10 things you need to know today: June 21, 2023

Hunter Biden reaches plea deal on misdemeanor tax charges, the search for submersible missing during Titanic dive shifts after sounds detected, and more

Hunter Biden
A potential deal with prosecutors would keep Hunter Biden out of prison
(Image credit: Kris Connor / WireImage)

1. Hunter Biden to plead guilty on tax charges

President Biden's son Hunter has agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges in a deal with prosecutors that would keep him out of prison. Hunter Biden, 52, also would avoid prosecution on a charge of illegally possessing a firearm as a drug user, provided he follows prosecutors' conditions. A judge would have to approve the tentative deal. The agreement, if finalized, will end a Justice Department investigation into Hunter Biden, who has acknowledged addiction problems since his brother Beau Biden died in 2015. Republicans are trying to make Hunter Biden's finances and personal life an issue in his father's reelection campaign, and former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the GOP nomination, likened the deal to "a mere traffic ticket."

The Washington Post The Associated Press

2. Search for Titanic submersible shifts after sounds detected

Rescuers have redirected the search for a deep-diving submersible with five people on board after a Canadian surveillance aircraft "detected underwater noises in the search area," the U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday. The vessel vanished on a dive to the Titanic's wreckage in water 12,500 feet deep. Crews are searching an area in the North Atlantic the size of Connecticut. The submersible, the Titan, had about a day of air left. The people on board have been identified as: British billionaire explorer Hamish Harding; British businessman Shahzada Dawood, who is on the Global Advisory Board of Prince's Trust International, King Charles III's charity; Dawood's 19-year-old son, Suleman; French maritime expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet; and Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate Exhibitions, the company running the dive.

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The New York Times BBC News

3. Judge sets August trial date in Trump secret documents case

U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, who is presiding over the Justice Department's criminal case against former president Donald Trump for alleged mishandling of classified documents, said in a court filing Tuesday the trial could start as soon as Aug. 14. Cannon said hearings would be in her Fort Pierce, Florida, courthouse, although the location could change. Cannon told both sides to file any pretrial motions by July 24. The proposed timetable indicated Cannon wants to proceed swiftly, although legal experts say many things could delay it. Trump is accused of illegally resisting returning documents with national security secrets to the federal government. His lawyers could spend months getting security clearance they need to review evidence.

The Washington Post

4. Judge strikes down Arkansas ban on gender-affirming care for minors

A federal judge in Arkansas on Tuesday struck down the state's law prohibiting transition-related medical treatments for transgender minors. The decision could affect similar bans in more than a dozen states. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. wrote that the law violates the First Amendment, and the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment. He also said the state of Arkansas did not sufficiently prove its claims that gender-affirming care, including puberty blockers and hormone therapy, is experimental and has harmful side effects, and that doctors are providing treatment without informed consent or thorough evaluations. Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a Republican, condemned the ruling. State Attorney General Tim Griffin plans to appeal.

NBC News

5. China objects to Biden suggestion Xi is a dictator

China on Wednesday called President Biden's suggestion that Chinese President Xi Jinping is a dictator "extremely absurd and irresponsible." Biden was addressing Xi's strong reaction to the downing of a Chinese spy balloon that went astray while crossing the U.S. earlier this year. "The reason why Xi Jinping got very upset in terms of when I shot that balloon down with two boxcars full of spy equipment in it is he didn't know it was there," Biden said. "That's what's a great embarrassment for dictators, when they didn't know what happened." A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson called Biden's statement "an open political provocation." The clash came a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Xi in a U.S. push to ease U.S.-China tensions.

The Washington Post

6. Andrew Tate charged with human trafficking in Romania

Romanian prosecutors on Tuesday formally charged British American social-media influencer Andrew Tate and his younger brother Tristan Tate with human trafficking and rape, accusing them of forming a criminal gang to lure women to Romania and sexually exploit them. The Tate brothers and two women were arrested in December, and transferred from jail to house arrest in April. Tate, a former kickboxing champion who has attracted a large online following of mostly young men and boys by projecting a hyper-macho image, is accused of luring seven alleged victims to Romania with false promises of love and marriage. Tate denies any wrongdoing.

The Wall Street Journal CNN

7. Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis near West Bank settlement

Two Palestinian gunmen opened fire at a restaurant and gas station near an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, killing four Israelis and wounding four others, one seriously, according to paramedics. The Israeli military blamed "Hamas-affiliated terrorists." An armed civilian shot and killed one of the alleged attackers. The other stole a car and fled, and was killed by soldiers in the town of Tubas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "all options are open" as the government decides how to respond to the "shocking and abhorrent terrorist attack." The killings came after clashes following an Israeli raid that left at least five Palestinians dead.

BBC News

8. Dozens die in riot at Honduras women's prison

At least 41 people died in a riot in a Honduran women's prison, a spokesperson from a public prosecutors' office said Tuesday. Some died from burns, others were shot. Delma Ordonez, president of an association for prisoners' families, told Reuters the violence started with a fight between members of the rival Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, gangs at the Centro Femenino de Adaptacion Social, a 900-person women's prison near the Central American nation's capital, Tegucigalpa. Inmates' relatives gathered outside the prison awaiting news as authorities worked to identify the bodies. Honduras has had several deadly prison incidents in recent years, including a gang fight that left 18 dead in 2019 and a fire that killed more than 350 in 2012.


9. China and Cuba discuss military training facility 100 miles from Florida

China and Cuba are discussing setting up a joint military training facility on the island's northern coast, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. The negotiations are in an advanced stage but not final, but if they go through, China could end up trying to station troops and intelligence operations 100 miles from Florida, current and former U.S. officials told the Journal. The report comes as the Biden administration is pushing to ease tensions with Beijing that have flared over a host of issues, including Taiwan and trade. The administration has urged Cuba not to go through with the project. The Journal reported that the information about the proposed training facility came from highly classified new intelligence that was fragmentary but still convincing.

The Wall Street Journal

10. Report: U.S. charitable giving fell in 2022

Charitable giving fell 3.4% in 2022 to $499.3 billion, marking just the fourth time in four decades the number has declined, according to a Giving USA report released Tuesday. Adjusting for inflation, the drop was 10.5%. The decline came as nonprofits report an increase in demand for services, now that pandemic aid has ended and high inflation is taking a toll on families. Giving USA Foundation Chair Josh Birkholz said the data could have been worse. "I go back and forth on whether it's encouraging or discouraging," Birkholz told The Associated Press. "There was a 20 to 25% decline in the stock market and an 8% inflation rate, but Americans still gave nearly a half trillion dollars."

The Associated Press

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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.