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5 things to know for June 25: Extreme weather, SCOTUS, Julian Assange, trash balloons, space race

By Alexandra Banner, CNN

(CNN) — Several veteran CNN contributors were asked to rewatch past Biden-Trump debates for clues to what will happen when the opponents meet again on stage this Thursday. They did — and offered these predictions about this week’s showdown. Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

1. Extreme weather

As millions of Americans swelter under record-breaking temperatures, major flooding from heavy rains in the Midwest has strained a Minnesota dam to the brink of collapse. The Rapidan Dam located about 70 miles southwest of Minneapolis is in “imminent failure condition,” the Blue Earth County government said. In a Monday evening update, the county said there are currently no plans for a “mass evacuation” while emergency crews actively monitor the situation. Severe flooding already wreaked havoc across the Midwest over the weekend, killing at least one person in South Dakota and prompting rescue efforts in multiple states.


The Supreme Court is poised to announce blockbuster decisions this week on abortion, guns and former President Donald Trump’s claims of absolute immunity. Trump has argued that without immunity, presidents would be hamstrung in office, always fearful of being second guessed by a zealous prosecutor after leaving the White House. The immunity case appears likely to come down to whether Trump’s actions after the 2020 election were “official” – that is, steps he was taking as president — or whether they were “private,” which would not likely receive immunity. The high court on Monday also agreed to hear the Biden administration’s challenge to a transgender care ban, delving into the complicated issue of whether states can ban hormone therapy and puberty blockers for minors.

3. Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge related to his alleged role in one of the largest US government breaches of classified material, as part of a deal with the Justice Department that will allow him to avoid prison time in the United States. Federal officials pursued Assange after his whistleblowing website published nearly half a million secret military documents relating to the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 52-year-old Australian has spent the past five years in a high-security UK prison and nearly seven years before that holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. The new plea deal allows Assange to return to Australia as a free man, but not until he has made a court appearance in a remote US territory in the Pacific.

4. Trash balloons

North Korea sent another wave of balloons purportedly filled with waste and trash into South Korea overnight, reigniting a tit-for-tat exchange as tensions on the Korean Peninsula continue to heighten. More than 1,000 such balloons from the North have made it into South Korean territory since May, according to a CNN tally. North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un has said the balloons were a “responsive act” to the South’s years-long practice of flying leaflets that contain materials critical of his regime. The latest balloon salvo comes as inter-Korean diplomacy remains at an impasse. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a defense agreement with North Korea last week as talks on its denuclearization efforts have stalled, and Kim has vowed to expand his country’s nuclear arsenal.

5. Space race

China’s Chang’e-6 lunar module returned to Earth today, completing its historic mission to collect the first ever samples from the far side of the moon. The mission is a major step forward for the country’s ambitious space program. Chinese leader Xi Jinping hailed the mission as “another landmark achievement in building a strong country in space, and science and technology.” China is among several countries, including the US, that are ramping up their lunar exploration programs. Beijing’s ambitions to send astronauts to the moon by 2030 come as the US looks to launch a crewed “Artemis” mission as early as 2026. That would be America’s first such attempt at landing on the moon in more than 50 years.


Florida Panthers capture first NHL title in franchise history

The Florida Panthers nabbed the Stanley Cup on Monday after defeating the Edmonton Oilers in a thrilling Game 7!

JJ Redick introduced as new Lakers coach

The Los Angeles Lakers hired former NBA shooting guard JJ Redick to guide the team despite his “zero coaching experience.” Redick says his time as a player, analyst and podcaster has him prepared.

As Americans trim spending, these cheap steakhouses are booming

Price-conscious Americans are seeking affordable luxury on their nights out. Texas Roadhouse and LongHorn Steakhouse are seeing a boost in sales while most restaurant chains are feeling the heat.

‘Inside Out 2’ fills Disney with joy, even if its culture-war critics stay angry

Disney has often been a culture-war target, but “Inside Out 2” has emerged as a major box-office success for the studio.

‘Freaky Friday 2’ will premiere in theaters in 2025

Feel the nostalgia kicking in? Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis are now on set for “Freaky Friday 2” after previously teasing a sequel to their 2003 turn as a mother-daughter duo who switch bodies.



That’s how many times the S&P 500 has surpassed its own record since January, a signal that the stock market could have its best election year ever. It’s been 333 days since the index recorded a decline of 2% or greater, which is the longest stretch since February 2018, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs.


The safety and well-being of our children and future generations are at stake.

— US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, calling for “collective commitment” to stop gun violence in the US in new advisory released today. It’s the first time a publication from the Office of the Surgeon General has focused on firearm violence and its “profound consequences” on survivors, communities, and mental health.


How to visit Venice, Italy — without leaving the US

Are we in Italy? Nope, we’re in Providence! Watch this video to see the deep Italian-American roots of Rhode Island’s capital city via gondola. For more, check out CNN’s specially curated 2024 list of America’s Best Towns to Visit.

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