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In our news warp Thursday, President Biden gets COVID for the first time, U.S. heat indexes hit triple digits, Italy's prime minister resigned after the ruling coalition fell apart, House passes a bill to protect contraception access, a former Minneapolis police officer is sentenced for his role in George Floyd's death, and a scientific group warns the monarch butterfly is an endangered species.
President Biden has tested positive for COVID for the first time. The White House announced it today and said the symptoms are very mild.
The president's physician said he has a runny nose, fatigue and a dry cough. In a video on Twitter, Mr. Biden said he's fine and keeping busy.
President Joe Biden:
And I really appreciate your inquiries and your concerns. But I'm doing well, getting a lot of work done, going to continue to get it done.
Mr. Biden is 79. He is fully vaccinated and boosted and is taking the drug Paxlovid to ward off severe symptoms.
COVID response coordinator Ashish Jha defended the White House pandemic protocols.
Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator:
We always said that this was a possibility. I think I even said it from this stage that this was a possibility.
And I think that the protocols have kept him from getting infected, and — but we knew that this was a possibility with this incredibly contagious variant.
The president will isolate at the White House until he tests negative.
The January 6 Committee in the U.S. Congress holds its eighth and possibly final hearing tonight. Testimony will focus on the three hours when then-President Trump watched the violence on television, but did nothing to stop it.
We will delve into the details after this news summary.
Heat indexes in the United States hit triple digits today from the Deep South to the Northeast. Forecasters warned the extreme readings could continue for days. A separate heat wave moved east in Europe, sparking new wildfires in Poland and Slovenia. Crews are still battling other fires in Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Turkey has announced tonight that Russia and Ukraine will sign a deal tomorrow to resume Ukrainian grain imports through the Black Sea. So far, though, Kyiv and Moscow have not yet confirmed it. Meanwhile, Russia and natural gas began flowing again through a major pipeline to Europe at reduced levels after a maintenance break.
We will return to Ukraine later in the program.
The prime minister of Italy, Mario Draghi, resigned today when his ruling coalition fell apart after 17 months in power. Draghi was Italy's sixth prime minister in a decade. His government's collapse left many Italians frustrated as they face a long drought and a troubled economic recovery.
Antonella Tondo, Rome Resident (through translator):
It really isn't the right moment for a government crisis. This should have been the moment to get back on our feet, not the moment to stop.
Umberto Bitorri, Rome Resident (through translator):
At such a delicate moment, I think it was a reckless move not to bear in mind everything that is happening globally, with the war and the ongoing pandemic.
Later, Italy's president dissolved Parliament and set new national elections for September 25.
Back in this country, New York state reported the first polio case in the U.S. since 2013. It involves an unvaccinated adult north of New York City. The strain may have been spread by someone who received a live vaccine used overseas. Polio largely disappeared from the U.S. in the 1970s.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to protect access to contraception. Democrats argued it is essential now that the Supreme Court has erased federally protected abortion rights. Republican charge the bill goes too far. Debate broke almost entirely down party lines.
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ):
It's unfortunate that this bill is written in such a way that it's unclear that it just covers traditional contraceptives. It is disappointing to see that my colleagues across the aisle are continuing to push their extreme abortion-on-demand agenda.
Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-CA):
This is not a side issue that only affects some people. This is a kitchen table issue. The decision of how and if and when to grow a family are decisions that are personal and private, and should never be decided by the Supreme Court or Congress.
Republicans in the Senate today blocked action on a similar bill.
A federal judge has sentenced a former Minneapolis police officer, Thomas Lane, to two-and-a-half years in prison for violating George Floyd's civil rights. Lane, who is awaiting sentencing on a state manslaughter charge, held Floyd's legs while another officer fatally knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes in 2020. Prosecutors had sought a sentence of up to six-and-a-half years.
A major scientific group is warning that monarch butterflies are now an endangered species. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature estimates monarch numbers have dropped 22 to 72 percent across North America over 10 years. The decline is blamed on pesticides, climate change and loss of habitat.
And on Wall Street, technology firms lead the way as stocks rose for a third straight day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 162 points to close near 32037. The Nasdaq also rose 162 points. That's more than 1 percent. And the S&P 500 gained 1 percent as well.
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