Thursday’s top stories
President Biden arrived in Europe for his first foreign trip bearing what could be a game-changing pledge: 500 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to be shared with low- and middle-income countries over the next year.
The state of play: The remaining G7 members — Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and this year’s hosts, the U.K. — are set to pledge at least another 500 million to bring the total to 1 billion by mid-2021, per a draft communique seen by Bloomberg.
Lobbyists for Rupert Murdoch's media companies are appealing to House Republicans to support antitrust bills meant to restrain Big Tech companies, sources tell Axios.
The big picture: Murdoch's media businesses have aggressively positioned themselves in opposition to the power of tech companies like Facebook and Google.
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Pockets of the U.S. economy (housing and autos, for instance) are on fire — and consumers are having to pay more than they have in years, fresh inflation data today showed.
Why it matters: “Not everybody’s wages are going up fast enough to keep up with these price increases,” David Wessel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, tells Axios.
A gameplay trailer for "Elden Ring," the hugely hyped dark fantasy game made in collaboration with "A Game of Thrones" author George R.R. Martin, closed today's first big showcase of this year's E3 gaming hype season.
Why it matters: It's the latest high-profile game in a long tradition of titles that are announced and vanish for years with no updates.
Cyber threats are increasing at a rapid pace, FBI director Christopher Wray warned on Thursday.
Republican senators emerged from a series of closed-door, bipartisan talks Thursday boasting of reaching a "tentative" deal on infrastructure, yet their Democratic counterparts wouldn't go that far.
Why it matters: Members of the s0-called G20 group of 20 senators appear to be the last, best hope for a bipartisan agreement, but the split in where the talks stand highlights the ongoing gulf between the parties on roads, bridges and more.
The controversy over the origin of the COVID-19 virus is renewing focus on how the risks and benefits of pathogen-altering experiments are weighed and managed.
Why it matters: Better governance of biorisks would limit the threat of a human-made pandemic — and could help identify the origin of future outbreaks more quickly and with a lot less controversy.
Maritime smuggling of people to the U.S. is on the rise toward California and Florida, with two recent capsized boats near San Diego and Key West showing the deadly consequences.
Why it matters: Experts stress that for several years toughened security has not decreased migration, just made adult migrants seek other, more dangerous paths.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party rejected on Thursday the comparisons being made in the U.S. between his efforts to block a transition of power and those of former President Trump after the November 2020 presidential election.
Why it matters: On the verge of being replaced after 12 years in power, Netanyahu has been working to delegitimize the incoming government and accusing its leaders of perpetrating “the fraud of the century." But Likud tweeted on Thursday that Netanyahu wasn't challenging the vote count and was committed to a peaceful transition.
Johnson & Johnson announced Thursday that the FDA has authorized an extension of its COVID vaccine's shelf life from three months to 4.5 months.
Why it matters: Amid a slowdown in vaccine uptake, a number of state health officials had been sounding the alarm that hundreds of thousands of single-shot J&J doses could expire this month.
President Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a bilateral meeting ahead of the G-7 summit in Cornwall, England, marking the first time Biden has met in-person with a leader he once called a "physical and emotional clone" of former President Trump.
Driving the news: The two leaders signed a revitalized Atlantic Charter, modeled after the joint statement made by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and former President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 to set out their goals for the world post-World War II.
Amid an intensifying drought, Lake Mead in Nevada, the nation's largest reservoir by volume, reached its lowest level since the 1930s late Wednesday.
Why it matters: The record low is due to a combination of years of punishing drought that's worsening across the Southwest, as well as challenges in managing water resources for a burgeoning population.
The United States' image around the world has sharply improved since President Biden took office after dipping during the Trump administration, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 16 countries.
The big picture: The high marks come as Biden embarks on his first overseas trip as president. Though opinions of the U.S. have broadly increased internationally, people in allied countries did not express great confidence in the U.S. as an ally and were also concerned about its domestic politics.
Consumer prices rose last month by 5% compared to May of 2020, marking the biggest year-over-year gain since August 2008, according to Consumer Price Index data released this morning. Prices were 0.6% higher in May than they were in April.
Why it matters: April’s CPI reading intensified concerns that inflation is heating up and will be hard to contain. Today’s data could stoke those fears further and contribute to a self-fulfilling cycle of rising prices.
Microsoft will offer access to Xbox games across an increasingly broad range of devices, including smart TVs and iPhones, company executives said this week during press briefings about its gaming business.
The big picture: Long a major player in the console market with Xbox, Microsoft is drifting away from a dependency on physical hardware, arguing that its path to success is about streaming.
Moderna announced Thursday it has requested an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its coronavirus vaccine for use in 12- to 17-year-olds.
Why it matters: The emergency use authorization would allow for the use of the vaccine in adolescents before Moderna receives full FDA approval, a key step in speeding up the country's race to herd immunity and reopening schools safely this fall.
A group of Jewish Democrats in the House is publicly feuding with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) after she tweeted about "unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban," in reference to investigations by the International Criminal Court.
Why it matters: The clash threatens to reopen a fault line within the party that could cost Omar her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, writes Punchbowl News.
The global vaccine supply is finally opening up for countries that desperately need the ammo in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Driving the news: The Biden administration will buy 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to share with countries around the world, with the option to buy an additional 200 million.
Infrastructure talks between the White House and Congress have entered a phase that's making climate advocates extremely nervous.
Why it matters: Environmental groups and even some Democratic lawmakers are increasingly vocal with their fears that the White House will jettison central components of President Biden's climate plan during the talks, which could cause the U.S. to fall short of its new emissions targets.
Besting China is one of the very few goals that Democrats and Republicans in Washington can agree on — as a new White House executive order and Senate passage of a new $200 billion bill, both targeting China's tech industry, show.
Yes, but: Where the Trump administration took an impulsive and haphazard approach to banning Chinese companies and products, President Biden is approaching the China rivalry in a more systematic and process-oriented way.
Criminals may have stolen as much as half of the unemployment benefits the U.S. has been pumping out over the past year, some experts say.
Why it matters: Unemployment fraud during the pandemic could easily reach $400 billion, according to some estimates, and the bulk of the money likely ended in the hands of foreign crime syndicates — making this not just theft, but a matter of national security.
The Biden administration will ship the first batch of 500 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to 92 countries and the African Union from August, the White House announced Thursday morning.
Details: "200 million doses will be delivered by the end of this year and the remaining 300 million will be delivered in the first half of 2022," the White House said in a statement.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is under investigation for possible professional misconduct by the state's bar association for his attempts to have President Biden's election win overturned, AP first reported Wednesday.
Why it matters: Paxton is one of the most high-profile lawyers to face potential professional repercussions for using their role to try and help former President Trump in his efforts to have the election results changed, AP notes.
Myanmar's deposed elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other detained officials have been formally charged by the military junta, state media reported Thursday morning local time.
Details: "The Anti-Corruption Commission has inspected corruption cases against ex-state counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. She was found guilty of committing corruption using her rank," the military said, per Bloomberg, which notes she could face up to 15 years in prison for the offense.
As President Biden departed Washington, he told reporters he was going to use his first foreign trip to make "clear to Putin and to China that Europe and the United States are tight and the G7 is gonna move."
Why it matters: The problem is his statements regarding the allies' shared objectives are not supported by the statements and actions of the allies themselves.
Senators representing West Virginia — one of the smallest, whitest and most pro-Trump states in the country — have been holding a Democratic-controlled Senate, House and White House from knocking out big agenda items.
What's happening: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) failed to reach an infrastructure deal with President Biden. And Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has consistently refused to support several of his party’s initiatives, such as voting rights legislation.
The staff shortfalls Americans are finding as they head to restaurants and summer vacation spots illustrate the risk for Democrats over whether the government's extra $300 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits is to blame.
Why it matters: Twenty-five states — all run by Republican governors — are eliminating some or all of the UI benefits. Some are even offering back-to-work bonuses to further encourage a return to work. Expect the results to become midterm fodder next year.
Ahead of Thursday's inflation data, the White House is confident the economic recovery will continue, with sources highlighting recent analysis — including from Goldman Sachs — that inflation will remain transitory.
Why it matters: The monthly release of the Consumer Price Index will add fresh fodder to the debate about whether inflation will be short-term or part of a long-term, and dangerous, cycle. Republican critics are already seizing on the topic.
JBS USA on Thursday announced it had paid hackers "the equivalent of $11 million in ransom" to resolve a cyberattack that forced the meat company to shut down.
State of play: The payment was made in bitcoin, per the Wall Street Journal. The company said it made the decision to pay the ransom after consulting with "internal IT professionals and third-party cybersecurity experts."