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Friday morning news - April 30, 2021

WORLD Radio - Friday morning news - April 30, 2021

Jobless claims, Biden’s family plan, protecting girls sports in West Virginia, menthol cigarette ban, and COVID in India

Darryl Barnes, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, speaks in support of a measure to ban flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, on Feb. 6, 2020 in Annapolis, Md. Brian Witte/Associated Press Photo

KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: U.S. economy shows more signs of strength as Washington debates big spending » The U.S. economy continues to bounce back as more American companies get back to business as usual—or at least closer to it.

The government said Thursday that the economy grew last quarter at a vigorous 6.4 percent annual rate. And new jobless claims fell last week by 13,000 to just over 550,000. That’s the lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

The rebounding economy is the backdrop for a renewed debate over Washington spending.

PELOSI: The bold investments of the American Jobs Plan, the American Families Plan invest in the foundations of our strength.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi echoing the president’s sales pitch one day earlier in front of a joint session of Congress.

Democrats say the government must keep spending big to keep the economy on track.

Republicans say with the economy getting back to its feet, it’s time for the government to get out of the way. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:

MCCONNELL: We heard about the so-called jobs plan packed with punitive tax hikes at exactly the time our nation needs a recovery. Lower wages at the end of the day. Experts say that it would leave American workers with lower wages at the end of the day.

Senate Democrats could pass the proposed $4 trillion dollars in additional spending without any Republican votes using a process called budget reconciliation. They used the same process last month to pass the nearly $2 trillion dollar American Rescue Plan.

U.S. indicts 3 on hate crime charges in death of Ahmaud Arbery » The Justice Department brought federal hate crimes charges this week in the death of a 25-year-old black man in south Georgia. WORLD’s Leigh Jones has more.

LEIGH JONES, REPORTER: The Dept. of Justice has charged three men with hate crimes in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.

Prosecutors charged Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory, as well as William “Roddie” Bryan, with one count of interference with civil rights and attempted kidnapping.

The McMichaels are also charged with using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. The father and son armed themselves, chased, and fatally shot Arbery in February of last year. They claimed he matched the description of a burglary suspect.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation took over the case the next day and swiftly arrested all three men, who remain jailed on state murder charges. They are due back in court next month.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leigh Jones.

U.S. vows again to ban menthol flavor in cigarettes, cigars » The FDA is renewing its push to ban menthol cigarettes.

Acting Administrator Dr. Janet Woodcock said the agency will propose regulations banning the flavor in the coming year.

She said such a ban would help prevent many Americans from ever starting smoking and ...

WOODCOCK: Increase the chances of smoking cessation among current smokers, and address health disparities experienced by communities of color, low-income populations.

The Food and Drug Administration has attempted several times to get rid of menthol but faced political pushback. African American groups have been pushing the agency to try again as they say the mint flavor is especially popular among black smokers.

Thursday’s announcement is the result of a lawsuit filed by anti-smoking and medical groups last summer to force the FDA’s hand.

Any menthol ban will take years to implement and will likely face legal challenges from tobacco companies.

WV gov. signs bill protecting female school athletics » West Virginia's governor signed a bill this week that bars male athletes who identify as female from competing in girls’ and womens’ sports. WORLD’s Anna Johansen Brown reports.

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed the bill into law protecting female sports in middle schools, high schools, and colleges.

The bill narrowly passed the state Senate, which had added the college component. The House of Delegates then overwhelmingly approved it.

Some lawmakers warned against the bill, noting that the NCAA could retaliate and decide not to hold college tournaments in the state.

LGBT activists are currently pressuring the NCAA Board of Governors to refuse to schedule championships in states that limit women’s sports to biologically female athletes.

GOP lawmakers in Florida have just sent a similar bill to the desk of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown.

India sets another global record amid virus surge » India set another global record in new COVID-19 cases Thursday.

The country has set a global record for seven of the past eight days with a rolling average of nearly 350,000 infections.

The Health Ministry also reported more than 3,600 deaths in only 24 hours. But those numbers are likely vastly underreported.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the White House has been in touch with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

SHRINGLA: President Biden spoke to prime minister. He offered extensive assistance.

Beginning today, the United States is sending more than $100 million worth of items, including 1,000 oxygen cylinders, 15 million N95 masks and 1 million rapid COVID-19 tests.

Australia and several European countries have also promised help, and Russia sent two aircraft carrying oxygen machines.

All adults in India are now allowed to register on a government app for vaccinations. But social media were flooded with complaints the app had crashed and that appointments were available.

I’m Kent Covington.

Culture Friday is up next.

And then a special sendoff for one of our own.

This is The World and Everything in It.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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