Five national stories of the week

President Joe Biden walks out from the White House in Washington, D.C., before his departure to Surfside, Florida, on Thursday, July 1, 2021. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
President Joe Biden walks out from the White House in Washington, D.C., before his departure to Surfside, Florida, on Thursday, July 1, 2021. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

Editor’s Note: This listicle is part of a series by The Ball State Daily News summarizing five stories from around the world. All summaries are based on stories published by The Associated Press.

Wildfires threaten homes and land across 10 Western states, Biden escalates fight for voting rights, US drilling approvals increase despite Biden's climate pledge, the death toll at a Miami-era condo collapse site climbs to 94 and Cubans in Miami talk of boating to island to back protests makes up this week's five national stories.

Wildfires threaten homes, land across 10 Western states

Wildfires that torched homes and forced thousands to evacuate burned across 10 parched Western states on Tuesday, and the largest, in Oregon, threatened California’s power supply. Nearly 60 wildfires tore through bone-dry timber and brush from Alaska to Wyoming, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Arizona, Idaho and Montana accounted for more than half of the large active fires. The fires erupted as the West was in the grip of the second bout of dangerously high temperatures in just a few weeks. A climate change-fueled megadrought also is contributing to conditions that make fires even more dangerous, scientists say.

Pressured by allies, Biden escalates fight for voting rights

President Joe Biden will lay out the “moral case” for voting rights as he faces growing pressure from civil rights activists and other Democrats to combat efforts by Republican-led state legislatures to restrict access to the ballot. Biden has declared that protecting voting rights was the central cause of his presidency, but the White House has taken sharp criticism from allies for not doing more while contending with political headwinds and stubborn Senate math that have greatly restricted its ability to act. Biden’s speech Tuesday in Philadelphia is intended as the opening salvo of a public pressure campaign, White House aides said, even as legislative options to block voting restrictions face significant obstacles.

US drilling approvals increase despite Biden's climate pledge

Approvals for companies to drill for oil and gas on U.S. public lands are on pace this year to reach their highest level since George W. Bush was president, underscoring President Joe Biden’s reluctance to more forcefully curb petroleum production in the face of industry and Republican resistance. The Interior Department approved about 2,500 permits to drill on public and tribal lands in the first six months of the year, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data. That includes more than 2,100 drilling approvals since Biden took office January 20. New Mexico and Wyoming had the largest number of approvals. Montana, Colorado and Utah had hundreds each.

Death toll at Miami-area condo collapse site climbs to 94

The death toll in the Miami-area condominium collapse climbed to 94 Monday as officials planned to step up security at the site to make sure the personal possessions of the victims are preserved for their families. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said 22 people remain unaccounted for in the June 24 collapse of Champlain Towers South, an oceanside condo building in Surfside. Levine Cava said 83 of the victims have been identified but “the process of making identifications has been made more difficult as time goes on.” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said officials have decided to increase security around the debris pile to ensure that the site is preserved. Only authorized personnel will be allowed.

Cubans in Miami talk of boating to island to back protests

The United States Coast Guard in Miami is monitoring any activity aimed at increasing “unsafe and illegal” crossings between Florida and Cuba in response to rare street protests on the island. Rear Adm. Eric C. Jones issued a warning statement Monday night as groups of Cuban immigrants said they planned to travel in boats filled with supplies to Cuba to show support for the Cuban protesters. South Florida has the country’s largest population of Cuban Americans. In Miami, Cuban social media personalities posted Monday that they would make the 10-hour boat ride to Cuba to show support after rare street protests broke out over the weekend, the Miami Herald reported.

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