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Monday. Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

Whole article by a co  writer at The Morning Dispatch.

  • President Joe Biden’s Middle East trip ended this weekend with several announcements: Saudi Arabia will open its airspace to civilian flights from Israel, a group of Arab financial development institutions will spend $10 billion to relieve regional food insecurity alongside a $1 billion commitment from the U.S., and the U.S. will withdraw peacekeeping forces from a Red Sea island it’s occupied for decades—allowing Saudi Arabia to develop the land. Saudi Arabia also agreed to support extending the ceasefire in Yemen. And after meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Biden announced $100 million in aid for Palestinian hospitals and stated his support for a two-state solution with agreed-upon land swaps, returning the U.S. to an Obama-era stance.
  • But Biden did not secure a concrete commitment from the Saudis to increase oil production, a major goal of the trip. And he garnered criticism for his meeting—and awkward fist bump—with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom the U.S. holds responsible for human rights violations including the 2018 dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Biden said he raised Khashoggi’s killing to the prince, but he had promised on the campaign trail to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah.”
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday he had fired the country’s prosecutor general and its security service chief—a childhood friend of Zelensky’s—because he claimed more than 60 employees in their departments were collaborating with Russians in occupied territory. Zelensky said 651 treason cases have been registered against law enforcement and prosecutor’s office employees.
  • Mexican forces on Friday captured drug lord Rafael Caro Quinter, who has been on the FBI’s top 10 most wanted list for decades for drug trafficking and his role in the 1985 murder of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officer. The U.S. has already requested Caro Quintero’s extradition, and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland thanked Mexican authorities for making the arrest, which came at a heavy cost: Fourteen military personnel were killed when a helicopter crashed during the operation.
  • Eastern District of Tennessee Judge Charles Atchley on Friday temporarily blocked the Education Department’s proposed Title IX guidance—which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation—because the guidance contradicts state laws requiring transgender people to play on sports teams and use bathrooms matching their biological sex. A group of 20 Republican attorneys general had sued to block the guidance, arguing their states could lose federal funding for enforcing their laws and that requiring schools to use students’ preferred pronouns violates the First Amendment. 
  • The Commerce Department reported Friday that U.S. retail sales rose 1 percent month-over-month in June, and that May’s decline from April was smaller than previously estimated. The statistic is not adjusted for inflation, however, so higher prices likely accounted for much of the increase. Still, stocks rose on the news, with the S&P 500 climbing 1.9 percent Friday.
  • The January 6 select committee subpoenaed the U.S. Secret Service on Friday for text messages and reports related to the Capitol riot, and committee members said Sunday they expect to receive them by Tuesday. Joseph Cuffari, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, had accused the agency of deleting text messages from January 5 and 6, 2021, after he requested them, but Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the agency simply lost some data during planned tech updates and would comply with the subpoena. The committee’s next and—at least for now—final hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has ordered another 2.5 million doses of monkeypox vaccines, which will begin arriving in the national stockpile in 2023. New York City saw cases triple last week, and U.S. officials had confirmed 1,814 cases as of July 15. “We’ve failed to contain this,” former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CBS News yesterday. “We made a lot of the same mistakes we made with COVID with this. Having a narrow case definition, not enough testing early enough, not providing a vaccine in an aggressive fashion. ... While it’s not going to explode because it’s harder for the virus to spread, it will be persistent.”
  • The U.S. and Russian space agencies will resume sharing rocket rides to the International Space Station, starting with a trip in September, NASA said Friday. Dmitry Rogozin—then head of Russia’s Roscosmos—had previously said Russia would end space station cooperation in response to Western sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but he was replaced last week.
  • A Texas House committee investigating the police response to the Uvalde shooting released a report Sunday that concluded “systemic failures” left the school vulnerable, and “egregiously poor decision-making” by law enforcement could have led to a higher death count. Most of the 21 victims would likely have died even if police had responded well, the report said, but “it is plausible that some victims could have survived if they had not had to wait” for help. Lt. Mariano Pargas—Uvalde’s acting police chief—was placed on administrative leave.

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