Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 31, 2022

Biden tests positive for COVID again, Zelensky orders evacuation of Donetsk, and more


Biden tests positive for COVID again

President Biden tested positive for COVID on Saturday for the second time in less than 10 days. "This happens with a small minority of folks," the president tweeted Saturday afternoon. "I've got no symptoms but I am going to isolate for the safety of everyone around me. I'm still at work, and will be back on the road soon." Presidential physician Kevin O'Connor explained that Biden's positive antigen test was the result of a rare "rebound" infection that can occur in patients taking the antiviral drug with which Biden was treated.


Zelensky orders evacuation of Donetsk

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday announced a mandatory evacuation order for war-torn Donetsk Oblast. Ukraine's forces are holding the line against the invaders in Donetsk, but Russian artillery strikes on towns and villages behind Ukrainian lines continue to kill civilians and destroy critical infrastructure. "The sooner it is done, the more people leave Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill," Zelensky said, promising material and financial support to evacuees. Zelensky's evacuation order, the largest his government has issued since the beginning of the war, affects hundreds of thousands of people.


Pelosi begins Indo-Pacific tour amid speculation about Taiwan visit

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday began her tour of the Indo-Pacific region, which includes scheduled stops in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan, and has prompted speculation that she could make an unannounced visit to Taiwan. She would be the highest-ranking elected U.S. official to set foot on the island since Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich traveled to Taiwan in 1997. The People's Republic of China, which regards Taiwan as a rebel province, has objected to the visit, with Chinese President Xi Jinping warning President Biden that "those who play with fire will perish by it."


Newsom declares state of emergency as wildfires ravage Siskiyou County

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Saturday declared a state of emergency for Siskiyou County near the Oregon border as wildfires burned tens of thousands of acres and forced nearly 2,000 residents to evacuate. On Saturday afternoon, the area's Klamath National Forest posted on Facebook that "[c]umulus clouds are developing in the fire area, which have potential to exacerbate fire behavior." The county's largest fire — known as the McKinney fire — has burned between 30,000 and 40,000 acres.


Homemade drone explosive injures 6 at Russian fleet HQ in Sevastopol

Six people were injured on Sunday when an explosive device carried by a drone detonated at the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, officials said. The fleet said the explosive device was "low-power" and that the drone carrying it appeared to be homemade. No information was immediately available on where the drone may have been launched from, but given that Sevastopol is located deep within Russian-controlled territory, it is possible that the bombing was carried out by Ukrainian partisan forces.


Iraqi protesters storm and occupy parliament in Baghdad

Hundreds of Iraqi protesters are occupying the country's parliament in Baghdad to disrupt the formation of a pro-Iran government. Demonstrators, urged on by influential Shiite cleric and politician Muqtada al-Sadr, stormed the building on Saturday for the second time in a week and began erecting tents for a long sit-in. At least 60 people sought medical attention after Iraqi security forces used tear gas in an attempt to hold back the surging crowd.


Manchin to appear on all 5 Sunday shows to discuss climate deal

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is scheduled to appear on all five Sunday morning talk shows to discuss his agreement with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to pass the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which contains key aspects of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda. The bill is popular with Manchin's fellow Democrats but not with voters in his conservative home state. Appearing on ABC's This Week, NBC's Meet the Press, CNN's State of the Union, CBS' Face the Nation, and Fox News Sunday in one day is a feat first accomplished in 1998 by Monica Lewinsky lawyer William H. Ginsberg and has been known ever since as the "full Ginsberg."


U.S. facing monkeypox vaccine shortfall

Hundreds of thousands of additional doses of the two-dose Jynneos monkeypox vaccine arrived in the United States last week, but no additional shipments are expected until October. Public health officials have identified a high-risk population of around 1.6 million gay and bisexual men who are being urged to receive the vaccine, but current supplies can only cover about one-third of them. "We're not going to have, until year's end, 2 million doses," said J. Stephen Morrison, the director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. As of Saturday, nearly 5,200 monkeypox cases had been diagnosed nationwide, including over 1,100 in New York City alone.


Ukrainian grain magnate killed in Russian shelling

Ukrainian grain magnate Oleksiy Vadatursky, whose net worth was estimated at $450 million in 2020, was killed Saturday night when a Russian missile struck his home in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv. His wife, Raisa, was also killed. Regional Gov. Vitaliy Kim praised Vadatursky's contributions "to the development of the agricultural and shipbuilding industry" in the region. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described his death as "a great loss for all of Ukraine." Vadatursky, who died at the age of 74, was a co-founder of the agricultural company Nibulon and a recipient of the "Hero of Ukraine" award.


Trump hosts controversial Saudi-backed golf event at Bedminster

Former President Donald Trump's National Golf Club Bedminster hosted an event this weekend for the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour. The tour, which is attempting to break from the PGA's stuffy image and has lured in big names like Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia, drew sparse crowds as well as protests from the families of some 9/11 victims. Most of the terrorists who attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, were Saudi nationals, but the Saudi government has denied any involvement. During Friday's pro-am round, Trump played as part of a fivesome with his son Eric, professionals Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau, and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, who governs Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund.


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