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5 things to know for June 21: Gas prices, Ukraine, January 6, Israel, Covid-19

By Alexandra Meeks, CNN

Today is the first official day of summer and the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. As expected, maximum sunshine and intense heat are forecast across much of the drought-stricken US for the foreseeable future. Meteorologists also say power grid failures could impact vast portions of the country this season.

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

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1. Gas Prices

President Joe Biden is considering backing a plan to send Americans gas rebate cards to help fight soaring prices at the pump. Although the White House has previously downplayed the prospect of such a program because it would be difficult to administer, Biden told reporters on Monday the plan has not been ruled out. He also said he plans to decide whether to support a temporary suspension of the federal gasoline tax. Such a pause in the 18.3-cent-per-gallon federal tax would require Congress to act, and there has been little traction among lawmakers on the idea so far. Meanwhile, despite high gas prices and the prospect of a recession looming, Americans are on track to set a road trip record for July 4, AAA predicts. Approximately 42 million Americans — more than ever — will take a road trip of 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend, the automotive group said.

2. Ukraine

Ukrainian troops are resisting a heavy Russian offensive in and around the city of Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region, despite the continued bombardment from several directions, according to the Ukrainian military. Russian forces have tried to carry out offensive operations under cover of heavy shelling, the head of the Luhansk regional military administration said, but they are having trouble dislodging the determined Ukrainian resistance. Officials say Russian forces are making modest gains and have resorted to one principal tactic: fire at any and all Ukrainian positions to leave nothing standing that can be defended. Separately, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that Ukraine is moving along the path to becoming part of the European Union. The EU is deciding this week whether the country should be formally considered for candidate status.

3. January 6

The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol will focus today’s hearing on how former President Donald Trump and his allies pressured state-level officials to overturn the 2020 election results. The hearing will specifically unpack Trump’s efforts to overturn the results in Arizona and in Georgia — where Trump infamously asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” the votes he needed to win. Committee aides said the hearing will also demonstrate how Trump and his allies concocted a scheme to submit fake slates of electors. The committee will also show video testimony of depositions from officials in other states where Trump and his allies pressured state-level officials to try to block Biden’s election win.

4. Israel

Israel is gearing up for another general election after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his key coalition ally, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, agreed to submit a bill to dissolve parliament. If passed, it would trigger the election later this year — making it the fifth time Israelis will be going to the polls in under four years. The announcement followed weeks of mounting political uncertainty in Israel but still came as a major surprise. A short statement from the prime minister’s office said the move came “after attempts to stabilize the coalition had been exhausted.” The Bennett-Lapid government was sworn in to office in June of last year, bringing an end to the premiership of Benjamin Netanyahu, which had lasted more than 12 years.

5. Coronavirus

Covid-19 vaccines for children younger than 5 are rolling out this week following a recent sign-off from the FDA and CDC. The safety data from Moderna and Pfizer found potential side effects were mostly mild and short-lived. Side effects most commonly included pain at the injection site and sometimes there was swelling or redness. As far as systemic or body-wide symptoms, the most common were fatigue or sleepiness. Some children had irritability or fussiness, loss of appetite, headache, abdominal pain or discomfort, enlarged lymph nodes, mild diarrhea, or vomiting. But everyone got better quickly, the data showed.

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TODAY’S NUMBER

11

That’s how many officers were inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, within three minutes of a gunman entering on May 24, a law enforcement source close to the investigation told CNN. After the gunman fired at officers and entered connecting classrooms — where he shot and killed 19 students and two teachers — officers remained stationed in an adjacent hallway. The gunman was killed by officers an hour and 17 minutes after he entered one of the classrooms, according to a timeline of the shooting. The school police chief and local authorities have faced fierce criticism over the length of time that elapsed before the gunman was killed and first responders were able to reach the victims.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Whether you want to blame politicians and officials for mismanagement, or the public for not conserving water, it does not matter anymore. Pointing fingers will help no one. The bottom line is we are in a crisis and there is very little we can do anymore.”

— Garth Sampson, a spokesperson for the South African Weather Service, warning that reversing the severe water shortage in parts of South Africa may be impossible. In the impoverished township of Kwanobuhle, much of the city is now counting down to “Day Zero,” the day all taps run dry — when no meaningful amount of water can be extracted. That’s in around two weeks unless authorities seriously speed up their response.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

How The Most Expensive Nannies In The World Train

From self-defense classes to driving in dangerous conditions, learn what it takes to succeed at the most exclusive school for nannies. (Click here to view)

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