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News Wrap: NASA scrubs rocket launch due to storms

In our news wrap Wednesday, NASA had to scrub the first launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in nearly a decade due to bad weather. Storms kept the SpaceX rocket stalled at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but the crew will try again Saturday. Also, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has stepped up criticism of President Trump for refusing to wear a mask in public, calling Trump a “fool.”

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: The mayor of Minneapolis called for criminal charges against a white policeman, after a black man died in custody.

    George Floyd pleaded he could not breathe when the officer pressed a knee to his neck. Four officers have been fired, but there were new protests overnight. We will get much more after the news summary.

    In Hong Kong, thousands of people protested today against curtailing civil liberties. Police fired pepper pellets and arrested 360 demonstrators, who condemned efforts to outlaw disrespect for China's national anthem.

    Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Hong Kong may no longer qualify for special trade benefits.

    We will return to this story as well later in the program.

    President Trump is bashing social media after Twitter slapped fact-check warnings on two of his posts. He had alleged, without proof, that mail-in voting is rife with fraud.

    Today, he accused big tech companies of anti-conservative bias, and warned — quote — "We will strongly regulate or close them down."

    Any such action would likely require congressional approval.

    Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has stepped up criticism of the president for refusing to wear a mask in public. The former vice president called Mr. Trump a fool last night.

    Today, he renewed the attack during an event with Pennsylvania's Governor Tom Wolf.

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden:

    Wearing one of these masks when you're outside is not a partisan issue.

    The Secret Service outside my house, they all have a mask on. We don't talk. We don't talk unless I walk out with a mask. It is a matter of protecting other people, not just yourself, other people. That's what this is about.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    On Monday, Biden wore a face mask during a Memorial Day event, and the president retweeted a post that appeared to mock him for it.

    NASA today had to scrub the first launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in nearly a decade. Storms kept two astronauts and their SpaceX rocket stalled at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They will try again on Saturday to reach the International Space Station. Americans have been hitching rides on Russian spaceships since the last space shuttle flight in 2011.

    Meanwhile, Boeing announced today that it is cutting more than 12,000 jobs from a work force of 160,000. Sales of the company's jetliners have plummeted during the pandemic. Boeing also said that it has resumed low-level production of the 737 MAX jet, after two fatal crashes grounded the planes last year.

    A tropical storm made landfall near Charleston, South Carolina, today with almost no warning. Bertha came ashore just after forming, and caused minor flooding. It is the second named storm before hurricane season officially starts on June 1.

    On Wall Street, stocks surged again, on hopes for economic revival. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 553 points to close at 25548. The Nasdaq rose 72 points, and the S&P 500 added 44.

    And playwright and pioneering AIDS activist Larry Kramer has died in New York, of pneumonia. He fought for bold action against HIV and for gay rights in the 1980s and '90s.

    Jeffrey Brown looks at his life.

  • Actor:

    Have you told the man there's an epidemic going on?

  • Actor:

    Oh, says who?

  • Actor:

    The government.

  • Actor:

    Which government? What, our government? An epidemic?

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    In "The Normal Heart," his 1985 play and later an HBO film, Larry Kramer wrote of love, agony and anger in the early years of AIDS.

    It was the subject of much of his work as writer and activist. He was a founder of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, and later the group ACT UP, whose public confrontations demanded attention and urgent action to address the growing AIDS crisis.

  • Larry Kramer:

    Plague! Forty million infected people is a plague! We are in the worst shape we have ever, ever been in.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    He was passionate, often loud, but he was heard, including when he took on then-prominent AIDS researcher Dr. Anthony Fauci. Kramer labeled Fauci an incompetent idiot.

    The two would later come to mutual respect and even friendship. Today, Fauci, one of the leaders of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, spoke to Judy about Kramer.

  • Anthony Fauci:

    I'm very sad that we have lost him. He was just an extraordinary man.

    He changed totally — by his extraordinary iconoclastic and theatrical ways of doing things, he changed the relationship between the afflicted community with a given disease and the scientific and regulatory community that has such a great impact on them.

    He said, you can't be separate. You have got to keep us in the tent. We have got to be in there with you.

  • Jeffrey Brown:

    Kramer dealt with illness for much of his adult life. He was infected with HIV and, separately, liver disease. A novelist, a nonfiction writer as well, at his death, he was working on a new play centered on the current pandemic.

    Larry Kramer was 84 years old.

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