10 things you need to know today: May 13, 2021
House Republicans oust Liz Cheney from leadership post, Colonial Pipeline restarts slowly as gas panic spreads, and more
House Republicans strip Liz Cheney of leadership post
House Republicans voted Wednesday to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) from her leadership post over her criticism of former President Donald Trump for his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. The vote to oust her as House Republican Conference chair, the party's No. 3 job in the caucus, bolstered Trump's grip on the GOP. Cheney remained defiant on the way out. "If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I'm not your person," Cheney told her fellow Republican lawmakers on Wednesday. Cheney previously survived an attempt to oust her over her vote to impeach Trump on charges that he incited the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Trump reveled in Cheney's removal, calling her "a bitter, horrible human being."
Colonial Pipeline restarts slowly as gasoline panic-buying spreads
The Colonial Pipeline began restarting operations on Wednesday evening, but the company stressed that it would take "several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal." The pipeline carries nearly half the East Coast's fuel supply, running from Texas to New Jersey. It was shut down last Friday due to a ransomware attack blamed on Russian hackers. People in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic along the pipeline's routes started panic-buying gas over the last two days, causing hundreds of gas stations to run out of fuel and sending the national price for gas rising above $3 a gallon for the first time since 2014. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm urged the public not to buy gas unless they really needed it.
CDC panel endorses Pfizer vaccine for adolescents
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel on Wednesday endorsed the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in adolescents aged 12 to 15. The 14-0 vote by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices left only CDC Director Rochelle Walensky to sign off on the move. The Food and Drug Administration signed off two days earlier. President Biden said the approval of expanding the use of the Pfizer vaccine, previously approved only for those 16 and older, marked "one more giant step in our fight against the pandemic." The two-dose vaccine proved 100 percent effective in clinical trials of the younger adolescents. Biden urged parents and eligible children to "get their vaccination shots right away."
U.S. sends envoy as violence between Israel, Palestinians intensifies
The United States on Wednesday dispatched a special envoy to the Middle East "to urge de-escalation and to bring calm," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. The move came as violence escalated between Israel and Palestinian militants. Israel killed as many as 10 senior Hamas military leaders and vowed to continue airstrikes against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip in response to ongoing rocket fire into Israel. "This is just the beginning. We'll hit them like they've never dreamed possible," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. At least 65 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since Monday in the most intense hostilities between the two sides in years. Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh warned that "the confrontation with the enemy is open-ended."
Inflation accelerates at fastest pace since 2008
The Labor Department reported Wednesday that its consumer-price index jumped by 4.2 percent in April, the fastest pace since 2008. The sharper-than-expected inflation increase sent stocks plummeting due to fears that rising prices would prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates sooner than previously anticipated to keep the economy from overheating. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged by 2 percent in its worst day since January. The S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped by 2.1 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively. Stock futures fell further early Thursday. "Investors who may have been looking for a reason to lighten up on a stock market that was up more than 10 percent year to date found a good one: rising inflation," Chris Hussey, a managing director at Goldman Sachs, said in a note.
Minnesota judge cites 4 aggravating factors ahead of Chauvin sentencing
The Minnesota judge who presided over Derek Chauvin's trial for George Floyd's murder said in an order made public Wednesday that he had found four aggravating factors in the case, qualifying Chauvin for a longer prison term when he is sentenced in June. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill said that Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, abused his position of trust, treated Floyd with "particular cruelty," committed the killing as part of a group, and that children witnessed the offense. Chauvin was found guilty on murder and manslaughter charges for kneeling on Floyd's neck for nine minutes during the unarmed Black man's arrest on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill to pay for a pack of cigarettes.
Biden orders tighter cybersecurity
President Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order intended to boost the federal government's cyberdefenses. The order calls for the Commerce Department to develop cybersecurity standards that will apply to companies selling software services to the federal government. Biden did not specifically address threats to vital infrastructure, like the Colonial Pipeline forced to shut down for days due to a ransomware attack. Biden has faced pressure to step up defenses in response to Russian hackers that targeted nine federal agencies and dozens of U.S. corporations. In another recent attack, Chinese hackers targeted Microsoft Exchange email servers used by tens of thousands of smaller companies. The unusually long, 34-page order calls for agencies to report severe breaches within three days, and for the creation of a board to review serious cyber incidents.
Trump official defends Jan. 6 response
Former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller defended his actions during the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection at a tense congressional hearing on Wednesday in his first public comments about the attack. The committee's chair, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), noted that the deadly Capitol attack was "planned in plain sight on social media for the world to see," yet "security collapsed in the face of the mob" and reinforcements were delayed for hours. Miller said he decided against putting military forces on Capitol Hill before the riot to avoid fueling "irresponsible commentary in the media" and "hysteria" suggesting the troops were sent to help overturn the election. The hearing was part of Congress' ongoing review of how the insurrection happened as it considers whether to create a bipartisan commission to investigate it.
McCarthy: Nobody questions legitimacy of 2020 election
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said at the White House on Wednesday after a meeting with President Biden that nobody "is questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election" any longer. "I think that is all over with," McCarthy said. "We're sitting here with the president today." The statement came four months after McCarthy and 146 other Republicans voted to overturn election results in several states former President Donald Trump lost, and while Trump and some GOP lawmakers continue to falsely insist the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. The former president did so as recently as two days ago. Earlier on Wednesday, Republicans voted to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from her House leadership position for criticizing Trump over his false election claims.
Ellen DeGeneres ending talk show after 19 seasons
Ellen DeGeneres announced Wednesday that she would be ending her daytime talk show after nearly two decades. She said the upcoming 19th season of The Ellen DeGeneres Show will be its last. "As great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it's just not a challenge anymore," DeGeneres said. DeGeneres reportedly had been considering the decision for several years, starting before her show faced allegations of a toxic workplace culture. DeGeneres has apologized about the problems, which led to the ousting of three top producers and sinking viewership. DeGeneres said she wasn't "quitting the show because of that" but there were times when the scandal made her question whether she wanted to return. The show is set to air its last episode in 2022.