Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 28, 2022

China affirms its "zero-COVID" policy as rare protests spread, Fauci says COVID-19 pandemic is "certainly" not over, and more

1

China affirms 'zero-COVID' policy as protests spread

China on Monday affirmed its "zero-COVID" policy but eased tough restrictions in some areas as demonstrations against the rules continued to spread for a third straight day on Sunday. Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in Shanghai. Crowds, some calling for President Xi Jinping to resign, took to the streets in other cities following a deadly fire in the country's far west, with government critics saying coronavirus restrictions delayed the response. Two groups with a combined 1,000 or more protesters gathered in Beijing early Monday. "We don't want masks, we want freedom," one of the groups chanted. People also demonstrated in Wuhan and Chengdu on Sunday, and students gathered to demonstrate on numerous university campuses over the weekend.

2

Fauci says U.S. 'certainly' still in COVID-19 pandemic

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said on Sunday news shows that the nation is in a "much better" situation than last year, but the coronavirus pandemic is "certainly" not over. "I think the idea that forget it, this is over — it isn't," Fauci, a leader of the COVID-19 response under President Biden and former President Donald Trump, said on NBC's Meet the Press. Fauci noted that 300 to 400 people are still dying every day from COVID-19. The White House last week launched a campaign to get more people to get the latest vaccine booster. Fauci's message seemed to contradict President Biden, who said in September that COVID was still a problem but the pandemic was "over."

3

Top Iranian general issues warning in hotbed of antigovernment protests

Iranian Major General Hossein Salami, the commander in chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, warned people to stop anti-government protests in Sistan-Baluchistan province in eastern Iran, where the country's military has cracked down particularly hard following two months of unrest. "We will definitely turn this huge sedition scene … into a burial ground for the policies of America, Israel and its allies," Salami said, stopping short of repeating other Iranian officials' offers of amnesty but saying that "deceived people will return to the lap of the nation" if they stop demonstrating. At least 440 people have died in clashes with security forces since the protests began after Mahsa Amini, 22, died in police custody.

4

Handful of Republicans criticize Trump's dinner with Holocaust denier

Republican lawmakers "have largely remained silent" after former President Donald Trump hosted Kanye "Ye" West and Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and white supremacist, for dinner at Mar-a-Lago last week, Axios reported Sunday. Spokespeople for nearly two dozen House and Senate Republicans didn't respond to Axios' requests for comment. Some GOP lawmakers did speak out. Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), co-chair of the bipartisan Caucus for the Advancement of Torah Values, said he is "appalled" about the dinner party. Outgoing Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), frequent Trump critics, condemned the meeting — and the silence of GOP leadership. Outgoing Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) told CNN Trump's empowering of an "avowed" antisemite and white supremacist is "very troubling."

5

Navy petty officer who helped disarm Colorado nightclub shooter makes 1st statement

Thomas James, one of two men who disarmed the attacker in last week's mass shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, issued his first statement on the incident from a hospital where he is recovering from undisclosed injuries. James, who kicked away the suspect's semi-automatic rifle after another patron at the bar, Club Q, tackled him. "I simply wanted to save the family I found," James, a U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class, said in the statement. "To the youth I say be brave. Your family is out there. You are loved and valued. So, when you come out of the closet, come out swinging." The shooting left five people dead and at least 19 injured.

6

Tehran angered after U.S. Soccer briefly alters image of Iran's flag

Iran on Sunday protested U.S. Soccer's social media post showing an altered image of Iran's flag, without the emblem of the Islamic Republic, as the U.S. and Iranian teams prepare for a crucial Tuesday World Cup match that will determine whether the U.S. men's team advances or is eliminated. U.S. soccer told CNN on Sunday that it changed the official Iranian flag image for 24 hours in "support for the women in Iran fighting for basic human rights," always planning to put the original flag back up later. Iranian media called for the U.S. to be booted from the 2022 FIFA World Cup for "posting a distorted image of the flag of the Islamic Republic of #Iran on its official account," which Iranian media said violated the global soccer governing body's charter.

7

Severe weather delays thousands of flights at end of Thanksgiving rush

Airlines delayed more than 2,500 flights into or out of U.S. airports on Sunday as rain, high winds, and snow disrupted travel during the post-Thanksgiving rush. Dozens of flights were canceled, according to FlightAware.com. Nearly 55 million people were projected to have traveled 50 miles or more from home for the holiday, 98 percent of pre-pandemic levels, according to AAA. Parts of the Ohio Valley and the Southeast that are home to 14 million people were under wind advisories. Officials in Kentucky reported wind gusts as high as 53 miles per hour.

8

Disney's 'Strange World' bombs at box office

Walt Disney Co.'s new movie Strange World brought in a disappointing $18.6 million in ticket sales over a long Thanksgiving holiday weekend that started on Wednesday. The latest release was the entertainment giant's second straight animated flop, after this summer's Lightyear. Disney did have a bigger bomb in March 2021, Raya and the Last Dragon, but that was largely due to the thinning of movie theater audiences due to the coronavirus pandemic. Before that it had been more than 10 years since Disney's animated division had a theatrical opening as dismal as Strange World's, according to The Wall Street Journal. The poor performance of two consecutive animated films shows that returning CEO Bob Iger faces a "theatrical environment far harsher to animated releases than the one he left" in 2020, the Journal said.

9

2 rescued from plane that crashed into Maryland power lines

Rescue crews using bucket trucks extricated two people early Monday from a small plane that crashed into power lines near a Montgomery County, Maryland, airport. County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said the plane was secured to the tower shortly before passenger Jan Williams, 66, and pilot Patrick Merkle, 65, were removed from the single-engine Mooney M20J at about 12:30 a.m. Both men were rushed to hospitals with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Hypothermia also was a concern. The crash occurred at about 5:40 p.m. ET on Sunday, but it took hours to ground the high-tension workers and secure the plane to the tower about 100 feet in the air so rescuers could work safely. The incident cut power to thousands of people until after the rescue.

10

'Fame,' 'Flashdance' singer Irene Cara dies at 63

Academy Award-winning actor, songwriter, and singer Irene Cara, whose best-known hits included the title tracks of 1980s hit movies Flashdance and Fame, died over the weekend at her Florida home. She was 63. Cara became a star after being cast as Coco Hernandez in the 1980 musical Fame. She sang the tile track, which earned her nominations for best new artist and best pop vocal performance, female, at the 23rd annual Grammy Awards in 1981. She then sang and co-wrote "Flashdance... What A Feeling" for the 1983 blockbuster Flashdance. The song earned her two Grammys — for best pop vocal performance, female, and best album of original score for motion picture or a television special — and an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

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