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5 things to know for June 21: Gun violence, coronavirus, voting, Russia, Ethiopia

By AJ Willingham, CNN

The heat is finally off for the southwestern US, which will cool down this week after a wave of record-breaking temperatures.

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

(You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Gun violence

Ten mass shootings happened across the nation this weekend, leaving at least seven people dead and more than 40 injured. It was the latest in a streak of violent weekends in America. The weekend before this, there were also 10 mass shootings that left 12 people dead across seven states. (CNN defines a mass shooting as four or more people shot, not including the shooter.) This weekend’s violence included shootings at several parties and celebrations, including in California, Indiana and Colorado. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 293 mass shootings in 2021 so far.

2. Coronavirus

It’s been a little over 500 days since the first coronavirus death was recorded in the US. Though much of the country is heading back to normal, there are still signs of wariness: States with high rates of unvaccinated adults, like Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Wyoming, are at particular risk for the spreading Delta variant. The US also has extended restrictions on nonessential travel to Mexico and Canada. Meanwhile, China has administered more than 1 billion doses in its unparalleled vaccination drive. That accounts for almost 40% of the 2.5 billion shots given globally. In Brazil, a more tragic milestone has emerged. The country surpassed 500,000 coronavirus deaths, and angry citizens are putting the blame squarely on President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic.

3. Voting rights

The Senate is set to vote soon on whether to advance the For The People Act, a sweeping elections overhaul that would, among other things, make Election Day a public holiday, expand early voting and ban partisan gerrymandering. The bill doesn’t have Republican support, but Democratic lawmakers are hoping to come to some sort of compromise. Democrats believe the bill would counteract efforts by Republican-led state legislatures to restrict voting rights. As those efforts unfold, Georgia’s secretary of state announced last week the state is purging more than 100,000 names from voter registration rolls in an attempt to keep the state’s voter files “up to date.”

4. Russia

The Biden administration is preparing to impose more sanctions on Russia over the poisoning of imprisoned opposition leader Alexey Navalny. It’s only been a few days since President Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, when Biden made it clear the US is not happy with the situation regarding the Russian dissident. The Biden administration imposed a round of sanctions in March over Navalny’s poisoning and imprisonment. Those sanctions represented Biden’s first significant move against Moscow. National security adviser Jake Sullivan said yesterday the Biden administration is “not going to pull our punches” with regard to chemical weapons or other issues, like cyberattacks.

5. Ethiopia

Ethiopians are heading to the polls today for the country’s first multiparty election in 16 years. The race to elect a new parliament has been postponed twice due to the pandemic and logistical constraints, and it now comes amid nationwide unrest, famine and a raging humanitarian crisis in the country’s Tigray region. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a recipient of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, is expected to be reelected. But opposition party members have said Abiy’s government has jailed and silenced political rivals and thus eliminated the possibility of free and fair elections. The US State Department said last week it “is gravely concerned about the environment” under which Ethiopia’s elections will be held. Ethiopia is an influential powerhouse in East Africa, with a population of more than 100 million people.

THIS JUST IN …

Tokyo 2020 makes a spectator decision

Olympics organizers announced they will allow spectators at the Games this year amid the pandemic but set a 50% cap at venues, up to a maximum of 10,000 people. Organizers said they could restrict fan attendance further if there were an emergency or a rise in Covid-19 infections.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Happy summer solstice! 

It’s time to break out your flowered headgear and celebrate the seasonal apex.

‘Sesame Street’ introduces family with 2 gay dads during Pride Month

Welcome to the neighborhood, gentlemen!

Usain Bolt and partner Kasi Bennett welcome newborn twin sons, Thunder and Saint Leo

“Thunder Bolt?” Now, that’s a baby-name power move if we’ve ever seen one.

Lo, Amazon Prime Day is upon us 

And that’s a bummer for some sellers who can’t afford to give discounts (or whose wares are caught up in global shipping snarls).

Store offers color-coded bracelets to show social distancing comfort levels

Can this just … be a regular thing? Because I, too, would like a big bag of red bracelets implying “no contact.”

TODAY’S NUMBER

38,680

That’s how many people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020, according to estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s the largest projected number of deaths since 2007, despite a 13.2% decrease in miles traveled from the prior year.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“If you’re not involved, if you are not your best advocate, you’re asking someone else to fill that void.”

Danica Roem, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates and the state’s first lawmaker to identify as transgender. Roem says LGBTQ people “have to care” about politics because “politics cares about” them, for better or worse.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

Home Sweet Home 

Watch this resourceful bird go from empty nest to cozy home — and first egg! — in just a few minutes. (Click here to view.)

CNN Newsource

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