10 things you need to know today: June 19, 2021
U.S. bishops vote to advance guidance on Biden-centric Communion rules, Pence heckled and called a 'traitor' at conservative conference, and more
U.S. bishops vote to advance guidance on Biden-centric Communion rules
Catholic bishops on Friday voted to advance draft guidance that would question whether Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, including President Biden, are eligible to receive Communion. The motion passed on the third day of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by a count of 168-55. The bishops' Committee on Doctrine will now begin writing the full text, which will require support from two-thirds of U.S. bishops, as well as the Vatican's approval. The Vatican is opposed to the document, fearing that it would politicize Communion. While Biden isn't technically being specifically targeted by the bishops, the debate came into focus during his presidential campaign and after his election victory. "We've never had a situation like this where the executive is a Catholic president opposed to the teaching of the Church," Bishop Liam Cary of the Diocese of Baker in Oregon said.
Pence heckled and called a 'traitor' at conservative conference
Former Vice President Pence delivered a speech at a Faith & Freedom Coalition summit Friday, but during his remarks, members of the audience could be heard shouting and accusing him of being a "traitor." He continued speaking over the hecklers, who were eventually drowned out by applause from other attendees. Pence drew former President Donald Trump's ire in January for not attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. On the day of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Trump tweeted that Pence "didn't have the courage to do what should have been done" as he oversaw the certification of the election results. The tweet was sent after Pence was rushed off the floor of the Senate, as pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol and chanted, "Hang Mike Pence." There are reports that the Trump-Pence relationship has improved, however.
Hardliner Raisi poised to win Iran's presidency
Ebrahim Raisi, the head of Iran's judiciary, is poised to become the country's next president after taking a commanding lead with 90 percent of the vote counted, Tehran's interior ministry said Saturday. Two rival candidates conceded, and outgoing President Hassan Rouhani congratulated his expected successor on the victory. Raisi, a hardliner favored by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, represents a change from Rouhani, a moderate. The election likely saw the lowest voter turnout in Iran's history since the 1979 revolution, Al Jazeera reports; officials have yet to release figures, but there were fears that less than 50 percent of people went to the polls.
CDC, WHO warn Delta variant becoming dominant strain
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned Friday that the so-called Delta coronavirus variant, first detected in India, will likely soon become the dominant strain in the United States. Meanwhile, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization's chief scientist, said it is also becoming the dominant strain globally. The Delta variant is more transmissible than other variants and there are fears that it can cause more severe COVID-19 infections, as well, though data so far suggest vaccines are effective against it.
U.N. condemns Myanmar junta in non-binding resolution
The United Nations General Assembly on Friday adopted a resolution condemning Myanmar's military junta, which came to power in a February coup. The resolution urges member states to "prevent the flow of arms" into the country, but stops short of calling for an outright global arms embargo, Al Jazeera notes. It also calls on the junta to release political detainees and "stop all violence against peaceful demonstrators" who have taken to the streets every day for months in opposition to the military. Per BBC, the resolution isn't binding, but it is politically significant. Belarus was the only country to vote against it, while 36 others, including Russia and China (the junta's two biggest arms suppliers), abstained.
EU recommends removing travel restrictions for Americans
The European Union on Friday added the United States to a list of countries for which COVID-19 travel restrictions should be gradually lifted, setting the stage for transatlantic travel. All Americans, regardless of their vaccination status, would be free to venture to EU member states for nonessential reasons, like tourism. The EU's recommendation is ultimately just a framework, however, and each member state will still have the final say over their individual policies. "It's up to every country to decide how and when to open the borders," French Embassy spokesman Pascal Confavreux said, per USA Today.
Israel-Palestine vaccine agreement scrapped
The Palestinian Authority on Friday canceled a deal with Israel, under which the latter was to provide the former with 1 million COVID-19 vaccines. But the authority said that the initial batch of about 90,000 doses sent from Israel were too close to their expiration date and there wasn't enough time to administer them. It will now wait for a delivery of 4 million doses directly from Pfizer-BioNTech later in the year. The agreement had stipulated that the authority would have given Israel the same number of doses once that supply arrived.
Report: U.S. scaling down antimissile systems in Middle East
The Biden administration is reducing the number of U.S. antimissile systems in the Middle East as the U.S. continues to shift its attention away from the region, administration officials told The Wall Street Journal. The scale-down includes pulling eight Patriot antimissile batteries from Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, while another system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense will be withdrawn from Saudi Arabia. Jet fighter squadrons in the region will also be reduced, the officials aid. A senior Pentagon official told the Journal that the Middle East equipment removal will result in a more traditional level of defense for the region.
Gulf Coast hit by tropical storm as heat wave continues in Southwest
Tropical Storm Claudette was moving through southeastern Louisiana on Saturday morning. It's bringing heavy rain and high winds, and coastal Mississippi and Alabama, as well as the western Florida Panhandle are at risk of flash floods later in the day, the National Hurricane Center said. By Sunday, Claudette is expected to become post-tropical. Meanwhile, the American Southwest continues to suffer a brutal heatwave, with five states — California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and parts of Colorado — facing temperatures that could rise well above 100 degrees through Saturday before eventually cooling next week, the National Weather Service said. Several cities have already experienced record-breaking temperatures this week.
Clippers stun top-seeded Jazz, advance to Western Conference finals
The Los Angeles Clippers stormed back in the second half of their Game 6 Western Conference semifinal matchup against the top-seeded Utah Jazz to secure a 131-119 win and a series victory. They'll face the Phoenix Suns in the conference finals. Utah was up 22 at halftime, but Los Angeles went on a 41-22 run in the third quarter, and then pulled away in the fourth. Terrance Mann, typically a role player, led the charge with 39 points. The Clippers were in a 2-0 hole to start the series, and lost their superstar forward Kawhi Leonard to a knee injury in Game 4, casting doubt on their chances of advancing before they rallied in the final two games.