Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 6, 2021

The House approves $1 trillion infrastructure bill, Colin Powell's son calls him a "great lion with a big heart" in eulogy, and more


House approves bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure bill

House lawmakers on Friday approved a bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, sending President Biden a key piece of his economic agenda for his signature. "Generations from now, people will look back and know this is when America won the economic competition for the 21st century," Biden said. The legislation includes projects to improve U.S. roads, bridges, pipes, ports, and internet connections. Democrats repeatedly delayed the vote as they negotiated Biden's larger Build Back Better"plan, a $1.75 trillion tax-and-spending plan seeking to expand the social safety net and fight climate change. Democrats tried to resolve a conflict between progressives and moderates by introducing both bills together, but instead reached a deal to take up the spending legislation later this month.


Powell's son calls him a 'great lion with a big heart' in eulogy

Republicans and Democrats, including President Biden and former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, gathered Friday to honor ex-Joint Chiefs of Staff chair and former Secretary of State Colin Powell at his funeral in Washington. Powell's son Michael remembered his late father as a "great lion with a big heart" who had an "endless passion for people." Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who often clashed with Powell over his reluctance to commit U.S. troops to foggy conflicts, remembered Powell as "one of the gentlest and most decent people any of us will ever meet." None of the eulogists mentioned Powell's citing of faulty intelligence to justify the Iraq to the U.N., an incident he called "a blot" on his reputation.


Hiring bounced back as economy added 531,000 jobs in October

U.S. employers added 531,000 jobs in October, the most since July, the Labor Department reported Friday. The hiring exceeded economists' expectations of a gain around 450,000, and marked a rebound from disappointing September gains. The government also increased its  August and September estimates by a combined 235,000 jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 4.6 percent from 4.8 percent in September. The hiring rebound came as the summertime coronavirus surge driven by the Delta variant eased. "This is the kind of recovery we can get when we are not sidelined by a surge in COVID cases," said Nick Bunker, director of economic research at the employment website Indeed.


Greta Thunberg calls COP26 a 'failure' during youth climate protest

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg led a massive protest of young activists outside the United Nations' COP26 climate summit in Glasgow on Friday. Thunberg, who called the conference a "failure," said world leaders should be taking bold action to prevent catastrophic climate change. Instead, "history will judge them poorly" because they are turning the potentially pivotal conference into "a global greenwash festival" and "a two-week long celebration of business as usual." Leaders at the conference have touted pledges made by dozens of nations during the first week to end deforestation, phase out coal power plants, and halt public investment in fossil fuel projects abroad, but many youth activists demanded more radical action. "We don't need any more empty promises," Thunberg said.


8 die in crowd surge at Astroworld music festival

At least eight people were killed Friday in a crowd surge at the Astroworld music festival in Houston during a performance by rapper Travis Scott. "Scores" of people were injured, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said. "The crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage, and that caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries," Peña added. "People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic." Houston Police Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite said he was near the front of the crowd when the surge "happened all at once," quickly leaving several people "experiencing some type of cardiac arrest or some type of medical episode" and needing CPR. The show was called off shortly after the tragedy.


3 professors sue just before UF lifts order not to testify against voting rights law

Three professors filed a lawsuit against the University of Florida on Friday for ordering them not to testify in a voting rights lawsuit against the administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Administrators had said the testimony would have created a conflict for the state's flagship public university by clashing with DeSantis over the law, which imposes new limitations on ballot drop boxes and vote-by-mail practices that critics say curtail voting rights. The professors said in their lawsuit that the university was "stifling faculty speech against the state" in violation of "the principles of academic freedom and free speech." On the same day that the lawsuit was filed, school officials reversed course after an angry backlash, and said the professors should not be barred from testifying.


Fuel tanker explodes in Sierra Leone, killing at least 91

A fuel tanker exploded in a suburb of Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, on Saturday, killing at least 91 people. Mohamed Lamrane Bah, director of communications for the West African nation's National Disaster Management Agency, said several other people were injured in critical condition. A staff member at Connaught Hospital stated that about 30 people had been so badly burned they were not expected to survive. Video obtained by The Associated Press showed a giant fireball burning following the explosion, as survivors screamed in pain and charred bodies lay in the street. President Julius Maada Bio, who was in Scotland at the United Nations' COP26 climate talks, tweeted his "profound sympathies with families who have lost loved ones and those who have been maimed."


States ask courts to block Biden's vaccine mandate for big companies

Attorneys general representing more than half of the states in the U.S. filed multiple lawsuits on Friday seeking to block the Biden administration from imposing new rules requiring companies with more than 100 employees to make their workers get coronavirus vaccinations or submit to weekly tests. The lawsuits, filed in various courts, said the federal government was overstepping its authority on an issue that states should control. "States have been leading the fight against COVID-19 from the start of the pandemic," Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) said Friday. "It is too late to impose a federal standard now that we have already developed systems and strategies that are tailored for our specific needs." The Biden administration said earlier in the week that the rule would take effect Jan. 4.


Virginia Democrats concede loss of state House control to GOP

Virginia Democratic leaders conceded Friday that Republicans won control of the state's House of Delegates in Tuesday's elections. Some races remained too close to call, but Democrats acknowledged Republicans would hold at least 51 seats in the 100-member chamber after Democratic Del. Martha Mugler conceded that she lost a tight race against Republican challenger A.C. Cordoza in the 91st House district in southeastern Virginia. "While the results of the election were not in our favor, our work for the people of Virginia goes on," outgoing House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn said. Garren Shipley, a spokesman for House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert, said after Filler-Corn called him on Friday that the GOP caucus "appreciates her pledge to a smooth transition to the incoming majority."


Aaron Rodgers says 'woke mob' attacking over his vaccination stance

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Sunday's game, said on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday that the "woke mob" is trying to "cancel" him after it was revealed he's not vaccinated. The NFL star said on the radio show he wanted to clarify his views before the "final nail gets put in my cancel culture casket." Rodgers said he did his own research, and has an allergy to an ingredient in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. He questioned why "people are still getting COVID" if the "vaccine is so great." Rodgers said he was taking ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug not proven effective against COVID-19. Trials have shown COVID-19 vaccines work and are safe.


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