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News Wrap: COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. reach a new high

In our news wrap Wednesday, pandemic deaths in the U.S. hit another high Tuesday with more than 4,300, the virus pushes the federal budget deficit to a new record, New York City is terminating all contracts with the Trump organization, President-elect Biden taps Samantha Power to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development, and a woman on death row is executed for the first time in decades.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: Pandemic deaths in the U.S. hit another high, more than 4,300 on Tuesday alone.

    That word came as officials pushed to accelerate vaccinations. Today, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores offered to help. The trade group said that members can easily meet president-elect Biden's goal of 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days if they get the doses.

    President-elect today picked Samantha Power to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development. The position will now become a member of the National Security Council. Power served as ambassador to the United Nations under President Obama.

    New York City is terminating all contracts with the Trump Organization after the assault on the U.S. Capitol. Mayor Bill de Blasio accused the president today of fomenting the attack.

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio:

    We will no longer being doing any business at all. By the contract language, we have the right to terminate contracts, obviously, if a criminal act has been committed. And a criminal act has been committed. So, goodbye to the Trump Organization.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The Trump Organization said that it will fight the move.

    Meanwhile, YouTube suspended President Trump's account on its platform for a week. It is the latest social media company to curb his online presence.

    Israel carried out a wave of airstrikes in Eastern Syria today, targeting Iranian-backed fighters and weapons stockpiles. Syrian state media says the raids hit towns near the Iraqi border. A war monitor group said that at least 57 fighters were killed.

    In North Korea, the ruling party's Congress came to a close with Kim Jong-un calling for a beefed-up nuclear arsenal. State TV showed thousands party members applauding the North Korean leader at the gathering in Pyongyang. He vowed to oppose what he called hostile forces.

  • Kim Jong-Un (through translator):

    By accelerating the push to make our military more elite and stronger, we need to have them thoroughly prepared to play their role against any form of threats or unexpected situations.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    North Korea faces the toughest challenges of Kim's nine-year rule, from U.S. sanctions, to the pandemic, to disastrous crop failures.

    The United States today imposed the toughest measures yet against China's repression of Uyghur Muslims. U.S. officials will block all imports of cotton and tomatoes from the Xinjiang region that is home to the Uyghurs. More than one million Uyghurs and others are said to be in concentration camps, subject to forced labor and other abuses.

    In this country, a woman on federal death row has been executed, for the first time in nearly 70 years. Lisa Montgomery of Kansas was put to death by lethal injection early today after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way. She had killed a pregnant woman and cut the baby from the womb in 2004.

    The U.S. federal budget deficit shattered records at the end of 2020, fueled by pandemic relief spending. The Treasury Department said today that the red ink topped $573 billion just from October through December. That's 60 percent higher than a year earlier.

    And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost eight points to close at 31060. The Nasdaq rose 56 points, and the S&P 500 added eight.

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