News Headlines 7/27/22

BIDEN, CHINA’S XI TO SPEAK THURSDAY: President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping will speak on Thursday, Bloomberg first reported yesterday (July 26th), which will be their first conversation in four months. It has been planned for weeks, but there’s new tension between Washington and Beijing over the possible visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. China has warned it will take, quote, “forceful measures” if Pelosi does vist the self-ruled island that China claims as part of its territory. Although Pelosi hasn’t confirmed plans to visit Taiwan, Biden said last week that U.S. military officials believe it was “not a good idea” for her to go right now. Pelosi would be the highest-ranking U.S. elected official to visit Taiwan since then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1997. The U.S. has long had a “One China” policy that recognizes Beijing as the government of China, but allows informal relations and defense ties with Taiwan.

GARLAND DOESN’T RULE OUT PROSECUTING TRUMP OVER JANUARY 6TH: Attorney General Merrick Garland didn’t rule out prosecuting former President Donald Trump over the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol when asked about it in an NBC News interview yesterday (July 26th). When asked if he had concerns that possibly indicting, quote, “a former president, and perhaps a candidate for president, would arguably tear the country apart,” Garland replied, “We intend to hold everyone, anyone who was criminally responsible for the events surrounding January 6, for any attempt to interfere with the lawful transfer of power from one administration to another, accountable. . . . We don’t pay any attention to other issues with respect to that.”

Rioter Sentence Matches Longest So Far: Meanwhile, a 56-year-old Washington, D.C., man who attacked police officers with poles on January 6th, Mark Ponder, was sentenced yesterday to five years and three months in prison, matching the longest prison term given so far in hundreds of Capitol riot prosecutions. Ponder, who pled guilty to an assault charge in April, said yesterday that he, quote, “got caught up” in the chaos” and “wasn’t thinking that day.” 

BIDEN FINISHES PAXLOVID TREATMENT, WELL ENOUGH TO EXERCISE: President Biden’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’ Connor, said Tuesday (July 26th) that Biden had finished his five-day treatment with Paxlovid for his Covid-19 infection, and stated that he “feels well enough to resume his physical exercise regimen.” O’Connor repeated his statement Monday that Biden’s symptoms had, quote, “almost completely resolved,” with his pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature “absolutely normal.” Biden tested positive for Covid last Thursday.

RUSSIA PULLING OUT OF INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION: Russia will be pulling out of the International Space Station after 2024, its new space chief, Yuri Borisov, announced yesterday (July 26th), saying Russia will focus on building its own space station. The news comes amid high tensions between Russia and the U.S. over the war in Ukraine. NASA and its partners had hoped to continue operating the ISS until 2030, but AP reports that it would be extremely difficult to keep it going without Russia. The 24-year-old space station is jointly run by the U.S., Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson issued a statement saying that the agency was committed to the safe operation of the space station through 2030.

MORE EVIDENCE FROM TWO NEW STUDIES THAT COVID-19 ORIGINATED IN WUHAN MARKET: Two new studies published by the journal, Science, yesterday (July 26th) provide more evidence that Covid-19 originated in a market in Wuhan, China, where live animals were sold, further supporting the theory that the virus emerged from an animal instead of escaping from a Chinese lab. The studies concluded that the virus that causes Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, likely spilled over from animals into people at the market two separate times. Kristian Andersen a professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research and co-author of one of the studies, said, “All this evidence tells us the same thing: It points right to this particular market in the middle of Wuhan.” She added, “I was quite convinced of the lab leak myself until we dove into this very carefully and looked at it much closer.”