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Salman bin Abdulaziz, king of Saudi Arabia, in Egypt in 2019. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

President Biden spoke with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Thursday, and affirmed "the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law," according to a White House readout of the conversation.

Why it matters: The phone call comes ahead of the expected public release of a potentially damning intelligence report about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi,

Context: The report, an unclassified document produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, implies Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king's son, was involved in Khashoggi’s murder and dismemberment at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018, Axios' Hans Nichols reports.

The big picture: Biden and the king also discussed Yemen and the "the U.S. commitment to help Saudi Arabia defend its territory as it faces attacks from Iranian-aligned groups", according to the readout.

  • Biden applauded the kingdom's release of multiple Saudi-American activists and Loujain al-Hathloul, a prominent women’s rights activist.
  • The readout did not specifically mention Khashoggi.

Go deeper: Austin calls MBS days after Biden's snub of the Saudi crown prince

Go deeper

Chauvin trial leaves cities, activists across America on edge

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The impact of the Derek Chauvin trial is reverberating far beyond the walls of the downtown Minneapolis courtroom.

The state of play: With the trial set to enter its third week, activists across America are watching the proceedings unfold with heavy skepticism that what they perceive as justice will be served.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The dispiriting housing boom

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's a discouraging scene: Bidding wars, soaring prices, and fears that homeownership is becoming out of reach for millions of Americans. We're in a housing frenzy, driven by a massive shortage of inventory — and no one seems to be happy about it.

Why it matters: Not all bubbles burst. Real estate, in particular, tends to rise in value much more easily than it falls. Besides, says National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun, this "is not a bubble. It is simply lack of supply."

Updated 6 hours ago - World

China's COVID vaccines have low efficacy rates, official says

China Centers for Disease Control director Gao Fu at a March event in Beijing, China. Photo: Han Haidan/China News Service via Getty Images

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's director said Saturday authorities are considering mixing COVID-19 vaccines because the country's domestically made doses "don't have very high protection rates," per AP.

Why it matters: The remarks by the Gao Fu at a news conference in the southwestern city of Chengdumark mark the first time a Chinese health official has spoken publicly about the low efficacy of vaccines made in China.