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In our news wrap Thursday, leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania visited Kyiv and pledged to back Ukraine's bid to join the European Union, the World Health Organization reports COVID deaths are rising around the globe, the Senate voted to expand benefits for military veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, and women's pro basketball legend Sue Bird will retire after this season.
In the day's other news: A new sell-off hit Wall Street a day — or, I should say, after a one day respite, amid growing fears that interest rate hikes will spark a recession. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 741 points. That's 2.4 percent. It closed at 29927. The Nasdaq fell 4 percent. The S&P 500 was down 3 percent.
Meanwhile, average rates for 30-year mortgages jumped half-a-percentage point last week to nearly 5.8 percent. That is the biggest increase in 35 years.
President Biden says he does not believe that a recession is inevitable. He tells the Associated Press that he's optimistic, but he says that — quote — "People are really really down" after two years of pandemic, economic shakeups and now soaring gas prices. He also says Republican claims that pandemic spending fueled inflation is — quote — "bizarre."
Leaders of some of Europe's largest countries visited Kyiv today in a show of support for Ukraine. The heads of France, Germany, Italy and Romania met with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. And they pledged to back Ukraine's bid to join the European Union.
Emmanuel Macron, French President (through translator):
We will do everything so that Ukraine can choose its destiny on its own, because it's for Ukraine and its leaders, its representatives and its people to decide for themselves.
Germany's chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said again the European powers have no intention of pressuring Ukraine to trade land for peace with Russia.
The World Health Organization reports COVID-19 deaths around the globe are rising, after falling for five straight weeks. The U.N. health agency said today that there were notable increases in the Americas and the Western Pacific last week. Average daily deaths in the United States have risen 14 percent in the last two weeks.
In this country, the white suspect in the Buffalo New York supermarket killings appeared in federal court on hate crime charges. Payton Gendron allegedly killed 10 Black victims. He did not enter a plea today. The judge urged prosecutors to decide quickly whether they will seek the death penalty.
Bipartisan talks on gun legislation have run into trouble in the U.S. Senate. Texas Republican John Cornyn said today that he is through with negotiating for now. The talks on fleshing out a framework have bogged down partly over pushing for red flag laws to take guns away from people who are deemed dangerous.
The Senate voted today to expand benefits for military veterans exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill extends health care and disability coverage for 10 years after discharge from the service and makes it easier to qualify. There was broad bipartisan support for the measure.
Afterward, Montana Senator Jon Tester called it a great day.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT):
We send our folks off to war. They get exposed to all sorts of garbage, toxins. And they come back home and they're fine, but then they get sick years later. And we owe it to them to make sure that they're taken care of because of their exposures to toxins. And that's what we accomplished today.
The bill projects spending $280 billion over 10 years. That is less than the House of Representatives wanted, but, today, Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised quick action on the Senate version.
The city of Billings, Montana, got its drinking water plant back online today, as flooding along the Yellowstone River began receding. The flood danger had closed the plant yesterday. It also closed Yellowstone National Park, but officials say they hope to reopen the park's southern half, including Old Faithful geyser, next week.
Cosmetics maker Revlon has filed for federal bankruptcy protection after 90 years in business. The company was hit hard during the pandemic and barely escaped bankruptcy in late 2020. For decades, Revlon set industry trends including the first cosmetic ads that featured a Black model.
And a women's pro basketball legend, Sue Bird, confirmed today that she's retiring after this season. Bird has won four WNBA titles with the Seattle Storm, and she's been an All-Star 12 times. She is also a five-time Olympic gold medalist for the United States. At 41, she is the oldest player in the league.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": the murder of a journalist and an indigenous rights activist in the Amazon raises questions about criminal connections; and how decades of work by anti-abortion activists could culminate in the reversal of Roe v. Wade.
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