In our news wrap Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned two former New Jersey officials' convictions in the “Bridgegate” scandal, unanimously deciding the scheme did not amount to a federal crime. The officials had helped engineer a huge traffic jam to punish a Democratic mayor for opposing the GOP governor at the time. Also, China denounced U.S. rhetoric about the origins of the coronavirus.
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In the day's other news: The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions of two former New Jersey officials in the so-called Bridgegate scandal. They helped engineer a huge traffic jam to punish a Democratic mayor for opposing then Republican Governor Chris Christie.
The scandal helped to derail Christie's 2016 presidential bid. The high court's unanimous decision said that the scheme did not amount to a federal crime.
China issued a strong rebuke today to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for linking the coronavirus to a lab in the city of Wuhan. Pompeo has said there is — quote — "enormous evidence" to back the claim, but he's also acknowledged there is no certainty.
In Beijing, the Foreign Ministry denounced his rhetoric.
Hua Chunying (through translator):
The reason why he made such self-contradictory comments is because he has been making up lies and covering up a lie by fabricating more lies.
It is very regrettable to see some people in the United States shifting blames around and shirking their responsibilities.
The spokeswoman said that China will work with the World Health Organization to investigate the origin of the pandemic.
In Southern India, an industrial gas leak killed at least 11 people today and left 1,000 gasping for air. The styrene gas left dozens unconscious in the street. It happened as workers readied an LG chemical plant to reopen after a COVID-19 lockdown.
In 1984, a gas leak at a carbon — at a union carbide plant in Bhopal, India, killed at least 4,000 people.
Iraq finally has a new government, ending months of political deadlock. Lawmakers endorsed former spy chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi as prime minister, along with most of his cabinet. That was early today in Baghdad.
Mustafa al-Kadhimi (through translator):
The Iraqi politicians should listen to the voice of our people and youth across the country and to their legitimate demands. This government has come in response to social, economic, and political crises to be a government of solution, not a government of crises.
The previous government lost support after months of protests over a crumbling economy and political corruption.
Back in this country, the U.S. Senate upheld President Trump's veto of a ban on military action against Iran; 49 senators voted to override the veto, but it takes a two-thirds majority. The war powers resolution passed after a U.S. airstrike killed a top Iranian general in January.
Wildfires burning in the Florida Panhandle have forced some 1,600 people to leave their homes. The largest fire started Monday, and has grown 10 times larger, fueled by high wind and low humidity. By today, it had burned 2,000 acres and shut down Interstate 10.
Automakers in the U.S. will not have to recall another 56 million air bag inflators made by Takata. They already recalled 50 million inflators after some sprayed metal shards and killed at least 25 people worldwide. Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that industry research suggests that Takata's newer inflators are safe.
And on Wall Street, investors focused on hopes that job losses may have peaked. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 211 points to close near 23876. The Nasdaq rose 125 points, and the S&P 500 added 32.