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Iron ore and copper hit record highs on global recovery hopes – business live


St. Modwen shares surge after Blackstone approach

Takeover news: Private equity firm Blackstone Group has made a £1.21bn proposal for acquire St. Modwen Properties, the UK housebuilder and warehousing firm.

It’s worth 542p per share in cash — a 21.1% premium to last night’s closing price.

And that might well be enough to clinch the deal.

St Modwen says:

Having considered the Possible Offer, the Board of St. Modwen has indicated to Blackstone that the Possible Offer is at a value the Board would be willing to recommend unanimously, should a firm intention to make an offer pursuant to Rule 2.7 of the [takeovers and mergers] Code be announced on such terms.

Shares in the firm have jumped almost 19%, to 532p, to the top of the FTSE 250 leaderboard.

Birmingham-based St Modwen builds “industrial and logistics spaces” such as warehouses — which have been in growing demand since Covid-19 triggered a surge in web shopping.

The Evening Standard has more details:

The property developer has a housing arm, a land and regeneration division, and it has a large logistics real estate business.

Warehousing firms have seen bumper demand during the pandemic as retailers sought space to cope with high online orders. St Modwen has a 19 million square feet pipeline of logistics projects.

The company also built 948 homes last year – and is aiming for 1,500 per year by 2023.

Peter Bill

Wondering what Blackstone is going to do with St Modwen? View the annual report of the house builder cum shed developer through the bid prism and many possibilities spring from the pages: housebuilder or shed builder. Which is it to be? Both?

May 7, 2021

Germany has followed China’s lead, and reported solid trade growth as its manufacturers also benefit from the global rebound.

German exports grew 1.2% month-on-month in March to €126.5bn, the 11th month of growth in a row. They were 16.1% higher than a year ago (when the pandemic was forcing the global economy to shut down).

Imports jumped strongly — up 6.5% month-on-month to €105.9bn. That’s 15.5% higher than the dark days of March 2020.

The annual increases are both records, Destatis says:

Compared with March 2020, exports increased by 16.1%, and imports by 15.5% in March 2021. These are the highest nominal values ever recorded for monthly exports and imports in foreign trade statistics.

On a calendar and seasonally adjusted basis, Germany’s trade surplus dropped to €14.3bn, which is the lowest since last May:

Destatis news

Exports in March 2021: +1.2% on February 2021.

May 7, 2021

Statistics body Destatis also reports that German exports to the UK fell in March, for the third month in a row, compared to the previous year.

However, imports into Germany from the UK rose slightly in March compared with a year ago.

Destatis says:

Compared with the same month last year, exports to the United Kingdom fell by 13.2% to €6.5bn in March 2021. German imports from the United Kingdom increased by 1.6% to €3.1bn over the same period.

And over 2021 so far… German exports to the UK are down 17.6% compared to January-March 2020, while imports from the UK into Germany are down 27.7% year-on-year (full details here).

German trade data

Germany’s trade data Photograph: Destatis

IAG posts another loss

Mark Sweney

A line of British Airways planes at London City Airport.

A line of British Airways planes at London City Airport. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

The owner of British Airways, International Airlines Group, has reported a €1.2bn pre-tax loss for the first quarter and reiterated the need for the rollout of digital vaccine passports to enable the beleaguered aviation industry to get passengers back in the skies.

IAG said passenger capacity slumped to less than a fifth of pre-pandemic levels in the first three months of 2021, and it expects only a slight improvement in the second quarter to 25% of 2019 levels.

The airline group, which made a €1.8bn (£1.6bn) pre-tax loss in the first quarter last year, said its forecast on passenger numbers remains “uncertain and subject to review”.

Luis Gallego, the chief executive of IAG, said:

“We’re doing everything in our power to emerge in a stronger competitive position. We’re absolutely confident that a safe restart to travel can happen as shown by the scientific data. We’re ready to fly but government action is needed.”

Later today the UK government is due to announce which countries will be classed as low-risk for travel, meaning people can travel without needing to quarantine.

Good Morning Britain

The govt will announce the travel traffic light system at 5pm.

Travel Consultant @PPaulCharles predicts countries including Portugal and Malta will be on the green list.

Countries including Spain and Italy could be added to the list at the end of June.

May 7, 2021

Iron ore and copper have helped to push Bloomberg’s index of commodities prices to its highest since 2011.

Bloomberg says:

Copper soared to an all-time record on expectations that rebounding economies will spur a boom in global demand, and the Bloomberg Commodity Spot Index jumped to its highest level since 2011.

Elsewhere, spot iron ore broke $200 a ton for the first time, and WTI crude oil approached $65 a barrel.

Daniel Kostecki

#Copper soared to an all-time high, topping the previous record set in 2011, on expectations that rebounding economies will spur a boom in global demand. BBG

May 7, 2021

As things stand, the FTSE 100 is on track for its best week in a month (since 5th-9th April).

The FTSE 100’s weekly moves in 2021

The FTSE 100’s weekly moves in 2021 Photograph: Refinitiv

Up we go….


🚀 European Opening Bell 🚀

🇬🇧 FTSE100 up 0.5%

🇪🇺 STOXX50 up 0.5%

🇪🇺 STOXX600 up 0.6%

🇩🇪 DAX up 1%

🇫🇷 CAC up 0.5%

🇪🇸 IBEX up 0.7%

🇮🇹 MIB up 0.6%

May 7, 2021


FTSE 100 hits new pandemic high

The UK’s blue-chip share index has hit a new 14-month high in early trading.

The FTSE 100 jumped 37 points to 7113 points, as it continues to rally on hopes of an economic rebound this year.

The FTSE 100

The FTSE 100 Photograph: Refinitiv

Top risers include engineering firms Melrose (+2.1%) and Rolls-Royce (+2.1%), catering firm Compass (+1.3%) and Barclays bank (+1.3%) — firms who will benefit as Covid-19 vaccinations allow economies to reopen.

Mining giant Anglo American is up 0.8%, while rival BHP Billiton is 0.5% higher.

The FTSE 100 is now at its highest since 25th February 2020 (when the first lockdowns in Italy had triggered a global market crash). But it has yet to recover all its pandemic losses (unlike the US and European markets, which have hit new peaks)

Iron ore and copper hit new peaks

Commodity prices are surging again today, as the economic recovery creates a scramble for raw materials.

Both iron ore and copper prices have hit record levels today, extending a rally in commodities.

The strong trade data from China overnight, and the prospect of a very strong US jobs report later today, are boosting demand.

The benchmark S&P Global Platts IODEX, which tracks the spot price of ‘iron fines’ delivered to China, hit a record high of $202.65 per dry metric ton.

Neil Hume

Iron ore at record high.

May 7, 2021

Iron ore futures in Asia have hit a peak this morning, with strong demand for the steelmaking industry and fears of supply shortages.

Reuters explains:

The most-liquid September iron ore on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange leapt 5.3% to 1,214 yuan ($187.94) a tonne by 0330 GMT, after earlier touching a high of 1,217.50 yuan.

Copper – seen as a bellwether of the health of the global economy – is also surging. London copper prices hit a record high on Friday, over $10,200 per tonne, and again, tight supplies and expectations of strong demand.

Here’s the details:

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 1.2% at $10,209 a tonne by 0503 GMT, after rising 1.4% earlier to hit an all-time high of $10,232. The contract has leapt 133% since March last year, when demand was hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mark Burton

And there we have it: copper at new record highs above $10,200.

May 7, 2021

China posts rapid trade growth

China has reported strong trade growth today, highlighting how its economy is strengthening.

Chinese exports rose 32.3% year-on-year in April to almost $264bn, slightly faster than in March.

Imports jumped too, up 43.1% compared with a year ago to $221.1 billion, accelerating from March’s 38.1% expansion.

Patrick Zweifel

#China’s trade surges in April:

√ exports jumped >7% m/m to an amazing 33% above 6-year trend

√ imports up >5% m/m and are now 30% above 6-year trend (33% above pre-pandemic level), confirming a rotation in the growth drivers towards domestic demand

May 7, 2021

These year-on-year figures are distorted by the impact of the pandemic – a year ago, many economies were in lockdown to tackle the first wave of Covid-19.

Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics reckons that “Demand is probably close to a cyclical peak.”

But other economists are more optimistic, as Reuters flags:

“China’s export growth again surprised on the upside,” said Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management, adding that two factors – the booming U.S. economy and the COVID-19 crisis in India, causing some orders to shift to China – likely contributed to the strong export growth.

“We expect China’s export growth will stay strong into the second half of this year, as the two factors above will likely continue to favour Chinese manufacturers. Exports will be a key pillar for growth in China this year.”

Guy Faulconbridge

China posts rapid trade growth in April as recovery races ahead

May 7, 2021


Introduction: It’s US Non-Farm Payroll day

Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.

After the Bank of England hiked its growth forecasts yesterday, investors are looking to the latest US jobs report for confirmation that the economic recovery is gathering pace.

And today’s Non-Farm Payroll is expected to be strong, with perhaps one million Americans finding work in April. That would be the strongest jobs growth since last August, up from the 916,000 hired in March.

Economists also predict the US unemployment rate will tick down to 5.8%, from 6%, as the labor force recovers. Yesterday, weekly US jobless claims dropped to a pandemic low

Analyst Alvin Tan of RBC Capital Markets says US companies are scrambling to find workers as they reopen.

After a surprisingly large jobs gain last month, we think the US is poised for a repeat performance as the economic re-opening gathers momentum. We are forecasting an April non-farm payrolls increase of just north of 1 million.

We know per recent qualitative data that companies are starved for employees at the moment, and that is evident in both ISM reports and in the Fed’s Beige Book.

Other economists are also expecting a very strong jobs report, with NFP forecasts ranging from around 700,000 new jobs to over two million.

Yahoo Finance flags:

But on average, economists are expecting a blowout payrolls number of at least 1 million.

Nomura chief economist Lewis Alexander said market participants should brace for a “monster U.S. payroll number” this week, driven in large part by advances in some of the industries hardest-hit by the pandemic. Leisure and hospitality payrolls are still down by 3.3 million compared to February 2020 levels, but have been making some of the largest gains over the past several months to try and lessen this deficit.

Sam Ro 📈

“A monster US payroll number… We expect US NFPs to well exceed 1m jobs in April” – Nomura

April 30, 2021

However… economists have estimated that US economy was still roughly eight million jobs short of its pre-pandemic levels, so the recovery isn’t complete.

Economic optimism pushed the UK’s FTSE 100 to its highest level since February 2020 yesterday. We’re expecting further gains today, with European stock markets called higher.


European Opening Calls:#FTSE 7108 +0.44%#DAX 15293 +0.64%#CAC 6378 +0.33%#AEX 716 +0.45%#MIB 24605 +0.45%#IBEX 9028 +0.51%#OMX 2260 +0.57%#STOXX 4017 +0.44%#IGOpeningCall

May 7, 2021

The agenda

  • 7.45am BST: French industrial production figures for March
  • 9.30am BST: UK construction PMI for April
  • 1pm BST: US Non-farm Payroll report for April

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Democrats’ domestic agenda faces setbacks by Republican obstructionism


Joe Biden’s far-reaching domestic agenda in the US is facing serious setbacks on a range of issues as the political quagmire of a tightly contested Senate is seeing Democratic ambitions sharply curtailed in the face of Republican obstruction.

On a number of key fronts such as pushing election reform and voting rights, efforts to curb gun control and to moving forwards on LGBTQ civil rights, there has been an effective push back by Republicans – and a handful of conservative Democrats – that is forcing Biden and the wider Democratic party on to the back foot.

The Senate, whom critics deride as an increasingly unrepresentative body that gives undue influence to smaller, less diverse Republican-run states, is scheduled to vote Tuesday on For the People Act, the voting rights bill that’s certain to be defeated having won no support from Republicans.

Republicans are expected to run down the clock – a controversial tactical rule known as a filibuster – on the package that requires lawmakers to reach a 60-vote threshold.

On Sunday, Ohio Republican senator Rob Portman shot down amendments proposed by West Virginia’s conservative Democrat Joe Manchin, whose rejection of the initial bill all-but scuttled the Democrats’ project. Portman described the planned legislation as a “federal takeover of our election system”.

“The bottom line is we should make it easy to vote in this country. We should also make it hard to cheat,” Portman said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “Again, I appreciate [Manchin is] trying to find that middle ground, and, who knows, maybe something can be done.”

By forcing Republicans to carry out their filibuster and making their opposition clear and public to a law seen as defending the voting rights of communities of color. Democrats hope to embarrass the party. But – without destroying the filibuster, which Manchin also opposes – there is little chance of the bill passing.

Senate Democrats will also test calls for unity on LGBTQ civil rights, and another bill – The Equality Act – that is in search of Republican support. Schumer said last month the upper house is “considering” a vote on the bill but has yet to schedule it. Again, Manchin is the lone Democrat hold-out.

The proposed legislation would include sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected classes of the 1964 Civil Rights Act alongside bans on discrimination based on race, color, religion and national origin.

Wisconsin senator Tammy Baldwin, one of two openly gay senators in the 100-member chamber, has said that she is lobbying Republican colleagues but has achieved only “incremental progress”.

Baldwin has said she believes the Senate should “hold off” on a vote while “negotiations are productive” and progress is being made. The Senate is split 50-50 and only in Democratic control thanks to the tie-breaking vote of Vice-President Kamala Harris.

“There may be a time where there’s an impasse. I’m still trying to find 10 Republicans [to help pass the bill],” said Baldwin.

Republicans resistance to the legislation is focused on protecting the rights of religious institutions that condemn homosexuality and opposition transgender rights in sports. Yet it comes against a backdrop of broad public, business and judicial support on the issue.

Manchin, an anti-abortion Democrat , has said he is “not convinced that the Equality Act as written provides sufficient guidance to the local officials who will be responsible for implementing it”. But he has also said he’ll seek to “build broad bipartisan support and find a viable path forward for these critical protections”.

Nor are Democrats currently likely to find broader opportunities for political unity on infrastructure spending where large-scale Democratic proposals are running into Republican counter-offers of a fraction of the size.

Former Republican presidential adviser Karl Rove told This Week with George Stephanopoulos President Biden faces two paths on infrastructure and both are riddled with obstacles. “[It will be] a bipartisan deal small enough to get Republican support, but not big enough to keep Democrats united, or a go-it-alone and go-for-broke plan that progressives want, with a price tag as high as $6tn that’s likely too big to pass,” Rove said.

Similarly, pending gun control legislation may also be resistant to winning enough support to pass.

As it stands, two House-passed bills to expand background checks on gun buyers have all but stalled out in the Senate. But rather than push legislation that Republicans will reject, Democrats may instead push for a vote on increasing the number of online and gun show sales covered by FBI background checks – a significant retreat on the original proposals.

Senator Chris Murphy, the Democrats’ point person to win Republican support for gun control, said he’s still talking with Republican leaders about “some ideas that would involve the expansion of background checks without getting all the way to universal”.

Asked if a bill on gun show checks would be favored by Republicans, two senators involved in discussions, Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, offered a cool take on that likelihood.

“We’ll see if it goes anywhere,” Graham told Politico.

Toomey, who is set to retire next year, said: “Honestly, it’s unclear at this point.”

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Florida Pride parade crash that killed one appears unintentional, officials say


A member of a men’s chorus group unintentionally slammed into fellow chorists at the start of a Pride parade in South Florida, killing one member of the group and seriously injuring another, the group’s director said Sunday.

The statement clarified initial speculation that it was a hate crime directed at the gay community.

The Wilton Manors vice mayor, Paul Rolli, and the Fort Lauderdale mayor, Dean Trantalis, said the early investigation shows it was an accident. The driver was taken into custody, but it was unclear whether he had been charged.

“The early investigation now indicates it looks like it was a tragic accident, but nobody’s saying finally what it is,” Rolli told the Associated Press in a phone interview.

The driver and the victims were a part of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus family, a small 25-member group of mostly older men.

“Our fellow Chorus members were those injured and the driver is also a part of the Chorus family. To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community,” President Justin Knight said in a statement Sunday, calling it “an unfortunate accident”.

Fort Lauderdale police detective Ali Adamson told reporters Saturday that authorities were investigating all possibilities from the collision. The police department did not immediately respond to additional questions about the investigation Sunday.

Trantalis, who is Fort Lauderdale’s first openly gay mayor, initially told reporters the act was deliberate, adding to the confusion Saturday night.

“It terrorized me and all around me … I feared it could be intentional based on what I saw from mere feet away,” he said in a Twitter statement Sunday. “As the facts continue to be pieced together, a picture is emerging of an accident in which a truck careened out of control.”

Wilton Manors is a tight-knit community near Fort Lauderdale with a vibrant downtown filled with cute shops, where people line up for Rosie’s famous hamburgers or to gossip and drink at Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar.

Photos and video from the scene showed Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz in tears while in a convertible at the parade.

In a statement Saturday night, Wasserman Schultz said she was safe but “deeply shaken and devastated that a life was lost”.

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Covid ‘remains a serious and deadly threat’ for unvaccinated people, Biden says – live


Democratic congressman Ted Lieu accused the US Conference of Catholic Bishops of hypocrisy for taking steps toward rebuking Catholic politicians who receive Communion and support abortion rights.

“Dear @USCCB: I’m Catholic and you are hypocrites,” Lieu said on Twitter.

Referring to Donald Trump’s attorney general, Lieu added, “You did not tell Bill Barr, a Catholic, not to take communion when he expanded killing human beings with the death penalty. You are being nakedly partisan and you should be ashamed. Another reason you are losing membership.”

Ted Lieu

Dear @USCCB: I’m Catholic and you are hypocrites. You did not tell Bill Barr, a Catholic, not to take communion when he expanded killing human beings with the death penalty. You are being nakedly partisan and you should be ashamed. Another reason you are losing membership.

June 18, 2021

Lieu also joined dozens of other Catholic Democrats in Congress in signing on to a “statement of principles” urging the USCCB not to continue with their efforts.

“We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents,” the statement says.

“The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory.”

Joe Biden has arrived in his home state of Delaware, where he will be spending the weekend. The president did not take any questions from reporters as he boarded and later exited Marine One.

The Hill

President Biden arrives in New Castle, Delaware

June 18, 2021

Jill Biden will travel to Jackson, Mississippi, and Nashville, Tennessee, on Tuesday to visit coronavirus vaccination sites and encourage more Americans to get vaccinated.

The first lady, the vice-president and the second gentleman have recently been participating in a nationwide tour to areas with lower vaccination rates to encourage people to get their shots.

Michael LaRosa

🚨 HAPPENING TUESDAY: @FLOTUS ✈️ heads to Jackson, Mississippi and Nashville, Tennessee

June 18, 2021

Speaking at the historically Black Clark Atlanta University in Georgia today, Kamala Harris urged Americans to reject misinformation about the vaccines and protect themselves against the virus.

“Let’s recognize that we have power in every moment of crisis, including this one,” Harris said.

David Smith

Mike Pence, the former US vice-president, has been heckled as a “traitor” for his refusal to overturn last year’s election result during a speech to a gathering of religious conservatives.

Pence, who is widely seen as laying the groundwork for a White House run in 2024, had entered an auditorium in Orlando, Florida to a standing ovation on Friday. But a small group began shouted abuse including “traitor!” as he began a 28-minute speech. The dissenters were quickly escorted out by police.

Earlier, in a corridor outside the ballroom, an attendee named Rick Hurley, wearing a red “Make America great again” cap, also vented his frustration over Pence’s role in certifying Donald Trump’s defeat on 6 January amid false claims of voter fraud.

“We need to start fighting!” Hurley shouted at anyone who would listen. “We need to stop being so damned nice. What the hell’s going on? Why is Pence coming today? Donald Trump has his pen in his back still.”

Before being taken aside by police, he also remarked: “I’m ready to fight. I’m going to boo him off stage. I’ll take the bullet. I’ll walk to the front of the stage and look him in the eye and and say, ‘What are you doing here?’

In an interview, Hurley said he had been at the US Capitol on 6 January. “I want to know why Pence is here today.” he said. “He stabbed Donald Trump in the back and took the coins like Judas.”

Dozens of Catholic Democrats in Congress signed on to a letter denouncing the efforts to rebuke lawmakers who receive Communion and support abortion rights.

“We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents,” the letter says.

“The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory.”

Rosa DeLauro

As Catholic Democrats, we are committed to making real the basic principles that are at the heart of Catholic social teaching: helping the oppressed, protecting the least among us & ensuring that all are given opportunities to share in the blessings of this great country.

June 18, 2021

The lawmakers who signed the letter — including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Joaquin Castro and Ted Lieu — also made a point to list some of the Republican policies that they say contradict Catholic teachings.

“No elected officials have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist as they support and have supported policies contrary to the Church teachings, including supporting the death penalty, separating migrant children from their parents, denying asylum to those seeking safety in the United States, limiting assistance for the hungry and food insecure, and denying rights and dignity to immigrants,” the letter says.

The lawmakers encouraged the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to not continue with its efforts, saying, “We solemnly urge you to not move forward and deny this most holy of all sacraments, the source and the summit of the whole work of the gospel over one issue.”

‘I don’t think that’s going to happen,’ Biden says of efforts to block him from receiving Communion

Joe Biden took a couple questions from reporters after concluding his prepared remarks on his administration’s coronavirus vaccination efforts.

One reporter asked the president for his response to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops taking steps toward rebuking Catholic politicians, such as Biden, who receive Communion and support abortion rights.

“That’s a private matter, and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Biden replied.

The AP has more details on the USCCB’s decision:

U.S. Catholic bishops overwhelmingly approved the drafting of a ‘teaching document’ that many of them hope will rebuke Catholic politicians, including [Biden], for receiving Communion despite their support for abortion rights.

The result of the vote — 168 in favor and 55 against — was announced Friday near the end of a three-day meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that was held virtually.

The bishops had cast their votes privately on Thursday after nearly three hours of impassioned debate.

Supporters of the measure said a strong rebuke of Biden was needed because of his recent actions protecting and expanding abortion access, while opponents warned that such action would portray the bishops as a partisan force during a time of bitter political divisions across the country.

Covid ‘remains a serious and deadly threat’ for unvaccinated people, Biden says

Joe Biden has just finished delivering remarks on reaching 300 million coronavirus vaccine doses administered since he took office in January.

The president praised the “whole of government response” that has allowed millions of Americans to get vaccinated. As of today, 65% of American adults have received at least one vaccine shot.

“Above all, we got here because of the American people,” Biden said.

ABC News

Pres. Biden: “We’ve built equity into the heart of our vaccination program from day one.”

June 18, 2021

The president also touted his administration’s efforts to get Americans of color vaccinated, while acknowledging more works needs to be done in that regard.

“We’ve built equity into the heart of our vaccination program from day one,” Biden said. “The more we close the racial gap in vaccination rates, the more lives we’ll save.”

While looking ahead to the country’s “summer of joy” as pandemic-related restrictions are relaxed, Biden emphasized that coronavirus “remains a serious and deadly threat” for unvaccinated Americans.

The president also warned that the delta variant of the virus could pose an even worse threat to unvaccinated people. Speaking directly to unvaccinated Americans, Biden said, “Act. Act now.”


As Joe Biden prepares to deliver an update on US vaccination efforts, Kamala Harris is in Atlanta, Georgia, to encourage more Americans to get their shots.

Speaking at the historically Black Clark Atlanta University this afternoon, Harris denounced misinformation about the coronavirus vaccines, saying, “Let’s arm ourselves with the truth.”

CBS News

Harris speaks about the dramatic drops in COVID infections and deaths over the past five months: “Let’s recognize that we have power in every moment of crisis, including this one…When the American people come together, in the spirit of community, we can do anything. Anything.”

June 18, 2021

The vice-president also noted that most of the Americans currently hospitalized with coronavirus are unvaccinated.

“Let’s recognize that we have power in every moment of crisis, including this one,” Harris said. “When the American people come together, in the spirit of community, we can do anything. Anything.”

As we prepare for Joe Biden’s remarks on the ongoing coronavirus vaccination efforts in the US, some reporters shared photos of a rainbow-lit hallway at the White House.

The colorful lights appear to be an homage to LGBTQ+ Pride month, which began on June 1.

darlene superville

White House hallway lit up in rainbow colors for Pride Month.

June 18, 2021

300 million vaccine shots administered since Biden took office, White House announces

More than 300 coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered since Joe Biden took office in January, the White House announced in a press release.

“Today, thanks to the President’s COVID-19 strategy, the virus is in retreat. 300 million shots have been administered in 150 days, COVID-19 cases and deaths have decreased by more than 90 percent, and the economy is experiencing the strongest rebound in decades,” the White House said.

“The results are clear: America is starting to look like America again, and entering a summer of joy and freedom.”

A man receives a shot at the FEMA-supported COVID-19 vaccination site at Valencia State College in Orlando.

A man receives a shot at the FEMA-supported COVID-19 vaccination site at Valencia State College in Orlando. Photograph: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

The White House noted that 65% of American adults have now received at least one vaccine dose, and 55% of adults in the US are fully vaccinated. Additionally, 15 states and DC have gotten more than 70% of adults at least partially vaccinated.

However, it is still unclear whether the US will hit Biden’s goal of having 70% of all American adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4, when America celebrates its Independence Day.

Biden is expected to deliver an update on his administration’s vaccination efforts at any moment, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has endorsed a Republican Senate candidate running against Lisa Murkowski, the Republican senator from Alaska who is up for reelection next year.

“Lisa Murkowski is bad for Alaska,” Trump said in a new statement. “Her vote to confirm Biden’s Interior Secretary was a vote to kill long sought for, and approved, ANWR, and Alaska jobs. Murkowski has got to go! Kelly Tshibaka is the candidate who can beat Murkowski—and she will.”

The endorsement is not a surprise, given that the former president has frequently criticized Murkowski since she voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial earlier this year.

Trump said of Tshibaka, “Kelly is a fighter who stands for Alaska values and America First. … Kelly is a powerful supporter of the Second Amendment and JOBS! I look forward to campaigning in Alaska for Kelly Tshibaka. She has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

According to CNN, Tshibaka has previously written in support of an “ex-gay” Christian organization that promoted conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Mike Pence heckled at conservative Christian conference

Victoria Bekiempis

Former Vice President Mike Pence was heckled during his speech at a conservative Christian conference on Friday, with some attendees shouting “traitor!” according to Forbes.

“It is great to be back with so many patriots, dedicated to faith and freedom and the road to the majority,” Pence remarked.

Pence, speaking at the Trump supporter-filled Faith & Freedom symposium, was cheered when he took the stage, NBC News journalist Ali Vitali said. Less than thirty seconds into his address, however, yelling emerged from the audience.

Andrew Solender

Pence gets drowned out by hecklers at the Faith & Freedom Coalition summit, some of whom appear to be chanting “traitor!”

June 18, 2021

One woman who yelled “traitor!” was escorted out, Vitali reported.

Although Pence served Trump dutifully, some of the ex-president’s supporters turned on him. On 6 January, a mob of Trump’s supporters breached the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn the election.

Some insurrectionists shouted “hang Mike Pence,” shortly after Trump remarked that he would feel “very disappointed” if his then-deputy didn’t overturn the results, per Forbes.


Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Republicans pushed back against Joe Manchin’s compromise proposal on a voting rights bill, which the Democratic senator laid out in a memo to colleagues this week. Manchin’s bill would include Republican demands like requiring voter ID and allowing voter purges, but Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said the proposal was still “an assault on the fundamental idea that states, not the federal government, should decide how to run their own elections”.
  • Joe Biden released a proclamation recognizing Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in America. Biden signed a bill yesterday to make Juneteenth, which falls on June 19, a federal holiday. “Juneteenth is a day of profound weight and power,” Biden said in his proclamation. “On Juneteenth, we recommit ourselves to the work of equity, equality, and justice.”
  • Kamala Harris is visiting Atlanta, Georgia, as part of her tour to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated against coronavirus. Visiting a pop-up vaccination site at Ebenezer Baptist Church this afternoon, the vice-president thanked those present for getting their shots. “What you are doing truly is about leadership. These vaccines are safe and effective. It will save your life and lives of people that you love,” Harris said.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Joe Biden is nominating former congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small to a senior role in the department of agriculture, the White House just announced in a statement.

If confirmed by the Senate, Torres Small, who lost her reelection bid last year, would become undersecretary of rural development at the USDA.

“In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Representative Torres Small kept a rural hospital from closing its doors, improved constituent access to healthcare over the phone, and helped secure tens of millions of dollars for broadband in New Mexico through USDA’s ReConnect Program,” the White House said.

“Throughout her career, Torres Small has employed her experience organizing in vulnerable, rural communities to achieve lasting investments that combat persistent poverty.”

Torres Small served only one term in the House before being defeated in November by Republican Yvette Herrell, who won the race in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District by about 7 points.

Kamala Harris toured the pop-up vaccination site at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, and she thanked those who are getting their shots today.

“What you are doing truly is about leadership. These vaccines are safe and effective. It will save your life and lives of people that you love,” the vice-president said, per a press pool report. “We’re here to say thank you.”

Harris toured the vaccination site with several Democratic lawmakers, including Georgia senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

After Harris made her remarks to the newly vaccinated people at the site, Warnock joked, “The vice-president preached a good sermon today. Amen!”

Harris visits Georgia to encourage coronavirus vaccinations

Kamala Harris has arrived in Atlanta, Georgia, where she will continue her tour of southern states to encourage more Americans to get their coronavirus vaccines.

Kamala Harris exits Air Force Two, Friday, June 18, 2021, on arrival to Atlanta.

Kamala Harris exits Air Force Two, Friday, June 18, 2021, on arrival to Atlanta. Photograph: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Harris is scheduled to tour a pop-up vaccination site at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr once preached, and then deliver remarks at a vaccination mobilization event at Clark Atlanta University, a historically Black college.

The vice-president will also later participate in a conversation on voting rights with community leaders at the university.

As part of Joe Biden’s “month of action” to increase vaccination rates, Harris kicked off her southern tour with a trip to South Carolina earlier this week.

“Vaccination gives protection,” Harris said in Greenville. “This act, in a way, is a projection of love thy neighbor.”


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