Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 29, 2022

China deploys police to prevent more "zero COVID" protests, Biden urges Congress to step in to prevent an economically devastating rail strike, and more


China police move in to prevent more 'zero COVID' protests

China sent out police in force to prevent renewed protests against Beijing's zero COVID policy. Demonstrations, some calling for President Xi Jinping to resign, spread to cities across the country over the weekend. There were small protests Monday evening in several cities in defiance of the threatened crackdown. Local authorities in some areas eased restrictions Monday, but didn't cite the protests or criticism of zero COVID. The city government of Beijing said it would stop erecting gates to keep people out of apartment complexes where infections have been confirmed. The White House on Monday called China's zero COVID strategy ineffective, and said China's citizens have "the right to peacefully protest."


Biden calls for Congress to intervene to prevent rail strike

President Biden on Monday asked Congress to step in to prevent an economically devastating rail strike. Biden had held off on seeking congressional action as his administration tried to help the freight rail industry and 12 of its unions, representing 115,000 workers, reach a deal, but Biden said Monday he saw "no path to resolve the dispute at the bargaining table." He wants Congress to impose a tentative contract agreement reached in a bargaining session Labor Secretary Marty Walsh held two months ago. The contract was rejected by members of three of the 12 unions. A rail strike would disrupt the flow of goods, and interrupt water and power supplies, potentially damaging the broader economy. Without a deal, a strike could hit as early as Dec. 9.


GOP election officials delay certifying midterm results in conservative Arizona county

Republican officials in Cochise County, Arizona, voted Monday to delay certification of Nov. 8 midterm election results until at least Friday. The decision prompted lawsuits from voters in the conservative southeastern county and from Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the Democratic governor-elect. The holdup is unlikely to disrupt final statewide results — the state's 14 other counties met the certification deadline — but it shows how far some Republican officeholders will go to dispute election results they dislike even when local votes weren't disputed. Peggy Judd, one of Cochise's two Republican supervisors, said the delay was a protest over the election in Maricopa County, where Republican candidates have claimed without evidence that ballot printing errors disenfranchised many voters.


Buffalo supermarket shooter pleads guilty

Self-proclaimed white supremacist Payton Gendron, 19, pleaded guilty on Monday to murdering 10 Black people at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket in May. The guilty pleas on 15 charges, including 10 counts of first-degree murder and one of first-degree of domestic terrorism motivated by hate, guaranteed Gendron would serve life in prison without parole, but his formal sentencing for the racially charged mass shooting won't be until February. In addition to the state charges, Gendron faces federal hate crimes and weapons charges. The Justice Department is still considering whether to seek the death penalty in that case.


Kellyanne Conway questioned by Jan. 6 committee

Former Trump White House adviser Kellyanne Conway met Monday with investigators on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters. The panel declined to comment on the questioning, or whether Conway has been issued a subpoena. "I'm here voluntarily," Conway told reporters during a break. She spent nearly five hours speaking on the record with the committee, NBC News reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter. Conway said afterwards that she did not invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during the meeting. Conway was no longer working with Trump at the time of the riot, having left in August 2020 to focus on her family.


Va. Rep. Donald McEachin dies of cancer 4 weeks after winning 4th term

Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) died Monday, his office announced, just weeks after being elected to a fourth term in Congress. He was 61 and had been "valiantly" battling colorectal cancer since 2013, his chief of staff, Tara Roundtree, said in a statement. McEachin was first elected to the Richmond-centered 4th Congressional District in 2016. He was a Christian minister and lawyer who fought in Congress for environmental justice and policies to mitigate climate change. Re-elected with 64 percent of the vote on Nov. 8, McEachin was one of 213 Democrats headed to the next Congress, where Republicans will hold a slim majority. McEachin's district will vote for his replacement in a special election; Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) will choose the date.


BlockFi files for bankruptcy in fallout from crypto platform FTX's collapse

Struggling crypto firm BlockFi filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Monday, becoming the first major casualty of the fallout from the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX. Lender BlockFi was one of several companies FTX bailed out this year. It borrowed $275 million from an FTX subsidiary, and its financial outlook darkened when once-powerful FTX filed for bankruptcy just over two weeks ago. BlockFi earlier halted withdrawals and asked customers not to make deposits, and it said Monday its platform remained "paused." "Rest assured, we will continue to work on recovering all obligations owed to BlockFi as promptly as practicable," the company told customers in a letter.


Merriam-Webster says 'gaslighting' is word of the year

Merriam-Webster announced Monday that it had selected "gaslighting" as the 2022 Word of the Year. The word, defined as "the act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one's own advantage," made the top of the list because of its importance in the current "age of misinformation," which is full of "fake news, conspiracy theories, Twitter trolls, and deep fakes," the dictionary company said. Searches for the word on Merriam-Webster's website increased 1,740 percent in 2022 compared to last year. "It was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year," Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster's editor at large, told The Associated Press. Other top words included oligarch, omicron, codify, LGBTQIA, sentient, raid, and queen consort.


WHO says monkeypox has new name: Mpox

The World Health Organization on Monday announced that it was changing the preferred name for the "monkeypox" virus to mpox, citing concerns about "racist and stigmatizing language online" that surfaced after this year's outbreak. "Both names will be used simultaneously for one year while 'monkeypox' is phased out," the United Nations organization said in the Monday announcement. The Biden administration welcomed the change and said it would use the new name. WHO said the old name "is confusing," because the virus is mostly spread by rodents, even though it was first detected in captive monkeys more than half a century ago. "Critics say the name 'monkeypox' plays into racist stereotypes about Black and African people," NPR notes.


Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano erupts after decades of quiet

Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano is erupting for the first time in 38 years after the longest dormant period on record. The U.S. Geological Survey said the eruption began at 11:30 p.m. local time inside the summit caldera, Moku'āweoweo. The USGS said lava flows posed no immediate threat to communities down the slope, but residents were urged to review emergency plans in case that changes. Experts believe the eruption will stay inside Mauna Loa's Northeast Rift Zone, although winds could send volcanic gas, ash, and Pele's Hair — thin glass fibers formed during eruptions and named after Hawaiian volcano deity Pele — into other areas.


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