10 things you need to know today: May 12, 2021
Cheney remains defiant ahead of leadership vote, pipeline shutdown causes lines at Southeast gas stations, and more
Cheney remains defiant ahead of leadership vote
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) gave a defiant speech from the House floor on Tuesday night hours before a scheduled vote on ousting her from a party leadership post. Cheney said she would "not sit back and watch in silence" while others in the Republican Party undermine democracy by embracing former President Donald Trump's bogus claims of election fraud, which she said "provoked a violent attack" on the Capitol "in an effort to steal the election." "Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar," Cheney said. "I will not participate in that." Cheney's fiery remarks come on the eve of a Republican vote on whether to remove her from her position as the House Republican Conference Chair. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) is poised to replace Cheney as the No. 3 House Republican; while she has a more moderate voting record than the conservative Cheney, Stefanik is one of Trump's loudest defenders.
Pipeline shutdown causes supply 'crunch,' gas lines in Southeast
Motorists lined up at gas stations from Florida to Virginia on Tuesday in a rush of panic buying as prices rose and pumps ran dry due to the temporary shutdown of a major fuel pipeline. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) declared a state of emergency Monday, suspending fuel regulations to "ensure adequate fuel supplies" while the Colonial Pipeline works to resume operations after a crippling cyberattack. Georgia suspended a sales tax on gas to help consumers. Colonial Pipeline leaders said they hoped to restart most operations by week's end. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said to expect the supply "crunch" in parts of the Southeast for a few days. "We are asking people not to hoard," Granholm said. "Things will be back to normal soon."
Federal judge dismisses NRA's bankruptcy case
A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the National Rifle Association's petition for bankruptcy. Judge Harlin Hale of the Northern District of Texas said the gun-rights organization had not filed the petition in "good faith," and was using it to gain "unfair litigation advantage" against New York Attorney General Letitia James' civil suit aiming to dissolve the organization. James has accused the NRA's leader, Wayne LaPierre, and three other current and former executives of misusing charitable funds on lavish personal spending. The NRA said it needed bankruptcy protection to weather a "barrage of litigation." James' office intervened seeking to get the bankruptcy petition dismissed, arguing that LaPierre moved the organization to Texas and filed for bankruptcy there to "remove the NRA from regulatory oversight."
Andrew Brown's family says video shows 'unjustified killing'
Relatives of Andrew Brown Jr. on Tuesday viewed 20 minutes of police video showing him being shot and killed by deputies outside his North Carolina home as they served search and arrest warrants. "What we saw on that video was an unjustified killing," said family attorney Bakari Sellers. "What we saw on that video is something that we believe also denotes further investigation and does have some criminal liability." The new footage provided a more comprehensive view of the April 28 shooting than the initial 20-second clip the family was allowed to see. The death of Brown, a 42-year-old Black man, sparked days of protests calling for body- and dash-camera video to be released to the public, which requires a judge's approval. A judge two weeks ago declined to release the video but ruled the family had the right to see it.
3 plead not guilty to hate crime charges in Ahmaud Arbery killing
Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to federal hate crime and attempted kidnapping charges related to the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man they chased down and shot after spotting him jogging in their neighborhood last year. It was the first court appearance for the defendants on the charges, which were filed last month. The McMichaels, a father and son, also have pleaded not guilty to felony murder and other state charges. That trial is scheduled to start in October. The McMichaels and Bryan, who are white, were arrested last May more than two months after Arbery's killing. Members of Arbery's family thanked supporters after Tuesday's hearing. "This is a very emotional day for the family," family attorney S. Lee Merritt told reporters.
Strikes escalate between Israel, Hamas
A confrontation between Israel and Hamas escalated on Tuesday as Israel conducted airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and Palestinian militants fired hundreds of rockets into Israel. The exchange of fire killed dozens of militants and others in Gaza, and at least three people in Israel. The fighting was some of the most intense between Israel and Hamas since their 2014 war. The rocket barrages from Gaza came so fast they appeared to overwhelm Israel's Iron Dome rocket-defense system. Late Tuesday, rockets reached as far as Tel Aviv, where a 50-year-old woman was killed. Another rocket hit a bus in Holon, just south of Tel Aviv, wounding three people. Since Monday, at least 28 Palestinians have died in Gaza, including 10 children, health officials there said.
Biden: Uber, Lyft to offer free rides to COVID-19 vaccination sites
President Biden on Tuesday announced that Uber and Lyft will offer all Americans free rides to and from COVID-19 vaccination sites beginning on May 24 through July 4, the day Biden has targeted for the U.S. reaching a 70 percent vaccination rate. While the U.S. vaccine rollout has been swift for the most part over the last few months, demand is dwindling. Some of that is due to general hesitancy, but access is still an issue. The free rides from the ride-sharing companies, Biden said, are aimed at making sure "transportation is less of a barrier."
Prosecutors to seek death penalty for Atlanta spa shooting suspect
Prosecutors filed notice Tuesday that they will seek the death penalty for Robert Aaron Long, the suspect in March's shooting at three Atlanta-area spas, CNN reported. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis filed a notice Tuesday reportedly indicating she will seek the death penalty and enhanced hate crimes charges for Long. Eight people were killed in the shootings, six of whom were women of Asian descent. In the filing, Willis said that Long allegedly "targeted some of the victims because they were of Asian descent," The New York Times writes. Georgia passed a hate crimes law last year, under which suspects can face enhanced penalties if victims were targeted for their race, gender, or sexual orientation. Long has reportedly been indicted on 19 counts, including four charges of felony murder.
Judge sentences former VA nursing aide
A federal judge in West Virginia on Tuesday sentenced a former nursing aide, Reta Mays, to seven consecutive life terms plus 20 years in prison for injecting elderly veterans with lethal doses of insulin. The victims were patients at a West Virginia Veterans Affairs hospital. "You're the monster that no one sees coming," U.S. District Judge Thomas Kleeh told Mays. Defense lawyers had asked Kleeh for leniency, citing Mays' history of medical and mental health problems. As the sentencing hearing was underway, VA Inspector General Michael Missal released an investigative report outlining failures by the Louis A. Johnson Medical Center in Clarksburg, where Mays, hired in 2015, was able to target patients for nearly a year. "Somebody should have been asking questions," Missal said.
Biden administration approves 1st major offshore wind farm in the U.S.
The Biden administration on Tuesday approved the Vineyard Wind project, the country's first large-scale offshore wind farm. As proposed, the wind farm would be off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, consisting of 62 turbines able to produce enough electricity to power 400,000 homes, The Washington Post reports. "I believe that a clean-energy future is within our grasp in the United States," Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said during a Tuesday conference call with reporters, adding that the Vineyard Wind project is "a significant milestone in our efforts to build a clean and more equitable energy future while addressing the climate emergency." Officials said the project will create roughly 3,600 jobs. Wanting to move away from fossil fuels, the Biden administration has set the goal of producing 30,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind by 2030, able to power 10 million homes.