With millions of Americans behind on rent, President Joe Biden urged Congress to extend the freeze on evictions. Biden also called on states to give out $100 in cash to incentivize vaccines. And ex-Cardinal Theodore McCormick is facing sexual assault charges.
👋 It's Laura, with a whole bunch of news on this fine Thursday!
But first, these fossils are older than dirt. 🤓 Literally. A geologist in Canada might have found fossils of ancient sponges dating back 890 million years.
End of eviction ban looming
A nationwide freeze on evictions is set to expire Saturday. But President Biden wants to keep it going, urgently asking Congress on Thursday to extend the moratorium. The president said a Supreme Court ruling had left his hands tied, unable to act on his own to extend the eviction freeze that was put in place last September by the CDC to protect Americans who have fallen behind on their rent during the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of Americans are behind on rent, and policy experts and analysts said more needs to be done to avoid the largest housing crisis in more than a decade. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president was concerned the uptick in cases is hitting Americans who are most likely to face evictions and lack vaccinations the hardest, calling on Congress to act "to protect such vulnerable renters and their families without delay."
Eviction moratorium: Millions of renters still haven't been able to pay back rent.
A house divided: As millions of Americans face evictions, others buy dream homes.
$100 cash for newly vaxxed
Unvaccinated and could use a hundred bucks? President Joe Biden asked states and cities to use federal rescue funds to provide $100 payments to individuals who get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus as an incentive for them to get the shot. The Treasury Department announced the move Thursday after releasing new rules allowing state and local governments to use their share of $350 billion in direct aid from Biden's American Rescue Plan on incentivizing vaccines.
In other news: Biden said that federal employees and contract workers will be required to show they are fully vaccinated or undergo COVID-19 tests once or twice a week, wear face masks on the job and socially distance from other employees and visitors. The president also directed the Defense Department to review adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for members of the military.
📊 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are once again over 2,000 per week, and new cases are averaging more than 60,000 per day for the first time in more than three months after dropping to around 11,000.
High transmissibility areas: See map of where you need a mask indoors.
Breakthrough COVID-19 infections can lead to long-lasting symptoms.
Why is it taking so long to fully approve COVID-19 vaccines?
What everyone's talking about
Goodbye, 'Arthur': Beloved animated children's show to end 25-season run.
He masterminded a plot to kidnap his estranged wife. It all went south when the men he hired drowned.
Who left the light on? For the first time, light has been spotted from behind a black hole.
Let them eat cake: Or not. A slice of Princess Diana's wedding cake – from 40 years ago – is up for auction.
Massive earthquake rattles Alaska
Residents scrambled to higher ground or to evacuate coastal towns late Wednesday and early Thursday after a massive earthquake struck off Alaska, triggering aftershocks and now-canceled tsunami warnings. Pat Branson, mayor of Kodiak, told CNN the magnitude 8.2 earthquake was the strongest in the area since the 1960s. The quake hit 56 miles east southeast of Perryville, Alaska, at 8:15 p.m., and was felt throughout the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak, the Alaska Earthquake Center said. Alaska is along the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire, which is a horseshoe-shaped geological disaster zone and hotbed for tectonic and volcanic activity. The Anchorage Daily News reported that the earthquake was the third major quake in the area in 13 months.
Ex-Cardinal charged with 1970s sexual assault of teen boy
Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was charged with the sexual assault of a teenage boy, the first criminal charge to be brought against the prelate since he was accused years ago of abusing seminary students. He is the highest-ranking church official to face such charges. Online court records show McCarrick was charged Wednesday with indecent assault and battery on a person 14 years old or older. The Boston Globe reported that the charges are related to an allegation that McCarrick abused a 16-year-old boy at a wedding at Wellesley College in the 1970s. McCarrick, 91, was among the most powerful officials in the Catholic Church for decades until he was removed from ministry in 2018 when the church deemed an allegation of child sexual abuse against him to be credible. He was defrocked a year later amid accusations that he abused children and adult seminary students.
McCarrick report: Vatican blames John Paull II, others in abuse scandal.
Feds investigate after USA TODAY report on massage school accused of ties to prostitution.
US rower says seeing Russians win a silver medal leaves 'a nasty feeling.'
50 years ago, Melvin McNair helped hijack a plane, wanting to escape US racism.
Cycling coach removed from Olympics after yelling racist comments during race.
Gold for Suni Lee is gold for the Hmong
When Sunisa Lee stood on the Olympic platform to accept a gold medal in front of the world, the Hmong community felt like they were finally seen. Representing an ethnic community that has never had a home, she won gold in the Tokyo Olympics gymnastics all-around competition Thursday as the first Hmong-American to make the U.S. Olympic team. Hmong communities made up less than .001% of the U.S. population in 2019, according to U.S. Census data. From fleeing war and violence as refugees to assimilating to the U.S., Lee's victory is said to be a reflection of the Hmong people's drive and spirit. Before the Tokyo games, John Lee predicted just how historic an Olympic medal would be for not only his daughter but for his people. "It would be the greatest accomplishment of any Hmong person in the U.S. ever," John Lee told Elle Magazine. "It will go down in history."
Suni Lee in photos: Incredible images from the Tokyo Olympics.
Who are the Hmong? What is Hmong culture? These questions, and more, answered.
A break from the news
🥴 Fight the Sunday scaries: How to make your post-vacay return to work less terrible.
💋 Pucker up! For National Lipstick Day, here's how to create a trendy two-tone look!
🤑 Save cash on masks: Here's where you can get face masks on sale right now.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Eviction ban, Ex-Cardinal McCarrick charged, COVID-19, Alaska earthquake, Sunisa Lee. It's Thursday's news.