In our news wrap Thursday, President Joe Biden met with first responders and families of the victims in Surfside, Florida, as rescue crews halted work at a collapsed condominium tower. The heat wave scorching the Pacific Northwest and western Canada has claimed more victims and fueled a wildfire that wiped out most of Lytton — a small town of 250 people in British Columbia.
In the day's other news: An indictment in New York charged the Trump Organization and its finance chief with what prosecutors called sweeping and audacious tax fraud.
They quickly pleaded not guilty to paying executives with off-the-books benefits. Former President Trump himself was not charged. We will get details after the news summary.
Rescue crews in Surfside, Florida, halted work at a collapsed condominium tower today for fear the remaining structure might cave in. They cited growing cracks and movement in a large column. The decision came as President Biden arrived to meet with first responders and families of the victims.
President Joseph Biden:
The whole nation is mourning with these families. They see it every day on television. They're going through hell, and those who survived the collapse, as well as those who are missing loved one. Our message today is that we're here for you as one nation.
Late this evening, work resumed for the rescue teams. The disaster one week ago has left at least 18 people dead, with 145 others still missing.
The heat wave scorching the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada has claimed more victims. It helped fuel a wildfire that wiped out most of Lytton, a small town of 250 people in British Columbia. Residents fled just ahead of the flames late Wednesday.
The Eastern Caribbean is on high alert tonight for Tropical Storm Elsa. It's forecast to strengthen and pass near the Windward Islands tomorrow, with up to eight inches of rain. No Atlantic hurricane season has ever had a fifth named storm this early.
The White House will dispatch special COVID-19 response teams to parts of the country with low vaccination rates. That word came today as the CDC reported that the seven-day average of new infections nationwide rose 10 percent from a week ago.
And the Congressional Budget Office announced that the federal deficit will top $3 trillion for a second year due to pandemic rescue spending.
A new fight is brewing in the U.S. House of Representatives over a select committee on the January 6 Capitol assault. Republican Liz Cheney agreed today to serve on the Democratically convened panel. She is a fierce critic of former President Trump, and her appointment sparked a verbal exchange between party leaders.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif:
Another time, she will say her why and her purpose, but she has spoken very clearly about the committee. And that gives us great confidence that we will be able to work in a nonpartisan way for the people.
Rep. kevin McCarthy, R-Calif: It would be shocking to me for anybody from a party on the other side to come and want to accept a position, Democrat, from me. And it would be shocking to me to have a Republican to go to a Speaker Pelosi, of all people, to accept a committee assignment.
House Speaker Pelosi also named seven Democrats to the select committee. They include representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who will serve as chairman.
California's Governor Gavin Newsom will face a recall election on September 14. State officials set the date today. Discontent over Newsom's handling of the pandemic has fueled the recall drive.
In China, the ruling Communist Party celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding with a military spectacle and a warning. Warplanes put on an aerial show over Beijing, as thousands sang and waved flags. And President Xi Jinping used blunt language to put the U.S. and other foreign critics on notice.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (through translator):
The Chinese people will absolutely not allow any foreign force to bully, oppress or enslave us. And anyone who attempts to do so will face broken heads and bloodshed in front of the iron great wall of the 1.4 billion Chinese people.
Hong Kong also marked an anniversary of its return to Chinese control in 1997. Police deployed in large numbers, enforcing a ban on protests under a national security law that Beijing has used to quell dissent.
Back in this country, the Los Angeles City Council approved new bans on homeless people camping on sidewalks, under overpasses and near parks. Supporters said that it is critical to getting 40,000 people off the streets. Opponents called it draconian. There is a final vote on it later this month.
The National Football League fined the Washington Football Team $10 million over sexual harassment and other issues. The team is not being stripped of draft picks, but owner Dan Snyder will transfer day-to-day operations to his wife for the time being.
In economic news, new claims for unemployment benefits in the U.S. fell to a pandemic low last week at 364,000. And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 131 points to close at 34633. The Nasdaq rose 18 points. The S&P 500 added 22 to another all-time high.
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