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HeadlinesJuly 22, 2022

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White House Says President Biden Has “Very Mild Symptoms” of COVID-19 

Jul 22, 2022

The White House has announced President Biden has COVID-19 and will work from isolation. Biden confirmed the news in a short video posted on Twitter Thursday. 

President Joe Biden: “Hey, folks, guess you heard, this morning I tested positive for COVID. But I’ve been double vaccinated, double boosted. Symptoms are mild. And I really appreciate your inquiries and your concerns. But I’m doing well, getting a lot of work done.”

Biden said he immediately began taking Paxlovid, the antiviral medication produced by Pfizer that significantly cuts the risk of hospitalization and death in COVID patients. 

White House Defends Coronavirus Safeguards After Maskless Biden Gets Infected

Jul 22, 2022

The White House said it’s carrying out contact tracing to warn Biden’s close contacts they are at risk of COVID-19 — but declined to say how many people might be impacted. Over the last week, Biden has traded handshakes with senior Israeli officials in Jerusalem, fist-bumped Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and traveled to Massachusetts to promote clean energy with Senator Elizabeth Warren and John Kerry. Throughout those public appearances and others in recent months, Biden has consistently declined to wear a mask. On Thursday, COVID response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha defended the White House’s safety protocols.

Dr. Ashish Jha: “We always said that this was a possibility. I think I even said it from this stage, that this was a possibility. And I think that the protocols have kept him from getting infected, and — but we knew that this was a possibility with this incredibly contagious variant.”

Biden will turn 80 shortly after November’s midterm elections. Even in young and fully vaccinated people, COVID-19 can cause long-term effects that are still poorly understood, including neurological and mental health problems, cardiac damage, inflammation and fatigue.

Meanwhile, Vice President Kamala Harris, who is second in the line to the presidency, plans to maintain her schedule this week, even though she’s considered a close contact of Biden’s.

This all comes amid another wave of COVID-19 cases, driven by the BA.5 Omicron variant, with about 3,000 U.S. residents dying of the disease each week. 

House Jan. 6 Committee Spotlights Trump’s Refusal to Call Off Armed Mob Attacking Capitol

Jul 22, 2022

The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack held a primetime hearing on Thursday night focused on Donald Trump’s refusal to take action as his supporters attacked the Capitol. Lawmakers focused on the three-hour period on January 6 after Trump urged his supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell.” They also played previously unseen outtakes of a speech Trump delivered on January 7, when the president repeatedly refused to read prepared lines declaring that the 2020 election was over.

President Donald Trump: “The demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol have defied the seat of destiny. It’s defiled, right? See, I can’t see it very well. OK, I’ll do this. I’m going to do this. Let’s go. … But this election is now over. Congress has certified the results. I don’t want to say the election is over. I just want to say Congress has certified the results, without saying the election is over. OK?”

After headlines, we’ll spend the rest of the hour airing excerpts from Thursday evening’s hearing of the January 6 committee. 

Secret Service Under Criminal Investigation for Deleted Jan. 6 Messages

Jul 22, 2022

A government watchdog has opened a criminal investigation into the Secret Service’s destruction of text messages sent around the time of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. In announcing its probe, the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security noted that the messages were deleted after officials requested them in order to aid the House January 6 committee’s investigation — after the officials requested they be preserved.

Just 8 GOP Reps. Join Democrats as House Votes to Safeguard Right to Contraception

Jul 22, 2022

The House of Representatives has approved a bill that would safeguard the right to contraception under federal law. Just eight Republicans joined Democrats Thursday as lawmakers approved the Right to Contraception Act on a vote of 228 to 195. Ahead of the vote, California Democrat Doris Matsui cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in June overturning a half-century of reproductive rights.

Rep. Doris Matsui: “The Supreme Court’s decision was a direct attack on abortion, and Americans are now justifiably scared about the future of birth control. Republicans across this country will continue their extreme assault on basic freedoms. And Justice Thomas made it clear that the Supreme Court will do nothing to protect our fundamental rights from these coordinated attacks. I refuse to sit back and watch as Republicans regress our nation to a place where my granddaughter has fewer rights than her mother or I did.”

U.S. Records First Polio Case in Nearly 10 Years

Jul 22, 2022

A New York state man has been diagnosed with polio, the first case of the virus in the United States in nearly a decade. The man was not vaccinated against the polio virus. The U.S. was declared polio-free in 1979, but global efforts to combat the disease have failed to entirely stamp out reservoirs of the virus, which can cause paralysis.

Turkey Says Ukraine and Russia Have Reached Agreement over Grain Exports

Jul 22, 2022

Turkey’s government says negotiators from Moscow and Kyiv have agreed to a deal that would allow Ukraine to safely export millions of tons of grain through besieged ports along the Black Sea. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres traveled to Istanbul Thursday as news spread of an emerging deal that could help alleviate a global food crisis that’s led to soaring costs of staples like flour and cooking oil. The rare victory for diplomacy in Ukraine comes five months after Russia’s invasion. 

Dangerous Heat Warnings to Continue into Weekend for Much of Europe, U.S.

Jul 22, 2022

In Europe, the death toll from an unprecedented heat wave has topped 2,000 as forecasters warn dangerous levels of heat are spreading east. In Greece, firefighters have responded to nearly 400 wildfires this week, while temperatures in parts of Poland approached 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here in the United States, forecasters are predicting this week’s dangerously hot weather will continue into the weekend, with 85% of residents set to experience highs of 90 degrees or hotter.

Dramatic new satellite images from NASA show the largest reservoir in the U.S., Lake Mead, is at its lowest level since the completion of the Hoover Dam in the 1930s. The reservoir serves about 25 million people.

Ranil Wickremesinghe Sworn In as Sri Lankan President as Soldiers Assault Protesters

Jul 22, 2022

In Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn in as the island nation’s new president, filling the gap left by the previous president who was forced to resign after months of mass protests. Overnight, Sri Lankan soldiers raided the presidential secretariat in the capital Colombo, where demonstrators have been staging a massive sit-in protest; they also assaulted an adjacent protest encampment in a raid that left at least 10 people badly injured. 

Italian PM Mario Draghi Resigns, Setting Stage for Sept. 25 Election

Jul 22, 2022

Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi resigned on Thursday following the collapse of his unity government. Draghi will remain prime minister in a caretaker role until new national elections, scheduled for September 25. Draghi’s resignation was welcomed by Italy’s right wing. Recent polls show a coalition led by the Italian far right would win a parliamentary majority if the election were held today. 

Topics:

Guantánamo Prisoner Who Survived Torture and Arbitrary Detention for 20+ Years Cleared for Release

Jul 22, 2022

The Biden administration has cleared another prisoner for release from the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The United States has imprisoned Khalid Ahmed Qasim of Yemen at Guantanámo since May of 2002 without charge or trial. The human rights group Reprieve says he was severely tortured at Guantánamo — forced to sleep standing up, subjected to freezing temperatures and left shackled and unable to walk for long stretches. The United States continues to imprison 37 people at Guantánamo. Twenty of those remaining have been recommended for transfer. 

18 Killed as Police Raid Impoverished Rio de Janeiro Neighborhood

Jul 22, 2022

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at least 18 people have been killed in a raid by hundreds of heavily armed police officers on the Alemão favela. Witnesses say masked officers backed by armored vehicles and helicopters sprayed bullets over a wide area for 12 hours on Thursday, killing at least one innocent bystander and leaving injured people unattended in the streets. It’s the latest in a series of deadly raids in Rio’s impoverished communities, which police say are meant to target organized crime groups. Rio’s public defender said there were signs of major human rights violations. This is human rights worker Gilberto Santiago Lopes.

Gilberto Santiago Lopes: “The police aren’t aiding injured people. They aren’t. Those injured had to be wheeled in a hand truck, and then residents had to halt a car to take them to the hospital. The rationale is that they are criminals and they don’t deserve the aid they need. People are being dehumanized.”

Ex-Cop Thomas Lane Sentenced to 30 Months for Violating George Floyd’s Civil Rights

Jul 22, 2022

A federal judge has sentenced former Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane to 30 months in prison for violating George Floyd’s civil rights. In May of 2020, Lane was filmed holding Floyd’s legs as former officer Derek Chauvin pinned his knees to Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes, killing him. Lane is set to be sentenced on separate manslaughter charges in a Minnesota court in September. 

Senate Democrats Unveil Bill to Legalize, Tax and Regulate Cannabis

Jul 22, 2022

Senate Democrats have introduced a bill that would end the federal prohibition of cannabis, also known as marijuana. On Thursday, Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden introduced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. They were joined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. 

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “I am proud to be the first majority leader ever to say that it is time to end the federal prohibition on cannabis, and this bill provides the best framework for updating our cannabis laws and reversing decades of harm inflicted by the war on drugs.”

The legislation would delist cannabis as a prohibited drug, impose a federal tax on its sale, and would see the criminal records of many nonviolent offenders expunged.

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