10 things you need to know today: August 5, 2021
New York lawmakers threaten impeachment if Cuomo doesn't resign, WHO calls for moratorium on coronavirus booster shots, and more
N.Y. lawmakers back impeachment if Cuomo doesn't resign
A majority of state Assembly members in New York say they support starting impeachment proceedings against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) if he defies calls for his resignation following an investigation that concluded he had sexually harassed at least 11 women, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. According to the AP's count, at least 83 of the chamber's 150 members have said they favor using impeachment to oust the third-term governor if necessary. A majority is enough to authorize a trial. Cuomo has denied the allegations, but the independent investigation overseen by state Attorney General Letitia James has cost him the backing of most of the party leadership, including President Biden, who said after the report was released that Cuomo should step down.
WHO urges moratorium on coronavirus booster shots
The World Health Organization on Wednesday called for a temporary moratorium on coronavirus booster shots for fully vaccinated people in wealthy countries until low-income nations can get enough doses to cover their health workers and vulnerable older adults. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said countries with abundant vaccine stockpiles should wait at least until the end of September to start offering booster shots. "I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant," the WHO leader said. "But we cannot and we should not accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccine using even more of it while the world's most vulnerable people remain unprotected."
Biden administration plans to require vaccinations for foreign travelers
The Biden administration is moving toward requiring all foreign visitors entering the United States be vaccinated against the coronavirus, The Associated Press reported Wednesday, citing an anonymous White House official. The change would be part of a plan to ease travel restrictions on foreign visitors. The Biden administration has kept restrictions in place to curtail international travel into the country due to the risk of spreading the virulent Delta variant of the coronavirus. The current restrictions prohibit entry to non-U.S. residents who have visited China, the European Schengen area, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil, South Africa, or India within 14 days. The Biden administration has faced pressure to lift some of the restrictions, with critics noting that the virus situation in the U.S. is worse than in some prohibited countries.
Florida school districts impose mask mandates, defying DeSantis
Several Florida school districts this week moved to require students to wear face coverings when schools reopen, defying Gov. Ron DeSantis' (R) executive order barring schools from imposing mask mandates. On Wednesday, Leon County — home to Tallahassee — said it wants to enact a mandatory mask rule for kids in pre-kindergarten through the eighth grade. Broward County School District announced it will keep its mask mandate, reversing an earlier statement that it would comply with DeSantis' order. On Tuesday, the School Board of Alachua County voted to require students to wear masks during the first two weeks of school. Florida has seen record numbers of daily infections and hospitalizations in the past week.
Mexico sues U.S. gun manufacturers over flow of illegal weapons
The Mexican government on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against U.S.-based gun manufacturers Smith & Wesson, Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Beretta USA, Glock, and Colt's Manufacturing Co. over the flow of illegal weapons into Mexico. The complaint, filed in Boston federal court, accuses the companies of lax controls and requests unspecified financial compensation. Mexican authorities say the roughly 2.5 million U.S. guns illegally transported into Mexico in the last decade have fueled a sharp rise in murders there. Mexico strictly regulates gun sales. "If we don't file a suit like this and win it, they're never going to understand," Mexico's foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, said. The companies did not immediately respond, but the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association, rejected allegations of negligence.
Trump lawyers ask judge to block release of tax returns
Lawyers for former President Donald Trump on Wednesday asked a federal judge to block the Treasury Department and the IRS from complying with a Justice Department call to give Trump's tax returns the House Ways and Means Committee. The committee says it needs the return to examine how the IRS audits presidents. The DOJ Office of Legal Counsel said last week that federal law requires the government to provide the returns for the investigation. But Trump's lawyers argued to U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, that the requests from Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) have no legitimate legislative purpose, and are meant only to expose Trump's private tax information "because he is a Republican and a political opponent."
Landlords challenge Biden administration's new eviction moratorium
Lawyers for a group of landlords and real estate companies on Wednesday asked a federal judge in Washington to block the Biden administration's new, two-month eviction moratorium. The new ban was announced Tuesday after President Biden faced a backlash from fellow Democrats for letting the previous policy expire over the weekend. It protects tenants from eviction for failure to pay rent in areas with high or substantial coronavirus infection rates, which covers 90 percent of U.S. renters. In the legal challenge, which was expected, lawyers for the landlords argue that the new moratorium is essentially an extension of the "same unlawful ban on evictions that has been in effect since September 2020."
Police officer killed outside Pentagon identified
The Defense Department on Wednesday identified the police officer fatally stabbed at a transit hub outside the Pentagon on Tuesday as George Gonzalez, an Army veteran. A man exited a bus at the transit center and attacked Gonzalez without provocation, then shot himself with Gonzalez's service weapon, the FBI said. Other police officers then engaged the suspect, who died at the scene. Gonzalez joined the force in July 2018, and received the Army Commendation Medal for his service in Iraq, according to a statement released Wednesday. A neighbor of the late suspect, 27-year-old Austin William Lanz of Georgia, said Lanz had recently behaved menacingly and harassed people around him. "I wish there was a better way to address those mental health issues that people have," said Phillip Brent, whose backyard abutted Lanz's.
ADP data shows companies added fewer jobs than expected in July
U.S. companies added 330,000 jobs last month, down from a revised 680,000 gain in June, according to ADP Research Institute data released Wednesday. The increase was the smallest since February. It fell far short of the 690,000 gain economists had expected. The broad hiring slowdown was particularly sharp in the leisure and hospitality industry, which suffered severely from coronavirus shutdowns. "July payroll data reports a marked slowdown from the second quarter pace in jobs growth," Nela Richardson, ADP's chief economist, said in a statement. "Bottlenecks in hiring continue to hold back stronger gains, particularly in light of new COVID-19 concerns tied to viral variants." The data came ahead of the government's Friday July jobs report, which is expected to show a gain of 718,000 jobs.
10 die when van carrying migrants crashes in Texas
At least 10 people were killed Wednesday when an overloaded van carrying 29 migrants crashed in South Texas. Another 20 people were injured, all seriously or critically, authorities said. The van, which was designed to carry 15 passengers, slammed into a metal utility pole and a stop sign as the driver veered off a remote stretch of U.S. 281 in Encino, a community of about 140 residents two miles south of the Falfurrias Border Patrol checkpoint. Authorities said the top-heavy van was speeding. Brooks County Sheriff Urbino "Benny" Martinez said the van was not being pursued when it crashed. A surge in migrants trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border has resulted in a rise in crashes involving migrants who have paid to be smuggled into the United States.