News Wrap: Biden administration declares monkeypox a public health emergency

In our news wrap Thursday, the Biden administration declared a public health emergency over monkeypox as the number of U.S. cases passed 6,600, President Biden tests positive for COVID for a sixth consecutive day, China retaliates in a dispute over Taiwan, Puerto Rico's former governor was arrested in a federal corruption case, and Taliban officials deny knowing al-Qaida's leader was in Kabul.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    U.S. women's basketball star Brittney Griner now faces nine years in a Russian prison. She was convicted and sentenced today on drug charges for having cannabis oil in her luggage as she arrived in Moscow last February. The Biden administration had sharply criticized her arrest, and a U.S. diplomat condemned the verdict.

    Elizabeth Rood, Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy in Moscow: This is a miscarriage of justice. The U.S. Department of State has determined that Ms. Griner was wrongfully detained.

    Nothing in today's decision changes that determination. President Biden's national security team and the entire American government remain committed to bring Ms. Griner home safely to her family, friends, and loved ones.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    In Washington, the White House urged Moscow to accept what it called a substantial offer to release Griner and another American, Paul Whelan.

    We will take a closer look after the news summary.

    There's a major development in another high-profile case, the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky. She was killed by police during a botched drug raid in March 2020. Today, the U.S. Justice Department brought civil rights charges against four current and former police officers.

  • Kristen Clarke, Assistant U.S. Attorney General:

    All people have a right to be secure in their homes, free from false warrants, unreasonable searches, and the use of unjustifiable and excessive force by the police.

    Breonna Taylor should have awakened in her home as usual on the morning of March 13, 2020. Tragically, she did not.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    One of those charged today was acquitted on state charges of wanton endangerment earlier this year.

    A jury in Texas has ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay more than $4 million in compensatory damages to the parents of a boy killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School rampage. Jones had repeatedly claimed that the 2012 shooting massacre that killed 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut, was a hoax.

    The Biden administration today declared a national public health emergency over monkeypox. The announcement makes federal money and other resources available to fight the virus. So far, the number of cases nationwide has passed 6,600, nearly all of them linked to sexual relations between men.

    President Biden has once again tested positive for COVID-19. That makes six days in a row. The president's infection rebounded last weekend, but his physician said today that Mr. Biden is feeling well and that his cough is improving.

    China launched a campaign of retaliation today as a dispute over Taiwan escalated. It follows a visit to the island by Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Today, Chinese forces fired missiles and sent warships and planes into Taiwan's waters and airspace. The aggressive moves sparked a war of words between the U.S. and China.

    Anthony Blinken, U.S. Secretary of State: The United States continues to have an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. We oppose any unilateral efforts to change the status quo, especially by force.

    Hua Chunying, Spokeswoman, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (through translator): The malicious provocation of the U.S. came first, while the legitimate defense of China came second. China's countermeasures are justified and will certainly be resolute and forceful.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The U.S. condemned the Chinese actions. The drills are set to continue into Sunday.

    In Afghanistan, Taliban officials insisted today they did not know that al-Qaida leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri was in Kabul. He died Sunday in a targeted U.S. missile strike. Americans — American officials say that he was living at a house linked to the Taliban deputy director. The Taliban had promised not to harbor al-Qaida members.

    A former governor of Puerto Rico, Wanda Vazquez, was arrested today in a federal corruption case. The U.S. Justice Department says that she took bribes to aid her 2020 campaign. She is the first former leader of Puerto Rico to face federal charges.

    Fire crews in Northern California are making gains against the state's largest wildfire this year. Officials report the McKinney Fire is now 10 percent contained, with help from cloudy, rainy weather. The flames have scorched 90 square miles. So far, four bodies have been found in the burned-out landscape.

    In economic news, home mortgage rates on a 30-year loan fell below 5 percent last week for the first time in four months.

    And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 85 points to close at 32726. The Nasdaq rose 52 points. The S&P 500 slipped three.

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