Daily briefing

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

CDC: No masks for fully vaccinated teachers and students, Biden signs sweeping antitrust order, and more

1

CDC: No masks for fully vaccinated teachers and students

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new COVID-19 guidelines for schools ahead of the fall, saying those teachers and students who have been fully vaccinated don't have to wear masks in classrooms. The new CDC guidance recommends that schools should still maintain three feet of physical distance between students in classrooms, "combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated." It also says, though, that in cases where this isn't possible, schools should still hold classes in person while adhering to other COVID-19 precautions, The Wall Street Journal reports. No vaccines have been authorized in the U.S. for children under 12.

2

Biden signs sweeping antitrust order

President Biden on Friday signed a broad executive order aimed at reducing corporate consolidation, increasing competition, and offering benefits for consumers, workers, and small businesses. "Today I'm going to be signing ... an executive order promoting competition. To lower prices. To increase wages. To take another critical step toward an economy that works for everybody," Biden said. The 72-action plan takes aim at restrictive employee noncompete agreements; requires airlines to refund passengers for poor Wi-Fi and baggage handling; calls for over-the-counter sales of hearing aids; and guarantees the right for farmers and motorists to "repair their own vehicles without voiding warranty protections," among other initiatives, Politico writes.

3

Surfside death toll rises to 79

The death toll from the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside, Florida, has risen to 79 after 14 more bodies were found overnight Thursday and one addition victim was recovered Friday, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press briefing Friday. Of the bodies that have been recovered, 53 have been identified. There are still 61 people who remain unaccounted for, although search teams are not expecting to find any survivors. Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Friday signed an executive order indefinitely suspending the statutes for paying property taxes for all those whose homes were destroyed in the incident.

4

Biden fires Social Security chief

President Biden on Friday fired Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul, who's held the role since the days of the Trump administration. Biden administration officials said Saul refused a request to resign, and Saul said he still has no plans to leave his post, The Washington Post reports. The Social Security commissioner is the head of an independent agency and the position comes with a six-year term — Saul's was supposed to last until 2025 — but the White House pointed to a recent Supreme Court ruling that it says gives the president the authority to remove and replace Saul. In a statement, the White House said Saul "has undermined and politicized Social Security disability benefits, terminated the agency's telework policy," and "reduced due process protections for benefits appeals hearings," among other things "that run contrary to the mission of the agency and the president's policy agenda."

5

U.S. turns down Haiti's request for military assistance

The United States on Friday turned down a request from Haiti to send American troops to help secure key infrastructure in the Caribbean nation after suspected foreign mercenaries allegedly carried out the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse earlier this week. Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph raised the possibility of military assistance with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, and his office sent a letter to the U.S. embassy in Haiti asking for the dispatch of soldiers to support Haiti's national police. Joseph's office made a similar appeal to the United Nations office in Haiti. Although the U.S. has no plans to deploy military personnel, officials say they'll work alongside Colombian officials to investigate the assassination plot. So far, at least 20 people have been detained in connection with the incident, including 18 who identified as Colombian and two who identified as Haitian-American.

6

West faces another heat wave

Excessive heat warnings covered much of the Western United States on Friday, stretching from California to southeast Oregon to parts of Utah and Arizona, while Las Vegas could potentially match an all-time record high of 117 degrees this weekend, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in the Nevada city said. Las Vegas' temperature climbed to 116 degrees Friday, and the heat caused flight delays and even some cancellations. 

7

At least 52 killed in Bangladesh factory fire

At least 52 people were killed in a juice factory fire in Bangladesh, officials side Friday. The blaze broke out on Thursday afternoon on the ground floor of the six-story building, and the presence of chemicals and flammable substances reportedly made it difficult to contain the flames, though the fire was ultimately brought under control by Friday afternoon. At least 50 people were injured and 25 were rescued from the building, but the death toll may still increase since the top two floors had yet to be searched as of Friday night.

8

Biden urges Putin to take action against ransomware gangs

President Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Friday phone call that the United States "will take any necessary action to defend its people and its critical infrastructure" if a recent series of cyberattacks against American companies, which are believed to have originated in Russia, continue. The White House said Biden emphasized the need for the Kremlin "to take action to disrupt ransomware groups operating in Russia." Speaking to reporters after the call, Biden said he's "optimistic" that Washington and Moscow have increased communications to address cybercrime.

9

Chinese tech firms seeking foreign IPOs face new restrictions

The Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement Saturday that companies holding data on more than 1 million users must now apply for cybersecurity approval when seeking to list in foreign nations because of concerns that other governments could exploit that personal information. Per Bloomberg, the move "is one of the most concrete steps" Beijing has taken "to restrain the ability of technology firms to raise capital in the" United States. The 1 million-user threshold is "very low," Feng Gucheng, a partner at Plemun, a research firm in Beijing, said, adding that it "would basically apply to every internet company aspiring for an" initial public offering, likely prompting companies to list in Hong Kong instead.

10

Lee statue removed in Charlottesville

The statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that was at the center of the violent white supremacist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 was removed from its stone pedestal Saturday, along with another statue of Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. They'll be stored in a secure location until Charlottesville's City Council makes a final decision on what to do with them. "Taking down this statue is one small step closer to the goal of helping Charlottesville, Virginia, and America, grabble with the sin of being willing to destroy Black people for economic gain," Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker said in a speech as the crane neared the Lee monument, CBS News reports.

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