Five national stories of the week

<p>Simone Biles at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Biles dropped out of the competition at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, but returned to compete on the balance beam and won bronze. <strong>Photo courtesy of Wikimedia </strong></p>

Simone Biles at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Biles dropped out of the competition at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, but returned to compete on the balance beam and won bronze. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

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.

Simone Biles returns to the Olympic competition, bipartisan bill leaves out key climate and clean energy steps, the US hits a 70 percent vaccination rate amid the COVID-19 surge, US employers ratchet up the pressure on the unvaccinated and garden to open for El Paso Walmart shooting second anniversary makes up this week's five national stories.

Simone Biles returns to Olympic competition, wins bronze on beam

The American gymnastics superstar earned her seventh Olympic medal and second in Tokyo with a third-place finish in the balance beam final on Tuesday, a week after she took herself out of several competitions to deal with a mental block that prevented her from twisting while performing. Biles drilled a slightly watered-down version of her usual routine in front of a crowd that included IOC President Thomas Bach. The bronze — matching the one she captured in Rio de Janeiro five years ago — moved her into a tie with Shannon Miller for the most Olympic medals by an American gymnast. Biles, using a double-pike dismount — no twisting required — posted a score of 14.000.

Bipartisan bill leaves out key climate, clean energy steps

The $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package unveiled by the Senate includes more than $150 billion to boost clean energy and promote “climate resilience” by making schools, ports and other structures better able to withstand extreme weather events such as storms and wildfires. But the bill, headed for a Senate vote this week, falls far short of President Joe Biden’s pledge to transform the nation’s heavily fossil-fuel powered economy into a clean-burning one and stop climate-damaging emissions from U.S. power plants by 2035. Notably, the deal omits mention of a Clean Electricity Standard, a key element of Biden’s climate plan that would require the electric grid to replace fossil fuels with renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydropower.

US hits 70% vaccination rate -- a month late, amid a surge

The U.S. on Monday finally reached President Joe Biden’s goal of getting at least one COVID-19 shot into 70% of American adults -- a month late and amid a fierce surge by the delta variant that is swamping hospitals and leading to new mask rules and mandatory vaccinations around the country. In a major retreat in the Deep South, Louisiana ordered nearly everyone, vaccinated or not, to wear masks again in all indoor public settings, including schools and colleges. And other cities and states likewise moved to reinstate precautions to counter a crisis blamed on the fast-spreading variant and stubborn resistance to getting the vaccine.

US employers ratchet up the pressure on the unvaccinated

Employers are losing patience with unvaccinated workers. For months, most employers relied on information campaigns, bonuses and other incentives to encourage their workforces to get the COVID-19 shot. Now, a growing number are imposing rules to make it more onerous for employees to refuse, from outright mandates to requiring the unvaccinated to undergo regular testing. Among employers getting tougher are the federal government, the state governments of California and New York, tech giants Google and Facebook, the Walt Disney Co. and the NFL. Some hospitals, universities, restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues have also started requiring vaccines.

Garden to open for El Paso Walmart shooting 2nd anniversary

Officials in the border city of El Paso will unveil a garden Tuesday that is meant to bring healing two years after a gunman targeting Latinos opened fire at a Walmart, killing 23 people in an attack that stunned the U.S. and Mexico. Much like the first anniversary of the shooting, many of the events honoring those slain will again be affected by precautions for the coronavirus pandemic. The dedication of the healing garden — in a county park space dedicated to quiet reflection among water and plants — will be closed to the public. Victims’ families and officials will take part in the ceremony, which will be livestreamed.

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