Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 14, 2022

Biden starts Middle East trip by renewing U.S. commitment to Israel's security, inflation jumps 9.1 percent in June, and more


Biden starts trip by saying U.S. committed to Israel's security 

President Biden, starting a four-day tour of the Middle East, said in Tel Aviv that the United States remains committed to Israel's security. Biden is seeking to bolster Israel's ties with Arab nations and focus on Iran as a common enemy. "We'll continue to advance Israel's integration into the region and the relationship between the US and Israel is deeper and stronger in my view than it's ever been," Biden said. He was received by Israeli President Isaac Herzog and caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid, and opted for fist-bumping rather than shaking hands during a red-carpet welcome, in an expression of concern about rising COVID cases. Biden will visit Saudi Arabia after he leaves Israel.


Inflation jumped to 9.1 percent in June

The U.S. consumer-price index jumped by a more-than-expected 9.1 percent in June, marking an acceleration from the 8.6 percent inflation rate in May, the Labor Department reported on Wednesday. The pace was the fastest since November 1981. Surging prices for gasoline, which increased 11.2 percent from the previous month, helped drive the increase, as did rising rents and food prices. Core prices, which exclude volatile fuel and food prices, jumped by 5.9 percent in June compared to a year earlier, just behind May's 6.0-percent increase. The hot inflation reading supported expectations that the Federal Reserve will make another rare three-quarter percent interest rate increase at its July meeting as it tries to cool the economy and bring down inflation.


Ex-Oath Keeper says U.S. came 'very close' to civil war on Jan. 6

Former Oath Keepers spokesperson Jason Van Tatenhove told CNN on Wednesday that the nation was on the brink of a civil war when a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters attacked the Capitol in a failed attempt to block the certification of Trump's 2020 election loss to President Biden. "We came very, very close to having a civil war kick off on Jan. 6," Van Tatenhove said. He said the members of the Oath Keepers and other far-right extremist groups had a "military mindset" when they went to the Capitol. Van Tatenhove testified Tuesday before the House select committee investigating the insurrection, where he described the the Oath Keepers as a violent militia.


Mary McLeod Bethune becomes 1st Black leader featured in Capitol statuary hall

Officials unveiled a statue of Mary McLeod Bethune at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, making her the first Black American represented in the National Statuary Hall collection. Bethune's statue represents the state of Florida, and replaces one of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith. The change was set up under a state law signed by then-Gov. Rick Scott (R) in 2018. Smith's likeness was removed last year. Bethune, a civil rights activist and presidential adviser, founded the Daytona Literary and Industrial Training School for Negro Girls, which later became Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach. There are statues in other parts of the Capitol honoring other Black Americans, including statues of Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks, and busts of Martin Luther King Jr. and Sojourner Truth.


Euro falls below 1-to-1 exchange rate with U.S. dollar

The euro briefly fell to below parity with the U.S. dollar for the first time since December 2002 on Wednesday, as Russia's invasion in Ukraine, uncertain Russian energy supplies, and rising recession risk increase pressure on Europe's common currency. The last time the euro was at or near a one-to-one exchange rate with the dollar was in the early years of its existence. So far this year, its value has fallen more than 11 percent against the dollar, which has gained against most currencies. In foreign-exchange markets, "1.00 is probably the biggest psychological level around," analysts at the Dutch bank ING said in a note to clients. The euro is shared by 19 European countries.


Ohio man charged with rape of 10-year-old who traveled out of state for abortion

A Columbus, Ohio man was arraigned Wednesday on charges that he impregnated a 10-year-old girl who had to travel from the state to Indiana to get an abortion, fueling debate over abortion bans imposed since the Supreme Court overturned 1973's landmark Roe v. Wade. Gershon Fuentes, 27, was arrested Tuesday. Police say he confessed to raping the child at least twice. Franklin County Children Services alerted police after the child's mother reported the case on June 22, Det. Jeffrey Huhn testified Wednesday morning at Fuentes' arraignment. The girl got a medical abortion in Indiana. Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Cynthia Ebner set Fuentes' bond at $2 million.


3 arrested after mysterious deaths at South African nightclub

South African police have arrested three people in connection with the deaths of 21 teenagers at a popular nightclub, local authorities said Wednesday. The owner of the Enyobeni Tavern and two employees were arrested after the Eastern Cape Liquor Board opened a criminal case against the nightclub for alleged alcohol sales to minors. Police did not release the suspects' names. The liquor board has fined the two employees about $118 and served a summons for the owner's arrest. The employees will have to appear in court along with the owner on Aug. 19 unless they pay the fine. Investigators still don't know what killed the 12 girls and nine boys, who were found dead in the tavern early June 26.


Biden administration warns pharmacies not to refuse to fill abortion-pill prescriptions

Federal officials on Wednesday warned pharmacies that refusing to fill prescriptions for pills that induce an abortion could be a violation of civil rights law. Such drugs are also commonly used to treat conditions like stomach ulcers, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy, the Department of Health and Human Services said in its guidance, and, even in states where medication abortion is now banned or restricted, not dispensing these pills "may be discriminating" on the basis of sex or disability. Experts told The New York Times the administration is reacting to reports that, since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, some women have been unable to fill prescriptions for drugs that can induce abortions but are also used to treat other conditions, including autoimmune disorders and cancer.


Heat wave triggers wave of wildfires in Europe

An unusual heat wave authorities have blamed on climate change is fueling wildfires across parts of Europe. Hundreds of firefighters on Wednesday struggled to contain blazes in Portugal, Spain, Croatia, southern France, and all the way on the other end of the Mediterranean in Turkey. Portugal's Civil Protection commander André Fernandes said multiple fires forced more than 600 people to evacuate their homes. Two people — one civilian and one firefighter — suffered serious injuries and another 120 had to seek medical treatment. Portugal is expected to get temperatures as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday, and 96 percent of the country is in "extreme" or "severe" drought.


Ex-CIA software engineer convicted over massive theft of classified information

Former CIA software engineer Joshua Schulte was convicted Wednesday over the biggest theft of classified information in CIA history. Schulte, who defended himself in his retrial, said in his closing arguments that the agency was embarrassed by WikiLeaks' 2017 release of CIA secrets, and was making him a scapegoat. The so-called Vault 7 leak shed light on alleged CIA hacking of smartphones in overseas spying operations. It also included information on turning televisions connected to the internet into listening devices. Schulte's sentencing date hasn't been set. He still faces trial on charges of possessing and transporting child pornography. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.


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