(14) updates to this series since Updated
Senate Democrats say they have reached an accord on changes to their marquee economic legislation, clearing the major hurdle to pushing one of President Joe Biden’s leading election-year priorities through the chamber in coming days. Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a centrist who was seen as the pivotal vote, says she is ready to “move forward” on the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York says lawmakers have achieved a compromise that will receive the support of all Democrats in the chamber. His party needs unanimity and Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote to move the measure through the Senate over certain solid opposition from Republicans.
Democrats call it the “Inflation Reduction Act.” Republicans say it's a “tax and spending spree.” And everyone has a study they say proves one or the other. Recent bipartisan action in Congress on matters ranging from producing computer chips to expanding NATO isn’t extending to the latest economic package from Democrats. For President Joe Biden, the $739 billion plan can help lower inflation, cut the budget deficit, address climate change and lower medical bills. That's a message he’s trying to sell amid intense Republican criticism. GOP lawmakers counter that the 15% minimum corporate tax included in the proposal would hit U.S. factories and middle-class workers. They say energy costs will increase, while innovations in health care would decline.
China says it is cutting off dialogue with the U.S. on a range of vital issues from climate change to military relations and anti-narcotics efforts in retaliation for a visit this week to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The measures announced Friday are the latest steps intended to punish Washington for allowing the visit to the island claimed by Beijing as its own territory — to be annexed by force if necessary. China also is firing missiles in military exercises off the coast of the island. U.S.-China expert Bonnie Glaser warns China may be heading toward changing the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, with results that are negative for both Taiwan and the U.S.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says China’s military exercises aimed at Taiwan, including missiles fired into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, represent a “significant escalation” and that he has urged Beijing to back down. China launched the drills following a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan that infuriated Beijing, which claims the self-governed island as its own territory. Blinken told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Cambodia that Pelosi’s visit was peaceful and did not represent a change in American policy toward Taiwan, accusing China of using it as a “pretext to increase provocative military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait.”
A judge in Russia convicted American basketball star Brittney Griner of drug possession and smuggling. She was sentenced to nine years in prison in a politically charged case that could lead to a high-stakes prisoner exchange between Washington and Moscow. Griner showed little emotion to the sentence but her lawyers said later she was "very upset, very stressed." U.S. President Joe Biden denounced as "unacceptable" the verdict and sentence, which came amid soaring tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine. Griner had told the court she had no intention to break the law by bringing vape cartridges with cannabis oil when she flew to Moscow to play basketball in the city of Yekaterinburg.
U.S. employers added an astonishing 528,000 jobs last month despite flashing warning signs of an economic downturn, easing fears of a recession and handing President Joe Biden some good news heading into the midterm elections. Unemployment dropped another notch, from 3.6% to 3.5%, matching the more than 50-year low reached just before the pandemic took hold. The economy has now recovered all 22 million jobs lost in March and April 2020 when COVID-19 slammed the U.S. The red-hot numbers were reported Friday by the Labor Department. Economists had expected only 250,000 new jobs last month, in a drop-off from June’s revised 398,000. Instead, July proved to be the best month since February.
The U.S. has declared a public health emergency to bolster the federal response to the outbreak of monkeypox that already has infected more than 7,100 Americans. The announcement Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services frees up federal funding and resources to fight the virus, which may cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and pimple-like bumps on many parts of the body. Xavier Becerra is the head of HHS. He says the agency is ready to take the U.S. response “to the next level.”
Former television news anchor Kari Lake has won the Republican primary for Arizona governor. Lake walked away from her journalism career and was embraced by Donald Trump and his staunch supporters. Her victory Thursday is a blow to the GOP establishment, which lined up behind lawyer and businesswoman Karrin Taylor Robson. Lake said she would not have certified President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory and put false claims of election fraud at the center of her campaign. Former Vice President Mike Pence, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and others tried to push the GOP to move on from the Trump era of election conspiracies and lies.
Far-right candidate Andy Ogles has won Tennessee’s crowded Republican primary for an open congressional seat in Nashville. The longtime Democratic incumbent, Rep. Jim Cooper, retired after GOP state lawmakers carved the city into three districts, favoring their party for each seat. The Democratic race for governor, meanwhile, remained too early to call Thursday between Nashville physician Jason Martin and Memphis City Councilman JB Smiley Jr. Smiley would be the state’s first Black Democratic nominee for governor if he wins the primary. Republican Gov. Bill Lee will have a strong advantage in November in the state, which has not elected a Democrat to statewide office since 2006.
Authorities in Alabama say a 12-year-old girl who was held captive for a week with the dismembered remains of her mother and brother provided key information that led to the arrest of the woman’s live-in boyfriend. The girl is now safe in the custody of state welfare officials. Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett says she's a hero for both surviving and providing important information that led to the arrest of José Paulino Pascual-Reyes. Pascual-Reyes has been charged with capital murder and kidnapping. Court documents show the girl was taken hostage around the time her mother and brother were killed. She escaped by gnawing through restraints that held her to a bed.
Police in Minnesota confirm three gunshots were fired at the Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis, but say no one appears to have been hurt. Bloomington police say they are searching for two people. Video posted to social media showed what appeared to be a man shouting as he walked near the complex’s Nike store, with three apparent gunshots. A mall spokesman says the mall will reopen Friday with more mall security and police on site. The mall, which opened in 1992, is the largest in the U.S. and is a tourist destination and community gathering spot.
Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former Trump administration spokeswoman who broke from her old boss in 2020, will be the conservative voice on the daytime talk show “The View.” She replaces Meghan McCain, who left last summer after four years on the show and complained afterward about a toxic workplace. “The View” also named another Republican Trump foe and frequent guest on the show, Ana Navarro, as a regular panelist. Although Farah Griffin now regularly speaks out against Donald Trump, some are not willing to accept her because of her service to the administration and are calling online to boycott the show.
The NCAA earned praise last year when it agreed to pay referees at its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments equally. The gesture only cost about $100,000, a tiny fraction of the roughly $900 million networks pay annually to broadcast March Madness. Now, as the NCAA examines various disparities across men’s and women’s sports, pressure is rising to also pay referees equally during the regular season. Two Division I conferences told The Associated Press they plan to equalize pay, and another is considering it. Others are resisting change, even though the impact on their budgets would be negligible.
Josh Jacobs and rookie Zamir White ran well on a rain-soaked field and the Raiders routed Jacksonville 27-11 in the Hall of Fame game Thursday night, spoiling coach Doug Pederson’s first game with the Jaguars. Derek Carr and Davante Adams warmed up but they didn’t get a chance to play their first game together since Fresno State. Carr, the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, and Adams, the All-Pro receiver acquired in blockbuster trade with Green Bay, were among many starters who sat out for both teams. Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence wore a backward cap on the sideline while third-string quarterback Jake Luton was started. The NFL’s first preseason game began 40 minutes late due to severe weather that forced fans to seek shelter.