In our news wrap Friday, the Supreme Court dismissed a challenge to President Trump’s plan to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census, the FDA moved to clear a second COVID-19 vaccine, the president takes heat for not addressing a major hack against the U.S., satellite images show fresh construction at a nuclear facility in Iran, and a bomb kills at least 15 children in Afghanistan.
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In the day's other news: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration moved to clear a second COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, this one from Moderna.
Meanwhile, a number of states said that their allotments of Pfizer's already approved vaccine have been cut. The Trump administration says the company is having production problems. Pfizer says that it's waiting for federal instructions on where to ship the doses.
Federal officials closed the Washington Monument today. Several staffers there were exposed to the secretary of the interior, David Bernhardt, who tested positive after leading a private tour of the monument. An Interior Department spokesman said that the site will reopen on Monday.
The U.S. Supreme Court has today dismissed a challenge to President Trump's plan to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census. The court said that it's too soon to rule, because no one knows yet how many people would be excluded or how it might affect the allotment of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The president is taking heat tonight for not addressing a wide-ranging hack of U.S. government computer systems. Russia is widely suspected of carrying out the attacks, but Mr. Trump has so far said nothing publicly. House Democrats were scathing in their criticism today, after a classified briefing.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.:
His complete passivity and disregard for the national security here are astounding, even on Trumpian standards. But, essentially, he seems — to me, it seems like he's unlocked all the doors and thrown open all the windows.
At the White House, spokesman Brian Morgenstern defended the administration's handling of the hack and the president's response.
I wouldn't get into private national security briefings of the president, but I will say he's up to speed, and his team is working very hard on it. If he wants to speak directly, as opposed to through his team, of course, that's the president's prerogative.
Several top Trump advisers have spoken about the hack, but they have declined to blame Russia publicly.
The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is accusing Boeing of improperly coached government pilots in a key test after two deadly crashes of the 737 MAX. Committee Republicans say that Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration were too cozy. They also cite systemic deficiencies in oversight. The 737 MAX resumes flying later this month, after being grounded for 20 months.
New satellite images from Iran show fresh construction at a key nuclear facility. The underground Fordow site is located about 55 miles southwest of Tehran. The photos were obtained by the Associated Press. Iran has steadily resumed nuclear activities since President Trump quit the 2015 nuclear deal.
The United States today barred China's largest maker of computer chips, SMIC, from buying advanced American technology. The U.S. Commerce Department said that the company has close ties to the Chinese military, which the firm denies.
China's Foreign Ministry denounced the move.
Wang Wenbin(through translator):
It is another example of the U.S. using its state power to suppress Chinese companies. Politicizing economic trade and issues violates the principle of market economy and fair competition that the U.S. always flaunts and international trade rules.
Along with SMIC, more than 60 companies, most of them Chinese, were added to the U.S. blacklist today.
In Afghanistan, a bomb rigged to a rickshaw killed at least 15 children today and wounded 20 others, amid a surge of violence. It happened in Ghazni province in the east in an area controlled by the Taliban. The militants said it wasn't a bomb, but a weapon that the children found, and that accidentally went off.
More than 300 Nigerian boys have returned home safely, one week after they were kidnapped by Islamist rebels. The students arrived today in the capital of Katsina state. They had been released late Thursday by the group Boko Haram. The state governor said that no ransom was paid.
Back in this country, New York City investigators say that police used excessive force against racial justice protesters last summer. Today's report finds NYPD Officers were unprepared and undertrained, and that they inflamed tensions. Protests erupted after police killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville.
And on Wall Street, stocks pulled back, waiting for Congress to act on economic stimulus. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 124 points to close at 30179. The Nasdaq fell nine points, and the S&P 500 dropped 13.