Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 11, 2021

U.S., China pledge climate cooperation, judge blocks Texas' ban on school mask mandates, and more


U.S., China pledge to work together against climate change

The United States and China on Wednesday made a surprise pledge at the COP26 climate summit to work together to fight rising global temperatures. Both countries said they would do more this decade to cut carbon emissions, and China for the first time made a commitment to reduce the release of methane, although it didn't join the Global Methane Pledge led by the U.S. and the European Union. "There is more agreement between the U.S. and China than divergence, making it an area of huge potential for cooperation," China climate envoy Xie Zhenhua said at a news conference. "The release of this joint statement shows again that cooperation is the only choice for both China and the United States." U.S. Special Climate Envoy John Kerry said he was "pleased" with the joint pledge.


Judge overrules Texas governor's ban on school mask mandates

A federal judge in Austin ruled Wednesday that Texas school districts can require face coverings, overruling Gov. Greg Abbott's ban on mask mandates in state schools. U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel said Abbott's order violated a federal law protecting disabled students' access to public education. Days after Abbott, a Republican, imposed the ban, nonprofit advocacy group Disabled Rights Texas filed a lawsuit arguing Abbott's order prohibited accommodations for disabled children who are highly vulnerable to severe effects of COVID-19. "No student should be forced to make the choice of forfeiting their education or risking their health, and now they won't have to," said Kym Davis Rogers, a litigation attorney at Disability Rights Texas, in a statement on the group's website.


Rittenhouse breaks down on witness stand, claims self-defense

Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager facing homicide charges for fatally shooting two people at a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, broke down sobbing while testifying in his own defense on Wednesday. Rittenhouse doesn't dispute that he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 27. But he said Rosenbaum had threatened him earlier and chased him. "I defended myself," he said. Rittenhouse has said he was in Kenosha carrying a semiautomatic, assault-style rifle to protect property during the racial-justice protests. His lawyers requested a mistrial after a prosecutor asked him questions the judge had said were out of bounds.


COP26 draft agreement warns current pledges aren't enough

Organizers of the United Nations' COP26 climate summit in Scotland released a preliminary draft of an agreement on fighting global warming, warning that current pledges won't be enough to prevent catastrophe. The text urges countries to phase out coal-burning power plants and fossil fuel subsidies. Neither goal was mentioned in the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord. The draft also reaffirmed the target of keeping warming to below 2 degrees Celsius and preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. The document also calls for developed countries to increase aid to lower-income nations by doubling funding to help them to adapt and address damage from climate change.


Inflation accelerates to fastest pace in 31 years

Inflation jumped to a 6.2 annual rate in October, the highest in the United States since 1990, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. On a monthly basis, prices rose by 0.9 percent, up from a 0.4 percent increase in September. The October acceleration in the consumer price index came as demand remained strong, and the pandemic continued to cause supply disruptions. It was the fifth straight month with the annual pace rising by 5 percent or more. The core price index, which leaves out volatile food and energy costs, rose by 4.6 percent in October compared to a year earlier, the biggest increase since 1991. That was up from a 4 percent annual rise in September.


900,000 children ages 5 to 11 get 1st vaccine shots

The White House estimated Wednesday that almost 1 million kids ages 5 to 11 have received shots of Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine since its authorization last week. COVID Response Coordinator Jeff Zients "conservatively" judged the number of kids to have received their first shot at 900,000. He added that people have scheduled another 700,000 pediatric vaccination appointments at U.S. pharmacies. "Our goal clearly is to vaccinate as many kids as possible," Zients said Wednesday at a White House pandemic briefing. "This is the very beginning of the program. The program is just getting up to full strength." To avoid a lag in reporting to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House came up with its estimate by contacting state and local health officials.


Jan. 6 rioter sentenced to 41 months for assaulting officer

A member of the mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 was sentenced to 41 months in prison on Wednesday for assaulting a police officer and obstructing an official proceeding. The man, New Jersey gym owner and former MMA fighter Scott Fairlamb, was the first rioter sentenced for violently attacking police during the insurgency. "It's such a serious offense ... an affront to society and to the law, to have the Capitol overrun and the function of government stopped," said Judge Royce Lamberth. Fairlamb, who pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors, said he had "nothing but remorse." Lamberth said other violent rioters will get stiffer sentences if they go to trial.


Germany accuses Belarus of 'trafficking' migrants 

Germany on Wednesday accused Belarus of "state-run smuggling" and human "trafficking" by luring desperate migrants to the Polish border in hopes of getting to Western Europe. Between 3,000 and 4,000 migrants are estimated to be stuck in freezing weather at makeshift border camps. A European Union leader said that the bloc was considering funding a wall or other barrier on its eastern border. Critics accuse Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of pushing Middle East migrants toward Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia to retaliate against the E.U. for sanctions imposed over his crackdown on internal dissent. "This is not a migration crisis, it is a political crisis triggered with the special purpose of destabilizing the situation in the European Union," said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.


Biden to sign infrastructure bill on Monday

President Biden will sign the more than $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill on Monday, the White House announced Wednesday. The legislation amounts to the biggest federal investment in upgrading the nation's roads, bridges, ports, and other infrastructure in a "generation," the White House said. Members of Congress who crafted the bill will join Biden for the signing ceremony. "The President will highlight how he is following through on his commitment to rebuild the middle class and the historic benefits the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will deliver for American families," with the plan providing "millions of good-paying, union jobs for working people" and strengthening supply chains, the White House said in a press release.


Arlington commemorates 100th year of Tomb of the Unknowns

Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the day when the remains of an anonymous American infantryman were laid to rest at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The soldier's body was carried to the U.S. from France aboard the USS Olympia three years after the end of World War I, and arrived at the tomb on Nov. 11, 1921. The Thursday ceremony marking the event will include a public procession through the cemetery with honor guards, the U.S. Army Band, and military flyovers. President Biden will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and mark Veterans Day with remarks at the cemetery's Memorial Amphitheater.


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