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News Wrap: Biden prepones, defends U.S. pullout from Afghanistan

In our news wrap Thursday, the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan will now conclude early on August 31st instead of September 11. Afghan government forces said they drove Taliban fighters from a key provincial capital. Haiti officials said police have arrested two Haitian-Americans in the assassination of President Jovenal Moise. Tropical storm Elsa is moving up the U.S. East Coast.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan will officially conclude on August 31. President Biden moved up the deadline today from September 11, and he defended the pullout in the face of Taliban gains.

    The president said the U.S. did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build, and he pressed Afghan leaders to prove their mettle.

  • Pres. Joe Biden:

    They clearly have the capacity to sustain the government in place. The question is, will they generate the kind of cohesion to do it? It is not a question of whether they have the capacity. They have the capacity. They have the forces. They have the equipment.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    In Afghanistan, government forces said they drove Taliban fighters from a provincial capital in the north. Other reports said the militants have now seized a key border crossing with Iran.

    In Haiti, officials reported that police have arrested two Haitian-Americans in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Two of the alleged assailants were turned over to authorities by a crowd in Port-au-Prince today. In all, six have been arrested, and four were killed after a gunfight with police.

    COVID-19 has now killed more than four million people worldwide. That is based on official numbers compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The true count is believed to be even higher. In the U.S., public health leaders said today that most new deaths and infections are occurring where vaccination rates are low.

    We will return to this after the news summary.

    Organizers of the Summer Olympics today banned Japanese fans from the upcoming Tokyo Games, in the face of surging COVID infections. Foreign fans were already banned. The new announcement came as the government declared an emergency in Tokyo lasting through the Olympics.

    The head of the Japanese Olympic Committee acknowledged the event will not be the same.

  • Seiko Hashimoto:

    The Tokyo Games were supposed to be a rare opportunity to feel the power of sports through the packed stadiums and united communities. However, it now must be held in a very limited way. I am very sorry for the fans and the local people.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The Games are set to start in two weeks.

    We will discuss all of this later in the program.

    Today marked two weeks since a condominium tower collapsed in Surfside, Florida, and the death toll has now reached 64. Another 76 people are still missing. On Wednesday evening, emergency workers held a moment of silence, as they transitioned from rescue to recovery.

    Tropical Storm Elsa is moving up the U.S. East Coast tonight and regaining some strength. Storm warnings extend into New Jersey and New York and as far north as Massachusetts. The system already killed one person in Jacksonville, Florida. It also spawned an apparent tornado that injured at least 10 people in Georgia.

    California called today for voluntary water conservation as drought grips more the state. Residents are being asked to cut their water usage by 15 percent. Some of the state's reservoirs are already at dangerously low levels, with the summer just begun.

    Fifteen states today endorsed a settlement with Purdue Pharma over the opioids epidemic. The maker of OxyContin and its owners, the Sackler family, will release millions of documents and accelerate compensation to the states.

    Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey praised the new terms to let the company emerge from bankruptcy.

  • Maura Healey:

    Today's resolution delivers the most important things we have been fighting for, a reckoning that exposes the Sacklers' conduct, strips them of their power, and provides money that will be dedicated entirely to prevention, treatment, and recovery.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Ten other states have rejected the settlement.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reversed itself today on a new drug for the memory-destroying disease Alzheimer's. It had initially approved broad use of Aduhelm. Now, the Biogen drug will be limited to patients with mild cognitive impairment or mild dementia.

    The European Union has fined German automakers $1 billion for blocking emissions controls that might help address climate change. The companies are BMW and Volkswagen, plus, V.W.'s Audi and Porsche divisions. E.U. investigators say they kept improved pollution technology off the market.

    California lawyer Michael Avenatti, who once sued President Trump, was sentenced today to 30 months in prison. He had tried to extort millions of dollars from Nike. Avenatti previously represented porn star Stormy Daniels in her legal fight with Mr. Trump.

    And, on Wall Street, stocks retreated after jobless claims rose slightly and investors turned to bonds over stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 260 points to close below 34422. The Nasdaq fell 105 points. The S&P 500 slipped 37.

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