Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 14, 2021

The CDC says fully vaccinated people can go maskless indoors, Israel masses ground troops on Gaza border, and more


CDC says fully vaccinated people don't have to wear masks indoors

The CDC said Thursday that it was safe for people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to go without a mask or practicing social distancing in most situations, indoors or outdoors. "We have all longed for this moment when we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a briefing. "If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic." The guidance doesn't apply when masks are required by state, local, or tribal law, or business policies. Masks still will be required on airplanes, buses, trains, and other public transportation, and at health-care facilities, jails, or homeless shelters. Unvaccinated people are still advised to wear masks.


Israel masses troops near Gaza border as violence escalates

Israel deployed tanks and troops to the Gaza border on Thursday as the Israeli military stepped up airstrikes and Hamas militants continued a barrage of rockets. Israeli leaders warned the conflict could spiral into a civil war, as Jewish and Israeli Arab mobs clashed in the streets. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod, which was placed under a curfew, and condemned violence that broke out there. "There is no greater threat now than these riots, and it is essential to bring back law and order with these means," he said. Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered a "massive" military reinforcement to contain the unrest. More than 80 Palestinians have been killed in days of artillery and air attacks against Hamas targets in Gaza. At least six Israelis have been killed by rocket fire.


Panic buying continues as pipeline ramps up after cyberattack

Gas lines and panic buying continued Thursday even after Colonial Pipeline started ramping up operations again after a ransomware attack disrupted a pipeline that supplies nearly half of the East Coast's fuel. Colonial Pipeline said all markets should have begun getting some fuel during the day, but much of the Southeast continued to be plagued by panic buying that made shortages worse and left more than half of the gas stations in Georgia, Virginia, and the Carolinas without fuel. President Biden warned that hoarders would only extend the crisis, and he encouraged people to be patient, because restarting the pipeline was "not like flicking on a light switch." Colonial Pipeline reportedly paid a nearly $5 million ransom in cryptocurrency to Eastern European hackers last week to start restoring their system.


State trial delayed for three ex-officers in Floyd case

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill announced Thursday that the state trial for the three former Minneapolis Police officers charged with aiding and abetting the murder of George Floyd has been postponed until March 2022 so a federal civil rights trial can be completed first. The officers — J. Alexander Kueng, 27, Thomas Lane, 38, and Tou Thao, 35 — previously were scheduled to stand trial in August on the state charges that they aided and abetted second-degree murder and second-degree murder. They have pleaded not guilty. Floyd died after being restrained during his arrest on suspicion of buying cigarettes with a fake $20 bill. Another former officer, Derek Chauvin, was convicted last month of murder and manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd's neck for nine minutes, resulting in his death. Chauvin is scheduled to be sentenced June 25.


1st active-duty service member charged over Capitol attack

The Justice Department announced Thursday that a Marine Corps officer, Maj. Christopher Warnagiris, had been arrested for participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Warnagiris, 40, was the first active-duty service member to be charged over the deadly attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump who were trying to prevent Congress from certifying President Biden's election victory. The Justice Department said Warnagiris, a field artillery officer, "violently entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, after pushing through a line of police officers guarding the East Rotunda doors," then used his body to keep a door open so others could enter. Security camera footage and other publicly available video showed Warnagiris pushing away a Capitol Police officer who tried to close the door, the Justice Department said.


Coronavirus vaccinations start for children ages 12 to 15

COVID-19 vaccinations began Thursday for children ages 12 to 15, a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved administering Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine to people in that age group. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky gave final approval hours after an independent advisory committee endorsed the vaccination expansion Wednesday afternoon. Pfizer's two-dose vaccine already has been approved for use in those 16 and older. Authorization will speed up efforts to get middle school students vaccinated before next school year, boosting the national push to reduce new infections. Children account for about 20 percent of the population, so getting them vaccinated is seen as a critical part of the effort to fight the pandemic.


D.C. police department hit by ransomware attack

Thousands of confidential documents from the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department were leaked onto the dark web Thursday after a cyberattack from a "Russian-speaking ransomware syndicate," The Associated Press reported. The leak included internal disciplinary files and intelligence reports, as well as information from the FBI, Secret Service, and other agencies. Experts said it was "the worst known ransomware attack ever to hit a U.S. police department," according to the AP. The so-called Babuk Group coordinated the leak after the D.C. police department rejected demands for a $4 million ransom. "This is going to send a shock through the law enforcement community throughout the country," said Ted Williams, a former D.C. officer who is now an attorney representing a retired officer whose background file was previously leaked.


Gaetz ally to change plea to guilty in deal with prosecutors

Former Florida tax collector Joel Greenberg, an ally of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), plans to plead guilty on Monday, signaling he has reached a deal with prosecutors to cooperate in a wide-ranging sex-trafficking investigation. Greenberg has been in jail this spring awaiting trial on 33 counts ranging from identity theft to sex trafficking of a minor. He initially pleaded not guilty, but a new filing on Thursday said he would change his plea. As part of a deal with prosecutors, Greenberg will cooperate with investigators looking into whether Gaetz, a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump, had sex with a minor and violated sex-trafficking laws. Gaetz has denied wrongdoing, saying he never had sex with a minor or paid for sex.


Stefanik in 'strong position' ahead of vote on Cheney replacement

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) appealed for support Thursday ahead of a Friday vote on replacing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as Republican conference chair, the No. 3 leadership post. Stefanik, a former moderate who has become a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, has received Trump's endorsement. She said at Thursday's candidate forum that she believed she was "in a strong position" heading into Friday's vote. She also has support from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and prominent Freedom Caucus member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). But Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), also a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, also has launched a bid, saying, "this must be a contested race — not a coronation." Cheney was forced out over her ongoing criticism of Trump's "lie" that the 2020 election was stolen from him.


Fractured beam forces closure of crucial Mississippi River bridge

Authorities have shut down the heavily traveled Hernando de Soto Bridge over the Mississippi River indefinitely to repair a break in a critical beam. An inspector who spotted the crack immediately called 911 saying: "We need to get people off the bridge immediately!" The Interstate 40 bridge runs between Memphis, Tennessee, and Arkansas. More than 35,000 vehicles cross it daily, a third of it commercial traffic. The fracture also forced a halt to Mississippi barge traffic. The disruption could create significant supply-chain disruptions. "Memphis is really a nerve center of this country from a supply chain perspective," said William B. Dunavant III, CEO and president of logistics company Dunavant Enterprises. The shutdown came as President Biden and Republicans discuss competing proposals to fix the nation's aging infrastructure.


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