China halts climate, military ties over Pelosi Taiwan visit; Alex Jones ordered to pay Sandy Hook parents more than $4M | Hot off the Wire podcast

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China says it is canceling or suspending dialogue with the U.S. on a range of issues from climate change to military relations and anti-narcotics efforts in retaliation for a visit this week to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The Kremlin says it’s open to talking about a possible prisoner exchange involving American basketball star Brittney Griner but strongly warned Washington against publicizing the issue. 

The U.S. declared a public health emergency to bolster the federal response to the outbreak of monkeypox that already has infected more than 6,600 Americans. The announcement freed up federal funding and resources to fight the virus which may cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and pimple-like bumps on many parts of the body.

Three more ships carrying thousands of tons of corn have left Ukrainian ports. The movement Friday is the latest sign that a negotiated deal to export grain trapped since Russia invaded Ukraine nearly six months ago is slowly materializing.

Elon Musk accused Twitter of fraud in a countersuit over his aborted $44 billion deal for the social media company, which he said held back necessary information and misled his team about its true user base.

Senate Democrats say they have reached an accord on changes to their marquee economic legislation, clearing the major hurdle to pushing one of President Joe Biden’s leading election-year priorities through the chamber in coming days. Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a centrist who was seen as the pivotal vote, says she is ready to “move forward” on the bill.

Melissa Bank, whose 1999 bestseller “The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing” was a series of interconnected stories widely praised for its wit and precise language and embraced by many young readers has died. She was 61.

A Texas jury has ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay more than $4 million in compensatory damages to the parents of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre over Jones’ repeated public claims that the attack was a hoax.

A Los Angeles judge has ruled that Kevin Spacey and his production companies must pay the makers of “House of Cards” nearly $31 million because of losses brought on by his firing for the sexual harassment of crew members.

In sports, the Pirates sweep the Brewers, Justin Verlander wins his 15th, the Angels poke seven solo homers and Deshaun Watson’s appeal will be heard by the New Jersey Attorney General.

The U.S. declared a public health emergency to bolster the federal response to the outbreak of monkeypox that already has infected more than 6,600 Americans. The announcement frees up federal funding and resources to fight the virus which may cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and pimple-like bumps on many parts of the body.

China says it has conducted “precision missile strikes” in the Taiwan Strait as part of military exercises by its navy, air force and other departments in six zones surrounding the island. Japan says it protested to China after five of the missiles landed inside its Exclusive Economic Zone. The drills were prompted by a visit to the island by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week.

A judge in Russia convicted American basketball star Brittney Griner of drug possession and smuggling. She was sentenced to nine years in prison in a politically charged case that could lead to a high-stakes prisoner exchange between Washington and Moscow.

The federal government has filed civil rights charges against four Louisville police officers over the drug raid that led to the death of Breonna Taylor. She was a Black woman whose fatal shooting in Kentucky helped fuel the racial justice protests that rocked the nation in 2020.

Jurors in the trial of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz have toured the still-bloodstained building where he murdered 17 people four years ago. The 12 jurors and their 10 alternates were bused to Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Thursday along with the judge, prosecutors and Cruz’s attorneys. Cruz wasn’t present.

Toyota’s profit fell nearly 18% from a year earlier in the April-June quarter as a semiconductor shortage that has slammed the industry dented production at Japan’s top automaker. Toyota officials apologized Thursday to customers who have been waiting for their cars after putting in orders.

Robinhood Markets is cutting about 23% of its workforce because fewer users are trading on its app amid the tumult hammering stock and cryptocurrency markets.

More Americans applied for jobless benefits last week as the number of unemployed continues to rise modestly, though the labor market remains one of the strongest parts of the U.S. economy. Applications for jobless aid for the week ending July 30 rose by 6,000 to 260,000 from the previous week’s 254,000, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

Dr. Meredith Grey will be cutting back her workload next season on “Grey’s Anatomy.” Series star Ellen Pompeo is set to appear in eight episodes of the hospital drama, about a third of the usual per-season number.

In a highly unusual move that has rattled Hollywood, Warner Bros. axed the “Batgirl” film planned for HBO Max, opting to shelve the $90 million film as the reorganized studio revamps its approach to streaming and DC Comics films.

A suspect mistakenly released from a Los Angeles County jail where he was being held on suspicion of shooting Lady Gaga’s dog walker and stealing her French bulldogs has been recaptured. The county Sheriff’s Department says James Howard Jackson, 19, was arrested Wednesday nearly five months after he was released from jail while awaiting trial “due to a clerical error.”

Chrissy Teigen and her husband John Legend are expecting another child nearly two years after the couple suffered a pregnancy loss. Teigen made the announcement Wednesday on Instagram where she posted two photos of her baby bump.