In our news wrap Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department announced the formation of strike forces to target gun crimes. Attorney General Merrick Garland traveled to Chicago — just hours after mass shootings in the city that killed 3 people and wounded nearly 20. Fire crews in the western U.S. are finally getting help from the weather, against the giant Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon.
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In the day's other news: The U.S. Justice Department announced the formation of strike forces to target gun crimes. They will be based in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said the focus is on gun violence and gun trafficking.
Lisa Monaco U.S. Deputy Attorney General:
We all know that our job is to go after those who pull the trigger and end up critically injuring and in some cases murdering innocent people.
But our job is also, of course, to go after the sources of those guns, the corridors that they travel in, and the networks that feed those guns.
Later, Attorney General Merrick Garland met with police in Chicago just hours after mass shootings in the city that killed three people and wounded nearly 20.
Fire crews in the Western U.S. are finally getting help from the weather against the giant Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon. As of today, some 2, 200 firefighters had the huge fire about one-third contained.
But, elsewhere, the Tamarack Fire that originated in Northern California has crossed into Nevada, forcing new evacuations.
The blowup over investigating the January assault on the U.S. Capitol is still echoing. On Wednesday, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, barred two Republicans from a special committee, both of them Trump allies.
Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy then withdrew his other nominees. Neither side backed down today.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA:
The American people want to know the truth, and in light of actions and statements taken by them, I could not appoint them.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-CA:
It doesn't matter today what she does with that committee, because it's not going to change the outcome of what it seems to be a predetermined or already written report.
Pelosi insisted that the committee will do its job, even if Republicans boycott. McCarthy said the GOP might mount its own probe, although it has no power to do so under House rules.
The House came together today on giving refuge to more Afghans who worked with the U.S. military. By an overwhelming vote, lawmakers added another 8,000 visas to 26,000 allocated already.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon confirmed a series of airstrikes targeted the Taliban this week. The militants have made sweeping gains in recent weeks.
Cuba now faces U.S. sanctions over its violent crackdown on protests. Thousands of people demonstrated this month against food shortages, high prices and pandemic restrictions. U.S. penalties announced today affect a Cuban military leader and a special security unit. It's a departure for President Biden, who once talked of liberalizing relations with Havana.
At the Tokyo Olympics, the director of tomorrow's Opening Ceremonies was fired after reports that he joked about the Nazi Holocaust back in 1998. A musical composer for the Games had already stepped down over bullying classmates at school. And the head of the Tokyo Organizing Committee resigned weeks ago over sexist remarks.
Today, organizers acknowledged the scandals have plagued their efforts.
Seiko Hashimoto (through translator):
I am very keenly aware of my responsibility. The fact that so many problems have been uncovered, one after another, and that we have to deal with them leaves the public the impression that we are responding too late. We deeply regret this.
Separately, first lady Jill Biden arrived in Tokyo today, leading the U.S. delegation to the Games. She was welcomed by Japan's prime minister.
And a spoiler alert: We now have results of today's U.S. softball game. The top-ranked Americans defeated Canada 1-0 for their second win in as many Games.
In economic news, first-time claims for unemployment benefits shot back up last week to 419,000. That's the most in two months, but economists said it is due mostly to one-time factors.
On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 25 points to close at 34823. The Nasdaq rose 52 points. The S&P 500 added eight.
And the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks got their victory parade today. Players and members of the organization rode in double-decker buses as thousands of fans cheered them in downtown Milwaukee. The Bucks beat Phoenix Tuesday night for their first title in 50 years.