Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 13, 2021

Bannon is indicted on contempt charges, an appeals court again blocks Biden vaccine mandate, and more

1

Bannon indicted for defying Jan. 6 committee subpoena

A federal grand jury on Friday indicted former Trump strategist Steve Bannon for contempt of Congress after he refused to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters. Bannon is the first person charged in connection with the panel's investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection. The rioters, who were trying to prevent lawmakers from certifying Trump's election loss to President Biden, echoed Trump's false claim that the election was stolen through fraud. Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said they are considering contempt proceedings against former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who also failed to comply with a subpoena.

2

Appeals court declines to lift stay on Biden vaccine mandate

A federal appeals court on Friday affirmed its ruling blocking President Biden's order that companies with 100 or more workers require COVID-19 vaccines or weekly tests. A three-member panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans rejected the Biden administration's request to lift the stay, calling the mandate a "one-size-fits-all sledgehammer" that is "staggeringly broad." The Biden administration had argued that blocking the Labor Department rule, which was scheduled to take effect in early January, could result in dozens if not hundreds of deaths from coronavirus infections. Supporters of vaccine mandates argue they are necessary to end the nearly two-year pandemic. Opponents say they violate constitutional guarantees of individual freedom.

3

COP26 leaders release new draft agreement on climate change

Negotiators on Saturday released a new draft of an agreement on stepping up the fight against climate change, as talks continued beyond a Friday deadline at the United Nations' COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. The latest proposal still calls on countries to speed up "efforts toward the phase-out of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies," but it adds recognition of "the need for support toward a just transition," a response to calls from the fossil fuel industry for backing as it phases out jobs and businesses. Alok Sharma, the British COP26 president, said he hoped participants would "rise to the occasion" and sign an ambitious deal, but critics said the latest text did not go far enough to prevent catastrophic global warming.

4

Record number of Americans quit jobs in September

Americans quit their jobs in unprecedented numbers in September, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department. A record 4.4 million people voluntarily left their jobs during the month. The "quits rate" rose to 3 percent, also a record. The surge described in the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey came as the number of job openings hovered at 10.4 million. In October, 7.4 million Americans were unemployed. The figures added to a series of signs that the labor market is recovering as the economy rebounds from the damage of coronavirus pandemic lockdowns and business shutdowns. Economists say the numbers show that American workers are increasingly willing to leave their current jobs in search of better pay and greater satisfaction. 

5

Biden, Xi to hold virtual meeting to discuss cooperation

President Biden will meet virtually with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday, the White House said. The talks come as both countries seek ways to ease tensions between the world's two largest economies over trade, the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, and China's growing nuclear arsenal and maritime expansion. "The two leaders will discuss ways to responsibly manage the competition ... as well as ways to work together where our interests align," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. "President Biden will make clear U.S. intentions and priorities and be clear and candid about our concerns." Beijing is believed to be seeking ways to avoid clashes ahead of a big year, when Beijing hosts the Winter Olympics and Xi pushes for an unprecedented third term at a key Communist Party Congress.

6

U.S. names Qatar as diplomatic proxy in Afghanistan

The Biden administration has named Qatar as its diplomatic proxy to handle U.S. consular affairs in Afghanistan and protect the closed U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday. Qatar will help process visa applications for the thousands of people still seeking to leave the country to escape the rule of the Taliban, the Islamist extremist group that was driven from power by the 2001 U.S.-led invasion and reclaimed control as the last U.S. troops withdrew at the end of August. Qatar has served as a go-between in U.S.-Taliban contacts for years, hosting diplomatic negotiations on ending the war and receiving more than 60,000 Afghans since the Taliban returned to power. 

7

Agent says Arbery killing defendant assumed Black jogger was a thief

A Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent testified Friday that one of the three white men charged in the 2020 killing of 25-year-old Black jogger Ahmaud Arbery said he joined the chase of Arbery through his neighborhood because he had an "instinct" Arbery had done something wrong. The defendant, William "Roddie" Bryan Jr., told the agent, Jason Seacrist, that he "figured he stole something," Seacrist testified. Bryan is charged along with father and son Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael, who chased Arbery in their vehicles. Travis McMichael, carrying a shotgun, confronted Arbery in the street and fatally shot him. McMichaels' lawyers say he fired in self-defense when Arbery lunged at him.

8

Louisiana prison board recommends posthumous Plessy pardon

The Louisiana Board of Pardons on Friday unanimously voted to recommend a full posthumous pardon of Homer Plessy, whose landmark 19th century Plessy v. Ferguson case led to a Supreme Court ruling later cited to support Jim Crow segregation laws. Plessy, who was one-eighth Black, sat in a whites-only section on a Louisiana train on June 7, 1892. He was arrested after refusing to move to a rail car reserved for Black passengers. The Supreme Court ruled 7-1 in 1896 that a Louisiana law requiring separate but equal railroad cars for Black and white passengers was constitutional. Plessy then pleaded guilty in a lower court, and paid a $25 fine. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) will review the recommendation and decide whether to grant the pardon.

9

Britney Spears freed from conservatorship after 13 years

A Los Angeles judge on Friday terminated the conservatorship that had controlled pop star Britney Spears' life for 13 years. The decision took effect immediately. The controversial arrangement was started when Spears was suffering a public breakdown. In June, she spoke out against the conservatorship in court, calling it "abusive" and asking to have it dissolved. "I just want my life back," Spears said in her June virtual court appearance. "And it's been 13 years. And it's enough." She argued that the arrangement was so controlling it prevented her from getting married and having children. Spears won her first legal victory in September when a judge suspended her father, Jamie Spears, from the conservatorship.

10

Passenger on Shatner's space flight dies in plane crash

Glen de Vries, who flew with Star Trek actor William Shatner on his recent space flight in a Blue Origin capsule, was killed in a plane crash, his employer and Blue Origin said Friday. The four-seat Cessna 172, a small plane used for training and recreational flights, went down in a wooded area in New Jersey. De Vries, 49, was vice chairman of life sciences and health care at the software company Dassault Systèmes. "He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates," Blue Origin said via Twitter. "His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired." Dassault Systèmes praised de Vries' "tireless energy, empathy, and pioneering spirit."

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