10 things you need to know today: November 23, 2021
The Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Roger Stone and Alex Jones, 95 percent of federal workers complied with Biden vaccine mandate, and more
Jan. 6 panel subpoenas Roger Stone and Alex Jones
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack has subpoenaed several more allies of former President Donald Trump, including ex-GOP operative Roger Stone and InfoWars founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The committee is seeking testimony and documents on the planning and financing of pro-Trump rallies in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, and the "subsequent march to the Capitol" and riot. "We need to know who organized, planned, paid for, and received funds related to those events, as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress," the Democratic-led panel's chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), said in a statement. Other Trump allies have refused to cooperate with the committee.
95 percent of federal workforce have complied with vaccine mandate
As a Monday deadline arrived for federal employees to be vaccinated, the White House announced that about 95 percent of the 3.5 million federal employees covered by President Biden's coronavirus vaccine mandate have already complied. The Biden administration said any federal worker who is getting vaccinated or requesting an exemption is considered "in compliance" in time for the Nov. 22 deadline, although technically they would have needed to get the last dose by Nov. 8 to fully meet the deadline, according to guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force. More than 90 percent of the workers have received at least one shot of an approved vaccine, with "the vast majority of those employees being fully vaccinated," a senior administration official said.
Jury hears closing arguments in Ahmaud Arbery murder trial
Prosecutors and defense lawyers made their closing arguments in the trial of the three white men charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black jogger they chased down in their coastal Georgia neighborhood. The prosecution said Arbery was "under attack." The defendants — father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan — chased him in pickup trucks "because he was a Black man running down their street," prosecutor Linda Dunikoski told the jury. The defense said the men and their neighbors were tense after a series of crimes in their neighborhood. They said the men only wanted to detain Arbery until police arrived, but Travis McMichael fired his shotgun in a scuffle. The nearly all-white jury will hear the prosecution's rebuttal early Tuesday before starting deliberations.
Report: 'Overwhelming evidence' Cuomo engaged in sexual harassment
The New York State Assembly's eight-month investigation found "overwhelming evidence" that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed women while in office and abused his power by using his staff to help him write and promote his $5.1 million pandemic memoir. The Assembly Judiciary Committee's report initially was expected to serve as a foundation for potential impeachment proceedings against Cuomo, but he resigned under pressure in August. The investigation relied on interviews with witnesses and a review of tens of thousands of documents. Cuomo has denied using public resources on his book, and has sought to discredit allegations by Attorney General Letitia James — who is running for governor — and the Assembly as politically motivated.
Austria launches lockdown, Merkel says Germany needs tighter restrictions
Austria on Monday became the first Western European country to impose a new coronavirus lockdown since vaccines came out. The country ordered non-essential stores, bars, and restaurants to close to curb a surge of infections. Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country, Europe's largest economy, would need to tighten restrictions to counter a record-setting rise of COVID-19 cases. "We are in a highly dramatic situation. What is in place now is not sufficient," Merkel told leaders of her conservative CDU party in a meeting, according to two participants cited in news reports. Several European governments are exploring or imposing new restrictions, and anti-lockdown protests have erupted in Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium.
Biden nominates Fed Chair Jerome Powell for second term
President Biden said Monday that he is nominating Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to serve a second term. The choice of Powell sent a message of continuity at the central bank that pleased investors. "Put directly: At this moment both of enormous potential and enormous uncertainty for our economy, we need stability and independence at the Federal Reserve. Jay has proven the independence that I value in a Fed chair," Biden said at the White House on Monday. The decision upset many progressives who wanted someone who would be tougher on bank regulations and climate change, and had lobbied for Biden to pick Fed Governor Lael Brainard. Biden said he would nominate Brainard to be vice-chair of the Fed's board of governors.
Pfizer says vaccine 100 percent effective in younger teens
Pfizer and BioNTech announced Monday that their vaccine was 100 percent effective in protecting 12- to 15-year-olds from coronavirus infection in a Phase 3 trial involving 2,228 participants. The results will be used to support the drugmakers' application to the Food and Drug Administration to broaden their emergency use authorization to cover young people between those ages. The data showed no serious long-term safety concerns in follow-ups six months or longer after the second dose. The data "provide further confidence in our vaccine's safety and effectiveness profile in adolescents. This is especially important as we see rates of COVID-19 climbing in this age group in some regions, while vaccine uptake has slowed," Pfizer's chairman and CEO, Albert Bourla, said in the statement.
Federal contractors' minimum wage rises to $15 an hour
The Labor Department on Monday released a new rule that will require federal contractors to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for more than 300,000 maintenance, security, and child care workers. President Biden directed the department to raise the workers' pay level in an April executive order. The wage hike will be tied to inflation, so it will rise in the following years along with consumer prices. The new pay floor applies to all federal contracts starting Jan. 30 or later. "Federal contract workers are essential workers," Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said in a call with reporters. "The people who we're going to be covering clean and maintain federal buildings. They provide child care for kids, they repair roads and bridges all across this country."
Waukesha parade suspect has history of violent charges
Police identified the man accused of plowing his SUV through a Waukesha, Wisconsin, Christmas parade on Sunday, killing five and injuring 48, as Darrell E. Brooks Jr., a Milwaukee man with a long history of charges for violent behavior. He was accused of using a vehicle as a weapon weeks before the parade and had just been released Friday on bail. Investigators believe that Brooks, 39, drove through the crowd in a maroon Ford Escape shortly after leaving the scene of an altercation involving a knife. He faces five counts of intentional homicide. Three of those killed were members of the "Dancing Grannies" troupe. Police identified the dead as Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; LeAnna Owen, 71; Virginia Sorenson, 79; and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.
DOJ settles with families of Parkland school shooting victims for $130 million
The Justice Department has reached a settlement with survivors and families of people killed in the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting over the FBI's failure to properly investigate two tips about the gunman before the massacre, according to a joint court filing Monday. A person familiar with the settlement said it totaled $130 million. The first tip warned five months before the shooting that a YouTube user called "nikolas cruz" — the name of the gunman — had said he was going to be a "professional school shooter." Six weeks before the shooting, Cruz posted on Instagram that he was gathering weapons, and a woman said on an FBI tip line she feared he "was going to slip into a school and start shooting the place up."