In other news of the day: Winds are expected to intensify as firefighters battle the growing wildfire outside Flagstaff, Arizona. The so-called tunnel fire forced more than 2,000 residents to evacuate their homes. So far, the fire has burned more than 20,000 acres. It is an area larger than Manhattan.
The World Health Organization said today that global cases of COVID-19 have fallen by nearly a quarter in the past week. Infections have been declining globally since late March.
We’ll speak with White House COVID Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha after the news recap.
The total number of Americans collecting unemployment benefits has fallen to its lowest level in more than half a century, underscoring the strength of the US labor market. The Labor Department reported that the number of new jobless claims fell slightly last week to 184,000. That’s 2,000 less than the previous week. Those weekly jobless claims have remained below pre-pandemic levels.
The United States Supreme Court today upheld a law that allows Congress to deny disability benefits to residents of Puerto Rico. The court said these supplemental income security payments for the disabled and the elderly may be denied because not all residents of the U.S. territory pay federal taxes. Judge Sonia Sotomayor was the only dissenting voice.
In a separate opinion, the High Court also unanimously sided with a Californian family seeking the return of a Camille Pissarro painting confiscated by the Nazis during the Holocaust. The case was remanded to a Los Angeles court to decide the case based on California law.
A federal judge temporarily blocked Kentucky’s new abortion law that halted the procedure at the state’s two remaining abortion clinics. The measure passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The clinic has sought to overturn the law and ask that it be blocked while the legal challenge is ongoing.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a communications outage after a parachute jump caused panic at the United States Capitol last night. Failure to notify US Capitol police of a plane carrying US Army Golden Knights to the Washington Nationals baseball stadium prompted warnings of a likely threat and a brief evacuation to the complex of the Capitol. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also promised to launch a congressional review.
An explosion at a Shia Muslim mosque in the city of Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan has left at least 11 people dead and 40 injured. The Islamic State, or ISIS, has claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes during the holy month of Ramadan.
A local resident described the devastation he witnessed.
Ghulam Reza, Resident of Mazar-e-Sharif (via translator): The incident at the mosque was heartbreaking. I was at the market and arrived as quickly as I could. Unfortunately, the number of casualties and injuries exceeds our expectations.