July 29, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent a non-surgical procedure Wednesday at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and is now resting comfortably, the Supreme Court announced in a statement.

The procedure was "minimally invasive" and done to "revise a bile duct stent that was originally place at Sloan Kettering in August 2019," the court said. "According to her doctors, stent revisions are common occurrences and the procedure, performed using endoscopy and medical imaging guidance, was done to minimize the risk of future infection. The justice is resting comfortably and expects to be released from the hospital by the end of the week."


Ginsburg, 87, announced earlier this month that she is battling a recurrence of cancer, and undergoing chemotherapy. Catherine Garcia

12:12 p.m.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is far from satisfied with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) latest response to the sexual harassment allegations against him.

The New York mayor at a press conference Monday discussed Cuomo's Sunday response to a second former aide accusing the governor of sexual harassment. Cuomo said he "never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm" by teasing people "about their personal lives and relationships," and he expressed regret after saying comments he made may have been "misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation." De Blasio, who previously called for an independent investigation into the allegations against Cuomo, slammed this statement.

"That's not an apology," De Blasio said. "He seemed to be saying, 'Oh, I was just kidding around.' You know, sexual harassment is not funny. It's serious. It has to be taken seriously. And he just, clearly, was letting himself off the hook for something that, for the women involved, sounded pretty terrifying."

The mayor added that anyone who "purposely tried to use their power to force woman to have sex with them" should "no longer be in public service." After previously saying that allegedly threatening a lawmaker is "classic Andrew Cuomo," de Blasio also predicted there will be "more and more evidence" of Cuomo's alleged "pattern of abuse" that will come out.

Former Cuomo aide's Charlotte Bennett allegations of sexual harassment came after another aide, Lindsey Boylan, also accused the governor of harassment, alleging he kissed her on the lips without consent and asked her to play strip poker. Cuomo has been facing some calls to resign amid the scandal, and on Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) described the allegations as "serious and credible." Brendan Morrow

11:59 a.m.

As the United States adds another COVID-19 vaccine to its arsenal and ramps up its distribution drive, potentially pushing the country closer toward herd immunity, concerns about vaccine hesitancy among the population remain. But overall, it seems, people are growing increasingly comfortable with getting a shot. Data from the KFF Vaccine Monitor shows 55 percent of Americans have either already received a vaccine dose or plan on getting one as soon as possible, Axios reports. For context, back in December only 34 percent of people said they were prepared for inoculation without hesitation.

The increase there appears to correlate with a decline in the number of people who are in the so-called "wait and see" camp, especially because the number of surefire holdouts has remained steady. And even if folks in the latter group don't ever change their minds, Axios notes, herd immunity is feasible.

Additionally, while much has been made about hesitancy, driven by historical distrust in the U.S. health care system, among communities of color, Black and Latino Americans have rapidly and consistently joined the ranks of people who want a shot, polling conducted by Civiqs between November and February shows, per Axios. Overall, White Americans are now less likely to get vaccinated, and the stance is largely split along party lines. Tim O'Donnell

10:47 a.m.

This week, with 2.8 million doses of the newly-authorized Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in tow, 17.6 million coronavirus vaccine doses in total will be shipped out across the United States, a marked improvement from the 10 million doses the country was averaging just a month ago.

States are also getting those shots into people's arms more quickly now. On both Saturday and Sunday, more than 2.3 million received a vaccine dose, suggesting that at least 3 million people could be getting a shot daily by the end of March, The New York Times reports.

Now, there's cautious optimism among experts that herd immunity could be on the horizon, and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot appears to be a major reason why. Per Vox, if one-third of vaccines are one-shot and the U.S. is administering 3 million doses per day, the U.S. could reach 80 percent immunity by mid-summer.

The Mayo Clinic's Vincent Rajkumar estimates that, at this point, around 140 million people will need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity, a goal he predicts could be achievable within three to four months. Rajkumar said his estimate is likely conservative since the actual number of people who have already been infected is probably much higher than what's been recorded.

There are several caveats, including lingering vaccine hesitancy and uncertainty over variants' ability to resist immunity, but the U.S.'s much-maligned vaccine rollout looks to be on the upswing. Tim O'Donnell

9:18 a.m.

A court found former French President Nicolas Sarkozy guilty of forming a "corruption pact" with his lawyer and a senior magistrate, handing him a three-year prison sentence after the verdict was announced. But Sarkozy, the first president to be sentenced to jail in France's modern history, likely won't spend any time behind bars, The Guardian reports.

Two of the three years are suspended, and Sarkozy will likely be able to serve the one remaining year by wearing an electronic bracelet or in home confinement. Per France 24, that's pretty much par for the course for whenever a French politician is sentenced.

While he'll remain out of prison for now, Sarkozy still faces more legal hurdles. In just over two weeks, he'll again be on trial in relation to allegations that he violated campaign financing rules during his failed 2012 re-election bid, and he's still being investigated for allegedly receiving millions of euros in campaign funds from former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddaffi in 2007. Read more at The Guardian and CNN. Tim O'Donnell

8:41 a.m.

Following his first post-presidency speech, former President Donald Trump described the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the deadly Capitol riot as "beautiful" a "love fest."

Trump spoke with Fox News on Sunday after delivering a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, in which he continued to falsely claim he won the 2020 presidential election. In the Fox interview, Trump was asked if there's anything he would have in retrospect done differently prior to a crowd of his supporters storming the Capitol building on Jan. 6, but the former president instead spoke favorably about the rally he delivered remarks at before the deadly riot.

"That rally was massive," Trump said. "...It was tremendous numbers of people. Not the Capitol, I'm talking about the rally itself. And it was a love fest. It was a beautiful thing."

Trump spoke at a rally in Washington, D.C., on the day Congress was meeting to certify the election results, urging his supporters to march down to the Capitol building and "show strength" before a deadly riot ultimately occurred. The House of Representatives subsequently impeached Trump for "incitement of insurrection" for his actions surrounding the riot, though he was acquitted by the Senate. In reference to the violence that occurred at the Capitol following the rally, Trump told Fox he "hated to see" it.

Trump during his CPAC speech didn't back down from his false claim that the 2020 election was fraudulent, and "Republicans in Washington let out a collective groan," Politico writes, as this "puts them right back in the position of rebuking Trump or looking spineless." Brendan Morrow

1:59 a.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said it is "clear" that Iran was behind an attack in the Gulf of Oman last week that targeted an Israeli-owned cargo ship.

"Iran is the greatest enemy of Israel," Netanyahu told the Israeli public broadcaster Kan. "I am determined to halt it. We are hitting it in the entire region."

An explosion rocked the Helios Ray on Friday, as the cargo ship was on its way to Singapore. No one on the crew was injured in the blast, but U.S. defense officials told The Associated Press the ship did sustain damage above the waterline. The ship was carrying cars, and prior to the explosion had stopped in multiple ports in the Persian Gulf to drop off vehicles. The Helios Ray arrived in Dubai on Sunday for repairs and an inspection, and it remains unclear what caused the blast.

On Sunday night, Syrian state media reported several airstrikes took place near Damascus, with air defense systems intercepting most of the missiles. Israeli media says the airstrikes were against Iranian targets and carried out in response to the ship attack. The Israeli military declined to comment to AP.

Iran has pinned several recent attacks inside the country on Israel, including an explosion last summer at a nuclear facility and the killing of scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the founder of Iran's military nuclear program. Catherine Garcia

1:17 a.m.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) sees a way Republicans can win back the House, Senate, and White House: Ditch former President Donald Trump.

During an appearance Sunday on CNN's State of the Union, Cassidy warned his party that if it does not shift its focus to the issues, GOP candidates will lose in upcoming elections. "Political campaigns are about winning," Cassidy said. "Our agenda does not move forward unless we win. We need a candidate who can not only win himself or herself, but we also have to have someone who lifts all boats. And that's clearly not happened over the last four years."

Cassidy — one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump of inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol — does not think Trump will be the 2024 GOP presidential nominee. He said Republicans need to connect with voters on "those issues that are important to the American people" if they want to win the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential election, not worry about "putting one person on a pedestal and making that one person our focal point. If we idolize one person, we will lose. And that's kind of clear from the last election." Catherine Garcia

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