10 things you need to know today: November 15, 2021
Coronavirus cases rise again after decline from summer surge, global media give COP26 deal mixed reviews, and more
COVID cases rise again after decline from summer surge
Coronavirus cases have started rising again in parts of the U.S. following a decline from the summer surge that was driven by the highly infectious Delta variant. The trends have been most alarming in the upper Midwest, Southwest, and parts of the Northeast. Nationally, the seven-day average of new cases has edged up to about 80,000 after stalling at just over 70,000 infections per day for several weeks, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing Johns Hopkins University data. Public health officials are concerned to see progress against the pandemic stall as Americans prepare to gather for Thanksgiving. Minnesota, for example, recently saw new cases jump to more than 3,500 per day, the most since April. During a summer reprieve, the state reported just two new cases per day.
Global media critical of COP26 climate deal
Global media gave mixed reviews Sunday to the COP26 summit climate deal reached in Glasgow, CNBC reported. The Scottish Mail praised the "ambitious" agreement, but Scotland on Sunday was among those disappointed by the watering down of language on coal insisted on by India and China — both major coal burners. "We are still on the road to hell," Scotland on Sunday said. The New York Times and The Washington Post noted that the summit failed to produce enough commitments necessary to limit global temperature from rising to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, a key goal. In China, the world's biggest carbon polluter, the state-backed Xinhua news agency noted the deal called for doubling support to help developing countries adapt to climate change.
9-year-old boy trampled at Astroworld festival dies
A 9-year-old boy, Ezra Blount, who was trampled at the Astroworld music festival in Houston, died Sunday from his injuries, his family announced. Last week, Ezra's father, Treston Blount, told ABC 13 that his son was "so stoked" to attend Astroworld, and was a huge fan of headliner and founder Travis Scott. Treston Blount had Ezra on his shoulders toward the back of the crowd. Treston Blount told ABC 13 that when Scott came out, people began pushing, and he lost consciousness. Ezra fell to the ground and was trampled. His major organs were damaged and his brain swollen. He was put on life support. The Astroworld death toll is now 10. The Blount family and other victims have filed lawsuits against Scott, festival promoter Live Nation, and others.
Trump calls U.S. 'radicalized mess' after Bannon indictment
President Trump on Sunday criticized the indictment of his former strategist Steve Bannon for contempt of Congress, saying it showed that the United States had become a "radicalized mess" under President Biden and Democrats in control of Congress. "This country has perhaps never done to anyone what they have done to Steve Bannon," Trump said in a statement spokesperson Liz Harrington posted on Twitter. Bannon is expected to turn himself in Monday on charges related to his refusal to comply with a subpoena issued by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump's supporters. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said Bannon's indictment "without a doubt" would prompt other Trump allies to testify.
Austria imposes lockdown for unvaccinated people
Austria is imposing a lockdown Monday on anyone age 12 or older who is not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg announced. About 65 percent of Austrians are fully vaccinated, giving it one of the lowest rates in the European Union. Schallenberg called the rate "shamefully low." Under the lockdown, unvaccinated people will only be allowed to leave home for limited essential activities. Police officers will make spot checks on anyone moving freely in public. Unvaccinated people already are prohibited from going to entertainment venues, restaurants, hairdressers, and other places open to the public. The move comes as central Europe is experiencing a wave of coronavirus infections. The Netherlands announced a three-week partial lockdown on Friday.
Cuban Americans rally in Miami to support island's dissidents
Cuban Americans in Miami rallied Sunday to show support for dissidents planning a week of protests demanding the release of political prisoners and more political freedom in the Communist-run Caribbean nation. "Today's activity is more than anything else moral support for our people … to show them that they are not alone," said Niurka Prestamo, a 45-year-old realtor who attended the Miami demonstration. Cuban dissidents started planning the Civic March for Change after the last round of nationwide protests in July. The rally is scheduled for Monday in Havana, but the government of President Miguel Díaz-Canel has prohibited it, calling plans for the march and other protests this week part of a U.S.-supported campaign to destabilize the island. The U.S. denies involvement in the protests.
3 arrested under U.K. terror law after Liverpool taxi explosion kills 1
British authorities said Sunday they arrested three men under the U.K.'s Terrorism Act after a taxi exploded outside a Liverpool hospital, killing one person and wounding another. Police did not release the names of the suspects, aged 21, 26, and 29. Investigators could not immediately determine the cause of the blast, which occurred after the taxi pulled up outside Liverpool Women's Hospital. "Work is still ongoing to establish what has happened and could take some time before we're in a position to confirm anything," Chief Constable Serena Kennedy of the Merseyside Police said, adding that police were "keeping an open mind" about the case. No details were immediately available about the victims.
Florida lawmakers to counter vaccine mandates in special session
Florida lawmakers are scheduled to meet Monday to start a week-long special session called by Gov. Ron DeSantis to pass bills designed to discourage businesses and local governments from imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The Republican-dominated legislature will consider four bills imposing penalties on businesses or governments in the state requiring workers to show proof of vaccination without providing exemptions. "No cop, no firefighter, no nurse, nobody should be losing their job because of these jabs," DeSantis said in a statement. The bills would back up rules and executive orders DeSantis has already issued. "This is a combination of policy and politics," said Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida. "DeSantis knows that Trump supporters don't like masks or this vaccine."
Trump to sell controversial D.C. hotel for $375 million
Former President Donald Trump's family real estate company has reached a deal to sell the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., for at least $375 million. CGI Merchant Group of Miami is buying the hotel and plans to have it branded and managed by Hilton's Waldorf Astoria group. The sale could be finalized in early 2022. The hotel is operated in the leased former Old Post Office building, which is owned by the federal government. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform plans to continue investigating "conflicts of interest and potential constitutional violations raised by Donald Trump's lease of this hotel from the federal government while he was president," adding that the matter "won't be fully resolved by selling off this hotel."
Biden, Xi head into virtual meeting aiming to reduce frictions
President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet virtually on Monday in a bid to improve rising tensions over Taiwan, the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, and trade. It will be the first substantial meeting between the leaders of the world's two biggest economies since Biden took office in January. Both sides downplayed expectations and declined to make the agenda public. People familiar with the planning say Biden and Xi will seek agreement on several initiatives developed by bilateral working groups to find common ground. "Both sides recognize they have real differences, that they are going to compete, but it is essential to keep it peaceful," said Winston Lord, former assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs under President Bill Clinton.