10 things you need to know today: July 30, 2022
House passes new assault weapons ban, flooding in eastern Kentucky kills at least 25, and more
House passes new assault weapons ban
The House of Representatives on Friday voted 217-213, largely along party lines, to pass a new assault weapons ban. Five Democrats voted against the bill, while two Republicans voted in favor of it. The legislation would make it illegal to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess semiautomatic assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, though some firearms would be grandfathered in. President Biden urged the Senate to "move quickly to get this bill to my desk," but the ban is unlikely to secure the 60 Senate votes it would need to overcome the filibuster.
Flooding in eastern Kentucky kills at least 25
Heavy rains have caused extensive flooding and mudslides in eastern Kentucky, killing at least 25 people. "In a word, this event is devastating," Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said. "And I do believe it will end up being one of the most significant, deadly floods that we have had in Kentucky in at least a very long time." Rescuers have been using boats and helicopters to help people evacuate their homes, with some residents waiting for them on rooftops. As of Saturday morning, more than 17,000 households were without electricity.
Ukraine and Russia trade blame after explosion kills dozens of Ukrainian POWs
Russia and Ukraine blamed each other on Friday after an explosion at a prison in a Russian-occupied area of Donetsk Oblast killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war. Russia says 40 were killed and 75 wounded, while a spokesman for the Russian-backed separatists put the death toll at 53. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced the attack as a "deliberate war crime," while Ukraine's military accused Russia of targeting prison with its own artillery in order to cover up the mistreatment of Ukrainian POWs. The Russian Ministry of Defense released a statement claiming that the "Kyiv regime had deliberately carried out a bloody provocation" by striking the prison with a U.S.-made HIMARS rocket launcher.
Biden is 'cleaning up' Trump's 'mess,' not 'finishing the wall,' White House spokesperson says
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday that the Biden administration has no intention of finishing former President Donald Trump's border wall. "Why is the Biden administration building a border wall in Arizona?" Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked Jean-Pierre, referring to reports that the White House has directed the Department of Homeland Security to close several gaps in the barrier. "We're not finishing the wall," Jean-Pierre responded. "We are cleaning up the mess the prior administration left behind in their failed attempt to build a wall." When Doocy brought up Biden's campaign pledge that he would not build "another foot of wall," Jean-Pierre reiterated that the administration is "not finishing the wall."
Russia wants to add murderer to prisoner swap for Griner, Whelan
The Russian government has requested that convicted murderer Vadim Krasikov be added to the U.S.-proposed prisoner swap exchanging Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout for detained Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. The Russians apparently shared the request with the U.S. earlier this month. Krasikov is currently in German custody, having murdered a Chechen fighter in Berlin in 2019. U.S. officials have spoken with the Germans about including Krasikov in a trade, per a senior German government source. News of the Krasikov proposal broke Friday, the same day that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he was "open to a call" with Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss swapping Bout for Griner and Whelan.
Trump endorses Tudor Dixon in Michigan gubernatorial race
Former President Donald Trump on Friday announced his endorsement of Tudor Dixon in Michigan's Republican gubernatorial primary. "When I met Tudor Dixon, she was not well known, but I could tell she had something very special — it was a quality that few others have," Trump said in a statement just days before the Aug. 2 primary. Some Michigan Republicans urged Trump not to endorse Dixon, who is backed by the billionaire DeVos family. Former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned from Trump's cabinet after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. One poll conducted before Trump announced his endorsement showed Dixon leading the pack with 28 percent of the vote. 19 percent of voters remained undecided.
Hochul declares state of emergency as monkeypox cases surge
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) on Friday declared a state of emergency as the number of monkeypox cases in the state approached 1,400, with over 1,100 cases in New York City alone. "After reviewing the latest data on the monkeypox outbreak in New York State, I am declaring a State Disaster Emergency to strengthen our aggressive ongoing efforts to confront this outbreak," Hochul said, noting that her state accounts for a quarter of monkeypox cases nationwide. Hochul also announced that the federal government had agreed to send New York an additional 110,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine.
Infowars parent company files for bankruptcy amid Alex Jones damages trial
Free Speech Systems, a media company owned by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and the parent company of Jones' news site Infowars, filed for bankruptcy on Friday, three months after Infowars also filed for bankruptcy. This announcement came in the midst of a defamation damages trial in Texas that could force Jones to pay more than $150 million to a family whose son was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting. Jones claimed that the mass shooting was a hoax designed justify new gun control measures, and families of victims say they have been harassed and threatened as a result. Jones lawyer Andino Reynal said Friday that the bankruptcy declaration would not affect the trial.
Pope Francis hints at retirement
Pope Francis acknowledged Saturday that he is considering retiring, telling reporters that his strained knee ligaments made his recent trip to Canada difficult. "I think at my age and with these limitations, I have to save [my energy] to be able to serve the church, or on the contrary, think about the possibility of stepping aside," he said. The 85-year-old pontiff also told reporters that he hadn't previously considered resigning but that a papal resignation would not be "strange" or a "catastrophe." Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, became the first pope in centuries to resign when he stepped down in 2013 at the age of 85.
Will Smith says he's reached out to Chris Rock after Oscars slap, but he's 'not ready to talk'
Will Smith shared a new apology video on his YouTube channel Friday, four months after slapping comedian Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars over a joke about his wife. "There is no part of me that thinks that was the right way to behave in that moment," Smith said. "There's no part of me that thinks that's the optimal way to handle a feeling of disrespect or insults." Smith once again apologized to the comedian and his family. He also revealed he has reached out to Rock, and "the message that came back is he's not ready to talk." Smith said he told Rock, "I'm here whenever you're ready."