10 things you need to know today: May 10, 2021

Biden aides say U.S. "turning the corner" on pandemic, McCarthy backs Stefanik for Cheney GOP leadership job, and more

Liz Cheney's office
(Image credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

1. Biden aides say U.S. 'turning the corner' on pandemic

Biden administration officials said Sunday that the fight against the coronavirus is nearing a new phase in which vaccinated people will be able to return to an essentially normal life after a year of lockdowns and other extraordinary precautions. The changes could include an easing of mask-wearing recommendations, officials said. "I would say we are turning the corner," said Jeff Zients, President Biden's COVID-19 coordinator, on CNN's State of the Union. The administration last week said it was stepping up efforts to chip away at vaccine hesitancy, which has slowed the national vaccination campaign. The administration aims for 70 percent of American adults to have at least one vaccine dose by July 4. So far, about 58 percent of the U.S. adult population has received at least one dose, according to the CDC.

The Wall Street Journal The New York Times

2. McCarthy backs Stefanik bid for Cheney's GOP leadership job

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Sunday told Fox News' Maria Bartiromo he supported a push to make Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) GOP conference chair, the No. 3 ranking House Republican leadership position. It was the first time McCarthy publicly backed a push to replace Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), although he didn't mention her by name. Cheney survived a no-confidence vote three months ago as allies of former President Donald Trump tried to oust her from her leadership position because she voted to impeach Trump on charges that he incited the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. GOP opposition to Cheney intensified recently after she criticized Republicans and Trump for "spreading THE BIG LIE" that Trump only lost in November due to fraud.

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The Washington Post

3. Afghanistan school bombing death toll rises to 68

The death toll from a bombing outside a school in Afghanistan, initially reported at 50, rose to 68, officials in the capital city of Kabul said Sunday. Doctors continued to treat another 165 people injured in the attack. Most of those killed were schoolgirls. Desperate family members searched for missing children in hospitals. The neighborhood where several explosions were reported Saturday night is home to many Shiite Muslims who are members of the Hazara ethnic minority, which has been targeted by Sunni militants in the Islamic State militant group. Investigators said a car bomb blew up first outside the Sayed Al-Shuhada school, and two more bombs exploded as panicked students rushed out.


4. Report: Pipeline cyberattack linked to Russian criminal gang

The cyberattack that forced the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which carries fuel from Texas to New Jersey, was the work of a Russian criminal gang called DarkSide that claims to steal from wealthy companies and give a portion to charities, two people close to the investigation told The Associated Press on Sunday. The pipeline remained closed for a third day on Sunday as the Biden administration said it was undertaking an "all-hands-on-deck" effort to reopen it and prevent fuel-supply disruptions. Colonial Pipeline said it was working on restoring its computer systems. Colonial said it had been the victim of a ransomware attack, in which hackers lock IT systems by encrypting data and demand a ransom to restore the network. Colonial did not say whether it was paying a ransom.

The Associated Press NBC News

5. Fed official urges Americans not to 'overreact' to disappointing jobs report

Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari said Sunday that Americans shouldn't "overreact" to Friday's April jobs report, which fell far short of expectations. The Labor Department recorded that U.S. employers added 266,000 jobs in April; economists had been expecting a gain of nearly 1 million as progress in coronavirus vaccinations helped more businesses fully reopen. Kashkari acknowledged the "bottom line" was that "we are still somewhere between 8 and 10 million jobs below where we were before" the coronavirus pandemic struck. "We still are in a deep hole," he told CBS News' John Dickerson on Sunday's edition of Face the Nation. "And we still need to do everything we can to put those folks back to work more quickly."

CBS News

6. Protests continue ahead of Jerusalem Day march

Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli police outside al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on Monday ahead of a planned march by Israeli nationalists to mark the anniversary of the country's capture of East Jerusalem and the walled Old City in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Protesters threw rocks, tear gas, and police fired stun grenades and rubber-coated bullets in the fourth day of violence leading up to annual Jerusalem Day celebrations. Medics said 153 Palestinians were hospitalized. The mosque is Islam's third holiest site. It is known to Jews as the Temple Mount, and considered Judaism's holiest site. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the government "will not allow any extremists to destabilize the calm in Jerusalem. We will enforce law and order decisively and responsibly."

Reuters The Associated Press

7. Gunman kills 6 at Colorado Springs birthday party

A gunman opened fire at a birthday party in Colorado Springs on Sunday, killing six people before apparently fatally shooting himself. Family members, including children, were gathered in a trailer in the Canterbury Mobile Home Park when the attack began shortly after midnight. Police said they believed the gunman to be the boyfriend of one of the victims. No children were injured. "From the officers who responded to the shooting to the investigators still on scene, we are all left incredibly shaken. This is something you hope never happens in your own community, in the place that you call home," Colorado Springs Police Chief Vince Niski said in a statement.


8. Sanders calls for passing Biden infrastructure bill without GOP

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wants President Biden's $2 trillion infrastructure package passed with or without Republican votes. "The American people want results," Sanders, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, told Axios on HBO during an interview that aired Sunday. "And frankly, when people got a ... $1,400 check or $5,600 check for their family, they didn't say, 'Oh, I can't cash this check because it was done without any Republican votes.'" White House aides told Axios that the broad infrastructure package is not an emergency measure, and should not be pushed through with a simple majority as the recent COVID-19 relief package was. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a moderate who Democrats need on board in the evenly split Senate, has praised the GOP's smaller infrastructure counterproposal.

Axios CNBC

9. Former GOP presidential hopeful Pete du Pont dies at 86

Former Delaware Gov. Pierre "Pete" du Pont IV, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, has died after a long illness, his former chief of staff, Bob Perkins, confirmed on Sunday. He was 86. Du Pont, who died at his Wilmington, Delaware, home on Saturday, was a member of the family that established the DuPont Co., but he passed up a career in the family chemical company to enter politics in the 1960s. "I was born with a well-known name and genuine opportunity. I hope I have lived up to both," he said when he announced his presidential bid in 1986. He won the endorsement of the largest newspaper in early-voting New Hampshire, but his campaign failed to take off. He dropped out after finishing next-to-last in Iowa's caucuses and New Hampshire's primary.

The Associated Press

10. Kentucky Derby winner fails drug test

Churchill Downs, the site of the Kentucky Derby, announced Sunday that Medina Spirit, the 2021 Derby winner, tested positive for the anti-inflammatory drug betamethasone. The steroid isn't completely banned in Kentucky horse racing, but Medina Spirit's post-race blood sample reportedly was found to have double the legal threshold. In response, Churchill Downs has suspended trainer Bob Baffert from entering horses at the track, though it appears Medina Spirit will be tested again, so the win is still valid. If the findings are upheld, however, the horse will be stripped of his victory, and Mandaloun, the runner-up, will be crowned. Baffert, who for now has a record seven Kentucky Derby wins, denies involvement. "This shouldn't have happened," he said. "There's a problem somewhere. It didn't come from us."

Louisville Courier-Journal CNN

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