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Democrats Change Convention For Biden

Your unbiased daily news brief

Good Thursday morning. Closing arguments in former President Donald Trump's New York hush money trial concluded last night. Jury deliberations should begin later today, which means a verdict could arrive at any time. Have a great day.

In Today’s Brief

  • Ohio: Explosion in Youngstown

  • Cuba: U.S. support for entrepreneurs

  • DeNiro: Trump trial appearance

  • Hess: Chevron merger sign-off

  • LPGA: Surprise retirement

... and more

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Top Tips

1) Phone it in

The Democratic National Committee will handle some key business prior to its convention later this summer.

  • The news: The DNC will virtually nominate President Joe Biden before the convention, which is scheduled for August 19-22 in Chicago. The party plans to hold a roll call vote, which means there will be no in-person nomination for the second straight cycle after the 2020 convention was largely remote due to COVID-19.

  • The reason: Pushing up the vote ensures Biden will be eligible for the ballot in Ohio, as he will be nominated before the state's August 7 filing deadline. Legislation to accommodate Biden (and future presidential candidates) has stalled in Ohio's legislature; Gov. Mike DeWine ordered a special session last week to remedy the "unacceptable" situation.

  • That said, holding the nomination vote virtually also allows the party to have greater control over the convention's stagecraft. Biden's support for Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza has divided the party, and fears of disruptions and protests have been widely reported. A Politico report yesterday said top Democrats are having a "freakout" over Biden's re-election hopes.

2) Papal faux pas

Pope Francis has apologized for using a homophobic slur.

  • What happened: The pontiff made the comment during a closed-door meeting with bishops last week, reportedly using an Italian slang term that refers to gay men. "The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms and he apologizes to those who felt offended by the use of the term," a Vatican press official said.

  • The context: Pope Francis was reportedly telling the bishops he does not think gay men should be allowed to enter Catholic seminaries and prepare for priesthood, continuing established church guidelines. Some defenders argued the Argentine pope may not have grasped the impact of the term in Italian; the LGBTQ Catholic rights group DignityUSA called his words "shocking and hurtful."

  • Big picture: Many critics say the church has sent conflicting messages about LGBTQ rights in recent years. Pope Francis said there is room for all people in Catholicism and priests can bless same-sex marriages. But the Vatican has also spoken out against transgender rights and officially considers homosexuality to be a sin.

3) Pacific tussle

Taiwan's parliament approved pro-China changes despite massive protests.

  • The news: Lawmakers passed a bill giving parliament more budget control, including purview over defense spending. Parliament can also compel demand individuals, private companies and the military to disclose certain information and now has more oversight over the president. Contempt of parliament by government officials was also made a criminal offense.

  • The context: The nationalist Kuomintang Party, which supports closer ties with China, pushed the bill through with assistance from the Taiwan People's Party. The KMT managed to grab a one-seat majority in parliament despite the election of President Lai Ching-te, who leads the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party. Thousands have been protesting the changes in recent days.

  • Big picture: China has been antagonizing Taiwan -- and by extension the U.S. -- with military exercises since Ching-te was inaugurated last week. The DPP alleges the changes are designed to undermine Ching-te's mandate and destabilize the island nation's democracy to boost the mainland's interests.

Quick Tips

U.S. News

  • Seven people were injured and two are missing after an explosion in Youngstown, Ohio. The incident was initially characterized as a natural gas blast, but officials later said they were still investigating (More)

  • Over 700K were without power in Texas after severe storms hit the state. Over 400K had no power in Dallas County; officials said it may be days before electricity is fully restored (More)

  • The "Son of Sam" murderer was denied parole for the 12th time. David Berkowitz infamously killed six people in New York City over a 12-month period in 1976 and '77; he received six 25 years-to-life sentences in 1978 (More)

World News

  • The U.S. Treasury Department will allow more American financial support for Cuba's private sector, seeking to boost small businesses on the island nation. Entrepreneurs will be able to open U.S. bank accounts and utilize internet-based services (More)

  • National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby said the Israeli airstrike that killed close to 50 at a Rafah tent camp does not appear to have crossed President Biden's red line. The U.S. is awaiting the findings of Israel's probe into the incident (More)

  • Dick Schoof was tabbed as the top candidate to be Dutch prime minister. The former intelligence official emerged after months of coalition negotiations after the far-right PVV party unexpectedly won last year's parliamentary elections (More)

Campaign News

  • Robert DeNiro appeared outside former President Trump's trial on behalf of the Biden campaign yesterday. The Academy Award-winning actor told reporters Trump "could destroy the world" and sparred with protesters (More)

  • Trump endorsed Virginia Rep. Bob Good's GOP primary opponent. The former president said the House Freedom Caucus leader is "bad" for the country and state while announcing his support for State Sen. John McGuire (More)

  • A pro-Israel group has spent over $300K against embattled Missouri Rep. Cori Bush. The progressive Democrat faces a primary challenge from St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell; Bush has been critical of the Gaza war and is also under federal investigation (More)

Business & Markets

  • Major indexes closed mixed yesterday. Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari said he cannot rule out an interest rate hike amid sticky inflation (Dow -0.55%, Nasdaq +0.59%, S&P 500 +0.02%).

  • Hess shareholders approved a $53B merger with rival Chevron. The deal still needs regulatory approval; Chevron is bidding to gain access to resources in Guyana, where Exxon Mobil has a foothold (More)

  • T-Mobile plans to acquire most of U.S. Cellular in a $4.4B deal. The agreement includes up to $2B in debt; T-Mobile will gain all wireless customers and stores along with 30% of U.S. Cellular's wireless spectrum (More)

Entertainment & Sports

  • Professional golfer Lexi Thompson will retire after this season. The 15-time LPGA Tour winner, 29, first qualified for the U.S. Women's Open at age 12 and has captured one career major title (More)

  • Academy Award-winning producer Al Ruddy died at 94. The Hogan's Heroes co-creator won Oscars for his work on The Godfather and Million Dollar Baby; he also produced The Longest Yard and helped create Walker, Texas Ranger (More)

  • Major League Baseball will begin incorporating Negro League statistics into its historical records today. Hall of Fame catcher Josh Gibson will become the all-time career leader in batting average and several other categories (More)

Quick Hitters

  • Feel Good: A Coldplay fan with mobility issues struggled to get around at a BBC Radio music festival last week. She was about to go home, but then the band's frontman gave her a ride.

  • Take Note: Almost half of all credit reports may contain errors, according to a new report. Here is how to ensure your score is accurate and what to do if it is not.

  • Go Deep: Electric vehicle advocates believe the U.S. could fully transition to EVs in about 20 years. If so, we are going to need a lot of places to charge our cars.

  • Chow Down: This carrot sheet cake recipe looks delicious and easier than other carrot cake methods. Give it a try!

  • Life Hack: Brain health can change drastically as we age. These five activities can help maintain cognitive function and keep the mind sharp.

  • OPTIMIZE ME: Researchers “found convincing evidence that higher intake of ultra-processed foods was associated with 50% increased risk of cardiovascular disease-related death, a 48% to 53% higher risk of anxiety and common mental disorders, and a 12% greater risk of type 2 diabetes.”

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Looking Ahead …

Canadian border agents have voted to go on strike as soon as next month due to a salary dispute. That could wreak havoc in Minnesota and other border states.

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