Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 8, 2022

The Senate passes a sweeping climate and health bill, Ukraine accuses Russia of strikes at nuclear power plant, and more

1

Senate passes sweeping climate, health bill

The Senate on Sunday passed a spending bill that includes an unprecedented $400 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The legislation also includes health provisions, including reduced prescription drug costs for the elderly. It offsets the spending with a new tax on some corporations currently paying nothing to the federal government, and other tax changes. Democrats scaled down the bill from President Biden's $2.2 trillion Build Back Better package after long negotiations with moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and renamed it the Inflation Reduction Act. Democrats pushed it through the Senate with no Republican votes using a process known as reconciliation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House would "move swiftly" to pass the bill.

2

Ukraine accuses Russia of strikes at nuclear power plant

Ukraine on Sunday accused Russian forces of firing rockets at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, intensifying fears of what the United Nations' watchdog warned could become a "nuclear disaster." It was the second straight day of attacks reported at the plant. Rockets launched on Saturday hit a dry storage facility housing 174 casks of spent nuclear fuel, Ukrainian state-run nuclear power company Energoatom said. Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, called the shelling an act of "Russian nuclear terror." Russia blamed Ukrainian forces. The head of the pro-Russian regional administration, Yevgeny Balitsky, said via Telegram that Ukrainian forces had damaged administration buildings in an attack on the storage area.

3

Biden tests negative for COVID, cleared to travel

President Biden has tested negative for COVID-19 for the second time, clearing him to leave isolation, his physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, said Sunday. "He will safely return to public engagement and presidential travel," O'Connor wrote in a letter clearing the change. Biden and first lady Jill Biden are expected to visit Kentucky on Monday to meet with families affected by flooding that has killed at least 37 people in the state. Biden first tested positive for COVID on July 21. He recovered quickly after receiving the Pfizer antiviral drug Paxlovid, then tested positive again from a rebound infection. Biden traveled to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Sunday, his first trip since he got sick.

4

Israel, Palestinian militants put cease-fire into effect

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza reached a cease-fire deal and started observing it late Sunday after three days of violence. Dozens of Palestinians died in the worst fighting between Israel and Gaza militants since an 11-day war last year. Before the cease-fire, Israeli aircraft fired at targets in Gaza and the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad group launched hundreds of rockets into Israel. Officials in Israel blamed misfired rockets for some of the Gaza deaths. Gaza's ruling Hamas group, which battled Israel in last year's brief war, stayed out of the fighting this time, possibly to avoid reprisals, The Associated Press reports. Israel killed two Islamic Jihad commanders, Tayseer Jabari and Khaled Mansour, in airstrikes Friday and Saturday.

5

China extends military drills near Taiwan

China expanded its military drills near Taiwan on Sunday in an ongoing response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's recent visit to the island, which Beijing considers part of its territory. China announced five exclusion zones in the Yellow Sea during exercises scheduled for Aug. 5 to Aug. 15, and four zones in the Bohai Sea for a month of maneuvers starting Monday. Taiwan has never been controlled by China's ruling Communist Party, but Beijing officially seeks "peaceful reunification" and threatens to seize the island by force if it formally declares independence. The White House last week summoned Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang to discuss China's "irresponsible" military actions, which included launching missiles that flew over Taiwan.

6

4th Muslim man killed in Albuquerque, N.M.

President Biden on Sunday expressed sympathy and solidarity with the Muslim community after the killing of a fourth Muslim man in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Three of the men — Aftab Hussein, 41, Muhammad Aafzaal Hussain, 27, and Naeem Hussain, 25 — were shot over six days. Naeem Hussain, a refugee from Pakistan, had just become a U.S. citizen and had attended a funeral at the Islamic Center of New Mexico, as had the other three men. State, local, and federal police are investigating the "strong possibility" the three recent deaths are linked to the murder of a fourth man, 62-year-old Mohammad Ahmadi, in November. "These hateful attacks have no place in America," Biden said via Twitter.

7

4th set of human remains found in Lake Mead

Authorities found a fourth set of human remains at Lake Mead over the weekend as water levels remained at unprecedented lows due to a 22-year drought. Park rangers responded to a call reporting the discovery of the skeletal remains at Swim Beach at Lake Mead National Recreation Area on Saturday, the National Park Service said. The Las Vegas, Nevada, Metropolitan Police Department dive team assisted in the investigation. Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, provides water to 25 million people and millions of acres of farmland across the Southwest. The first skeleton, found in a barrel in May, was likely a gunshot victim killed in the 1970s or '80s. Another set of remains was found six days later. The third set was found at Swim Beach last month.

8

SoftBank reports 2nd quarterly loss

Japanese technology investor SoftBank Group on Monday reported a record $23 billion quarterly net loss fueled by plunging valuations of stocks held by its large Vision Fund unit. Shares of Uber and DoorDash, two U.S. companies SoftBank invested in, dropped more than 40 percent in the second quarter. SoftBank founder and CEO Masayoshi Son has vowed to tighten investing criteria and preserve the company's cash to help it weather the downturn. Son said the company invested in too many tech startups last year as some companies' stocks skyrocketed in the pandemic era. "When we were turning out big profits, I became somewhat delirious, and looking back at myself now, I am quite embarrassed and remorseful," Son said.

9

Mexican, Venezuelan teams help Cuban firefighters battle tank-farm blaze

Special teams from Mexico and Venezuela on Sunday joined Cuban firefighters trying to control a fire that erupted at a big oil tank farm in Matanzas province. The blaze started Friday after lightning struck a storage tank. The flames ignited a second tank on Saturday, triggering explosions. At least one firefighter was killed, and 17 have been reported missing. At least 122 people have been treated for injuries. Five were in critical condition. About 5,000 people have been evacuated, most of them from a neighborhood next to the Matanzas Supertanker Base, which has eight huge storage tanks for oil used to fuel electricity generation. Dense black smoke containing sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and other toxic substances spread west more than 62 miles to Havana, the capital.

10

Ashleigh Buhai holds on to win Women's British Open in playoff

Ashleigh Buhai held on to win her first major LPGA Tour title Sunday at the Women's Open at Muirfield, Scotland. After losing a five-shot lead in the final round, Buhai held on to beat In Gee Chun in a playoff. The South African golfer sealed the victory with a key bunker shot on the fourth playoff hole, leaving her with a short par putt. Chun wound up with a bogey. Buhai, 33, sank her winning putt from less than three feet for the win. "I was surprisingly calm," Buhai said about the clutch bunker shot. "My caddie said to me on the last one, I don't want to brag, but she said 'Show them why you're No. 1 in bunkers this year.' So, you know, she gave me the confidence."

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