In our news wrap Thursday, Democrats formally introduced President Biden’s immigration bill offering an eight-year path to citizenship for 11 million people, protests continue across Myanmar against military coup, thousands of farmers in India staged sit-ins at railroad police stations, and the Labor Department reported new claims for unemployment benefits shot back over 860,000 last week.
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In the day's other news: Stark new numbers put the human toll of COVID-19 in vivid relief. The total number of lives lost to the coronavirus in the United States passed 492,000. And the CDC reported that average U.S. life expectancy dropped by a full year during the first half of 2020 due to the pandemic. That's the biggest decline since World War II.
We will get details after the news summary.
NASA's rover Perseverance is on the surface of the planet Mars tonight, after a journey of seven months. It streaked across the Martian sky today, as depicted in this animation, slowing from 12,000 miles an hour. Then the robot craft deployed parachutes, and a rocket-powered crane lowered it to the surface.
That triggered the all-important signal to mission control.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the signs of past life.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
Within minutes, the rover sent back this first image of its landing site, a crater in an ancient river delta. We will return to this mission to Mars a little later in the program.
Congressional Democrats formally introduced President Biden's immigration bill today. It lays out paths to citizenship for some 11 million migrants in the U.S. who are without legal status. Republicans have signaled opposition, partly because they want new border security measures.
Also today, the Biden administration laid out guidelines for more targeted immigration enforcement than during the Trump era.
The U.S. State Department has announced that the U.S. will agree to talk with Iran if the European Union invites all parties to the 2015 nuclear deal. The Biden administration previously had said that Iran must first return to compliance with the deal. President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement in 2018.
Crowds were back out in cities across Myanmar today, protesting a military coup. They defied police who assaulted striking rail workers in Mandalay overnight. Thousands of people in Yangon carried flags and blocked roads. Their goal was to obstruct military movements and prevent government employees from getting to work.
In northern India, thousands of farmers staged sit-ins at railroad stations, escalating a months-long campaign against new agricultural laws. Demonstrators blocked trains for hours by sitting and chanting on tracks, as thousands of security officers turned out. The protesters insisted they won't stop.
We have decided that the struggle to get these three laws repealed is connected to our lives, connected to our future, connected to our children, and connected to our daily bread.
Either we will survive and our assets will survive, or the country won't be able to get by, as they will not get anything to eat.
Farmers say the new laws will drastically cut their incomes. The Indian government says the measures are essential to modernize the country's agriculture system.
Back in this country, the Labor Department reported new claims for unemployment benefits shot back over 860,000 last week, as COVID-19 disruptions escalated.
And Vice President Kamala Harris warned that women leaving the work force during the pandemic has become a national emergency. Some 2.5 million women have stopped looking for work, far more than the number of men. And the percentage of women in the labor force is the lowest since 1988.
The war over GameStop headlined a U.S. congressional hearing today. Last month, small investors and hedge funds battled for days over the video game retailer and roiled the broader market. Today, the head of the trading platform Robinhood apologized for stopping trading in GameStop at one point, but he denied that hedge funds influenced the decision.
And on Wall Street today, a combination of lower energy prices and higher rates on bonds sent stocks down. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 119 points to close at 31493. The Nasdaq fell 100 points, and the S&P 500 shed 17 points.