What We’re Reading: Federal judge rules on Texas’ mask mandate ban, Biden to sign infrastructure bill



President Joe Biden stands after signing the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” during an event on the South Lawn of the White House, Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By Ella Gibson

Federal judge overturns Texas mask mandate ban

Supporters of mask mandates in public schools gather outside the Governor’s Mansion in Austin, Texas, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

A federal judge has overturned Texas’ mask mandate ban in schools, ruling that it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to BBC News.

Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the ban denied the benefits of in-person learning to students with disabilities. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued the order in May to prohibit public schools from requiring students, staff and visitors to wear masks.

Disability Rights Texas filed a lawsuit against the governor, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath, according to CNN.

“Children with certain underlying conditions who contract COVID-19 are more likely to experience severe acute biological effects and to require admission to a hospital and the hospital’s intensive-care unit,” the lawsuit stated.

According to court documents, Texas independent school districts can choose whether to implement mask mandates. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is looking to challenge the decision.

Three states open COVID-19 booster to all adults

FILE – A patient waits to be called for a COVID-19 vaccination booster shot outside a pharmacy in a grocery store, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, in downtown Denver. Infection rates have soared in Colorado over the past month, and Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, to expand the use of booster shots to quell the recent surge in COVID-19 infections. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

California, Colorado and New Mexico have opened COVID-19 booster shots for all adults, according to CBS.

The three states have some of the highest rates of new COVID-19 cases in the nation. Federal health officials have recommended only giving shots to patients considered most at risk. State officials are taking action against rising cases.

“This is really a critical moment in the pandemic,” said Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. “It has never been more dangerous for the unvaccinated than it is right now.”

Pfizer and BioNTech asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize booster shots for all Americans 18 and older, according to The New York Times. Currently, only adults who are 65 and older, those who are at special risk because of medical conditions and those who reside in high-risk environments can get the booster.

Federal regulators may grant the request before Thanksgiving. The booster will likely be limited to the Pfizer shot.

Biden to sign infrastructure spending bill

FILE – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters after a Republican policy meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Nov. 2, 2021. This year’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill easily cleared the Senate by a 69-13 vote with some GOP support. But the bill crawled through the House last week by a 228-206 margin with just 13 Republican votes. Those 13 GOP members have come under harsh criticism from former President Donald Trump and others. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

President Biden will hold a ceremony on Monday to sign a $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending package, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill will be allocated to state transportation agencies and selected applicants to replace bridges, roads and ports.

The package passed the house on Friday, with the support of most Democrats and 13 Republicans. Some Republican supporters of the bill will not attend the signing ceremony because of criticism from party members. Other backers have received death threats.

The White House said that lawmakers who helped write the legislation and others who fought for its implementation will be at the ceremony, according to Reuters. It is unclear how many Republican backers will attend.

“This bill was basically written in the Senate by a bipartisan group of Republicans and Democrats – all the House did last week was simply take up the Senate bill and pass it,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Elon Musk sells $6.9 million in Tesla stocks

FILE – Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition in Washington on March 9, 2020. After making a promise on Twitter, the Tesla CEO has sold about 900,000 shares of the electric car maker’s stock, netting over $1.1 billion that will go toward paying tax obligations for stock options. The sales, disclosed in two regulatory filings late Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, will cover tax obligations for stock options granted to Musk in September. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Elon Musk sold $6.9 billion in Tesla stock over the course of last week, according to CNBC.

On Nov. 6, Musk asked his Twitter followers if he should sell 10 percent of his holdings. 58 percent of the poll voted yes. Musk sold a total of 6.4 million shares, with 1.2 million of them being on Friday. Those sold only add to 4 percent of the shares that Musk holds directly.

Tesla’s stock declined 15.4 percent, making it the worst week for Tesla’s stocks in the past 20 months.

It is likely that the real reason Musk sold the shares was because of a deadline to exercise 22.9 million stock options, according to CNN.

The stock options will expire on August 13, 2022. When he exercises the options, he will have to pay a 40.8 percent federal tax rate. The bill will be around $10 billion at current market prices.

9-Year-Old dies from injuries sustained at Astroworld

This photo provided by Taylor Blount shows Ezra Blount, 9, posing outside the Astroworld music festival in Houston on Nov. 5, 2021. Ezra has become the youngest person to die from injuries sustained during a crowd surge at the Astroworld music festival. Ezra, of Dallas, died Sunday, Nov. 14 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, family attorney Ben Crump said. (Courtesy of Taylor Blount via AP)

9-year-old Ezra Blount died Sunday from injuries sustained at the Astroworld music festival, according to CBS.

Blount died at Texas Children’s Hospital on Nov. 14. He was placed in a medically induced coma on Nov. 5 after suffering injuries from a crowd surge at Travis Scott’s performance. A lawsuit filed by Blount’s family stated that he was “kicked, stepped on and trampled, and nearly crushed to death.”

The family is suing Travis Scott and festival organizers for negligence. They are seeking $1 million in damages, according to AP News.

Blount suffered severe damage to his brain, kidney and liver, according to AP News. He is the tenth and youngest person to die from attending the festival.

Houston police and fire departments are reviewing surveillance footage from the festival. Scott and organizers are at the center of a criminal investigation.

Steve Bannon surrenders to the F.B.I.

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon arrives at the FBI Washington Field Office, Monday, Nov., 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Steve Bannon, an ally of former President Donald Trump, surrendered to authorities on Monday morning on charges of criminal contempt of Congress, according to The New York Times.

Bannon, who served as a senior aide to the former president, was indicted by a federal grand jury with two counts of contempt for refusal to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Bannon arrived at the F.B.I.’s Washington field office at 9:30 a.m., according to The New York Times.

“On Monday, Nov. 15, Stephen K. Bannon self-surrendered to the F.B.I. Washington Field Office and was arrested and processed on two counts of contempt of Congress,” said the F.B.I. in a statement.

The indictment will likely spark a legal battle between Bannon and the Jan. 6 committee. Bannon’s attorney has claimed that his communications with former President Trump are protected under executive privilege.

Attorneys in Rittenhouse trial present closing arguments

Kyle Rittenhouse, right, looks on as the jury is let out of the room during a break during his trail at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

Lawyers in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial made closing arguments Monday afternoon, according to CNN.

In closing statements, prosecutors said that Rittenhouse provoked shootings by pointing his AR-15-style gun at Joseph Rosenbaum during a protest against police brutality last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

“When the defendant provokes this incident, he loses the right to self-defense,” said prosecutor Thomas Binger. “You cannot claim self-defense against a danger you create.”

Before closing statements, Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, according to NBC.

The misdemeanor was one of the strongest charges against Rittenhouse. Judge Schroeder dismissed the charge, citing an exception with Wisconsin law over the length of the barrel.

Jurors will deliberate on Monday night after closing arguments.