longest ever, but he said violence must drop to make "fruitful" diplomacy possible. Concerns about whether the Taliban will meet peace conditions have the Biden administration contemplating extending the deadline. President Biden previously said it will be "tough" to pull troops out by the scheduled date, but added that he doesn't believe they would remain much longer.
Trump to launch social media platform, adviser says
Former President Donald Trump plans to launch his own social media platform, Jason Miller, an adviser who was spokesman for Trump's 2020 campaign, told Fox News on Sunday. Miller said the new platform would "completely redefine the game." Miller said the platform would get started in two or three months. Trump was suspended by Twitter, Facebook, and other social media services after his supporters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. Twitter and Facebook have faced intense scrutiny for the way they've handled political posts since they banned Trump, saying that he violated their policies on inciting violence. Twitter said last week it was reviewing how it handles posts by world leaders. Facebook told its independent review board to decide whether its indefinite ban against Trump should continue.
Miami Beach extends curfew to contain spring break crowds
Miami Beach city commissioners voted in an emergency meeting on Sunday to extend state of emergency orders that imposed an 8 p.m. curfew in response to what city officials called an "overwhelming" number of rowdy students on spring break. Police worked on clearing the Florida vacation destination's famous Ocean Drive starting Saturday after throngs of revelers packed the iconic beachfront strip. The curfew covers the city's entertainment district and limits traffic on the causeways connecting the city to the mainland. The emergency measures now are scheduled to remain in effect Thursdays through Sundays until April 11, when the spring break period ends. Some of the students have turned violent. Commissioner David Richardson blamed "a lot of pent-up demand from the pandemic and people wanting to get out."
2 more die as Myanmar protests continue
Protests continued against military rule in Myanmar on Sunday despite an increasingly deadly crackdown. Two more people were killed as demonstrators called for a return to democratic rule. The latest victim was killed when security forces fired on protesters in the country's second-largest city, Mandalay. "Failure of the military regime, our cause our cause," protesters chanted. "Federal democracy, our cause our cause." The death toll has now reached at least 249 people since the Feb. 1 coup against the elected government. The arrest of the government's elected leaders marked the end of a 10-year fledgling democracy, although military leaders have promised new elections.
Evanston, Ill., to vote on 1st reparations payments
The Evanston, Illinois, City Council plans to vote Monday on starting a $400,000 round of reparations payments to Black residents whose families suffered damage from discrimination. The Chicago suburb, which will become the first U.S. city to offer reparations, already has pledged $10 million to the program over a decade. "It's about time that something has come from the hard work of African Americans in this city, proving that they should be treated as anyone else," said Delois Robinson, whose great-grandmother, Cordelia Clark, had to run a restaurant out of her kitchen and park taxis she owned in her backyard because Black people were not allowed to operate out of the town's storefronts. Numerous other cities are considering reparations efforts, so Evanston's could become a model.
Rep. Tom Reed apologizes to former lobbyist who accused him of groping
Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) apologized on Sunday to a former lobbyist, Nicolette Davis, who accused him of sexual harassment. Reed, who had been publicly considering challenging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said he would not seek re-election or any other office in 2022. Davis said that Reed groped her in 2017, when she was 25 and Reed was 45, The Washington Post reported Friday. Reed said the incident "occurred at a time in my life in which I was struggling" with an addiction to alcohol, but he accepted "full responsibility." He said he only heard about Davis' memory of the incident in the Post article, but that he "heard her voice" and was sorry. "Simply put, I caused her pain, showed her disrespect, and was unprofessional," Reed said. "I was wrong."
NCAA tournament: Loyola Chicago stuns top-seeded Illinois
Loyola University Chicago's men's basketball team, the No. 8 seed in their region, defeated top-seeded Illinois, 71-58, in the second round of the NCAA Division I tournament on Sunday. With the intra-state win, the Ramblers advance to their second Sweet 16 in four years. The 2018 Loyola squad, an 11-seed, went on a shocking run to the Final Four that year, capturing the hearts of basketball fans across the country — in part because of the team's beloved, now 101-year-old chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, who delivered a pregame prayer before Sunday's matchup with Illinois. Loyola was in control for most of the game, jumping out to a 9-2 lead that never went away thanks largely to stellar performances from center Cameron Krutwig and guard Lucas Williamson.