Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 7, 2021

Protesters demand concrete climate action at COP26, court halts Biden's big-company vaccine mandate, and more

1

100,000 protesters demand concrete climate action at COP26

An estimated 100,000 climate activists demonstrated in Glasgow on Saturday, following up Friday's student protest with a demand for concrete action to fight climate change at the United Nations' COP26 summit. Leaders of the demonstration echoed teen activist Greta Thunberg's criticism of the summit as a "failure" where leaders were shirking their responsibility to prevent temperatures from rising enough to cause catastrophic damage. "Inside that conference of polluters, the climate criminals are hiding behind barbed wire and fences and lines of police," COP26 Coalition spokesperson Asad Rehman told the crowd. "We're not going to accept their suicide pact." Inside the conference, participants discussed climate-change solutions related to nature and land use.

2

Appeals court puts Biden corporate vaccine mandate on hold

A U.S. federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily halted the Biden administration's coronavirus vaccine mandate for companies with at least 100 employees, saying there were "grave statutory and constitutional" issues with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule. The decision came shortly after numerous states filed lawsuits challenging the rule, which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 4. Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda said in a statement that the Labor Department was "confident in its legal authority" to require companies to make workers get vaccinated or take weekly COVID-19 tests. Federal law gives OSHA "the authority to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them," Nanda said. "We are fully prepared to defend this standard in court."

3

Biden celebrates passage of infrastructure bill

President Biden on Saturday celebrated Congress' approval of his $1 trillion infrastructure package after months of infighting among Democrats. "Finally, infrastructure week," Biden said, referring to unfulfilled Trump administration promises to push through an infrastructure package. "I'm so happy to say that: infrastructure week." Biden called the package a "once-in-a-generation" investment in the country's roads, bridges, ports, internet, and rail systems. The bill reached his desk after months of wrangling between progressive and moderate Democrats that dragged down Biden's approval rating and contributed to the party's election setbacks last week. The 13 Republicans who voted with House Democrats to pass the bill faced a backlash from GOP colleagues. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) called them RINOS – Republicans in name only.

4

FBI raid of James O'Keefe's home linked to stolen Ashley Biden diary

Federal authorities on Saturday searched the New York home of conservative documentary filmmaker James O'Keefe, according to witnesses. The raid came a day after O'Keefe confirmed that the Justice Department was investigating the group he founded, Project Veritas, in connection with the alleged theft of a diary belonging to President Biden's daughter Ashley Biden. The F.B.I. investigated at the homes of two of O'Keefe's associates before conducting the court-ordered search of his Mamaroneck, New York, apartment. O'Keefe acknowledged Friday that Project Veritas discussed the diary with sources last year.

5

Iraq's prime minister survives assassination attempt

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi called for "calm and restraint from everyone" on Sunday after surviving an assassination attempt at his residence in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. Iraqi officials said at least two explosive-laden drones were used in the attack, which wounded seven of the prime minister's security guards. Al-Kadhimi was not badly harmed. He later appeared on TV, speaking calmly, and chaired a security meeting. His left hand appeared to be wrapped in a bandage. "Cowardly rocket and drone attacks don't build homelands and don't build a future," he said. The assassination attempt came as tensions escalated following Iran-backed militias' refusal to accept the results of parliamentary elections last month. The State Department condemned what it called an "apparent act of terrorism."

6

Sudan talks hit 'semi-deadlock' as military digs in

Talks to resolve Sudan's political crisis hit a "semi-deadlock" over the military's refusal to restore the country's democratic transition, sources from the government recently ousted by the military said Saturday. The sources, Reuters reported, said the military has tightened restrictions on Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who has been under house arrest since the military disbanded his government and took over on Oct. 25. Under the new conditions, the military further limited Hamdok's contact with political allies and others. Sudan's military leader, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has said he remains committed to transition plans leading to 2023 elections, but that the takeover was necessary to prevent civil war. Unions have called for strikes and civil disobedience on Sunday and Monday to protest the coup.

7

Nicaragua holds vote after crackdown on opposition

Nicaraguans are voting Sunday in general elections that international observers are calling "a parody" and "a sham." The balloting follows a crackdown on opposition by the government of President Daniel Ortega that critics said had created "the worst possible conditions" for a vote. Ortega is expected to win a fourth term alongside his vice president and wife, Rosario Murillo. Since a 2018 wave of opposition demonstrations, tensions have escalated in the Central American nation as Ortega's government blocked potential campaigns by rivals. Half a dozen possible presidential candidates were detained in recent months, including journalist and former candidate Cristiana Chamorro Barrios, whose mother beat Ortega in a 1990 election.

8

Prevea Health drops Aaron Rodgers after vaccine comments

Prevea Health announced Saturday that it would halt its partnership with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has made misleading and false claims about COVID-19 since testing positive Wednesday and later admitting he was unvaccinated. Rodgers has worked as a partner of Prevea Health since 2012, acting as a spokesperson and boosting the organization's work across Wisconsin. "Prevea Health remains deeply committed to protecting its patients, staff, providers and communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic," a company statement said. "This includes encouraging and helping all eligible populations to become vaccinated." Since he's unvaccinated, Rodgers won't be able to play for at least 10 days.

9

Houston officials investigate deadly concert crowd surge

Houston police said Saturday that they were reviewing video footage and concert protocols, and interviewing witnesses to determine what caused a Friday crowd surge that left eight people dead at the sold-out Astroworld music festival. The crowd pushed forward at the start of a performance by the main performer, rapper Travis Scott. There were about 50,000 people in NRG park. "As soon as he jumped out on the stage, it was like an energy took over and everything went haywire," concertgoer Niaara Goods said. "All of a sudden, your ribs are being crushed. You have someone's arm in your neck. You're trying to breathe, but you can't." Scott said he was "devastated" by the "tragic loss of life," and committed to "help heal and support the families in need."

10

SNL debuts a new portrayal of Donald Trump

Saturday Night Live cast member James Austin Johnson took over the role of former President Donald Trump, long played by actor Alec Baldwin, in the comedy show's latest cold open. The sketch started with Cecily Strong as Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, who first talked to Pete Davidson as Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers about his decision not to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Next up was Alex Moffat as Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin, who upset Democrat Terry McAuliffe last week after declining to campaign with Trump. Johnson's Trump then popped up with Moffat's Youngkin on a split screen, saying, "I just wanted to congratulate Glenn Youngkin and mostly myself on a tremendous victory in Virginia. Glenn, we did it together."

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