The United States has announced it has killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike in downtown Kabul in Afghanistan. The U.S. reportedly fired two Hellfire missiles at al-Zawahiri as he was standing on a balcony at a safe house located in a neighborhood where many leaders of the Taliban live. The United States has long accused al-Zawahiri of being a key 9/11 plotter along with Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a U.S. raid in Pakistan in 2011. President Biden announced the assassination on Monday night.
President Joe Biden: “The United States continues to demonstrate our resolve and our capacity to defend the American people against those who seek to do us harm. You know, we — we make it clear again tonight that no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out.”
The Taliban criticized the U.S. attack, saying the drone strike was a “violation of international principles.” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused the Taliban of violating the Doha Agreement by hosting and sheltering the leader of al-Qaeda. After headlines, we’ll get the latest from Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary.
In Kentucky, the death toll from some of the worst flooding in the state’s history has risen to 37, with more rain and searing temperatures forecast throughout the week. Hundreds are still missing in Kentucky.
In California, two people were found dead in a charred vehicle Monday after the McKinney Fire exploded in size to become the largest U.S. wildfire of the year at over 55,000 acres. This follows record heat in the Pacific Northwest and comes as forecasters predict more than 40 million U.S. residents face triple-digit temperatures over the next week.
Senator Joe Manchin’s office said Monday the conservative West Virginia Democrat has secured a promise from party leaders and the White House to complete a highly contested gas pipeline. In 2020, construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline was halted by a federal court after activists argued its construction violates environmental laws and could pose catastrophic threats to nearly 1,000 streams and wetlands. The deal to complete the pipeline came as Senator Manchin ended months of opposition to President Biden’s legislative agenda and agreed to support a scaled-down bill to combat the climate crisis.
In Washington, D.C., Indigenous-led protesters erected large tripods Monday in a nonviolent, symbolic blockade of the Interior Department. The protesters are demanding that Biden take immediate executive action on the climate, and are rejecting mandated oil and gas lease sales on public lands and waters as part of any new climate legislation. This is activist Ashley Engle of the Ikiya Collective.
Ashley Engle: “People are dying. My people are dying right now. And we are not your sacrifice zones. We will not be your sacrifice zones. We will not sacrifice our lands, our waters or our children or future generations. And that includes your children, too. And we also want Biden to declare a climate emergency.”
A federal judge has sentenced a far-right militia leader to seven years in prison over his role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection. It’s the longest sentence yet for a Capitol rioter. Guy Reffitt, a recruiter for the Texas Three Percenters militia, was convicted in March of five felony charges for leading a mob that charged and overran a Capitol police line. Reffitt was reported to the FBI by his teenage son, Jackson. Reffitt’s daughter Sarah on Monday told reporters, “Trump deserves life in prison if my father is in prison for this long.”
Meanwhile, a new study finds far-right dark money groups have poured unprecedented amounts of cash into secretary of state races across the U.S. this election year, aimed at candidates who espouse Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen.
China is warning the United States of potentially “disastrous consequences” if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan this week. The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s warning came as Pelosi traveled to Singapore and Malaysia as part of a tour of Asia that includes plans to become the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan in a quarter-century.
Zhao Lijian: “If Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan, it would grossly interfere in China’s internal affairs, seriously undermine China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, wantonly trample on the 'One China' principle, seriously threaten the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and severely damage China-U.S. relations. … We would like to warn the United States again that China is fully prepared for any eventuality. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army will not sit back.”
In response, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby warned China against using Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to increase military activity around the Taiwan Strait. The U.S. Navy currently has four warships positioned in waters east of Taiwan, including the nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Reagan.
Here in New York, the United Nations has opened a review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres opened the conference with a stark warning.
Secretary-General António Guterres: “We have been extraordinarily lucky so far. But luck is not a strategy, nor is it a shield from geopolitical tensions boiling over into nuclear conflict. Today humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation. We need a treaty of nonproliferation of nuclear weapons as much as ever.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of “dangerous nuclear saber rattling” over its invasion of Ukraine and blamed Iran and North Korea for harming efforts at nonproliferation. His comments come as the U.S. and the world’s eight other nuclear-armed nations continue to refuse to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted by the U.N. last year after it was ratified by more than 50 countries.
In Iraq, hundreds of supporters of the powerful Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr continue to occupy parliament, protesting efforts led by al-Sadr’s pro-Iran rivals to form a new government. Al-Sadr supporters have declared an open-ended sit-in at parliament until their demands are answered. Meanwhile, thousands of al-Sadr opponents held a counterprotest Monday and were met by police firing water cannons. At least 125 people have been injured in the unrest. The formation of a new government has been stalled since parliamentary elections in October, where al-Sadr’s Sadrist Movement won the most seats.
Voters head to the polls today for primary elections in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington state. In Arizona, several Republicans who have denied Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory are competing to become secretary of state — the official who oversees elections. They include Trump-endorsed state Representative Mark Finchem, who sought to overturn Trump’s 2020 loss, and state lawmaker Shawnna Bolick, who sponsored a bill to allow lawmakers to ignore election results and choose their own presidential electors.
In Washington state, Congressmembers Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse face Republican primary challengers. They were two of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump over the January 6 insurrection.
In Missouri, former President Trump on Monday delivered his endorsement in a crowded race of 19 Republicans seeking to replace retiring Republican Senator Roy Blunt. On the eve of the primary, Trump wrote, ”ERIC has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” There are two people named Eric among the 19 candidates vying for Missouri’s open Senate seat: Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Eric Greitens, the former governor. Greitens is attempting a political comeback after a report commissioned by Missouri’s Legislature in 2018 found he sexually assaulted and physically abused a woman, before blackmailing her to cover up his crime.
In Kansas, voters are deciding today on a ballot measure that, if approved, would repeal the state’s constitutional protection for abortions and pave the way for conservative lawmakers to enact a near-total ban on the procedure.
In Kentucky, a state court of appeals has reinstated an abortion trigger law and a so-called heartbeat statute that bans the procedure after six weeks of pregnancy. This comes about a month after a lower state court had halted the enforcement of the measures.
New York City has declared monkeypox a public health emergency, after officials described New York as the “epicenter” of the outbreak, with tens of thousands of people vulnerable to exposure. California and Illinois also declared states of emergency Monday over the rapid spread of monkeypox. This week, the first monkeypox deaths outside of Africa were reported in Spain, Brazil and India. Meanwhile, African nations still have not received a single dose of vaccines against monkeypox, even as the United States and European Union have secured hundreds of thousands of doses. This is Dr. Ahmed Ogwell, acting director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Ahmed Ogwell Ouma: “Let us get vaccines onto the continent. Let us get more resources for preparedness and response to come to the continent. And let us get attention focused on where we can be able to really stop monkeypox at source. And the endemic countries here in Africa is really the best place to be able to start
We’ll have more on the monkeypox outbreak later in the broadcast with journalist Steven Thrasher, author of “The Viral Underclass.”