10 things you need to know today: October 12, 2021
Texas governor orders businesses not to require vaccinations, 2 die as plane crashes in California neighborhood, and more
Texas governor orders businesses not to mandate vaccinations
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Monday issued an executive order barring any entity in the state, including private businesses, from mandating coronavirus vaccinations for employees or customers. In August, Abbott ordered Texas government bodies and agencies not to require vaccinations, but said he had no intention to tell executives and entrepreneurs how to run their businesses. But he reversed that position after facing weeks of pressure from GOP primary opponents and others on the right who staunchly oppose President Biden's September decision to require all companies with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines for workers or test them weekly for coronavirus infections. "The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, & our best defense against the virus, but should always remain voluntary & never forced," Abbott tweeted as he announced his new order.
At least 2 die as plane crashes in California neighborhood
A small plane crashed blocks from a high school in Santee, California, on Monday. Two houses were destroyed. A third caught fire and was damaged. At least two people were killed, one of them a UPS driver. "We are heartbroken by the loss of our employee, and extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends," UPS said. "We also send our condolences for the other individuals who are involved in this incident, and their families and friends." Two other people suffered burn injuries. The crash occurred two blocks from Santana High School, about 20 miles northeast of San Diego. The fires smoldered for hours. "Not to be too graphic, but it's a pretty brutal scene for our guys, and we're trying to comb through it," said Justin Matsushita, deputy fire chief for the city of Santee.
2 Georgia election workers fired over alleged voter-application shredding
Fulton County, Georgia, announced Monday that two Georgia election workers were fired Friday for shredding voting applications over the past two weeks. The workers allegedly checked out batches of applications for processing, then shredded some of the forms before properly entering them into the system, according to a preliminary review. Co-workers reported the case to a supervisor early Friday. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) said 300 municipal election-related applications appeared to have been destroyed. Fulton County spokeswoman Jessica Corbitt said it was not immediately clear whether the information on the applications was lost, or preserved even though the processing appeared incomplete. Raffensperger called for the Justice Department to investigate how the state's most populous county "disenfranchises Fulton voters through incompetence and malfeasance."
Indigenous activists urge Biden to declare climate emergency
Indigenous activists demonstrated outside the White House on Monday, calling for President Biden to take more drastic action against climate change. The protest launched a week of demonstrations by a coalition called Build Back Fossil Free, which wants Biden to block new fossil fuel projects and declare a national climate emergency. The event came on a day of mixed parades and demonstrations across the country, some marking Columbus Day in honor of the explorer's voyage and Italian-American culture, while others celebrated Indigenous People's Day in honor of indigenous people subjugated by European settlers. Biden last week wrote a proclamation recognizing Indigenous Peoples' Day. "We must never forget the centuries-long campaign of violence, displacement, assimilation, and terror wrought upon Native communities and Tribal Nations," he wrote.
Huntington Beach shoreline reopens a week after oil spill
The Southern California town of Huntington Beach reopened its shoreline after tests showed the water was essentially free of toxins from an offshore oil spill just over a week ago, city and California State Parks officials announced Monday. The beaches were closed for just over a week due to the leak of more than 131,000 gallons from a damaged underwater pipeline. "The health and safety of our residents and visitors is of the utmost importance. We understand the significance our beaches have on tourism, our economy, and our overall livelihood here in Huntington Beach," said Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr in a press statement. "It is important that our decision to reopen our shoreline and water be based on data and that we continue to monitor the water quality going forward." Wildlife officials reported that fewer birds than feared had died due to the spill.
Southwest cancels more flights as stock drops
Southwest Airlines canceled more than 350 flights Monday, adding to major disruptions for its customers and staff after more than 1,800 cancellations over the weekend. The flights scrapped on Monday amounted to 10 percent of Southwest's schedule. At least 1,400 other flights were delayed following a weekend of major disruptions that it blamed on bad weather and air traffic control issues. The pilots union accused the company of mishandling minor challenges that other airlines easily navigated. The problems started shortly after the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association on Friday asked a federal court to prevent the company from making all employees get vaccinated against COVID-19. Southwest shares dropped by 4.2 percent on Monday.
Economists awarded Nobel for real-world experiments
Economists David Card of the University of California at Berkeley, Joshua Angrist of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Guido Imbens of Stanford University won the 2021 Nobel Prize for economics for exploring ways to use real-world experiments to explore labor economics and other issues. "This year's economic sciences laureates have demonstrated that many of society's big questions can be answered," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Monday in Stockholm. "Their solution is to use natural experiments — situations arising in real life that resemble randomized experiments." Angrist and Imbens focused on developing the methodology and Card used it to study labor economics, like when he looked at how Miami's labor market changed when Cuba allowed a mass exodus from the island in the 1980s.
Study finds 85 percent of global population affected by climate change
Researchers concluded that at least 85 percent of the people in the world have been affected by extreme weather intensified by climate change, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change. Scientists analyzed data from more than 100,000 events that could be linked to human-induced global warming, including floods, heat waves, and crop failures, as well as changes in temperature and precipitation caused by carbon emissions. They found that weather events they determined to have been made worse by climate change had hit 80 percent of the Earth's land, where 85 percent of the population lives. "Climate change is visible and noticeable almost everywhere in the world," said lead author Max Callaghan, of Germany's Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change.
Raiders coach resigns in fallout over email scandal
Las Vegas Raiders Coach Jon Gruden resigned on Monday, days after emails surfaced in which he made racist, misogynistic, and homophobic comments. Gruden said he loves the Raiders and doesn't want to be "a distraction," adding: "I'm sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone." On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that in a 2011 email to former Washington Football Team executive Bruce Allen, Gruden used a racist trope to describe NFL union chief DeMaurice Smith. The New York Times then revealed that Gruden, then an ESPN analyst, used homophobic and misogynistic terms in other emails when talking about NFL officials, including Commissioner Roger Goodell, and decried efforts to draft a gay player. The emails were discovered during a workplace misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team.
Kenyans sweep Boston marathon
Kenyans Benson Kipruto and Diana Kipyogei won the pandemic-delayed Boston Marathon on Monday as the storied race returned after a 30-month absence. Kipruto pulled away from the lead pack with three miles remaining in the 26.2-mile course to win the men's title with a time of 2 hours, 9 minutes, 51 seconds. Kipyogei beat 2017 winner Edna Kiplagat by 23 seconds to win the women's race with a time of 2:24:45. It was the eighth Kenyan sweep in the Boston Marathon since 2000. Organizers moved the race from spring to fall for the first time in the marathon's 125-year history, and imposed protocols designed to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection, including asking spectators to socially distance. Marcel Hug and Manuela Schär, both from Switzerland, won the men's and women's wheelchair races. Hug finished seven seconds off his course record despite making a wrong turn in the last mile.