10 things you need to know today: June 19, 2023

Blinken meets with Xi in sign the U.S. and China are eager to ease tensions, thousands line up to see Emancipation Proclamation to mark Juneteenth, and more

Crowds line up to see Emancipation Proclamation for Juneteenth
(Image credit: Minh Connors / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

1. Blinken meets with Xi in push to ease U.S.-China tensions

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday at the end of a two-day trip to Beijing intended to reduce tensions between the world's two largest economies. The success of Blinken's visit hinges on his talks with Xi. Blinken is the highest-level U.S. official to travel to China since President Biden took office. Blinken talked earlier in the day with China's top foreign policy official, Wang Yi, who said both countries have a duty to the world to keep their relations from getting worse. U.S. officials said the two top diplomats had a "candid and productive discussion," and Blinken emphasized the need to maintain "open channels of communication to ensure competition does not veer into conflict."

The Associated Press The New York Times

2. Thousands line up to see historic documents on Juneteenth

Thousands of people marked Juneteenth by lining up to see the rarely exhibited Emancipation Proclamation and General Order No. 3. Now a federal holiday, Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865 when the order was read in Galveston, Texas, to inform enslaved people there they had been freed under the Emancipation Proclamation, issued two years earlier during the Civil War. The documents are so fragile they are normally kept in a high-security, climate-controlled vault, but to celebrate Juneteenth, the National Archives is displaying the original documents for three days. Juneteenth has been commemorated since long before it was declared a national holiday in 2021, and Americans around the country celebrated the day marking the end of slavery with cookouts, parades, and other events.

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The Washington Post The Associated Press

3. Ukraine recaptures another village as intense counteroffensive continues

Russian and Ukrainian forces continued to take heavy casualties on Sunday, with Moscow saying fighting continued on three sections of the front line in Ukraine. "The enemy's 'wave-like' offensives yielded results, despite enormous losses," a Russian-installed official said. Ukraine reportedly recaptured Piatykhatky, a village in the southern Zaporizhzhia region. Ukraine last week said it had taken back nearby Lobkove, as well as several other villages to the east in Donetsk region. British officials said Ukraine was making "small advances" in the areas seeing the most intense fighting, including south-eastern Zaporizhzhia province, around Bakhmut, and eastern Donetsk province. "Our troops are on the move: position by position, step by step, we are going forward," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Reuters The Guardian

4. Heatwave fuels deadly weather across South, Texas

The National Weather Service said a "blistering" heatwave that has killed at least five people and cut power to hundreds of thousands could continue to trigger excessive heat warnings and advisories in Texas and across the Southern U.S. into Monday. The extreme heatwave has driven violent weather from Texas to Louisiana. Tornado watches were issued overnight in parts of Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi that are collectively home to four million people. The storms caused power outages affecting more than 220,000 people in Oklahoma, 95,000 in Texas, and 88,000 in Louisiana as of early Monday.


5. Shooting at Chicago-area block party leaves 1 dead, 20 injured

Gunfire broke out Sunday during a Juneteenth celebration in the Chicago suburb of Willowbrook, killing at least one person and injuring at least 20 others, authorities said. Kembley Carlton, who lives in a nearby apartment complex, said there had been a block party in the area over the past few nights. She said she heard gunshots several times in the strip mall parking lot where the shooting occurred during the gatherings, but saw no police response. Carlton said her 23-year-old daughter was at the scene of the shooting and scraped her arm when she fell running home. Several of her friends had similar injuries. "It was just a mess," she said. "We saw all these people running."

Chicago Tribune Chicago Sun-Times

6. Report: Russia tried to assassinate CIA informant on U.S. soil

Russia tried unsuccessfully to assassinate a CIA informant in Miami — a former high-ranking Russian intelligence official named Aleksandr Poteyev — in a brazen operation that "spiraled into tit-for-tat retaliation by the United States and Russia," The New York Times reported Monday. The incident signaled that Russian President Vladimir Putin is willing to expand his targeting of his enemies onto U.S. soil. "The red lines are long gone for Putin," former CIA officer Marc Polymeropoulos told the Times. "He wants all these guys dead." The foiled assassination attempt is revealed in the British edition of the book "Spies: The Epic Intelligence War Between East and West" by Harvard national security and intelligence scholar Calder Walton, scheduled to be published June 29.

The New York Times

7. Germany rejects Mali request to withdraw peacekeepers immediately

Germany on Sunday rejected a request from Mali's military junta for the United Nations peacekeeping force to leave the country "without delay," calling the push politically motivated. Berlin said it would stick to previous plans for an orderly withdrawal of its forces by May 2024. Mali's interim military authorities on Friday called for the early withdrawal, citing what they described as a "crisis of confidence" between Malian authorities and the decade-old U.N. mission. Berlin has 1,000 troops in Mali, mainly collecting reconnaissance for the 13,000-strong mission, known as MINUSMA. The U.N. Security Council deployed the peacekeepers in 2013 to support efforts to restore stability after a 2012 uprising that launched an Islamist insurgency.


8. Homeless numbers rise after pandemic-era assistance ends

The number of homeless people has risen on streets and in shelters across the country this year as housing costs rise and temporary pandemic-era assistance ends, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing data from cities nationwide. The Journal examined data from 150 groups that count homeless people in cities and, in some cases, entire states, and found that homeless populations increased in early 2023 compared to 2022 in more than 100 places, including Chicago, Miami, Boston, and Phoenix, with the two largest cities, New York and Los Angeles, yet to report. The Community Shelter Board in the Columbus, Ohio, area reported a 22 percent increase.

The Wall Street Journal

9. Wyndham Clark wins U.S. Open, his 1st major championship

Wyndham Clark held off Rory McIlroy to win golf's U.S. Open on Sunday at Los Angeles Country Club. Clark, 29, took his first major championship and finished a stroke ahead of McIlroy and five ahead of Rickie Fowler. Clark made bogey on holes No. 15 and No. 16, trimming a three-stroke lead over McIlroy to just one stroke. But he held on with pars on the final two holes, finishing the final round with an even-par 70 and staying just ahead of McIlroy. "Obviously I put my own pressure on myself, but yeah, I guess it's nice being the underdog," Clark said. He turned pro in 2017 and had finished no better than 75th in his previous six major championships.

USA Today

10. 'The Flash' has disappointing open, but beats out Pixar's 'Elemental'

"The Flash" grossed just $55 million domestically in its three-day opening weekend, a disappointing showing that was still good enough to beat out the other new release of the weekend, Pixar's "Elemental." Both films fell short of low expectations in what was once expected to be a blockbuster weekend to help start the summer movie season off strong. The weak openings were particularly disappointing because both films were expensive, costing $200 million to produce and another $100 million to publicize. For comparison, DC's "Black Adam," which was widely considered a failure, opened to $67 million last year. DC Studios co-chief James Gunn called "The Flash" "one of the greatest superhero movies ever made," but crowds gave it a "B" CinemaScore.


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.