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In our news wrap Friday, Pfizer announced that its low-dose COVID vaccine is nearly 91 percent effective in 5- to 11-year-olds. A federal jury in New York has convicted Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, of making illegal campaign contributions. Actor Alec Baldwin expressed shock and sadness after a fatal shooting on a movie set in New Mexico.
President Biden, meanwhile, huddled today with Democratic leaders, trying to wrap up a deal on his Build Back Better agenda. Party moderates and progressives are negotiating the package of social and climate initiatives now worth $2 trillion. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today that a deal is — quote — "very possible."
A federal jury in New York has convicted Lev Parnas, a former associate of Rudy Giuliani, of making illegal campaign contributions. Parnas used money from a Russian tycoon to support Republican groups, including one backing then-President Trump.
Separately, Parnas aided Giuliani's efforts to have Ukraine investigate Hunter Biden during his father's 2020 presidential campaign. Giuliani is still under investigation.
China insisted today there will be no compromise on the status of Taiwan, and it also warned the U.S. to watch what it says. Last night, President Biden said the U.S. is committed to defending Taiwan if the Chinese attack. That seemed to go beyond a longstanding U.S. pledge to help Taiwan defend itself.
The White House quickly said there had been no change in policy.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sounded a similar note today when he spoke after a NATO meeting in Brussels.
Llyod Austin, U.S. Secretary of Defense: Nobody wants to see cross-strait issues come to blows, and certainly not President Biden. And there's no reason that it should. We will continue to help Taiwan with the sorts of capabilities that it needs to defend itself, and so we will stay focused on those things.
Beijing claims Taiwan as part of its territory, and has recently sent record numbers of warplanes into the island's airspace.
China's debt-ridden property developer Evergrande has avoided default for now. The company made an overdue payment today of $83.5 million to bondholders. Evergrande is carrying more than $300 billion in liabilities, and a default could send financial shockwaves across China and beyond.
Environmentalists rallied across several continents today, demanding urgent action climate change. They turned out ahead of the upcoming U.N. climate summit in Scotland. In Germany, thousands of protesters, including hundreds of young people, crowded Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, and they pressed German officials to do more.
Birgit, Berlin Resident (through translator):
I think especially because we are in the process of forming a government in Germany, we really have to send out a signal that the climate targets, which are so urgently needed, will not be softened again. That's what we're afraid of.
Protesters also turned out in Sweden, Uganda, Bangladesh, and India.
Back in this country, actor Alec Baldwin expressed shock and sadness after a fatal incident on a movie set in New Mexico. It happened Thursday outside of Santa Fe, when Baldwin fired a prop gun. The film's cinematographer was killed, and the director was wounded.
Baldwin called it today a tragic accident. And the investigation is continuing.
An audit of Wisconsin's 2020 presidential election results has found no evidence of widespread fraud. The nonpartisan review was commissioned by a state legislative committee. A series of recounts and court rulings has now confirmed that President Biden won Wisconsin by 21,000 votes.
The Justice Department is launching a new effort to stop redlining, the practice of banks refusing loans in minority areas. Attorney General Merrick Garland said the focus will be on mortgage lending and patterns of racist policies. It's the first such crackdown since the Obama administration.
And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 74 points to close at 35677. The Nasdaq fell 125 points. And the S&P 500 slipped five.
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