Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 28, 2020

Tim O'Donnell
Coronavirus testing.
Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

1.

Global coronavirus cases top 10 million

The number of confirmed global coronavirus cases crossed 10 million on Sunday while deaths approached 500,000. The 10 million figure is roughly double the number of severe flu cases recorded every year, per the World Health Organization. The United States accounts for more than 25 percent of worldwide cases, and several states — including Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Nevada, and Arizona — either broke or matched their previous records for daily confirmed cases Saturday, prompting Vice President Mike Pence to call off campaign events in Arizona and Florida. Washington state, meanwhile, paused the fourth and final phase of re-opening in several counties after registering a new state record of infections over a seven-day stretch. India and Brazil are among other countries battling severe outbreaks. Some nations that had largely stemmed the virus' spread like China, Australia, and New Zealand have seen smaller resurgences. [Reuters, The Wall Street Journal]

2.

1 killed in shooting at Breonna Taylor protest in Louisville

One man was killed and another was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries after a shooting Saturday evening in Louisville, Kentucky. The fatal incident occurred at a park where demonstrators had gathered to protest the death of Breonna Taylor who was shot and killed by police who entered her Louisville home on a no-knock warrant in March. Videos posted online appear to show a man on the edge of the park where Saturday's gathering took place firing more than a dozen shots into the crowd as protesters scrambled to take cover. The police said they are investigating the shooting, but so far there have not been reports of any arrests. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]

3.

Biden criticizes Trump over intelligence report on Russian bounties

Democratic presidential nominee and Former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday criticized President Trump's attitude toward Moscow following a New York Times report that United States intelligence determined a Russian military intelligence unit secretly paid Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan bounties to kill U.S. and coalition troops. The Times reports Trump was briefed on the matter in March, but the White House denied that, though it did not dispute the validity of the intelligence report. Biden blasted Trump for failing to sanction Russia over the report. "His entire presidency has been a gift to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, but this is beyond the pale," Biden said during a virtual town hall event Saturday. Both Russia and the Taliban have denied the American intelligence assessment. [The New York Times, CNBC]

4.

Mississippi lawmakers pass resolution setting up removal of Confederate emblem from flag

Mississippi's state House and Senate on Saturday both approved a resolution to suspend legislative deadlines and introduce a bill to commission the redesign of the state flag, which currently bears the Confederate battle emblem. Debate over the bill is expected Sunday and all signs point to it passing. Mississippi's Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has said he'll sign the bill since the "argument over the 1894 flag has become as divisive as the flag itself." The resolution calls for the immediate removal of the current flag, and a new design will be decided by a public vote in November. If rejected, the commission will try again. The move comes at a time of reappraisal of all kinds of Confederate commemoration throughout the U.S., including statues and buildings bearing Confederate leaders' names. [The Washington Post, NPR]

5.

Hundreds silently protest in Hong Kong as China prepares to pass national security law

As China's National People's Congress Standing Committee began a three-day session in Beijing that is expected to result in the passing of a controversial national security law many fear will severely curb Hong Kong's autonomy, the city's opposition movement took to the streets in protest Sunday. The demonstrations were silent and largely peaceful, although police did arrest more than 50 people — including two district councilors — "for unlawful assembly." Beijing has maintained the new law, a draft of which won't be made public until after it passes, is meant to protect Chinese sovereignty over Hong Kong and will keep things like freedom of speech in tact, but critics are wary and believe the legislation will lead to a crackdown on civil liberties. [The South China Morning Post, Reuters]

6.

2 dead, including gunman, after California Walmart shooting

Two people, including the gunman, were killed and several others were injured in a Saturday shooting at a Walmart distribution center in Red Bluff, California. The shooter, identified as 31-year-old Louis Lane, circled the center's parking lot, crashed into the building, got out, and opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle, Lt. Yvette Borden of the Tehama County Sheriff's Office said. Police officers arrived at the scene and reportedly engaged in a shootout with the suspect, striking him. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The victim, who also died at a hospital, was reportedly a Walmart employee named Martin Haro-Lozano. [CNN, NBC News]

7.

Malawi's opposition candidate wins historic rerun election

Opposition candidate Lazarus Chakwera has been sworn in as Malawi's president after winning an election rerun earlier this week against incumbent Peter Mutharika. Chakwera's victory was declared late Saturday, marking the first time a court-overturned vote in Africa has led to an incumbent's defeat. Mutharika won the initial election in May 2019, which sparked months of protests and a unanimous Supreme Court decision that the results could not stand because of widespread irregularities. Chakwera, who garnered 58 percent of the vote, called the reversal "a win for democracy," while Mutharika said it was the "worst" election in Malawi's history. He alleged his party's monitors were beaten and intimidated during voting Tuesday, but the Malawi Human Rights Campaign said the vote was peaceful and transparent. Chakwera, a former cleric, ran a reform-centric campaign. [BBC, The Associated Press]

8.

FAA, Boeing reportedly to begin 737 MAX certification flight tests

The Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing are launching a three-day certification test campaign for the 737 MAX airplane Monday over Washington state, Reuters reports. The trial flights, which will reportedly include pilots and crew running scripted mid-air scenarios while progressively testing extreme maneuvers, are a big moment for Boeing, which has been under intense scrutiny after two of its 737 MAX planes crashed in 2018 and 2019 in Indonesia and Ethiopia, respectively, killing a combined 346 people following the malfunction of the aircraft's stall-prevention software known as MCAS. The incidents ultimately led to the worldwide grounding of the model in March 2019. During the test, pilots will reportedly intentionally trigger MCAS. Even if all goes well, the FAA reportedly isn't likely to approve the 737 MAX for flight until September. [The Wall Street Journal, Reuters]

9.

Princeton to remove Woodrow Wilson's name from public policy school

Former President Woodrow Wilson's name will be removed from Princeton University's campus, University President Christopher L. Eisgruber said in a letter to the Princeton community Saturday. The decision to remove Wilson's name from the School of Public and International Affairs, as well the residential college, Wilson College, is the result of a Board of Trustees vote. Eisgruber said the board determined "Wilson's racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college" that "must stand firmly against racism in all its forms." The board had considered making the change in 2015, but opted to keep Wilson's namesake since he played a vital role in turning Princeton into a leading research university when he served as the university's president. However, recent nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism propelled the trustees to reconsider, Eisgruber said. [Princeton University, The Week]

10.

Nationals, Yankees reportedly slated to meet on MLB's new Opening Day

While the MLB is still finalizing its regionally-based, 60-game 2020 schedule as the league looks to return to action amid the coronavirus pandemic, the defending World Series champion Washington Nationals are reportedly slated to host the New York Yankees on July 23 to launch the altered season. If all goes according to plan, that would likely mean Washington's ace Max Scherzer would face New York's big free agent addition Gerrit Cole in a star-studded pitching matchup. The Nationals and Yankees were not initially slated to play this year, but the revamped schedule means teams will only play their division rivals as well as the other league's corresponding regional division. In this case, that would be the National League East and the American League East. [The New York Post, ESPN]