10 things you need to know today: June 9, 2021
Harris and Mexican president pledge more economic cooperation, Biden ends infrastructure negotiations with no deal, and more
Harris and Mexico's president vow to increase economic cooperation
Vice President Kamala Harris discussed economic cooperation, the pandemic, migration, and border security with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Tuesday as she wrapped up her first foreign trip since taking office in January. Harris said she and López Obrador had "very directed candid conversations." Symone Sanders, a top adviser and Harris spokeswoman, said in a statement that the two leaders "agreed to increase cooperation to further secure our borders and ensure orderly immigration." She said the Biden administration planned to step up economic cooperation by issuing loans for affordable housing, infrastructure, and cacao and coffee cultivation. Harris and López Obrador signed an agreement committing the neighboring countries to curbing migration to the U.S. by addressing its root causes in Central America, including poverty, persecution, and corruption.
Biden ends infrastructure negotiations with GOP senators
President Biden on Tuesday ended his infrastructure negotiations with a small group of Republicans. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden was disappointed that the Republicans' $928 billion proposal only included $330 billion in new spending, while he reduced his initial $2.3 trillion proposal to about $1 trillion in new spending. Lead GOP negotiator Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) put the blame on Biden for not accepting Republicans' "very robust and targeted infrastructure package." Biden pivoted to reaching out to three fence-sitting senators — centrist Democrats Kyrsten Sinema (R-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) — seeking a coalition to pass a compromise. Several other senators, including Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) worked on an alternative plan aimed at winning over moderates.
Senate report describes failure to heed warning of Capitol attack
The Senate released a bipartisan report on Tuesday detailing ways in which intelligence agencies failed to provide sufficient warning of threats by pro-Trump extremists to "storm the Capitol" ahead of the deadly Jan. 6 attack on Congress. An FBI memo warned the day before the insurrection that militant supporters of then-President Donald Trump were traveling to Washington, D.C., to wage "war." One online post said, "Bring guns." Another said if lawmakers didn't take action to overturn Trump's election loss to President Biden, "we enter the Capitol as the Third Continental Congress and certify the Trump Electors." Capitol Police intelligence officials did not get word of the threats to top law enforcement officials, according to the first congressional report on the riot. "The attack was quite frankly planned in plain sight," said Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), chair of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.
Internal glitch at cloud-services provider causes website outages
A major technical glitch at cloud-services provider Fastly Inc. knocked dozens of U.S. and European websites — including The New York Times, CNN, and Twitch — offline for about an hour on Tuesday. The U.K. government's main public-services portal also was affected. "We're remediating as we speak," Fastly CEO Joshua Bixby said during the outage, adding that the company was investigating what went wrong. Fastly's stock dropped by as much as 5.5 percent but recovered after the company fixed the problem. Fastly stores content from client websites on servers closer to their users, cutting the time for data to reach them. This makes websites load faster, and improves video streaming. "The incident highlights the reliance of many of the world's biggest websites on content delivery networks such as Fastly," said Toby Stephenson, chief technology officer of British IT services company Neuways Ltd.
Report: Bezos, Musk among billionaires who paid no income tax some years
Some of the world's richest people — including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, and billionaire investors Carl Icahn and George Soros — paid no federal income taxes in some recent years, according to a ProPublica report published Tuesday. Bezos didn't pay any federal income taxes in 2007 and 2011, before the Amazon founder became the world's richest person but after he became a multibillionaire. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the second-richest person in the world, paid none in 2018. Bloomberg, former New York mayor and business publishing tycoon, managed it, too, recently, and Soros did the same thing three straight years, ProPublica reported, citing Internal Revenue Service data covering 15 years of returns for thousands of the wealthiest American taxpayers. IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said the agency was investigating the release of the information.
CDC eases travel warnings on dozens of countries
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tuesday that it had eased travel warnings on more than 110 countries and territories in a significant rollback of COVID-19 precautions. The CDC lowered 61 countries from its highest rating, Level 4, from advising against travel to recommending it for fully vaccinated people. Countries dropped to Level 3 included France, Ecuador, the Philippines, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Honduras, Hungary and Italy. Fifty other countries and territories were moved to Level 2 or Level 1. Those added to the lowest COVID-19 risk level were Singapore, Israel, South Korea, Iceland, Belize, and Albania. The State Department said it had updated its recommendations to reflect the changes, easing its travel ratings on 85 countries and territories, including Japan, which is preparing to host the Summer Olympics.
2 arrested after man slaps French President Emmanuel Macron
French authorities arrested two men on Tuesday after one of them slapped the country's president, Emmanuel Macron, after he jogged up to shake hands with people gathered behind a barricade in the town of Tain-l'Heritage in southern France. A video of the event shows the first person Macron greets grabbing the president's arm with his left hand, then slapping him in the face with his right. The young man can be heard shouting "down with Macronism" before security personnel subdue him and Macron is whisked away. The two men arrested, both in their 20s, were linked to the working-class yellow vest movement that staged protests against Macron's government in 2018 and 2019. Former President Francois Holland condemned the attack, saying it gave "an unbearable, intolerable blow to our institutions."
Pharmacist sentenced to 3 years for destroying coronavirus vaccine doses
A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced Wisconsin pharmacist Steven Brandenburg to three years in prison for destroying 500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Brandenburg in January reached a deal to plead guilty to attempting to tamper with consumer products with reckless disregard. Administrators at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Wisconsin, fired him in December, saying he had admitted to intentionally removing the vaccine from refrigeration. In court Tuesday, he said he was "desperately sorry and ashamed." Brandenburg took the doses of Moderna vaccine out of refrigeration on two successive overnight shifts, then returned them, causing 57 people to be injected with potentially spoiled vaccine. Local police said Brandenburg was an "admitted conspiracy theorist" who said he "believed that COVID-19 vaccine was not safe for people and could harm them and change their DNA."
Senate passes bill aiming to boost U.S. competitiveness with China
The Senate on Tuesday passed a $250 billion bill seeking funding for scientific research, and subsidies for chipmakers and robot makers, to counter China's economic and military expansion and bolster the United States' competitiveness in technology. The 68-32 vote marked a rare moment of bipartisan agreement in a Senate increasingly divided along partisan lines. The legislation calls for committing billions of dollars to research, and providing more than $50 billion to U.S. manufacturers of tiny computer chips needed for everything from consumer products to military devices, but that many companies now get from China. The bill still must pass the House, which is expected to consider it in coming weeks.
Biden to meet with allies, Putin on 1st overseas trip
President Biden is set to leave Wednesday on his first overseas trip since taking office in a bid to reassert U.S. global leadership. Biden's eight-day trip will include a meeting with Group of Seven leaders this weekend to discuss ways to cooperate on coronavirus vaccine sharing. Biden will aim to reassure European partners about U.S. leadership following former President Donald Trump's isolationism, and the importance of democracy to counter rising authoritarianism. "The trip, at its core, will advance the fundamental thrust of Joe Biden's foreign policy," said National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, "to rally the world's democracies to tackle the great challenges of our time." Biden's trip will end with a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.