Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 22, 2021

Iran's president-elect backs nuclear talks but won't meet Biden, the Supreme Court backs student-athlete payments, and more


Iran's president-elect supports nuclear talks, won't meet with Biden

Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi said Monday that he would not meet with President Biden, but supported negotiations with world powers to revive the country's 2015 nuclear deal. Raisi said, however, that any agreement must protect Iran's national interests. The deal required Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Raisi, speaking in his first news conference since his win in Friday's election, said Iran would keep its ballistic missile program, and that was "not negotiable." Raisi, a hardline cleric and the country's ultraconservative judiciary chief, is an ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Raisi won in a landslide, but turnout was just 49 percent, the lowest since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. Dissidents and some reformists boycotted over the disqualification of several potentially strong rival candidates.


Supreme Court rules against NCAA on some athlete payments

The Supreme Court on Monday unanimously ruled that the NCAA can't limit payments to athletes related to education, such as computers and paid internships. The case didn't settle the question of whether colleges can pay salaries to student athletes, but it could help determine whether colleges can pay athletes tens of thousands of dollars to cover tutors, study abroad, graduate scholarships, and other education-related expenses. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court that the NCAA's attempts to enforce rules limiting education-related benefits amounted to a bid for "immunity from the normal operation of the antitrust laws," which the court rejected. Under the ruling, the NCAA can't bar Division I basketball and football programs from wooing players with extra education-related benefits, although individual conferences can still set limits. 


Judge rejects claims against Trump, others over clearing of Lafayette Square

A federal judge on Monday dismissed most of the claims in lawsuits accusing the Trump administration of authorizing the use of unnecessary force to clear protesters from Lafayette Square last year so then-President Donald Trump could walk from the White House to a church for a photo op. U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of Washington called allegations by the American Civil Liberties Union, Black Lives Matter, and other plaintiffs too speculative. The Justice Department asked Friedrich to dismiss four lawsuits naming numerous federal officials and agencies as defendants. Friedrich ruled that some of those named in the lawsuits, including then-Attorney General William Barr and then-acting Park Police chief Gregory Monahan, can't be sued for damages because their positions made them immune from civil suits. Friedrich allowed litigation over federal restrictions on free speech to continue.


Appeals court blocks ruling overturning California assault weapons ban

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday issued a stay of Judge Roger T. Benitez's decision to overturn California's ban on assault weapons. Benitez ruled on June 4 that the state's 30-year ban on assault weapons was unconstitutional and "has had no effect" on stopping mass shootings. He also compared the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to a Swiss Army knife, calling it "good for both home and battle." Benitez, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush, gave the state 30 days to appeal, and California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed an appeal days later. After the 9th Circuit put the hold on Benitez's decision, Bonta tweeted, "This leaves our assault weapons laws in effect while appellate proceedings continue. We won't stop defending these life-saving laws." 


Book: Trump proposed sending U.S. overseas coronavirus patients to Guantanamo Bay 

Former President Donald Trump's initial response to the nascent COVID-19 pandemic was to mask the number of cases, leading to an internal White House debate over whether to keep infected people off U.S. soil, according to a new book, Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration's Response to the Pandemic That Changed History, by Washington Post reporters Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta. Trump berated public health officials for trying to roll out a national testing strategy, the Post reports, citing an advance copy of the book, and he searched for ways to treat Americans infected with the virus overseas somewhere other than the U.S. mainland. "Don't we have an island that we own?" Trump asked advisers in the Situation Room in February 2020, Abutaleb and Paletta report. "What about Guantanamo?" He reportedly added, "We are not going to import a virus."


Tornado injures at least 5 in Chicago suburb

A tornado damaged more than 100 homes in a Chicago suburb, local officials said Monday. At least five people were injured, one critically, and hospitalized in Naperville, city spokeswoman Linda LaCloche said. Sixteen homes were deemed "uninhabitable." The tornado also knocked down trees and power lines, cutting electricity in some neighborhoods. "We're lucky that it wasn't worse," LaCloche said Monday morning. Matt Friedlein, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Illinois, said investigators were working on determining how powerful the tornado was, and what track it followed. "If there were no fatalities — and there haven't been any reported to us — that's great news considering the population of the area" and the fact that the twister hit after 11 p.m., when many people were sleeping, he said.


Volunteer stabbed while canvassing for NYC mayoral candidate

An attacker stabbed one of New York City mayoral hopeful Eric Adams' campaign volunteers while he was canvassing on Sunday, police and Adams said Monday. The assailant "stabbed the male victim several times with a knife and fled the scene, accompanied by another male," the NYPD said in a statement. Adams said the volunteer underwent surgery. "We pray for him," Adams added. "This violence must stop." The candidate, a former police captain, said the victim had been "working hard" and "volunteering every day." Sunday was the last day of early voting in the mayoral race. Election Day is Tuesday. Adams took a narrow polling lead in a crowded field in the final stretch. He ran with a focus on his law enforcement background. 


Netflix signs Spielberg to multi-year deal

Steven Spielberg, the filmmaker whose blockbusters include Jaws, E.T., and Saving Private Ryan, has reached a deal to make movies for Netflix. The multi-year agreement marks a huge victory for the streaming giant in its effort to boost its already prolific content production as it battles with Walt Disney Co., Amazon, and other rivals. Netflix is the most popular streaming service worldwide by far, but several competitors have made gains recently with new streaming services and content production deals. Disney has won over millions of viewers with its Disney+ streaming service, and Amazon has acquired the MGM movie and TV studio in an $8.5 billion deal. The new HBO Max streaming service has boosted its content, as has Comcast's Peacock.


Medicaid enrollment rose to record high during pandemic

Medicaid enrollment increased by 9.7 million during the coronavirus pandemic to an all-time high of nearly 74 million, according to new federal figures released Monday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Some of the people who signed up from February 2020 to January 2021 did so because they lost work, income, and health benefits. Others benefited from a rule change that expanded eligibility under the first coronavirus relief package Congress approved last year. The surge pushed enrollment in Medicaid, which covers low-income Americans, past that of Medicare, which covers nearly 63 million older Americans. "We've really seen how important Medicaid is to ensuring the overall health of our country and have seen this through the pandemic," said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, who became CMS administrator late last month.


Nassib becomes 1st active NFL player to come out as gay

Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib on Monday became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. "I've been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest," Nassib, 28, said. He added that he is a "pretty private person, so I hope you guys know that I'm really not doing this for attention. I just think that representation and visibility are so important." Nassib said he was trying to help "cultivate a culture that's accepting, that's compassionate." He said he would donate $100,000 to the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth. The Raiders tweeted a longer message about Nassib's coming out with the caption, "Proud of you, Carl."


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