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News Wrap: Biden to nominate Merrick Garland for U.S. attorney general

In our news wrap Wednesday, President-elect Biden will tap federal Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland as U.S. attorney general, U.S. officials pressed to accelerate COVID-19 vaccinations as the death toll neared 360,000, Hong Kong police arrested 53 former lawmakers and democracy advocates, and Louisville, Kentucky fired two more police officers in Breonna Taylor’s fatal shooting.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    President-elect Biden tapped federal appeals court Judge Merrick Garland to be U.S. attorney general. The "NewsHour" confirmed that Mr. Biden will announce the nomination tomorrow. In 2016, President Obama nominated Garland for the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Senate's Republican majority refused to consider the nomination.

    Officials nationwide pressed to accelerate COVID-19 vaccinations, as the U.S. death toll reached 360,000. The CDC reported that about 5.3 million people have gotten shots, out of 17 million doses distributed.

    Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services, said that vaccinations should not be limited to priority groups, if those people don't come forward fast enough.

  • Alex Azar:

    Those are simply recommendations, and they should never stand in the way of getting shots in arms, instead of keeping vaccine in the freezer, or ever, heaven forbid, wasting a dose of vaccine in a vial.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Meanwhile, officials in California have ordered hospitals in hard-hit counties to take patients from facilities that run out of intensive care beds.

    In Hong Kong, police arrested 53 former lawmakers and democracy advocates in the biggest crackdown since a new security law was imposed. They're accused of undermining Hong Kong's government by participating in an unofficial election last year.

    China today denounced President Trump's executive order banning any business with eight Chinese apps. They include the payment services Alipay and WeChat Pay. The order said they may be funneling personal and financial data to China's communist government. Beijing charged that the U.S. is just trying to freeze out commercial competitors.

    North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un has made a rare admission, that his economic development plans have failed. He spoke at the opening of the ruling party Congress that takes place once every five years. Kim said that his government faces unprecedented challenges.

  • Kim Jong-Un (through translator):

    The implementation of the five-year strategy for national economic development ended last year, but almost all sectors fell a long way short of their objectives. The current Congress is going to make a comprehensive analysis and judgment of the lessons and mistakes we have made.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    North Korea's economy has been ravaged by pandemic-related closings on the border with China by U.S. sanctions over its nuclear program.

    Back in this country, Louisville, Kentucky fired two more police officers in Breonna Taylor's fatal shooting back in March. The two were Detective Myles Cosgrove, who shot Taylor, and Detective Joshua Jaynes, who sought the no-knock warrant for the raid on Taylor's apartment. A third officer was fired last fall.

    Kenosha, Wisconsin, stayed peaceful last night after prosecutors decided against charging a white police officer who shot Jacob Blake last August. Blake was left paralyzed. Wisconsin's governor had mobilized the National Guard, bracing for unrest following the decision. But protests were small and nonviolent. The local district attorney says that he opted not to file charges because he could not disprove the officer's claim of self-defense.

    And on Wall Street, investors bet on businesses that may benefit if Democrats control the House and Senate and pass more economic stimulus. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 437 points to close at 30829. That's a new record. The Nasdaq fell 78 points, but the S&P 500 added 21.

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