10 things you need to know today: August 27, 2021
Suicide bombers kill 13 U.S. troops and dozens of Afghans, 7 Capitol Police officers sue Trump over Jan. 6 attack, and more
Suicide bombers kill 13 U.S. troops, dozens of Afghans
Two suspected Islamic State-affiliate suicide bombers attacked outside the Kabul airport on Thursday. One of the blasts killed 13 U.S. troops and wounded 15 others. At least 95 Afghans also were killed in the attacks. The blasts came after repeated warnings by the United States and its allies of potentially imminent terrorist threats against the chaotic effort to evacuate Americans, other foreigners, and Afghans who have worked with foreign missions and are desperate to escape following the recent takeover. The U.S. deaths were the first American military fatalities in Afghanistan since two soldiers were killed in a February 2020 insider attack by an Afghan soldier. President Biden vowed that the U.S. would hunt down the attackers.
7 Capitol Police officers sue Trump, extremist groups over Jan. 6 attack
Seven Capitol Police officers on Thursday filed a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump and some of his supporters over their roles in the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The civil rights lawsuit accuses Trump and right-wing extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers of using domestic terrorism in a failed effort to keep Trump in power even though he lost the 2020 election. The plaintiffs, five of whom are Black, said the plot used white supremacist-laden conspiracy theories falsely alleging voter fraud, particularly in heavily Black areas. Damon Hewitt, president of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which is representing the officers, said the insurrection "was a blatant attempt to stifle the votes and voices of millions of Americans, particularly Black voters."
Supreme Court blocks Biden administration's latest eviction ban
The Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the Biden administration's extension of the eviction moratorium imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep people from losing their homes during the coronavirus crisis. The court's six-member conservative majority said Congress would have to approve the policy for it to continue. "Congress was on notice that a further extension would almost surely require new legislation, yet it failed to act," the court wrote in an unsigned, eight-page opinion. The court's three liberal justices dissented. The majority said the CDC's moratorium was based on a statute letting it "implement measures like fumigation and pest extermination," but it "strains credulity" to suggest it has the "sweeping authority" necessary to ban evictions nationwide.
Illinois governor imposes mask, vaccine mandates
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday announced that all educators, college students, and health-care workers in the state would be required to be vaccinated. Pritzker also imposed a statewide indoor mask mandate for everyone age 2 and up, as part of an intensifying effort by the state government to combat a coronavirus resurgence driven by the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant. "Let's be clear, vaccination is the most effective tool we have for keeping people out of the hospital and preventing deaths," said Pritzker, a Democrat. "Nearly all Illinoisans who are hospitalized with COVID are the Illinoisans who are not vaccinated. And those hospitalizations are only increasing."
COVID hospitalizations exceed 100,000 for 1st time since January
For the first time since January, the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in the U.S. has risen above 100,000, due to a surge fueled by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. Levels are highest across the South. Florida is the state with the most hospitalizations, with more than 17,000. Texas is next with more than 14,000. Both states have Republican governors who have taken drastic actions to prevent local governments from imposing mask and vaccine requirements. Many hospitals across the country have been overwhelmed, with many running short of beds in their intensive care units. Children are increasingly affected. Kids now account for 36 percent of Tennessee's COVID-19 cases. The state has recorded 14,000 pediatric cases in the last week, up 57 percent over the previous week, Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said.
Texas House approves GOP voting restrictions
Texas' Republican-led House on Thursday passed new voting restrictions after an unprecedented effort by Democrats to stop it by fleeing the state to deny the chamber a quorum. The measure passed 79-37 in a mostly party-line vote. Democrats first blocked the legislation in May with a dramatic walkout, then left the state en masse after GOP Gov. Greg Abbott called a special session. During a 38-day standoff, the Democrats pleaded with members of Congress to enact new voting protections. The delay ended when enough Democrats returned for Republicans to resume efforts to approve the bill. The state Senate has passed a similar bill, and now will consider the House version, which adds new ID requirements for people seeking to vote by mail, bans drive-through and 24-hour voting options, and empowers partisan poll watchers.
Tropical Storm Ida intensifies, aims for Gulf Coast
Tropical Storm Ida gained strength in the Caribbean Sea early Friday as it passed near Grand Cayman about 310 miles east-southeast of the western tip of Cuba, according to the National Hurricane Center. Ida is expected to continue intensifying and hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, possibly as a powerful hurricane, by late Sunday or early Monday. After reaching tropical storm strength overnight, with top sustained winds of 40 miles per hour, Ida is expected to reach hurricane strength over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico by Saturday morning. It could continue gaining steam and "be near major hurricane strength" by the time it reaches the northern Gulf Coast, the center said.
Capitol Police officer who shot Jan. 6 rioter Ashli Babbitt goes public
U.S. Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd stepped forward Thursday to publicly identify himself as the officer who fatally shot Jan. 6 rioter Ashli Babbitt as she tried to force her way into the House chamber. "I know that day I saved countless lives," Byrd told NBC News anchor Lester Holt. "I know members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger." Byrd, a 28-year veteran of the force, explained that he repeatedly yelled at the rioters to stop trying to break through the barricaded door to the Speaker's Lobby. Byrd, who is Black, said he had received death threats, some racist in nature, since his identity was leaked online.
Department of Education forgives $1.1 billion ITT Tech student loans
The Department of Education said Thursday it would forgive $1.1 billion in federal loans to about 115,000 former students who attended the now-defunct ITT Technical Institute but left after March 2008 without finishing their degree. ITT Tech shut down in 2016, closing more than 130 schools after the Education Department said it could no longer enroll new students who needed federal loans and grants. Students had long accused the for-profit college of using fraudulent recruitment practices, and the Education Department launched an investigation. The department found that "for years, ITT hid its true financial state from borrowers while luring many of them into taking out private loans with misleading and unaffordable terms that may have caused borrowers to leave school."
120 coronavirus cases in 5 states linked to Sturgis motorcycle rally
Public health officials have linked more than 120 new coronavirus infections to the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, which ended on Aug. 15. The South Dakota Department of Transportation said close to 526,000 vehicles passed through Sturgis during the rally, which started Aug. 6, a 14 percent increase over 2020 traffic, and a 5 percent jump from 2019. Through contact tracing, South Dakota health officials have linked 16 cases to the event, while their counterparts in North Dakota have identified 42 cases, followed by Wyoming with 32 cases, Wisconsin with 20 cases, and Minnesota with 13 cases, The Washington Post reported on Thursday. A report by state and federal public health researchers concluded that one death and at least 649 infections were connected to the 2020 rally.