Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 24, 2021

Jury finds Charlottesville rally organizers liable for injuries, Biden orders oil released from strategic reserve, and more

1

Jury finds Charlottesville rally organizers liable for injuries

A Virginia jury on Tuesday found organizers of the 2017 Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally liable for counterprotesters' injuries. The jury awarded $26 million in damages, but deadlocked on federal conspiracy charges. Jurors found that the defendants, who included white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Confederate sympathizers, bore responsibility under state law for what happened at the rally, which began as a protest of the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue. During the event, people carrying torches chanted, "Jews will not replace us!" A neo-Nazi plowed his car into counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring numerous others, including four of the nine plaintiffs. More than $12 million of the damages were assessed against James A. Fields Jr., who is serving a life sentence for killing Heyer.

2

Biden orders oil released from strategic reserve to fight rising prices

President Biden on Tuesday ordered the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve to try to reduce rising gasoline and heating fuel costs. The U.S. action came in coordination with some of the world's other major energy-consuming nations, including India, the United Kingdom, Japan, and China. The White House said Biden was using "every tool available" to help consumers facing rising inflation and gas prices ahead of the Thanksgiving and winter holiday travel rush. The oil's release is unlikely to affect prices immediately because the barrels won't hit the market for weeks. The nationwide average price of a gallon of regular gas is about $3.40, more than 50 percent higher than a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association.

3

Jury deliberates in Ahmaud Arbery murder trial

The jury started deliberations Tuesday in the murder trial of three white men charged with killing Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man fatally shot while running through their suburban Georgia neighborhood. Before the judge read the jury its instructions, Cobb County senior district attorney Linda Dunikoski gave a rebuttal of the defense's closing argument. The defense had told jurors that the defendants — Greg McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan — thought Arbery was a burglar, and he "chose to fight" when they tried to detain him. Dunikoski said the men chased and confronted Arbery with guns simply because he was a "Black man running down the street," calling it "offensive" for the defense to argue that Arbery was partly responsible for what happened.

4

Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Proud Boys, Oath Keepers leaders

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack on Tuesday subpoenaed the leaders of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, right-wing extremist groups that played key roles in the insurrection. The Democratic-led panel issued subpoenas to Proud Boys Chair Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, as well as Robert Patrick Lewis, the leader of the more obscure far-right group 1st Amendment Praetorian. The groups also received subpoenas. The Jan. 6 committee's chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), said the far-right groups' leaders had relevant information on the planning of the attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump who were trying to prevent Congress from certifying Trump's election loss to President Biden. 

5

8-year-old dies from injuries in Waukesha parade crash

Jackson Sparks, 8, died on Tuesday from injuries he sustained Sunday when a man drove his SUV into the crowd at a Waukesha, Wisconsin, Christmas parade. He is the sixth person to die in the incident and the first child. The criminal complaint filed against suspect Darrell Brooks Jr., 39, states that 62 people were injured in the crash, which allegedly occurred as Brooks was speeding away from law enforcement. On Tuesday, Brooks was charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide; if convicted, he will receive a mandatory life sentence. His bail was set at $5 million. Earlier this month, Brooks was released on bail after being accused of intentionally hitting a woman with his car.

6

Biden administration asks appeals court to restore vaccine rules for companies

The Biden administration on Tuesday filed an emergency motion in a federal appeals court requesting the immediate revival of its coronavirus vaccine mandate for workers at big companies. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration earlier this month issued a rule requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to make their employees get vaccinated or face weekly COVID-19 tests. OSHA estimated that the policy, which covers 84 million workers, would save the lives of more than 6,500 workers, and keep more than 250,000 out of the hospital over six months. Lower courts have temporarily blocked the mandate from taking effect Jan. 4. One said OSHA was overstepping its authority.

7

At least 46 die in fiery Bulgaria bus crash

A bus crashed and burst into flames Tuesday in Bulgaria, killing at least 46 people. Twelve of the dead were children, officials said. The bus swerved off a highway southwest of the capital, Sofia, and slammed into a crash barrier, tearing away a 164-foot section of the railing. Seven people escaped by breaking a window and crawling out of the bus, but they were badly burned. Investigators could not immediately determine what caused the accident. Most of the people on the bus, which was registered in North Macedonia, were tourists returning from a trip to Istanbul, Turkey. The mayor of the nearby village of Pernik said the part of the highway where the bus crashed was in poor condition and had been the scene of previous accidents.

8

Kevin Strickland exonerated after 43 years in prison

A Missouri judge on Tuesday set aside the conviction of Kevin Strickland, a 62-year-old man who spent 43 years in prison for three murders he did not commit. Strickland is the first inmate to be found innocent following an evaluation by the Jackson County prosecutor's unit that reviews cases to correct false convictions. Judge James Welsh wrote in his ruling that the prosecutor provided "clear and convincing evidence that undermines the court's confidence in the judgment of conviction." Welsh said there was "no physical evidence" against Strickland, who was "convicted solely on the eyewitness testimony" of a witness "who subsequently recanted." Strickland, who was released immediately, said he "didn't think this day was going to come," but there's "nothing they can do to make that right."

9

Jon Batiste leads Grammy nominations with 11

Jon Batiste, who released the album We Are this year, dominated the list of 2022 Grammy contenders unveiled Tuesday with 11 nominations, including record and album of the year. Batiste, who serves as bandleader on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, previously won an Oscar with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for best score for Pixar's 2020 film Soul. Jay-Z got three nominations, bringing his all-time total to 83 and making him the most-nominated artist in Grammys history. He had been tied at 80 with Quincy Jones. Jay-Z, who has 23 wins, was nominated for guest appearances with Kanye West and the late DMX. Paul McCartney, previously tied with Beyonce at No. 2, got two nominations, putting him just ahead of Jones with 81.

10

Malikah Shabazz, one of Malcolm X's daughters, dies at 56

Malikah Shabazz, the youngest of slain Black civil rights activist Malcolm X's six daughters, has died, the New York Police Department told CNN on Tuesday. She was 56. Shabazz's daughter found her unconscious Monday in her Brooklyn home. The cause of death remained unclear pending tests, "but the death does not appear to be suspicious following initial review," a spokesperson for New York City's chief medical examiner's office, Julie Bolcer, said. Shabazz's death came days after two men convicted for her father's assassination, which followed his public feud with Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, were exonerated. "This family has been through hell over and over again," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "I'm so sorry for [what] they're going through right now."

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