10 things you need to know today: June 24, 2021
Senators announce a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure deal, Biden unveils a plan to curb rising gun violence, and more
Senators announce bipartisan infrastructure deal
A bipartisan group of senators said Wednesday they had reached a tentative compromise infrastructure deal ahead of a scheduled meeting with President Biden at the White House. Biden originally asked for a $2.3 trillion infrastructure package, but his latest proposal was for $1.7 trillion. The senators are suggesting a roughly $1 trillion plan that would include road, highway, bridge, and other traditional infrastructure work, including $579 billion in new spending. The group met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to discuss the blueprint. "We're very excited about the prospect of a bipartisan agreement," Pelosi said. Republicans objected to Biden's plan to pay for the legislation by raising corporate taxes, and Biden rejected a GOP proposal to raise gas taxes.
Biden proposes police spending, gun-dealer crackdown to curb violent crime
President Biden on Wednesday announced a multi-point proposal to counter violent crime, which fell in the early months of the pandemic but has risen recently. Biden's plan includes providing more resources to police departments, increasing spending on community violence intervention programs, and cracking down on gun sellers who violate federal laws, such as failing to run background checks. Biden said the federal government was "taking on the bad actors doing bad things to our communities." In a message to "rogue" gun dealers, Biden said: "We'll find you and we will seek your license to sell guns. We'll make sure you can't sell death and mayhem on our streets ... It's an outrage, and we'll end it." Biden also called for expanding summer employment and services, particularly for teens and young adults, and supporting former prisoners re-entering their communities.
Michigan GOP report debunks Trump election fraud claims
Michigan's Republican-led Senate Oversight Committee said in a report released Wednesday that there was "no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud" in the state's 2020 election. The findings rejected allegations by former President Donald Trump and his allies that the state was stolen from him. Still, Michigan Republicans are pushing bills to overhaul the state's election laws with such changes as requiring voters to submit IDs or only be allowed to cast provisional ballots, and restricting hours for voters to drop ballots into curbside collection boxes. Republicans say the bills are necessary to protect election integrity. Democrats say the measures are part of a GOP strategy being used in many states to prevent people, particularly voters of color, from voting in the 2022 elections.
Supreme Court rules against school district in free-speech case
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a Pennsylvania school district violated a high school student's constitutional right to free speech by punishing her for a vulgar Snapchat message she sent expressing disappointment about her failure to make the varsity cheerleading squad. The 8-1 decision did not categorically bar administrators from regulating student speech outside school. The justices said school systems needed to be able to step in to prevent bullying and threats, but that courts could limit how administrators can punish speech outside of school. "America's public schools are the nurseries of democracy," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the majority. "Our representative democracy only works if we protect the 'marketplace of ideas.'"
Jan. 6 rioter gets probation after guilty plea
Anna Morgan-Lloyd of Indiana was sentenced to three years of probation on Wednesday, after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of demonstrating inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. This is the first sentencing of a Jan. 6 rioter. After the attack, Lloyd, 49, called Jan. 6 "the most exciting day of my life," but she told U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on Wednesday that she now is "ashamed that it became a savage display of violence." Lloyd said she wanted to support former President Donald Trump "peacefully," not to participate in "something that's so disgraceful to our American people and so disgraceful to our country." Lloyd must also perform 40 hours of community service and pay $500 in restitution. Prosecutors said probation was appropriate because Lloyd was not destructive.
Intelligence agencies warn Afghan government could fall
An intelligence assessment warned that Afghanistan's government could collapse as soon as six months after the U.S. military fully withdraws from the country, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing officials with knowledge of the document. U.S. intelligence agencies previously made more optimistic predictions about Afghanistan's near future, but they revised their analyses after Taliban forces captured several key towns in an offensive in northern Afghanistan last week. In some districts, Afghan security forces surrendered without fighting back, handing over military supplies to insurgents. On Wednesday, Taliban fighters fought government troops in the northern city of Kunduz.
Antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee found dead in Spanish prison
British-born U.S. antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee was found dead in a Spanish prison by apparent suicide on Wednesday, hours after Spain's high court authorized extraditing him to the United States to face tax evasion charges. McAfee was 75. His lawyer, Javier Villalba, said McAfee died by hanging after falling into despair during nine months in prison. Last month, he said in a court hearing that because of his age he would spend the rest of his life behind bars if sent to the U.S. and convicted. "The United States wants to use me as an example," he said. McAfee was indicted on tax evasion charges in Tennessee, and faced a cryptocurrency fraud case in New York.
Delta variant threatens coronavirus surge in poorly vaccinated areas
The Delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly and threatening poorly vaccinated areas with a new surge of infections and hospitalizations, health officials say. Highly vaccinated areas are expected to continue reopening and enjoying more freedom. The highly transmissible Delta variant, which ravaged India and sent cases soaring in the United Kingdom, is putting a strain on hospitals in parts of Missouri, and causing a rise in cases in states like Arkansas, Nevada, and Utah, where less than 50 percent of the eligible population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. "I think a rise in cases is certainly going to happen," said William Hanage, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. What remains unknown, he said, "is how large a rise and how consequential it's going to be."
South Florida beachside condo partially collapses
A section of a beachfront condo building in Surfside, Florida, partially collapsed early Thursday. "Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is on scene, they're conducting rescues as we speak," Surfside Police Sgt. Marian Cruz said. Firefighters used ladders to rescue some people from balconies in the part of the building that was still standing. At least one person, a boy, was pulled from the rubble. The building, which was built in 1981, has more than 80 apartments. It was not clear how many were occupied at the time of the collapse. "The building, one of these huge buildings, gone, right there beside us, the craziest thing I've ever heard in my life," said a witness in a video posted on social media. "Look at the building, it's gone."
Britney Spears calls conservatorship 'abusive'
Britney Spears on Wednesday called for ending her court-ordered conservatorship, telling Judge Brenda Penny that it has been "abusive" and "traumatizing," and deprived her of autonomy over her own body. The 39-year-old singer has been under a conservatorship since 2008, with her father, Jamie Spears, controlling her $60 million estate. The hearing was made public at Britney Spears' request, and she addressed the court by telephone, speaking for about 30 minutes. Spears told the judge she wants the conservatorship to end without having to complete a health evaluation and to "sue my family" over her treatment. "I've told the world that I'm happy — it's a lie," Spears said. "I've been in denial. I'm traumatized. I'm not happy. I can't sleep."