10 things you need to know today: June 12, 2021
Biden to push G7 to take stand against China, Putin says there are 'some advantages' to Biden's leadership style, and more
Biden to push G7 to take stand against China
President Biden on Saturday is expected to urge allied leaders to publicly pressure China over its forced labor practices that target Uighur Muslims and other ethnic majorities during the second day of a Group of Seven summit in the United Kingdom. Biden reportedly hopes his efforts will be part of a joint communique released at the end of the summit, but it's unclear if all the European governments involved will be on the same page, The Associated Press notes. Separately, G7 leaders will sign an agreement Saturday geared toward preventing future pandemics. Per The Guardian, it includes steps like reducing the time taken to develop and license vaccines, treatments, and diagnostic tools for future days, as well as a commitment to reinforcing global surveillance networks and genomic sequencing of viruses.
Putin says there are 'some advantages' to Biden's leadership style
In an excerpt from an NBC News interview that aired Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged that relations between Moscow and Washington are at a low point, though he also suggested he believes he can work with President Biden, with whom he'll meet next week in Switzerland. Putin praised Biden's predecessor, former President Donald Trump, in the interview, but said he thinks there could be "some advantages" to Biden's leadership style since "there will not be any impulse-based movements." Biden will seemingly take a no-nonsense approach when he meets with Putin, whom he's described as a "killer" (Putin was evasive about the comment in the NBC interview). On Friday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden is prepared to bring up Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny's imprisonment, which the U.S. opposes, with Putin. The two leaders won't hold a joint press conference after the meeting.
DOJ to probe subpoenas of Democrats under Trump
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz on Friday announced his office will review the department's "use of subpoenas and other legal authorities to obtain communication records of members of Congress and affiliated persons, and the news media" during investigations into leaks of classified information. The step came following a report from The New York Times that the DOJ under former President Donald Trump took the "highly unusual" step of subpoenaing Apple for data from the accounts of House Intelligence Committee Democrats critical of Trump, Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and seized records of "at least a dozen people tied to the committee." The report drew a rebuke from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who on Friday threatened to subpoena former Attorney Generals Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions for testimony, The Washington Post reports.
Garland announces DOJ voting rights enforcement unit expansion
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday pledged to double the size of the Justice Department's voting rights enforcement unit within the next 30 days. He said the additional attorneys will examine both new laws, like those being pushed in several Republican-led states, and existing practices across the United States for possible discrimination against voters of color and other violations of the Voting Rights Act. If necessary, they'll challenge the laws in court and prosecute anyone found to have intimidated or threatened violence against election officials. The unit will also monitor the post-election ballot reviews that former President Donald Trump's supporters are calling for, Garland said.
60 million J&J vaccines to be thrown out
About 60 million doses of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine that were produced at a troubled factory in Baltimore will have to be thrown out, the Food and Drug Administration announced Friday. The FDA determined that the tens of millions of vaccine doses that were produced at the factory, operated by Emergent BioSolutions, were possibly contaminated, The New York Times reports. The FDA will, however, reportedly allow 10 million vaccine doses to still be distributed with warning labels noting that regulators can't guarantee that Emergent "followed good manufacturing practices," the Times reports. It was reported in March that vaccine doses had been spoiled at the plant after workers mistakenly mixed up ingredients. Production at the plant was subsequently paused, and the FDA had been reviewing the situation for weeks.
At least 13 people injured in downtown Austin shooting
At least 13 people were injured early Saturday morning in a shooting in downtown Austin, Texas. Austin Interim Chief of Police Joseph Chacon said at a news briefing Saturday that 10 of the victims were taken to the hospital either by the police department or the Austin-Travis County EMS, while the three others were able to go on their own. Chacon said that two of the people injured are in critical condition. Police reportedly have a very general description of the suspect and believe the incident is isolated to the area, but Chacon said it's unclear if there was any additional public danger because the suspect is not in custody. A motive has yet to be determined. Meanwhile, one person was killed and eight others were injured in a separate shooting in Savannah, Georgia, on Friday night, authorities said.
Prominent Hong Kong activist released from prison
Agnes Chow, a prominent pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong, was released from prison Saturday after she served nearly seven months for her role in the city's 2019 anti-Beijing protests. The 24-year-old Chow did not comment when she was met by a throng of reporters upon her release, but later said her immediate plans are to rest. "The painful half year and 20 days, it's finally over," she wrote in an Instagram post, per Reuters. It's not clear why Chow, who was sentenced to 10 months in prison, was released early. Like her fellow movement leaders, Joshua Wong (who remains in prison) and Nathan Law, Chow has been granted asylum in the United Kingdom.
Alton Sterling's children, Baton Rouge reach settlement
The children of Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2016, reached a $4.5 million settlement with the city Friday. Sterling's children will get $1 million upfront and the rest of the money will be paid in equal installments over the next four years. Lawyers for Sterling's relatives said the settlement would also involve "significant policy changes" for Baton Rouge law enforcement that "focus on de-escalation, providing verbal warnings prior to using deadly force, and prohibiting officers from using chokeholds and firing into vehicles."
Teen who filmed Floyd's killing receives Pulitzer citation
Darnella Frazier, the teenager whose video of George Floyd's killing sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice, has been honored with a special citation from the Pulitzer Prize Board. The board on Friday revealed the 2021 Pulitzer Prize winners and announced that Frazier, who was 17 when she filmed ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck during an arrest while he said he couldn't breathe, would be receiving a special citation for "courageously recording the murder." Additionally, the staff of the Star Tribune won a Pulitzer Prize in breaking news reporting, the board announced, "for its urgent, authoritative, and nuanced coverage" of Floyd's killing "and of the reverberations that followed."
Djokovic outlasts Nadal in French Open semifinal
Novak Djokovic defeated his fellow all-time great Rafael Nadal on Friday in a thrilling 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 French Open semifinal match, preventing his rival, who has been dubbed the "King of Clay," from capturing a 14th title at Roland Garros. The match lasted over four hours. It was only the third loss ever in the French Open for Nadal, and the second to Djokovic who also beat him in 2015. Djokovic will seek his second Paris crown on Sunday against 22-year-old Stefanos Tsitipas. On the women's side, Barbora Krejcikova is currently facing off against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Neither player has reached a Grand Slam final before, so either way, there will be a first-time winner.