Happy Monday! President Biden is cranking out new catchphrases faster than his own staff can figure out what they mean, ending a speech Friday by uttering, “Alright, God save the queen, man.”
Axios asked several current and former Biden aides over the weekend what the president was trying to convey. “Several gave different answers and some said they still aren’t sure.”
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Beijing Sunday, kicking off a two-day trip that marks the highest-level visit to China by a U.S. official since 2019. Blinken held talks with top Chinese foreign policy officials—including Foreign Minister Qin Gang and diplomat Wang Ayo—before meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday. A State Department spokesman said this morning that the conversations were “candid, substantive, and constructive,” though no specifics have emerged on what was discussed.
- An Islamic State-linked militia attacked a school in western Uganda Friday night, killing at least 37 people—most of them students. Five militants belonging to a Congo-based extremist group known as the Allied Democratic Forces burned a dormitory and abducted six students, according to a Ugandan military spokesperson.
- The Food and Drug Administration told vaccine manufacturers last week to target the XBB.1.5 variant of COVID-19 in their fall booster campaign. The shot will represent the third variation of the COVID-19 vaccine and is predicted to be broadly effective against most Omicron strains of the virus still circulating in the United States. XBB.1.5 became the dominant strain for new infections earlier this spring.
- President Joe Biden announced Friday he plans to appoint Dr. Mandy Cohen, former North Carolina health secretary, to replace Dr. Rochelle Walensky as the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Walensky announced last month she will step down at the end of June. The position does not currently require Senate confirmation, but it will beginning in 2025.
- The Department of Justice released a report Friday that found the Minneapolis Police Department engaged in a pattern of excessive force and discrimination against black and Native American citizens. The federal probe, prompted by the 2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer, will result in a consent decree—a court-monitored mandatory overhaul of the Minneapolis Police Department in collaboration with city officials.
- The Surfside, Florida, condo that collapsed in 2021 had serious deficiencies in its pool deck, according to preliminary findings from a federal investigation released last week. The pool deck was not built to code or to match the original plans, backing up one of several early hypotheses about the cause of the collapse that left 98 people dead.
- The College Board said Thursday it will not alter its Advanced Placement psychology course to comport with Florida’s expanded regulations on classroom instruction regarding gender and sexuality. The announcement from the College Board follows controversy in the spring over its African American studies course, which the Florida Board of Education alleged was in violation of the state’s laws on teaching critical race theory.
- Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers leaker, died Friday at the age of 92. The documents he leaked to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other outlets in 1971 revealed how four presidential administrations had expanded the war in Vietnam while misleading the U.S. public about their actions.
- Pope Francis was released from the hospital Friday, almost 10 days after he was admitted for an operation to remove a hernia and scar tissue. The pontiff, 86, was also hospitalized earlier this year with a respiratory infection.
- Wyndham Clark, a 29-year-old American with just one PGA Tour victory to his name, held off Rory McIlroy to win the U.S. Open Sunday at Los Angeles Country Club. Clark had never finished higher than 75th in a major.
Let’s Make a (Mini) Deal
Hand over heart, the Biden administration claims it is not seeking a nuclear deal with Iran.
“Rumors about a nuclear deal—interim or otherwise—are false and misleading,” State Department spokesman Matt Miller said Wednesday.