News Timeline: June 2021

June 2 – Middle East: Israel

Politics: Elections

Members of the Israeli Knesset select Isaac Herzog to be the country’s next president.  He will assume office on June 13.  The presidency in Israel is a largely ceremonial position and presidents serve only one seven-year term.[1]

June 13 – Naftali Bennett of the right-wing Yamina party and Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid political party are sworn-in as Prime Minister of Israel and as Alternate Prime Minister respectively.  Each of them will serve two years in office.  The change comes after an unprecedented power-sharing coalition government was formed with a main purpose to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 years in power and approved by 60 to 59 votes in the parliament.  The coalition contains parties, which have vast ideological and social policy differences, and includes the first independent Arab party, Raam.  Benjamin Netanyahu remains head of the right-wing Likud party and becomes leader of the opposition.[2]   

Who is Naftali Bennett

June 9 – Europe: Russia

Politics: Suppressing the Opposition

A court in Russia bans opposition Aleksei A. Navalny’s political movement, ruling that it is an extremist network.  It halts activities of his three nonprofit groups, Navalny’s Headquarters, the Fund for Fighting Corruption, and the Fund for Defending Citizens’ Rights. Navalny was prohibited from forming a political party and worked through a network of nongovernmental organizations.  The move is another attempt by the Putin regime to suppress the dissent.  After the court’s ruling, the movement’s organizers, donors, and even social-media supporters can be prosecuted and face prison time.[3]

June 8 – Latin America / Global: El Salvador

Economy/Finance: Bitcoin

El Salvador is the first country to adopt the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as legal currency in the country alongside the U.S. dollar with September 7 as the official start date.  The new law means every business must accept Bitcoin as legal tender for goods or services, unless it is unable to provide the technology needed to do the transaction.  President Nayib Bukele promises that this will bring “financial inclusion, investment, tourism, innovation and economic development for our country.”  The critics, however, raise concerns about the cryptocurrency’s volatility and no direct connection to the real economy.[4]

What is Bitcoin?

More about Bitcoin in El Salvador and El Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele

Nayib Bukele: El Salvador’s Bitcoin messiah

June 11-13 – International Organizations: G7

The 47th G7 summit

The Group of Seven (G7) holds a summit in Cornwall, England in the United Kingdom, which currently carries out the presidency of this inter-governmental political forum.  The participants include the leaders of the seven member-states (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States), as well as representatives of the European Union.  The G7 leaders put several issues on top of their agenda. 

Covid-19 vaccine: they pledge to supply a billion vaccines to poor countries directly, or to give them to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Covax program to distribute.

Climate: to counter climate change, they make an agreement to get rid of coal-fired power stations that don’t use carbon capture technology.  They also promised to help poorer countries cut emissions and devise a plan to support a ‘green revolution’.  The leaders agree to phase-out cars that run on fossil fuels, and end the use of coal-power energy plants.  At the same time, they establish no dates for this to happen.

Girls’ education: G7Leaders agree to promote gender equality by helping 40 million more girls get into education within the next five years. They also promise $2.75 billion for the Global Partnership for Education, an international charity focused on increasing the number of children in school.[5]

Global tax: Finance leaders from the G7 countries agree to back a new global minimum tax rate of at least 15 percent that companies would have to pay regardless of where they locate their headquarters. This would prevent tax avoidance by some of the world’s biggest multinationals.[6]

Background of G7:

The G7 consists of the world’s seven leading industrial countries that work together to tackle important global issues.  Although their decisions are not legally binding, the G7 countries exert strong political influence and determine responses to global challenges.  In 1997, the Group extended to G8 by including Russia.  However, after invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea, Russia was suspended indefinitely reverting the group to G7.

The 2021 G7 Summit in pictures

June 15 – World

Global Health: coronavirus, or COVID-19

Death toll from Covid-19 in the United States passes 600,000.  At the same time, New York and California, two states hit hard by the pandemic early on, with California being the first state to shut down last year, are now fully reopening lifting most of the pandemic restrictions.  At the height of the pandemic, New York had a positivity rate of 48.16 percent, the highest in the country. Now it is the lowest of only 0.4 percent.[7]

(Jun 15): Four dominant variants of SARS-CoV-2 spreading globally have been identified: the Alpha Variant (formerly called the UK Variant as it was first detected in the United Kingdom), the Beta Variant (formerly called the South Africa Variant), the Gamma Variant (formerly called the Brazil Variant), and the Delta Variant (formerly called the India Variant).  These variants spread more easily and much faster, and make the disease more severe, especially the Delta variant.  An increase in the number of cases puts more strain on healthcare resources, lead to more hospitalizations, and potentially more deaths.[8]

5 Things To Know About the Delta Variant

Less than 0.004 percent of people who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 experience a breakthrough case resulting in hospitalization, and less than 0.001 percent have died from the disease.[9]  

To stop the spread of Covid-19 variants, at least 80 percent of people or higher need to be vaccinated.  So far 52.6 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 43.9 percent are fully vaccinated.[10] 

Tracking Covid vaccinations by state

(Jun 19): The world had records more than 178 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 3.8 million deaths from COVID-19.  The U.S. leads in confirmed cases of the virus, with more than 33.5 million cases, followed by India, with 29.8 million cases.[11]

(Jun 20): Brazil becomes the second country (after the United States) to surpass half a million deaths from COVID-19.   Among the reasons are slow progress in vaccinations and no restrictive measures.[12]

(Jun 28): The government in Australia imposes a two-week lockdown in Sydney and a few other cities in an effort to control the outbreak of COVID-19’s highly infectious Delta variant, the worst outbreak since last year.  The Covid outbreak in Australia is still very mild by global standards with no deaths from it since last year.[13] Overall, Australia has had 35,688 Covid-19 cases with 932 deaths.[14]

(Jun 29): Globally, Covid-19 death toll stands at 3,937,985, while infection cases exceed 181.8 million.  Also, so far at least 3.01 billion doses of Covid vaccine have been administered around the world.[15]  The United States announces that by the end of this month it will distribute an 80 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa, as well as the Palestinian territories.[16]

Vaccination Tracker

June 17 – North America: United States

Juneteenth, as a federal holiday

The U.S. Congress makes Juneteenth, the end of slavery in the U.S., a federal holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the day on June 19, 1865, when US Army General Gordon Grainger told enslaved black people in Galveston, Texas that they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation enacted two-and-a-half years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln.  Texas was the last state of the Confederacy with institutional slavery.[17]

Slavery Didn’t End On Juneteenth

June 19 – Middle East: Iran

Presidential election

Iran’s top judge and a hardliner Ebrahim Raisi loyal to Iran’s ruling clerics wins Iran’s presidential race in an election that is seen as engineered for him to win.  He is currently under US sanctions for grave human rights abuses; he has been linked to past torture and executions of political prisoners.  Voter turnout was only 48.8 percent, the lowest ever for a presidential election in Iran. 

Background: Iran’s president is the second-highest ranking official in Iran after the supreme leader, the top religious cleric, currently Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters.[18]

More about Ebrahim Raisi and what his win means for Iran and the world

Iran elections: To vote or not to vote? Video 04:05 min

June 20 – Africa: Eswatini

Politics: Protests for Change

Widespread protests calling for political reforms in Eswatini, Africa’s last absolute monarchy, intensify and turn violent with the government’s heavy-handed response.  Eswatini’s King Mswati III has been the ruler of this small country for the last 35 years who governs by decree.  The protests started in May after the demonstrators accused the police of killing a law student.  They quickly turned into calls for political changes, an end to the absolute monarchy, political freedoms, and against police brutality.  Another key demand is an end to the royal family’s lavish lifestyle, while most Swazis have to look for work abroad and send money home.  Also, the country’s infrastructure and basic services are collapsing, including the health service in a country with the world’s highest prevalence rate for HIV/Aids.[19]

June 23 – East Asia: Hong Kong / China

Closure of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy paper Apple Daily

Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily is closing after the authorities raided its offices, arrested its chief editor and five other senior managers, and froze the paper’s assets.  The publication had become a leading critic of the Hong Kong leadership and Chinese Communist Party; it widely criticized the leadership of both China and Hong Kong, as well as reported extensively on the pro-democracy protests.  The closing of Apple Daily is seen as a blow to media freedom in the city.  Supporters of the paper gather outside its office and light their phone flashlights as a show of solidarity.[20]

Apple Daily’s final hour (video: 4 min)


[1] “Israel profile – Leaders.” BBC News.  Updated July 9, 2021. Accessed July 27, 21.

[2] “Israel’s new PM Naftali Bennett promises to unite nation.” BBC News. June 14, 2021. Accessed July 27, 21.

[3] Andrew E. Kramer and Anton Troianovski. “With a Ban on Navalny’s Group, Putin Sends Clear Message to Biden.” The New York Times. June 9, 2021. Updated June 14, 2021. Accessed July 13, 2021.

[4] “Bitcoin: El Salvador makes cryptocurrency legal tender.” BBC News. June 9, 2021. Accessed July 20, 2021.

[5] “G7: Vaccines, climate change and girls’ education lead promises from world leaders.” BBC Newsround. June 14, 2021. Accessed July 1, 21 from

[6] Alan Rappeport. “Finance Leaders Reach Global Tax Deal Aimed at Ending Profit Shifting.” The New York Times. June 5, 2021. Updated June 11, 2021. Accessed July 1, 21 from

[7] Steve Almasy, Laura Ly, Holly Yan and Madeline Holcombe. “New York reaches vaccine milestone and joins California in reopening.” CNN. June 15, 2021. Accessed June 24, 21.

[8] “About Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19​​.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated July 29, 2021. Accessed August 1, 21 from

[9] Deidre McPhillips. “Less than 1% of fully vaccinated people experience a breakthrough Covid-19 infection, analysis finds.” LIVE UPDATES: The latest on the Covid-19 pandemic in the US by Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Veronica Rocha. CNN. Updated August 2, 2021. Accessed August 1, 21.

[10] Ibid 8.

[11] “Brazil Records More Than 500,000 COVID-19 Deaths.” VOA News. June 19, 2021. Accessed July 30, 2021.

[12] “Brazil Records More Than 500,000 COVID-19 Deaths.” VOA News. June 19, 2021. Accessed July 30, 2021.

[13] Damien Cave. “Sydney Outbreak Tied to Delta Variant Grows.” The New York Times. Published June 28, 2021. Updated July 21, 2021. Accessed August 1, 21.

[14] “Covid summary statistics.” Australian Government Department of Health. Coronavirus (COVID-19) case numbers and statistics. Updated August 5, 2021. Accessed August 6, 21 from

[15] “Pharmaceutical Technology. “International update: Global Covid vaccinations exceed 3 billion.” June 30, 2021. Accessed July 30, 2021 from

[16] “The U.S. outlines a plan for how it will distribute an initial 25 million doses around the world.” Covid Updates: Africa Faces Third Wave as Vaccine Rollout Sputters. The New York Times. June 3, 2021. Accessed August 1, 21.

[17] “Juneteenth: US to add federal holiday marking end of slavery.” BBC News. 17 June, 2021. Accessed August 1, 21.

[18] “Iran election: Hardliner Raisi will become president.” BBC News. June 19, 2021. Accessed August 6, 21.

[19] “King Maswati not fled Eswatini’s violent protests – PM.” BBC News. June 29, 2021. Accessed July 21, 2021.

[20] “Apple Daily: Hong Kong pro-democracy paper announces closure.” BBC News. June 23, 2021. Accessed July 1, 21.