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News Briefs: Dems meeting on Biden; GOP to adjust pro-life position; Pandemic cost

Today’s news briefs include Dems meeting about Biden; GOP to adjust pro-life position; Cost of the pandemic; Iran elects “reformer”.

Democrats to meet on Biden’s candidacy

Democrats in Congress are holding critical meetings in Washington on Tuesday over President Joe Biden’s candidacy. Questions have been raised about the 81-year-old’s fitness for office after a debate raised questions about his mental acuity and health. On Monday, a sixth Democratic congressman, Adam Smith, publicly urged Mr Biden to step aside, telling BBC News the party needed a “stronger messenger.” Biden’s live public debate and new comments by foreign leaders about his decline have led to questions about the media shielding Biden’s true condition from the American public for four years.

GOP Platform on abortion changing

Former President Donald Trump is encouraging the GOP to change its party platform on abortion to better reflect a recent Supreme Court ruling. Trump has said publicly that the legality of abortion should rest with the states, something the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with when it overturned Roe. There is disagreement within the pro-life community as to where the battle over abortion should be fought with some calling for a federal ban. Trump insists if the party in power can ban it, the next party in power could then legalize it, thus making it a moot point and he wants the party platform to reflect that position. The Republican convention platform committee reportedly agreed on Monday, voting 84-18 in favor of the proposed abortion plank. “After 51 years, because of us, that power has been given to the states and to a vote of the people,” reads the document in part, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post.

Pandemic cost U.S. 18 trillion

A nonpartisan commission on China and COVID-19 finds that the COVID pandemic caused $18 trillion in economic losses to the U.S. and placed blame for the outbreak on the Chinese government. That figure includes more than $8.6 trillion caused by excess deaths; more than $1.825 trillion in lost income; $6 trillion due to chronic conditions such as “long COVID”; and mental health losses of $1 trillion and educational losses of $435 billion pushed the total above $18 trillion, according to Fox Business. The commission from the Heritage Foundation says the pandemic was “the most disruptive and costly event of the 21st century” and that the worldwide excess deaths from COVID were estimated to be 28 million, according to an analysis by The Economist.

Iran elects “reformist” but change may not come

In Iran, voters have elected Masoud Pezeshkian, a lawmaker long associated with the reformist movement. Pezeshkian, a heart surgeon and longtime lawmaker, has been associated with a movement that aims to change the country’s Shiite theocracy from the inside while seeking better relations with the West, according to the Associated Press. But that doesn’t mean Israel. He stated in an interview with Iranian TV,  he would “try to have friendly relations with all countries except Israel” and promised to continue the work to destroy it.

–Dwight Widaman and wire services

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