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News Wrap: WHO concerned about COVID-19 vaccines reaching poor countries

In our news wrap Monday, the World Health Organization head asked wealthy countries not to buy up all the COVID vaccines before poor nations get any, President Biden plans to funnel more federal pandemic aid to businesses owned by women and minorities, Virginia lawmakers voted to end capital punishment, and former President Trump lost bid to keep his tax records away from a New York prosecutor.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    In the day's other news: The head of the World Health Organization appealed to wealthy countries not to buy up all the COVID vaccines before poor nations get any.

    He said that funds are available to help needy countries purchase vaccine, but that's not enough.

  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus:

    Even if you have the money, if you cannot use the money to buy vaccines, the money, having the money doesn't mean anything.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that Britain will begin lifting one of Europe's strictest lockdowns. The pandemic has claimed more than 120,000 lives in Britain, more than any other European country.

    President Biden has announced plans to funnel more federal pandemic aid to businesses owned by women and minorities. On Wednesday, a two-week window opens for companies with fewer than 20 employees to apply for loans under the Paycheck Protection Program. They make up a majority of small businesses in the U.S.

    Lawmakers in Virginia voted today to end capital punishment. It marks a historic shift for the commonwealth that has executed nearly 1,400 people since colonial days, more than any other state. Governor Ralph Northam is expected to sign the repeal, making Virginia the 23rd state to abolish the death penalty.

    President Biden's nominee for attorney general, Merrick Garland, promised today to enforce civil rights and fight extremism. He also vowed to reject political interference.

    And at his confirmation hearing, he grew emotional when Senator Cory Booker asked about confronting hate and racism. Garland's own grandparents fled anti-Semitism in Europe.

  • Merrick Garland:

    The country took us in and protected us. And I feel an obligation to the country to pay back. And this is the highest, best use of my own set of skills to pay back.

    And so I want very much to be the kind of attorney general that you're saying I could become.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Garland is a federal appeals judge. President Obama nominated him for the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016, but Senate Republicans refused to consider the nomination.

    Neera Tanden's nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget has run into more trouble. Two moderate Republican senators, Mitt Romney and Susan Collins, announced today that they're opposed. They cited Tanden's scathing criticism of Republicans in the past.

    The White House insisted that the president still supports her.

  • Jen Psaki:

    The president would not have nominated her if he did not think she would be an excellent OMB director. And he nominated her because she is qualified. So, we simply just disagree with whether she is the right person for the job with these senators.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Democrat Joe Manchin also opposes Tanden. That means that she will need at least one Republican vote in the evenly divided Senate. Vice President Harris could then cast the tiebreaking vote for confirmation.

    Former President Trump has lost a long-running fight to keep his tax records away from a New York state prosecutor. The U.S. Supreme Court declined today to halt the handover of the records for a criminal investigation. Mr. Trump charged that the ruling keeps alive a fishing expedition.

    Separately, the Supreme Court refused to revive a defamation lawsuit by porn star Stormy Daniels against the former president. She claimed that he paid her to keep quiet about an affair. And she sued Mr. Trump for dismissing her allegations as — quote — "a total con job."

    On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average edged up 27 points to close at 31521. But the Nasdaq fell 341 points, 2.5 percent, as inflation fears hit tech stocks, while the S&P 500 slipped 30.

    And NASA is out tonight with dramatic footage of the Perseverance rover's arrival on Mars. Cameras aboard the robot craft captured the descent, from the inflation of the parachute to the so-called sky crane lowering the rover to the surface. It's the first time there has been high-quality video of an actual landing on Mars.

    Pretty exciting.

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