Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 18, 2021

Facebook pushes back on Biden criticism, Nationals-Padres game suspended after shooting outside stadium, and more


Facebook pushes back on Biden criticism

Facebook on Saturday responded to the Biden administration's criticism that the social media company was culpable in the spread of COVID-19 misinformation. President Biden on Friday said Facebook and other platforms were "killing people" by allowing posts containing false claims about the vaccines to circulate. In a blog post Saturday, Facebook's vice president of integrity said the White House "has chosen to blame a handful of American social media companies" even though "vaccine acceptance among Facebook users in the U.S. has increased." Rosen said the company's data found that 85 percent of its users in the U.S. have been or plan to get vaccinated, suggesting that Facebook is not the reason the White House missed its goal of inoculating 70 percent of Americans by July 4.


Nationals-Padres game suspended after shooting outside stadium

A Major League Baseball game between the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres in Washington, D.C., was suspended Saturday night after multiple gunshots were fired outside Nationals Park. Police said three people were shot outside a stadium entrance, including a woman who attended the game, but all injuries are reportedly non-life-threatening. Authorities believe the gunfire came from one vehicle and was directed at another; police recovered one of the vehicles allegedly involved and are seeking the other. The shots could be heard from inside the stadium, and it was unclear where the incident had taken place at first, sparking fears of an active shooter situation. Players were pulled from the field, and fans crouched under seats before the public address announcer advised fans to remain inside the stadium and assured the crowd that the shooting had taken place outside. The park was eventually cleared in a calm fashion.


Death toll from floods in Europe surpasses 180

The death toll from flooding in Belgium and western Germany has surpassed 180 and many people are still missing as entire communities remain without power or communications. With waters beginning to recede, residents are starting the process of cleaning up their neighborhoods. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said the government is preparing to send 300 million euros to aid the relief efforts, and further billions will be designated for fixing collapsed houses. "There is huge damage and that much is clear: those who lost their businesses, their houses, cannot stem the losses alone," he told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, per Reuters. Additionally, a separate round of flash floods hit southern Germany on Sunday, killing at least one person in Bavaria. 


Wildfires blaze across western states

Wildfires continue to rage in the western United States, with one blaze in the Lake Tahoe region jumping a highway and threatening the small town of Markleeville, California. The Tamarack Fire was over 32 square miles as of Saturday evening. Meanwhile, southern Oregon's Bootleg Fire, which was more than 453 square miles, was still burning rapidly on Saturday, but firefighters began to gain more control of it along its western flank, The Associated Press reports. Still, authorities expanded evacuations in surrounding areas. The National Weather Service is warning of possible thunderstorms from coastal California to northern Montana on Sunday, raising concerns about more lightning strikes that could ignite new fires. All told, there are 70 active large fires in the U.S.


At least 20 killed in Mumbai landslides

At least 20 people have been killed in Mumbai, India, after monsoon rains caused a landslide which in turn caused walls to collapse on several homes in two different parts of the city, India's National Disaster Response Force said Sunday. Rescuers continue to search the rubble for victims and survivors, Al Jazeera reports. The Indian Meteorological Department said it expects "moderate to heavy rain or thunder showers" to continue for the next two days. Mumbai, India's most populous city, has experienced similar building collapses amid seasonal rains before, including as recently as June when 12 people were killed.


Dozens arrested following protests over transgender rights in L.A.

Dueling protests over transgender rights outside of a Los Angeles spa turned violent on Saturday, ending with police declaring an unlawful assembly, arresting several dozen people, and firing non-lethal projectiles to disperse the crowd. The protests are related to a video that was taken of a customer complaining to the staff at Wi Spa in Los Angeles' Koreatown district about a transgender woman's exposed genitalia in the women's section of the spa. The spa defended its policy of allowing transgender customers in its facilities, prompting those demonstrating against the spa's response, as well as counterprotesters, to gather outside the building. During the protests, some members of the crowd threw smoke bombs and other objects at police officers, a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman said, while videos showed officers in riot gear hitting protesters with batons and firing bean bag rounds.


2 athletes test positive for COVID-19 in Olympic Village

Two athletes residing in Tokyo's Olympic Village have tested positive for COVID-19 just days before the 2020 games are set to begin, organizers confirmed Sunday. There are now three positive cases in the village, including an individual who is not believed to be an athlete. No names or details, such as nationality, were revealed about the people who are infected. The news will likely do little to convince people in Japan who were already skeptical of hosting the spectator-less games that going through with the event was the right call, but Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, urged them to "welcome the athletes for their competitions." 


3 Texas Democrats test positive for COVID-19 after flight to D.C.

Three of the nearly 60 Texas House Democrats who flew to Washington, D.C., to break quorum in an attempt to prevent Republicans from passing new state voting restrictions have tested positive for COVID-19, the Texas House Democratic Caucus leadership confirmed. The three members were reportedly fully vaccinated. One lawmaker, who remains anonymous, is reportedly asymptomatic, while state Rep. Celia Israel (D) said she registered one of the other two positive tests and is experiencing mild symptoms. Despite the infection, Israel said she doesn't regret traveling to the nation's capital. "I would not change anything to protect the right to vote," she said. 


Martine Moïse returns to Haiti after husband's assassination

Martine Moïse, the wife of Haiti's former President Jovenel Moïse who was assassinated last week at their private home, returned to Haiti on Saturday after being treated for wounds from the incident at a Miami hospital. Flanked by security guards, Martine Moïse disembarked her flight at the Port-au-Prince airport wearing a bulletproof jacket with her right arm in a sling. She was greeted by interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph and other officials. Martine Moïse hasn't made many public comments since the assassination, though she did release an audio recording while recovering from the hospital in which she briefly described the attack and mourned her husband.


Julia Ducournau becomes 2nd female director to win top prize at Cannes

French filmmaker Julia Ducournau became the second-ever female director to win the Palme d'Or, the most prestigious prize at the Cannes Film Festival, for her film Titane on Saturday. Jane Campion was the last woman to win the award, which she shared with Chen Kaige, in 1993. Ducournau's win was revealed prematurely in the evening when Spike Lee mistook a cue for first — as in top — prize to mean the initial prize of the evening. Lee apologized for taking "a lot of suspense out of the night," though it didn't sound like Ducournau was bothered by the mix-up. She thanked Lee, the festival's jury president, personally in her acceptance speech, during which she said she suspected he had played a role in the decision to give her the prize, The Guardian reports.


Texas school district removes Anne Frank book, Bible from libraries after parent complaints
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Understanding President Biden's ironic alter ego 'Dark Brandon'
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