Biden, Putin open long-anticipated summit; Senate OKs Juneteenth holiday; US West swelters

Today is Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Let’s get caught up.

These headlines are in the news this morning: President Biden, Russia’s Putin sit down for long-anticipated, high-stakes summit in Geneva; Senate approves bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday; and the US West is facing sweltering heat, risk of wildfires.

Read on for these stories, other top headlines, celebrity birthdays and more.


TOP STORIES

Biden and Putin open summit with a handshake

GENEVA — President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are starting their diplomatic talks in Geneva.

The two were first greeted by the Swiss president before sitting down for a small meeting that includes just Biden, Putin, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, with a translator for each side. They’ll then move to larger talks, which will include more senior aides and are expected to last hours.

The two plan to discuss everything from cybercrime to Russia’s alleged interference in America’s elections, as well as arms control and Russia’s intrusion in Ukraine.

Both sides have played down expectations for any major breakthroughs, but both Biden and Putin have stressed the need to restore more stable relations between the two nations.

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Senate approves bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would make Juneteenth, or June 19th, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

The bill would lead to Juneteenth becoming the 12th federal holiday. It is expected to easily pass the House, which would send it to President Joe Biden for his signature.

Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free. Confederate soldiers surrendered in April 1865, but word didn’t reach the last enslaved Black people until June 19, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to Galveston, Texas. That was also about two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the Southern states.

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US West swelters in record-busting heat, risking wildfires

PHOENIX (AP) — Dangerous, record-busting heat spread across the U.S. Southwest on Tuesday and into parts of Utah, Montana and Wyoming as a dome of high pressure hovered over a large swath of the region, pushing temperatures into the triple digits this week and intensifying the risk for wildfires amid a long-running drought.

Some of the highest temperatures were seen in bone-dry Arizona, where the National Weather Service forecast a record high of 117 degrees in Phoenix. The previous high for the date was 115 degrees, set in 1974.

The temperatures in Phoenix also could break records the rest of the week, with highs expected to reach 116 Wednesday and 118 Thursday and Friday.

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