Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 10, 2021

U.S. will buy 500 million vaccine doses to share worldwide, developer cancels controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, and more

1

U.S. to buy 500 million Pfizer vaccine doses to donate worldwide

The Biden administration plans to purchase 500 million doses of Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine to send to other countries through the World Health Organization's Covax initiative, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday, citing three people familiar with the plans. The U.S. would send the first 200 million doses this year, and the rest in the first half of next year. President Biden reportedly plans to announce the initiative later this week at the Group of Seven meeting in the U.K. The effort would mark a dramatic increase after Biden's previous commitment to send 80 million COVID-19 vaccine doses overseas by the end of June. Biden had faced pressure from some congressional Democrats and health advocates to share more.

Editor's note: This item originally contained a typo in its headline regarding the number of Pfizer doses being purchased. It has since been corrected. We regret the error. 

2

Developer drops plan for Keystone XL pipeline

Keystone XL pipeline developer TC Energy announced Wednesday that it was scrapping the controversial project, which was intended to carry oil from Canadian tar sands to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. The Canadian company's decision to bail out came after the Biden administration revoked the Keystone XL permit in January. TC Energy said it would coordinate with regulators, stakeholders, and Indigenous groups to safely unwind the project. Biden pulled the permit on his first day in office, and TC Energy warned at the time that the decision would "directly lead to the layoff of thousands of union workers." Environmentalists applauded the decision, and called for ending other fossil-fuel projects.

3

Bipartisan House members unveil infrastructure plan

After talks between President Biden and Republican senators collapsed, a group of bipartisan House members on Wednesday unveiled a $1.25 trillion infrastructure plan with $762 billion in new spending. The so-called Problem Solvers Caucus, which has 29 Democrats and 29 Republicans, proposed funding for highways, waterways, broadband, airports, and veterans' housing, going beyond what Republican senators had said they would accept and getting closer to the funding level that Biden wanted. The caucus leaders said they had been in touch with a group of centrist senators who were discussing their own plans. But liberal Democrats said it was time to work on passing an infrastructure package without Republican support, if necessary.

4

Biden replaces Trump-era order on TikTok ban

President Biden on Wednesday rescinded an executive order issued by his predecessor, Donald Trump, that sought to ban the popular Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat apps. Biden is replacing the Trump-era order with one demanding a broader review of apps that are controlled by foreign companies and could pose a potential security risk. Administration officials said on a call with reporters that Trump's order wasn't executed "in the soundest fashion," and Biden's replacement would spell out "clear intelligible criteria" for assessing any national security threats posed by software linked to foreign governments. Trump's administration tried to ban TikTok and force its owner, China's ByteDance, to sell the short-video sharing app, but the app remains available and the case is tied up in court. 

5

Moscow court calls Navalny opposition networks 'extremist'

A Moscow court on Wednesday ruled that jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny's political and anti-corruption networks are "extremist" organizations. The decision could serve as a devastating blow that will force the Kremlin's main critics underground. The ruling puts Navalny's followers in the same category as the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and the Taliban. Navalny's allies now could be jailed for six years if they continue their operations. Ivan Zhdanov, director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, told independent Russian news outlet TV Rain that "Navalny's team will not stop its activities," so the Kremlin "shouldn't hope for that." Navalny last year survived poisoning with a lethal nerve agent, which he blamed on Russian agents. He was arrested on political charges after returning from treatment in Germany, and is serving a more than two-year prison sentence.

6

Biden starts Europe trip with call for mending ties with allies

President Biden arrived in Europe on Wednesday at the start of his first overseas trip since taking office. He told American troops in the U.K. that the future of the world would hinge on restoring America's frayed ties with its European allies. He said his week-long diplomatic push, which includes a weekend Group of Seven summit, was "essential" to that effort. He vowed to stand up to adversaries, including China and Russia, and to tell Russian President Vladimir Putin "what I want him to know" when the two meet for a summit next week. "I believe we're in an inflection point in world history," Biden said, "a moment where it falls to us to prove that democracies not just endure, but they will excel as we rise to seize enormous opportunities in the new age."

7

Watchdog says police didn't clear park for Trump

The Interior Department's inspector general said in a new report that police forced protesters out of a park next to the White House in June 2020 so a contractor could install "antiscale" security fencing, not so then-President Donald Trump could walk to a nearby church for a staged photo, holding up a Bible. The report said the U.S. Park Police had failed to warn the crowd of racial justice protesters loudly enough for all to hear. The protests started around Lafayette Park on May 29 last year, after the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by Minneapolis police officers. The demonstrations continued for days, and on June 1 police began pushing protesters out of the park. The park was cleared at 6:50 p.m., and Trump walked out of the White House toward St. John's Church 11 minutes later. A half hour after that, a contractor started installing the new fence.

8

Texas bar investigates state AG's lawsuit to overturn Biden's win

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) is facing a disciplinary investigation by the Texas bar association, The Associated Press reported Wednesday. The State Bar of Texas initially declined to examine the complaint, which was filed by a Democratic activist who said Paxton had committed professional misconduct by petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn President Biden's election victory in four swing states. But the Board of Disciplinary Appeals, a tribunal of 12 independent lawyers appointed by the Texas Supreme Court, overturned that decision late last month, ordering the bar to investigate whether Paxton's lawsuit to overturn Biden's electoral win was frivolous, unethical, and filed in bad faith, the AP reported. Paxton's office did not respond to the AP's request for comment.

9

Myanmar military government charges Suu Kyi with corruption

Myanmar's military junta has charged deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, with corruption, state media reported Thursday. The new charge came after an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission, which said Suu Kyi "misused her authority" in connection with the rental of land and a building for the headquarters of the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, where she was chairperson. The commission also said she "illegally accepted" $600,000 in cash while in office, an allegation stemming from a March complaint registered by a former Yangon regional minister. Suu Kyi has faced a series of legal cases since the military coup that ousted the civilian government in February. If found guilty of corruption she could face a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

10

Indian state finds thousands of unreported coronavirus deaths

The Indian state of Bihar sharply raised its official COVID-19 death toll to more than 9,429 from about 5,424 on Wednesday after finding unreported May cases, boosting suspicion that India's national coronavirus cases and fatalities have been undercounted significantly. Indian hospitals ran out of beds and oxygen during the country's devastating second wave of infections in April and May. Many sick people were turned away, some dying waiting outside hospitals, or at home. Doctors and health experts say many of those deaths were not added to official tallies of the pandemic's toll. India already has the world's second highest COVID-19 toll, after the United States. India's health ministry has recorded 29.2 million infections and 359,676 deaths.

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