10 things you need to know today: July 12, 2022
Jan. 6 committee hearing to focus on far-right groups, Biden administration says doctors must offer abortion in emergencies, and more
Jan. 6 committee hearing to focus on far-right extremist groups
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack is scheduled to hold its next public hearing on Tuesday to examine ways in which then-President Donald Trump and leading supporters sought help from far-right extremists to pressure lawmakers into overturning Trump's loss to President Biden in the 2020 election. The hearing is expected to focus on efforts to prevent Biden from taking office by blocking the certification of his victory. A committee aide said the hearing will look at the role of right-wing extremist organizations including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers in the Jan. 6 riot, and the impact of Trump's Dec. 19, 2020, tweet telling supporters: "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"
Biden administration says federal law outweighs state abortion bans in emergencies
The Biden administration will require health-care providers to offer abortion services if necessary to save the life of a mother, the Department of Health and Human Services said Monday. The guidance said the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act defines emergency medical conditions under which those involved in the procedure would be protected even in states where abortion is banned. Those conditions include "ectopic pregnancy, complications of pregnancy loss, or emergent hypertensive disorders, such as preeclampsia with severe features," the department said. On Sunday, Biden said he was considering declaring an abortion-related public health emergency in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Judge declines to delay Bannon's contempt trial
A federal judge on Monday refused to delay the criminal contempt trial of Steve Bannon, a one-time strategist and longtime ally of former President Donald Trump. Bannon faces trial next week for defying a subpoena to testify to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack by Trump supporters aiming to block Congress from certifying Trump's election loss to President Biden. Bannon, who helped push Trump's bogus claim that the election was stolen from him, had said he would challenge the subpoena, but his lawyer sent the committee a letter over the weekend notifying that Bannon was willing to cooperate, in a bid to delay the trial. If convicted, he could face up to two years in jail, along with fines.
BA.5 now dominant coronavirus strain across U.S.
The highly infectious BA.5 Omicron subvariant of the coronavirus has become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases are rising, although it is hard for public health authorities to say how many there are because of home-testing not reported to government agencies. But hospitalizations have started rising. About 31,000 are now being treated for the virus in hospitals across the country, up 4.5 percent since a week ago. "Not only is it more infectious, but your prior immunity doesn't count for as much as it used to," said Dr. Bob Wachter, the chair of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
Japan holds private funeral for Abe
Family, friends, and foreign dignitaries gathered Tuesday for a private funeral honoring former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated last week. Crowds lined the streets around Zojoji Temple, and members of the public placed flowers and notes at a memorial outside. Abe was Japan's longest-serving prime minister, serving from 2006 to 2007 and from 2012 to 2020, and he remained influential after he left office. His governing Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner won a landslide victory in Sunday elections for the upper house of Japan's parliament. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stressed the need for unity after Abe's assassination, allegedly by a man using a homemade gun. The killing shocked a nation where gun violence is rare.
Biden hails gun-safety law as a start
President Biden delivered a speech on gun violence Monday, saying mass shootings have turned once safe places in the country into "killing fields." The remarks came as Biden marked Congress' passing of the first major piece of gun-safety legislation in 30 years. Biden called the law "an important start" but said the nation must "galvanize this movement because that's our duty to the people of the nation" after the mass shootings at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store, and an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school. Biden's remarks were interrupted by Manuel Oliver, father of one of the victims in the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. "You have to do more!" Oliver shouted.
HRA Pharma asks FDA to approve birth control pill for over-the-counter use
A Paris-based pharmaceutical company, HRA Pharma, on Monday asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize its birth control pill for over-the-counter purchase, multiple outlets have reported. It's the first such request the FDA has ever received. The company said the timing of its application is unrelated to the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights case. The pill — known as Opill — has not been sold in the U.S. for over a decade, according to The Washington Post. The company's request "sets up a high-stakes decision for health regulators amid legal and political battles over women's reproductive health," The Associated Press reported.
Barr subpoenaed in Dominion's suit against Fox News
Former Attorney General William Barr has been subpoenaed for testimony in Dominion Voting Systems' $1.6 billion 2020 election defamation lawsuit against Fox News. Dominion accuses Fox of pushing false election-fraud stories to boost ratings. "Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process," Dominion said in the complaint. Fox stands by its 2020 election coverage. Dominion filed last week to subpoena Barr, who served as former President Donald Trump's attorney general. Dominion also has called for testimony from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who Trump asked in a controversial phone call to help "find" enough votes to reverse Biden's narrow win in Georgia.
Judge says Lindsey Graham must testify to Georgia special grand jury
A Fulton County, Georgia, judge on Monday ordered Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to testify next month before a special grand jury investigating efforts by former President Donald Trump and allies to reverse Trump's narrow election loss in the state to President Biden. Graham, one of eight people subpoenaed last week, had vowed to challenge the call for his testimony. Fulton County Superior Judge Robert McBurney ruled the senator "is a necessary and material witness" in the investigation into potential criminal interference in the state's 2020 presidential election. The order said the grand jury needs Graham to describe his two phone calls to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, whom Trump had asked to help reverse the election result.
James Webb Space Telescope's 1st full-color image revealed
President Biden on Monday revealed the first full-color photo from the James Webb Space Telescope. "These images are going to remind the world that America can do big things," Biden said. NASA added that the image showed a "slice of the vast universe" roughly the size of a grain of sand held at arm's length by a person on the ground. "You're seeing galaxies that are shining around other galaxies whose light has been bent, and you're seeing just a small, little portion of universe," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. According to the space agency, this is the sharpest infrared image ever produced of the early universe. The telescope can focus sharply enough to capture never-before-seen galaxies and star clusters.