In response to attacks on protesters, President Joe Biden hit Cuba with a new round of sanctions. China has rejected a plan to study the origins of COVID-19. And the director of the opening ceremonies at the Olympics has been fired.
👋 Hello! It's Laura, and I've got all the news you need to know Thursday.
But first, can y'all put them back where you found them? 🦠 Scientists looked into some ice samples that froze at least 14,400 years ago and found a bunch of ancient viruses – most of them unlike anything ever seen before.
Biden: Let Cubans protest
President Joe Biden announced new sanctions Thursday targeting a top Cuban military official and a unit of the government's repressive state security apparatus, which he said was responsible for the brutal crackdown of protests across the island this month. "This is just the beginning – the United States will continue to sanction individuals responsible for oppression of the Cuban people," Biden said in a statement Thursday. The White House used a federal human rights law to sanction Alvaro Lopez Miera, the minister of Cuba's Revolutionary Armed Forces, and a special brigade in the government's intelligence ministry. Thousands of Cubans took to the streets July 11 to protest food and medicine shortages, power outages and spiraling prices, prompting the largest protests seen on the communist island in three decades. The protesters faced arrest and violence as a result.
Cuba sent doctors abroad amid pandemic. Now, its own COVID-19 surge has sparked protests.
'We are fed up': Thousands of demonstrators throughout Cuba protest shortages, rising prices.
Pipe bomb components found in home of Capitol riot suspect
Federal prosecutors, who are urging a judge to revoke the pretrial release of a former Virginia police officer charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, filed additional evidence Thursday that components of a pipe bomb were found at his home. Thomas Robertson, a former police sergeant, is charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct in the attack on the Capitol. Federal prosecutors filed the information after police searching his home related to the online purchase of "an arsenal of 34 firearms" found a loaded M4 rifle and partially assembled pipe bomb. Robertson had been ordered not to possess a firearm, destructive device or other dangerous weapons.
What everyone's talking about
Got the sniffles? Summer colds are rushing back. Here's how to tell whether it's COVID-19.
At 98 and facing cancer, Bob Dole reckons with Trump's legacy and ponders the future of the GOP.
Prince George turns 8: See the sweet new photo of the future king.
'I'm a big boy and I like it': Dax Shepard using 'heavy testosterone injections' to bulk up.
The Stones are ready to roll again. The Rolling Stones hit the road in September on a stadium tour.
'Donda' drop incoming: Kanye West reveals release date, previews new song in ad with Sha'Carri Richardson.
China: Another study? No thanks.
The World Health Organization wants to revisit labs and markets in Wuhan, but China isn't having it. On Thursday, China rejected the WHO's plan for the second phase of a study into the origins of COVID-19, dismissing as scientifically unsupported a theory that the virus might have leaked from a Chinese lab. An earlier investigation including the WHO and China found it "extremely unlikely" that the virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology lab. Last week, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus unveiled a plan to revisit labs and markets in Wuhan, where the first cases were identified. But China rejected the plan.
Lambda variant of COVID-19 identified at Texas hospital. Is it worse than delta?
Wildfire crosses state lines
All across the country, there's a lot of smoke in the air. And in the West, there's a lot of fire. A large wildfire in Northern California spread into Nevada, leading to new evacuations, while crews battling the nation's largest fire in Oregon were aided by better weather. More than 1,200 firefighters battled the Tamarack Fire near Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada on Thursday. The fire has burned more than 68 square miles of national forest. Almost 80 large wildfires are burning across the country, including 19 in Montana. Smoke and other particulate matter from the fires traveled downwind, producing hazy skies and reducing air quality – in some cases thousands of miles away. Smoke was forecast to be thickest across the Carolinas, the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, the Great Lakes and the Upper Midwest on Thursday.
PG&E plans to bury 10,000 miles of power lines in California wildfire prevention effort.
Check those muffins! Walmart, Sam's Club, 7-Eleven sold muffins now being recalled for possible listeria contamination.
Internet outage shuts down travel, banking sites, PlayStation Network, among others.
Live Nation offers $20 'all-in' tickets to Jonas Brothers, Lil Baby, more concerts.
A man with COVID-19 disguised himself as his wife to board a flight.
Woman found dead, 3 missing after Colorado flooding and mudslides.
Opinion: Mr. Deion Sanders' SWAC Media Day walkout was a marketing ploy, and a good one.
Olympics director fired for Holocaust joke
The director of the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics was dismissed after organizers learned that he made light of the Holocaust in a comedy routine. The firing of the director, comedian and theater director Kentaro Kobayashi, comes a little more than 24 hours before the scheduled start of the ceremony Friday. Kobayashi said in a statement released by Tokyo 2020 that he remembered making the joke in question in 1998 and regretted it shortly thereafter.
📊 Tokyo is seeing a surge of COVID-19 cases, and the government has declared a state of emergency for the duration of the Olympics. The 1,979 new cases reported in the city Thursday marked the highest one-day total since Jan. 15.
The Olympics opening ceremony is tomorrow! Here's when to watch and what to expect.
Czech team flight being investigated after cluster of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo.
Simone Biles does new vault, surprising even some of her team.
Olympian Lauren Regula left 'bawling' after opening gift from her kids.
Text with us at the Olympics! 📲: Click here to subscribe to our Olympic texts, where a team of our journalists on the ground in Japan will bring you exclusive access to all things Olympics.
A break from the news
📲 Can cellphones cause cancer? 5 steps to minimize the risk.
💰 Social Security covers only 40% of retirement. Here's how you can make up the difference.
🎒 15 must-have school supplies your kids need, for every grade.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden sanctions Cuba, Capitol riot, Olympics opening ceremony director, wildfires spread. It's Thursday's news.