10 things you need to know today: November 18, 2021
The House censures Gosar over violent anime video, Biden asks regulators to examine energy firms' role in rising gas prices, and more
House censures Gosar, removes him from committees
The House on Wednesday voted 223 to 207 to censure hardline Republican Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and strip him of his committee assignments for tweeting an anime video depicting him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) with a sword and attacking President Biden. Two Republicans — Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) — joined Democrats in favor of the measure, and Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) voted "present." The vote marked the first such censure action in more than a decade. Gosar sat through the House debate wearing an American flag mask. He said "no threat was intended" by the post, and expressed no regret. "What is so hard about saying that this is wrong?" Ocasio-Cortez asked.
Biden asks FTC to look at fuel companies' role in gas price surge
President Biden on Wednesday told the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether oil and gas companies are engaging in "illegal conduct" that is pushing gas prices higher during the pandemic. "The bottom line is this: gasoline prices at the pump remain high, even though oil and gas companies' costs are declining," Biden said in the letter. The national average price of a gallon of regular gasoline has risen to a seven-year high of $3.41, up $1.29 from a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association. California's average price set a record Tuesday at $4.687 per gallon. The jump in pump prices came as the price of U.S. benchmark crude oil nearly doubled over the last year.
Lawyers expect 2 to be exonerated in Malcolm X's 1965 assassination
Lawyers for two of the men convicted for the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X, a Black activist who rose to prominence as a spokesperson for the Nation of Islam, expect them to be exonerated Thursday, The New York Times reports. Historians have long questioned the case against the men, Muhammad A. Aziz and Khalil Islam. Both spent more than 20 years in prison. Aziz, 83, got out in 1985; Islam was released in 1987 and died in 2009. A 22-month investigation by their lawyers and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's office has concluded that the FBI and the New York Police Department withheld documents and other evidence of their innocence during their trial. "It's long overdue," said civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice initiative.
Bannon pleads not guilty to obstruction of Congress
Steve Bannon, a longtime strategist of former President Donald Trump, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to a criminal contempt of Congress charge for defying subpoenas issued by the House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Bannon surrendered Monday and vowed to fight the charge, calling the case a politically motivated attack. The House voted three weeks ago to hold Bannon in contempt for refusing to provide documents and testimony to the committee, leaving the Justice Department to determine whether to file charges. Trump has told his former advisers not to cooperate with the investigation of the Jan. 6 attack by a mob of his supporters trying to prevent lawmakers from certifying his election loss to President Biden.
Judge sentences 'QAnon Shaman' to 41 months in prison
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth sentenced Jacob Chansley, the Jan. 6 Capitol rioter known as the "QAnon Shaman," to 41 months in prison on Wednesday for his role in the insurrection. Chansley stormed the Senate chamber during the attack with his face painted red, white, and blue, and wearing a fur helmet with horns. He pleaded guilty in September to obstruction of Congress for his role in the attempt by a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters to prevent lawmakers from certifying Trump's loss to President Biden. Videos showed Chansley yelling at police officers and leading rioters through the Capitol's halls. Lamberth told Chansley he appeared "genuine in your remorse," but his crime was "horrific, as you can now see," and merits prison time.
U.S. overdose deaths hit record high
The U.S. recorded 100,306 drug-overdose deaths in the 12 months that ran through April, the most ever, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released Wednesday. It was the first 12-month period in which overdoses surpassed 100,000. The record marked nearly a 29 percent rise compared to the same period a year earlier, indicating a sharp rise during the coronavirus pandemic. "It's telling us that 2021 looks like it will be worse than 2020," said Robert Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. About three-quarters of the deaths were opioid-related deaths, primarily linked to bootleg versions of the potent drug fentanyl. There is a lag in compiling the statistics because confirming drug overdoses requires investigations and toxicology tests.
Murder defendant says confrontation with Arbery was 'life or death' situation
Travis McMichael, the white man accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery, testified Wednesday he shot the Black jogger in self-defense. McMichael, who along with his father and another man chased down Arbery as he ran through their Georgia neighborhood, said Arbery tried to take away his shotgun and he believed he was in a "life or death" situation. Travis McMichael said he and his father, Gregory McMichael, thought they recognized Arbery as a man captured on video walking through a nearby house that was under construction. They chased him thinking he was a burglar, trying to make a citizen's arrest, Travis McMichael said. Prosecutor Linda Dunikoski suggested the men weren't chasing Arbery to detain him. "Not once during your direct examination did you state that your intention was to effectuate an arrest of Mr. Arbery until your attorney asked you that leading question. Isn't that right?" McMichael replied, "Yes."
U.S. bishops' statement on communion avoids clash with Biden
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted 222 to 8 on Wednesday to approve a document on Catholics and the sacrament of the Eucharist or Holy Communion, the central rite of Catholic religious observance. Three bishops abstained. The 30-page document, titled "The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church," is the fruit of a yearlong debate on whether to deny communion to politicians who support abortion rights, sparked by the election of President Biden, the second Catholic president. In the end, the National Catholic Reporter said, the U.S. bishops "approved a milquetoast text summarizing Catholic teaching on communion." The document doesn't name any Catholic politicians, only obliquely refers to their special responsibility to model Catholic teaching, and barely mentions abortion.
Partial lunar eclipse to be longest since 1440
A lunar eclipse will leave 97 percent of the moon in darkness Thursday night and early Friday over North America. It will be the longest partial lunar eclipse since 1440, although it will be about 12 minutes shorter than the total lunar eclipse on July 27, which was the longest in recent history. These events only occur on the night of a full moon, when it passes through Earth's shadow. Thursday's full moon will be the smallest one of the year. This so-called micromoon, the counterpart of a supermoon, occurs when the moon is full near apogee, when its orbit is farthest from Earth. The November full moon is known as a "beaver moon," because this is the time of year when beavers are building their winter dams.
Rapper Young Dolph fatally shot in Memphis cookie shop
Rapper Young Dolph reportedly was shot and killed while buying cookies at a Memphis, Tennessee, bakery on Wednesday. He was 36. The owner of Makeda's Butter Cookies told FOX13 that the rapper, known for albums like King of Memphis and Rich Slave, entered the store at about 1 p.m. and someone drove up and shot him. The Memphis Police Department confirmed the killing. Young Dolph's attorney, Scott Hall, told TMZ he was in the area for a Thanksgiving giveaway and was on his way to hand out turkeys. "The world has lost an icon, a great man and beloved artist who has been taken too soon," a representative for the agency APA told Variety. "His dedication, drive, hard work, and loyalty to all those around him always came first and he will be deeply missed."