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5 things to know for June 15: Biden trip, infrastructure, coronavirus, SCOTUS, Hungary

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 participating in the US-EU summit today in Brussels after yesterday’s NATO meeting. Biden and EU leaders will discuss a range of topics aimed at strengthening transatlantic ties, including global health security, global economic recovery, climate crisis solutions, and trade cooperation. Biden will also meet with King Philippe of Belgium and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. During yesterday’s NATO summit, NATO members issued a communiqué highlighting the “threat” presented by Russia and the “challenges” posed by China. They also largely supported the US decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Biden met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan afterward, adding to his long list of one-on-ones with heads of state during this extended international trip. (After today’s meeting with the Belgian King, it’s Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow.)

2. Infrastructure

Momentum is building in the Senate behind a $1.2 trillion infrastructure proposal. After some rocky negotiations last week, new pressure to get a deal done has led some liberal leaders to warm to a possible smaller package with some assurances from more moderate Democrats that an expanded package could be passed later. Republican leaders say there could be enough support from their side to avoid a filibuster attempt. Details of this plan, announced by a bipartisan group of senators last week, are still not publicly known. Meanwhile, it’s no secret that supply chain issues are snarling commerce across the country, and retailers are pleading with the Biden administration to address major logjams at US ports.

3. Coronavirus

Covid-19 infections are on the decline, but vaccination efforts could be a top priority for years to come, experts warn. That’s because the virus mutates over time — we’ve already seen it happen with the several dangerous variants that have emerged. As these variants circle the globe, vaccine rates have to be kept high to prevent more infectious versions from spreading. Right now, rising cases of the Delta variant in the UK have led Prime Minister Boris Johnson to extend long-standing pandemic restrictions. In California, it’s a different story: The state has lifted most of its Covid-19 restrictions as part of a “grand reopening” that will see the end of capacity limits, physical distancing and mask requirements for vaccinated citizens.

4. SCOTUS

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to block a possible Biden Supreme Court pick in election year 2024 if the GOP wins back the Senate next year. McConnell, who made the remarks on a conservative radio show yesterday, didn’t even guarantee he would support a confirmation in 2023. McConnell was the one who blocked then-President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, eight months before the 2016 election. Yet, he supported the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s SCOTUS pick, just days before the 2020 election. This latest vow has set off alarm bells among Democrats, and the issue of a new SCOTUS justice could come in the foreseeable future. Some liberals are urging Justice Stephen Breyer to retire after the current court session.

5. Hungary

Thousands of Hungarians gathered outside parliament in Budapest yesterday to protest against legislation that would ban discussions of homosexuality or gender change in schools. The legislation is part of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s long and controversial anti-LGBTQ agenda. In the past, Orban’s government has redefined marriage in the constitution as the union between one man and one woman, and limited gay adoption. It also outlawed legal status for transgender people. Opposition parties and rights groups have urged parliament not to vote on the new law today. Orban’s policies have deeply divided the central European nation, which could see even more rancor as the country faces new elections in 2022.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Jersey Devil, world’s tallest single-rail coaster, opens at Six Flags Great Adventure

If you ever wanted to blow your fear of heights right out of your system, here’s the opportunity.

New space telescope could spot potentially hazardous asteroids heading for Earth

World’s smallest dinosaur is actually a ‘weird’ prehistoric lizard, scientists say

Team GB unveils 2021 Olympic uniform, inspired by the 1960s

Here’s why you hate the sound of your own voice

TODAY’S NUMBER

125°

That’s the all-time high heat record for the state of Nevada, set in 1994. That and several other heat records could be broken this week as a historic drought and heat wave envelops the western US.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“The participation of some domestic violent extremists (DVE) who are also self-identified QAnon adherents in the violent siege of the US Capitol on 6 January underscores how the current environment likely will continue to act as a catalyst for some to begin accepting the legitimacy of violent action.”

an FBI memo to lawmakers warning that QAnon conspiracy theorists may carry out more acts of violence if they take their actions from online into the real world.

TODAY’S WEATHER

AND FINALLY

Just toss it against a wall and see what sticks 

Watching how food commercials are produced will somehow make you hungry AND make you lose your appetite at the same time. (Click here to view

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