Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 30, 2021

Supreme Court leaves CDC eviction moratorium in place, House passes bill seeking removal of Confederate statues, and more


Supreme Court leaves CDC eviction moratorium in place

The Supreme Court on Tuesday narrowly rejected an emergency request from a group of landlords to end the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's eviction moratorium, which was imposed to keep people from losing their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic. The moratorium protects people from eviction provided they swear, under penalty of perjury, they have made a good faith effort to pay rent, and would face crowded conditions if forced to leave. The policy is scheduled to continue through July, following a final one-month extension that the Biden administration announced last week to give the government time to prepare for the orderly distribution of rental assistance approved by Congress. The landlords argued that the moratorium amounted to unlawful government overreach.


House passes bill seeking removal of Confederate statues

The House on Tuesday passed a bill seeking the removal of Confederate statues from the Capitol. The legislation also calls for relocating a bust of the Supreme Court chief justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that denied enslaved people the right to become citizens. "This sacred space, this temple of democracy has been defiled for too long," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said before the vote. "It's time to remove those symbols of slavery, segregation, and sedition from these halls." Every Democrat and 67 Republicans supported the measure in the 285-120 vote. To pass in the Senate, the bill needs the support of every Democrat and 10 Republicans. States pick statues to display in the Capitol, but the bill would make them replace statues honoring people who fought or served in governments that rebelled against the United States.


Collapsed Florida condo's president recently warned damage was 'accelerating'

The president of the beachside South Florida condominium tower that collapsed last week had warned residents earlier this year that structural damage to the tower's base was "accelerating" and that the problems "would begin to multiply exponentially" without expensive repairs. The letter from Champlain Towers South Association President Jean Wodnicki was part of an effort to explain to apartment owners why they were being asked to pay for more than $15 million in repairs to the 40-year-old building in Surfside, just north of Miami Beach. Wodnicki wrote that the concrete support system under the building was cracking, which means "the rebar holding it together is rusting and deteriorating beneath the surface." Rescue crews are still searching the rubble for survivors. The death toll has risen to 12 with 149 still missing.


Northwest heat wave pushes inland

The unprecedented heatwave that has hit Seattle, Portland, and other parts of the Pacific Northwest with record high temperatures moved inland on Tuesday, with some spots in eastern Washington state and Oregon enduring temperatures as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Demand for power surged in Spokane, Washington, prompting a utility there to warn customers they would face rolling blackouts. Avista Utilities struggled to keep up as people in the city of 220,000 cranked up air conditioners as the temperature reached 110 degrees, an all-time high. The Seattle Parks Department closed an indoor community pool when the temperature got too high. 


Tigrayan rebels reject Ethiopian government ceasefire

Rebel forces in Ethiopia's Tigray region on Tuesday rejected the central government's declaration of a ceasefire, with Tigrayan fighters retaking the regional capital of Mekelle and celebrating in victory. "We are not party to and will not be part of such a joke," Getachew Reda, spokesman for the Tigray People's Liberation Front, said in reaction to the government's statements, according to CNN. "The capital is firmly in the hands of our forces." The rebels' defiance suggested that violence could continue in the region, which has been the scene of a devastating eight-year civil war. The Ethiopian military has controlled much of the region since November, when it conducted a major offensive with support from Eritrean soldiers and local ethnic militias to remove the TPLF from power.


Kim Jong Un warns North Korea virus prevention failures resulted in 'great crisis'

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned in a Politburo meeting that the isolated communist-run country, already facing food shortages, faced a "great crisis" due to failures in coronavirus prevention, North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency reported Wednesday. Kim lambasted top officials, accusing them of incompetence and passivity in putting anti-virus measures into place. Officially, North Korea has acknowledged no coronavirus infections even though tens of thousands have been tested. The country shares a porous border with China, where the pandemic started, so Kim's comments raised concerns about a mass outbreak in a country with little ability to handle it due to its poor health-care infrastructure.


Lawmakers' security spending jumped after Capitol attack

Members of Congress dramatically increased their security spending in the three months following the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol attack by supporters of former President Donald Trump, Mother Jones reported Tuesday. Spending on personal protection jumped by 176 percent compared to the same period in 2020, the magazine's analysis of campaign finance records showed. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) had never previously spent campaign funds on security, but shelled out $58,000 in protective measures in the first quarter of 2021 after facing the ire of Trump allies for denouncing his bogus election-fraud claims. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who previously said that she didn't know if she "was going to make it to the end of [Jan. 6] alive," allocated $47,000 for security just between the months of January and April — more than she spent all last year. 


Berry defends Olympic trials protest after conservative backlash

Track and field athlete Gwen Berry on Tuesday responded to conservative criticism over her protest during the national anthem at the Olympic trials on Saturday. Berry placed third in the hammer throw to qualify for the Tokyo Summer Games in July. During the medal ceremony, she turned away from the flag to protest against systemic racism and police brutality against Black people. One critic, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), said if Berry was "embarrassed" by America she shouldn't represent it at the Olympics. Berry said critics misrepresented her message. "I never said I hated this country," she said, adding that her critics "rally patriotism over basic morality." White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Berry had the right to "peaceful protest."


Home prices rise at fastest pace yet

U.S. home prices rose in April at their fastest pace ever due to tight supply and throngs of people desperate to buy in the booming housing market, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index released Tuesday. The index measures average home prices in major metropolitan areas, and found that prices jumped by 14.6 percent in the year that ended in April, up from the 13.3 percent rate for the year that ended in March. The April rate was the highest since the index began in 1987. Low mortgage rates are driving strong demand. Many houses listed for sale have been getting multiple offers above the asking price almost instantly as people search for a new place to live, many of them newly able to work remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. The median existing-home sales price jumped by nearly 24 percent in May compared to a year earlier, surpassing $350,000 for the first time. 


Injury forces Serena Williams out of Wimbledon

Tennis legend Serena Williams was forced to drop out of Wimbledon during her first-round match on Tuesday due to leg injury. Williams led 3-1, but slipped twice, leaving her in obvious pain. She was already wearing strapping on her right thigh when the match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus began. "I'm so sad for Serena," Sasnovich said. "She's a great champion. This happens sometimes in tennis." Williams, 39, was going for her eighth Wimbledon singles championship and her 24th grand slam title, which would equal Margaret Court's record. Just Sunday, Williams confirmed that she would not play in the Tokyo Olympics next month. She has won four gold medals.


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