Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 11, 2021

Trump delivers insult-laden speech at Mar-a-Lago RNC gathering, Iranian nuclear facility suffers 'suspicious' blackout, and more

1

Trump delivers insult-laden speech at Mar-a-Lago RNC gathering

Former President Donald Trump spoke for about an hour Saturday night at a Republican National Committee gathering at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, The Washington Post reports. In a familiar turn of events, Trump reportedly boasted about tossing his "boring" prepared remarks and improvised, hurling insults at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Dr. Anthony Fauci, while expressing disappointment in former Vice President Mike Pence for certifying the presidential election on Jan. 6. McConnell seems to have gotten the worst of it — at one point Trump called him a "dumb son of a b----" and a "stone cold loser," multiple sources said. Beyond the personal attacks, Trump reportedly continued to push false claims that he won the 2020 election, which he described, once again, as "rigged." He apparently did not directly address whether he may consider another presidential run in 2024.

2

Iranian nuclear facility suffers 'suspicious' blackout

A "suspicious" blackout struck Iran's underground Natanz nuclear facility on Sunday, just hours after starting up new advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium more quickly. Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for Iran's civilian nuclear program, told state television there were no casualties, damage, or contamination, but the reason for the power outage remains unclear. Israeli media outlets, meanwhile, suggested a cyberattack occurred. The Associated Press notes these reports did not offer sourcing for the evaluation, but "Israeli media maintains a close relationship with [Israel's] military and intelligence." Israel has previously been suspected of carrying out an attack on Natanz's centrifuge assembly plant in July, and Tehran blames its rival for killing Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the scientist who launched Iran's military nuclear program decades ago, last November. The blackout comes as world powers negotiate with Iran in Vienna over its nuclear deal.

3

China admits its COVID-19 vaccines aren't very effective

China's COVID-19 vaccines "don't have very high protection rates," Gao Fu, the director of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Saturday. The comments serve as a "rare admission of the weakness of the vaccines" by Beijing, The Associated Press writes. "It's now under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines of the immunization process," Gao said. China has already exported hundreds of millions of doses of two vaccines developed by state-owned drug makers, Sinovac and Sinopharm, to 22 countries, including Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, Hungary, and Brazil. It appears China may turn its focus to the development of mRNA-based vaccines, like the safe and highly effective Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots, even though Gao and Chinese state media had previously questioned their safety and effectiveness, AP notes. Gao said other options, such as mixing different vaccines or adjusting dosing regimens, are on the table, as well.

4

Supreme Court strikes down California pandemic religious restriction

The Supreme Court ruled late Friday night that California cannot enforce COVID-19 restrictions on in-person, at-home religious meetings, such as prayer groups and Bible studies in homes. The 5-4 decision was reached mostly along ideological lines, with the conservatives remaining in the majority. Chief Justice John Roberts disagreed, siding with the three liberal justices. In an unsigned opinion, the majority wrote that even though California permits many business, including indoor restaurants and movie theaters, to allow more than three households to gather at a time, that number serves as the limit for household religious gatherings, suggesting the state "treats some ... secular activities more favorably." In a dissenting opinion, the minority wrote that California is not required to "treat at-home religious gatherings the same as hardware stores and hair salons," and argued the ban is fair because it applies to secular and non-secular at-home gatherings, alike.

5

South Korean battery makers settle dispute affecting U.S. electric vehicle plans

South Korean battery makers, LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation, reached an agreement Sunday to settle disputes over electric-vehicle technology. The news likely caused the Biden administration to breathe a sigh of relief. LG had previously alleged its rival illegally acquired sensitive technology, and the U.S. International Trade Commission subsequently issued a 10-year import ban on SK Innovations, which put into doubt Ford's electric vehicles plans, as well as a new battery plant in Georgia, which is expected to provide thousands of jobs in the state. President Biden was facing a Sunday night deadline to decide whether he should reverse the ITC's ruling. He called the settlement "a win for American workers and the American auto industry."

6

Army officer sues Virginia police officers for violating his rights during traffic stop

U.S. Army Lt. Caron Nazario is suing two Virginia police officers for violating his rights. Nazario, who is Black and Latino, claimed in a federal civil lawsuit filed last week that the officers pointed guns at him, pepper sprayed him, and pushed him to the ground after a traffic stop. Nazario filmed the incident on his phone, and footage was also captured by both officers' body cameras. The officers believed Nazario, who was in uniform at the time of the arrest, was missing a license plate on his new SUV (the lawsuit says he had temporary cardboard plates taped to the inside of his rear window). Nazario acknowledges he did not immediately pull over, instead deciding to slow down and pull into a well-lit gas station for safety reasons. He was not ultimately criminally charged or cited for a traffic violation.

7

Prince Philip's funeral scheduled for April 17

Prince Philip, the late husband of the United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II, will be laid to rest next Saturday, Buckingham Palace has announced. The ceremony, which will take place at St. George's Chapel in Windsor, will reportedly contain many traditional customs associated with the death of a royal family member; however, attendance will be scaled down because of COVID-19 restrictions. The Duke of Edinburgh, who died Friday morning at 99, will not lie in state anywhere accessible to the public, but the funeral will be televised, and eight days of national mourning will precede the event. Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex and Prince Philip's grandson, will travel from the United States to the U.K. for the funeral, but his wife Meghan Markle, who is pregnant, will remain behind on the advice of her doctor. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also will not attend because of restrictions.

8

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark dies at 93

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who served in the role for two-years in former President Lyndon Johnson's administration, died Friday at his Manhattan home, his niece confirmed Saturday. Clark was 93. As a lawyer and attorney general, Clark was known for representing plaintiffs in civil rights cases — he filed the first lawsuit to foce a school district to desegregate or else lose its federal aid just days after taking office, for instance — and defending people facing capital punishment, The Hill notes. He also later took on some unpopular clients, including former Iraqi dictator Sadaam Hussein, and Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milošević.

9

Nomadland's Chloé Zhao takes home top DGA prize

Director Chloé Zhao on Saturday won the top prize at the 73rd annual Directors Guild of America Awards for Nomadland. She is only the second woman, and the first woman of color, to earn the DGA award, Variety notes. Kathryn Bigelow won in 2009 for The Hurt Locker. Zhao will head into the 93rd Academy Awards later this month as the frontrunner to take home Best Director, while Nomadland remains a leading contender for Best Picture. In her virtual acceptance speech, Zhao spoke briefly, using most of her time to praise her fellow nominees, including Minari's Lee Isaac Chung, Promising Young Woman's Emerald Fennell, Mank's David Fincher, and Trial of the Chicago 7's Aaron Sorkin.

10

Matsuyama looks to close out Masters

The 2021 Masters Tournament will head into the home stretch at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, on Sunday. Japan's Hideki Matsuyama leads the field after a brilliant 18-hole performance on Saturday. He's 11-under for the tournament, and has a four-stroke lead on a group of four golfers — Americans Will Zalatoris and Xander Schauffele, Australian Marc Leishman, and the U.K.'s Justin Rose. All five of the leaders will tee off for their final round after 2 p.m. ET on CBS. If Matsuyama is able to finish strong and snag the famed green jacket, it would mark his first major championship. The 29-year-old came closest when he finished second at the 2017 U.S. Open.

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