Juneteenth freedom day ( Photo : Septi via AdobeStock)

Need to know: Here are the top stories for June 16, 2021. 

1. Biden and Putin Issue Joint Statement 

On Wednesday, President Biden had a 3-hour summit with Russian President Putin for the first time since getting elected in 2020. In the meeting, the two political leaders discussed the US-Russian relationship, cybersecurity, and human rights problems in Russia. Following the summit, which ended much faster than anticipated, both Biden and Putin held a press conference to discuss what transpired during their time together. In addition, the two released a joint statement on “strategic stability” which included the progress the leaders have made in improving US-Russian relations and reducing the threat of war. 

The joint statement issued by two leaders indicates that  even in periods of tension, they are able to make progress on our shared goals of ensuring predictability in the strategic sphere, reducing the risk of armed conflicts and the threat of nuclear war.”

Biden and Putin described the improvement of the bilateral START, or Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, to ease tensions between the two nations and resist the possibility of formal conflict. 

“The recent extension of the New START Treaty exemplifies our commitment to nuclear arms control. Today, we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.

Consistent with these goals, the United States and Russia will embark together on an integrated bilateral Strategic Stability Dialogue in the near future that will be deliberate and robust. Through this Dialogue, we seek to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures.”

2. Biden About US-Russian Relations and US Democracy 

Departing Geneva, Biden was asked to comment on the infrastructure bill and the new bipartisan offer which has made changes to his proposed plan. Biden said has not reviewed it yet and does not know what the details are, but added that his Chief of Staff thinks “there’s some room…so I’m still hoping we can put something together.” 

Asked if there was any solid proof of improvements made following the Biden-Putin summit, Biden snapped again, “You gotta be negative, you got to have a negative view of life, the way you are. You’ve never asked a positive question, why?” 

The President went on to say that, “We have an agreement to work on a major arms control agreement.” The short discussion between the President and the journalists ended on a note about American democracy and perseverance. Biden discussed how we were going to “maintain and sustain our leadership in the world” and described the US as “being the leading and powerful and most democratic country in the world.” He discussed the shock he felt during the Jan 6 attack and “breaking down the doors of the United States Capitol,” saying “I didn’t think I’d see that in my lifetime…such an outward assault on voting rights. I mean just flat assault.” He ended with a push to improve US transparency and re-establish the basis of democracy, some goals he wishes to achieve within his presidency. 

3. Kushner Signs A Book Deal On Trump Presidency

Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of former President Donald Trump and senior advisor, has signed a book deal about his experience at the White House. He signed to Broadside Books, a conservative publishing company, and his book is set to be released in 2022. The book is said to discuss many issues and aspects of Trump’s four-year term, including Middle East relations, criminal justice reform, and the pandemic. The publishing company stated, “His book will be the definitive, thorough recounting of the administration, and the truth about what happened behind closed doors.” As senior advisor to the Trump administration, Kushner played a role in the ties between the US and Israel, Morocco, and other Middle Eastern countries, as well as handling the Covid pandemic, which resulted in more than 600,000 deaths in the US. While it is still untitled and tentative, it is no doubt the book will portray the Trump presidency in a positive light and deflect from the controversies and retaliation they really faced.

4. Juneteenth To Be A Federal Holiday

The House is working swiftly to pass legislation to establish June 19th as a federal holiday after the Senate voted unanimously to pass it on Tuesday. The House is expected to vote Wednesday in favor of this bill, making Juneteenth a national holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. The real day is June 19th, 1866 and the name was coined in Texas in celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation which put an end to slavery in the country. While there was some Republican opposition, such as Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, it was eventually dismissed and received bipartisan support. House Majority leader Steny Hoyer tweeted a thank you to the bipartisan supporters of the bill and urged all members of the House to pass this bill and make it federal legislation. He wrote, “I look forward to bringing this bill to the Floor, and urge bipartisan support.” Once the House votes to pass the bill, it will be sent to the desk of President Biden to sign into law. This will be a massive victory for activists and civil rights leaders everywhere, as the nation will recognize the importance and impact of the holiday. 

Anoosha Murtaza is a Gen Z Voice at the Pavlovic Today and a rising third-year student at the University of Virginia. Anoosha has a passion for good journalism, strong political views, and social justice. 

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