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5 things to know for June 16: Biden trip, election emails, coronavirus, Gaza, UFOs

President Joe Biden arrived in Geneva ahead of lengthy and contentious talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the capstone on a European tour. CNN's Phil Mattingly reports.

Posted: Jun 16, 2021 11:30 PM
Updated: Jun 16, 2021 11:30 PM

The Senate has unanimously passed a resolution establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the US. It needs to pass the House and be signed by President Joe Biden to become law.

Here's what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Biden trip

President Joe Biden is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva today for a much-anticipated summit that caps off Biden's first trip abroad in office. The goal of the meeting is to, in the words of the White House, "restore predictability and stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship." Biden and Putin will discuss future arms control arrangements, the recent ransomware attacks that the US believes have been carried out by criminal groups in Russia, climate change, and the Kremlin-imposed restrictions on the US diplomatic presence in Russia. Biden and his administration are still fully formulating a strategy on how to approach the US' tense relationship with Russia, and over the last few weeks, Biden has sought advice from Russia experts, political advisers, national security aides and even fellow world leaders on how to engage with Putin and reshape relations.

2. Election emails

A previously secret batch of emails was released by the House Oversight Committee yesterday, and the messages shed new light on how former President Donald Trump pressured the Justice Department during his quest to overturn the 2020 election results. The White House and the DOJ aren't supposed to mesh when it comes to investigations and prosecutions, in order to keep politics out of the justice system. But these latest emails show Trump was unrelenting in crossing that invisible line, and that he and his lawyers saw the DOJ as a way to legitimize their false election claims. Also of note: Jeffrey Rosen, acting attorney general in the final days of Trump's presidency, was prepared to resign rather than buy into Trump's claims. Under the Biden Justice Department and Attorney General Merrick Garland, more and more documents concerning Trump's controversies are being released to relevant committees.

3. Coronavirus

The CDC has determined the Delta variant is now a "variant of concern," a designation given to strains of the virus that scientists believe are more transmissible or can cause more severe disease. Currently, the variant, which was first discovered in India, accounts for about 10% of infections in the US, but some experts are worried it could become the dominant strain. (Currently, the dominant strain in the US is a different variant, first discovered in the UK.) It's just another reason vaccinations are important, doctors say. In fact, some pediatricians in the US say they've been vaccinating as many adults as children. It's fairly common and convenient practice, one pediatrician said, to offer vaccines to all family members who come into a pediatrician's office.

4. Gaza

The Israeli military struck targets in Gaza overnight, marking the first airstrikes there since a ceasefire went into effect nearly one month ago after a spate of historic violence. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement that the airstrikes were in response to incendiary balloons launched from Gaza earlier in the day. The IDF says the balloons were launched as a protest to a provocative far-right flag march in Jerusalem during which some extremists chanted "Death to Arabs" and "This is our home." While there hasn't been a retaliation for the airstrikes yet, the situation along the Israel-Gaza border remains extremely tense, and the possibility of an imminent and serious escalation still looms.

5. UFOs

Members of the House Intelligence Committee will receive a classified briefing this morning on UFOs -- or, rather, UAPS (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon). UFOs have been a very controversial topic circling Washington, as military leaders have argued for years over whether to take the sightings seriously. Even as sightings of unexplainable objects rose into the hundreds, Pentagon officials have wrestled with how much time and resources to devote to investigating them. So far, it's been a hard road separating science fiction-level public fascination from real national security implications. In a few weeks, the US intelligence community is scheduled to deliver an unclassified report on the matter for Congress.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

'Beauty and the Beast' musical series in the works at Disney+

It will focus on our favorite egg eatin', expectoratin' villain, Gaston.

Girl Scouts say they have millions of boxes of unsold cookies due to the pandemic

No, you can't purchase them and hoard them like a squirrel. But you can help donate them to first responders and food banks.

A painting by David Bowie purchased for $5 at a Canadian landfill is now selling for thousands

One man's trash is another man's Space Oddity.

A new problem for Peloton owners: Hacks

You know we're living in the future when you have to worry about people hacking your fancy exercise bike.

This swarm of autonomous robots gets smarter the more it works

Interesting technology advancement, or "Westworld" promo?

TODAY'S NUMBER

$2.74 billion

That's how much Mackenzie Scott, philanthropist and former wife of Amazon's Jeff Bezos, is giving away in her most recent round of donations. These latest funds will go toward organizations that focus on the arts and combating racial discrimination. She's donated about $8.5 billion to charity in less than a year.

TODAY'S QUOTE

"There are systematic barriers in housing — and we have a role to play in addressing them."

Heather Higginbottom, president of the JPMorgan Chase Policy Center. The bank is calling for legislative reform to stop racial bias in home appraisal in the US.

TODAY'S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

He's hooked

I came across this video from last year about a young crochet prodigy in Minnesota, and it's just about the most charming thing ever. (Click here to view)

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(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1590342

Reported Deaths: 26979
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook60937610925
DuPage1031521352
Will865801083
Lake764741056
Kane65399842
Winnebago38682543
Madison37731569
St. Clair34758561
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Rock Island17631342
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Kendall15274105
LaSalle14349275
Macon14248233
Vermilion12908182
Adams12589147
DeKalb11542127
Williamson11206156
Whiteside7813176
Boone756681
Jackson756683
Coles7175112
Ogle705385
Grundy693181
Clinton676498
Franklin669694
Knox6528163
Marion6454135
Macoupin636597
Henry610272
Jefferson5981131
Effingham588980
Livingston564394
Woodford549791
Stephenson540089
Randolph522996
Monroe503299
Christian481980
Morgan479995
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Logan473573
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Saline399263
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Fayette387756
McDonough352155
Jersey319753
Douglas303336
Shelby300343
Crawford298930
Lawrence294631
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Wayne267957
White261530
Richland256852
Hancock253434
Pike252256
Cass247728
Clark244138
Bond242224
Clay233347
Ford233056
Edgar229844
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Johnson208922
Washington204927
Jo Daviess203525
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Mason196251
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De Witt192730
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Hamilton127221
Brown10138
Pulaski97311
Schuyler9608
Edwards94815
Stark76027
Gallatin7285
Scott6895
Alexander66411
Calhoun6382
Henderson63114
Hardin55713
Putnam5414
Pope4725
Unassigned1582432
Out of IL80

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 926604

Reported Deaths: 15083
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Marion1262201958
Lake626901087
Allen52772747
Hamilton43283445
St. Joseph41475584
Elkhart33129488
Vanderburgh29927439
Tippecanoe26589247
Johnson23267415
Hendricks21902340
Porter21473341
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Madison17065379
Vigo15815273
Monroe14298190
LaPorte14108237
Delaware13771219
Howard13635262
Kosciusko11232134
Hancock10637160
Warrick10523176
Bartholomew10341167
Floyd10200202
Wayne9690218
Grant8939196
Morgan8734158
Boone8299109
Dubois7596123
Henry7469128
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Noble7294101
Marshall7237128
Cass7097117
Lawrence6862150
Shelby6457107
Jackson643981
Gibson6036106
Harrison595585
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Adams439365
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White386257
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Greene380189
Wells379683
Decatur379595
Fayette367176
Posey354941
Jennings346356
Washington325847
LaGrange315774
Spencer313034
Fountain309753
Randolph305487
Sullivan299447
Owen279161
Starke272761
Orange272659
Fulton268851
Jay250634
Perry247451
Carroll241127
Franklin233637
Vermillion229750
Rush228930
Parke215220
Tipton206754
Pike202538
Blackford165634
Pulaski158751
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Newton140742
Benton139816
Brown132646
Martin126916
Switzerland123510
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