Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 30, 2022

The Senate passes the Respect for Marriage Act, a jury convicts Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes of seditious conspiracy over the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, and more


Senate passes bill with same-sex, interracial marriage protections

The Senate on Tuesday passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which would protect same-sex and interracial marriages. Twelve Republicans joined Democrats in the 61-36 vote. The final bill included a bipartisan religious-liberty amendment guaranteeing that nonprofit religious groups would not have to provide services or facilities for weddings they object to, and an amendment clarifying that the federal government wouldn't have to recognize polygamous marriages. The House now has to vote on the revised legislation before sending it to President Biden, who says he will sign it. The law wouldn't force states to issue same-sex marriage licenses, but would require them to respect any marriage that was valid where it was performed.


Oath Keepers founder convicted of seditious conspiracy

A federal jury in Washington on Tuesday found Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers group, guilty of seditious conspiracy for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters. The jury also convicted Florida chapter leader Kelly Meggs of seditious conspiracy, a rarely used Civil War-era felony. Rhodes, Meggs, and three other defendants were found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding by seeking to prevent Congress from certifying President Biden's victory over Trump in the 2020 election. All five defendants could face decades in prison. The verdicts marked the most significant victory yet for the Justice Department, which has charged more than 900 people over the riot.


Congressional leaders vow to prevent rail strike

Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress said Tuesday they will intervene to prevent a looming nationwide rail strike. President Biden had called for Congress to impose a negotiated deal rejected by members of four of the 12 unions representing the 115,000 rail workers, warning that a strike would disrupt vital supplies of food, fuel, and water, devastating the economy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed to act quickly after meeting with the White House and Republican leaders. "I don't like going against the ability of unions to strike, but ... we must avoid a strike," Pelosi said. Union leaders said forcing contracts without paid sick leave goes against workers' interests.


U.S. pledges $53 million to help Ukraine restore power grid

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the United States will give Ukraine $53 million for equipment to repair its electric grid, which Russia has battered with missile strikes for weeks. The announcement came in Romania during a meeting of the Group of Seven nations on the sidelines of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) foreign ministers summit focused on ways to boost Ukraine's efforts to defend itself against Russian invaders. U.S. officials said they hoped Washington's pledge will encourage more countries to offer infrastructure aid. NATO allies renewed their vow to one day admit Ukraine into the security alliance, and promised more military aid to Ukrainian forces.


S.C. Supreme Court says Meadows must testify to Georgia grand jury

The South Carolina Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows must testify before the Fulton County, Georgia, special grand jury investigating attempts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to reverse Trump's loss in the state's 2020 presidential election. Meadows had argued that the Georgia grand jury's investigation should be considered civil, not criminal, which would make "the subpoena unenforceable under an agreement among states that allows them to secure the attendance of out-of-state witnesses for criminal investigations," The New York Times reports. The South Carolina court, which heard the challenge because Meadows lives in the state, upheld a circuit court ruling requiring Meadows to testify, saying his arguments were "manifestly without merit."


Protesters clash with police in Guangzhou, China

Protesters in Guangzhou, a major city in southern China, clashed with riot police in hazmat suits on Tuesday night as unrest continued over Beijing's tough COVID-19 restrictions. Chinese authorities have dispatched police to quell the demonstrations, the country's biggest since the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement, and began investigating people who have taken to the streets. Guangzhou authorities on Wednesday lifted lockdowns in parts of the city, without mentioning the protests. The area where the violence broke out remains under strict "zero COVID" controls. Beijing's top security chief vowed to crack down on "hostile forces," without mentioning the rare outburst of public dissent that broke out over the weekend.


Twitter ends its COVID misinformation policy

Twitter has stopped enforcing its COVID-19 misinformation policy, one of the latest changes since Elon Musk acquired the social media company for $44 billion in October, promising to make it a haven for "free speech." Twitter didn't formally announce the rule change, but early this week users spotted a note on the web page outlining the company's COVID policy: "Effective November 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the COVID-19 misleading information policy." Twitter implemented the policy in 2020 to combat harmful misinformation about the coronavirus and its accompanying vaccines. Musk also has restored many previously banned accounts, and fired half of Twitter's workers, including content moderators. The moves raised concerns that false claims about the coronavirus could rise.


Walmart shooting survivor files $50 million lawsuit

Walmart employee Donya Prioleau, who survived a mass shooting at one of the retailer's Virginia stores, filed a $50 million lawsuit against the company on Tuesday. The suit says Prioleau "witnessed several of her coworkers being brutally murdered," and accuses Walmart of having continued to employ the alleged shooter, who was a supervisor in the store, even though he "had known propensities for violence, threats, and strange behavior." Arkansas-based Walmart said it would respond to the complaint in court. "The entire Walmart family is heartbroken by the loss of the valued members of our team," Walmart said in a statement. "We are focused on supporting all our associates with significant resources, including counseling."


Ex-China leader Jiang Zemin dies at 96

Former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, who came to power after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, died in Shanghai on Wednesday of leukemia and organ failure, the Communist Party announced. He was 96. Jiang, a former top official in Shanghai, was initially considered a transitional figure when he became the surprise pick to lead the ruling Communist Party and serve as president as China worked to reintegrate itself into the international community after the Tiananmen massacre. Instead, he held office for more than a decade, embracing market reforms and paving the way for China's meteoric economic growth before stepping down as party chief in 2002 and president in 2003. His death comes as China faces unrest over President Xi Jinping's "zero COVID" policies, the biggest protests since the 1989 pro-democracy movement.


U.S. men's soccer team beats Iran to advance in World Cup

The United States men's soccer team beat Iran 1-0 on Tuesday to advance to the round of 16 in the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. After tying Wales and England, the U.S. had to win to avoid being eliminated. U.S. star Christian Pulisic scored in the 38th minute to put the team ahead, but he suffered an abdominal injury after colliding with Iran's goalkeeper and had to be replaced at half-time by Brenden Aaronson. With the victory, the U.S. finished second in Group B behind England, which cruised to a 3-0 win against Wales to finish on top. The U.S. moves on to play Group A winner Netherlands in the knockout round on Saturday.


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