Virgin Galactic/Handout via REUTERS.
Sirisha Bandla, vice president of government affairs, looks out the window at Earth in zero gravity on board Virgin Galactic's passenger rocket plane on July 11, 2021. She was one of six passengers on the first space tourism flight.

Monday Sunrise Briefing: The era of space tourism lifts off

Here are three news events - Richard Branson in space, Haiti's plea for help, and the Euro2020 winners - from this past weekend (while you may have been visiting relatives or section hiking the Appalachian Trail, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

British billionaire Richard Branson and five crewmates from his Virgin Galactic space-tourism company reached the edge of space Sunday - enough to experience about four minutes of weightlessness - and then glided back home to a runway landing. “The whole thing, it was just magical," a jubilant Mr. Branson said on his return. The brief flight was an unabashedly commercial plug for the company which plans to make space travel commonplace, and has a waiting list of more than 600 paying customers. Mr. Branson became the first person to blast off in his own spaceship, beating Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the richest person on the planet, by nine days.

2. Haiti asks for help. Haiti’s interim government has asked the U.S. and U.N. to send troops to protect key infrastructure as it tries to stabilize the country and prepare for elections in the aftermath of President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination. It was an unusual request given the Caribbean nation’s history of distrust in outside players, and suggests the political situation is precarious. White House officials rejected the request, but senior FBI and Homeland Security agents were heading to Haiti Sunday to help with the investigation into Wednesday’s assassination. Haitian police have arrested 18 Colombian nationals and three Haitian Americans in connection with the attack. National Police Chief Leon Charles told a news conference Sunday one of the Haitian Americans, Christian Emmanuel Sanon, may be the mastermind behind the plot. 

3. Athletic excellence in abundance. Less than four years ago, the Italian national team plunged to the lowest moment of its soccer history by failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in six decades. Now, Italy is celebrating redemption as the best team in Europe. On Sunday, Italy beat England in a shootout to win the postponed Euro 2020 tournament. England’s loss was only slightly tempered by the fact that it was playing in its first major final in 55 years.

  • Argentina won the Copa America title Saturday, 1-0 against Brazil. The victory was Argentina's 15th Copa America triumph and means they draw level with Uruguay as the all-time leading winners. Argentina's win was a particular triumph for Barcelona striker Lionel Messi, who picked up his first ever title on the national team after more than a decade of club and individual honors.
  • The debate over who’s the best men's tennis player of all time grew more contentious as Serbian Novak Djokovic won Wimbledon Sunday, taking his 20th Grand Slam title, matching the totals of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Djokovic has won three Grand Slam trophies this year. 
  • On Saturday, Ashleigh Barty became the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980. Ms. Barty adds this Grand Slam trophy to the one she won at the French Open in 2019.
  • In the NBA finals, the Milwaukee Bucks decisively won their first game against the Phoenix Suns, bringing the series to 2-1 as the contest continues in Milwaukee Wednesday night.
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
Italian fans watch on a giant screen in Rome, Sunday, July 11, 2021, the Euro 2020 soccer championships' final match between Italy and England played at Wembley stadium in London.

Look Ahead

MONDAY, July 12

Racial justice. The trial is scheduled to begin for Andrew Delke, a white Nashville police officer charged with first-degree murder for fatally shooting Daniel Hambrick, a Black man who was armed and fleeing when Officer Delke shot him from behind in 2018.

Justice watch. Sidney Powell and other attorneys who defended former President Donald Trump's false claims about the 2020 election are scheduled to appear before a Michigan federal judge over a lawsuit challenging the election results in the state.

Home run derby. Major League Baseball players compete to hit the most (and longest) home runs in Coors Field, Denver, Colorado, starting at 8 p.m E.T. on ESPN.

TUESDAY, July 13

Baseball’s best. A selection of National and American league all stars (chosen by fans, players, and MLB) will compete in the 91st annual Midsummer Classic at Coors Field starting at 8:30 p.m. E.T.


A revolution honored. Bastille Day (or the Fête Nationale) marks the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, a major event in the French Revolution.

Inflation watch. US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies before Congress on the first of two days of semi-annual testimony on the state of the economy and monetary policy.

FRIDAY, July 16.

Return of 'Space Jam'. In an update of the 1996 classic film, a rogue artificial intelligence kidnaps the son of basketball player LeBron James, who then has to work with Looney Tunes characters to win a basketball game. 

Generosity Watch

Courtesy Colorado's 17th Judicial District Attorney office
Nine-year-old Scarlet Reust and 10-year-old Addyson Elliot at their a lemonade stand in Commerce City, Colorado. They raised $1,800.

Scarlet Reust is only 9 years old, but her empathy far exceeds her years. 

When she heard that Officer Gordon Beesley, a 19-year veteran of Colorado's Arvada Police Department, was shot and killed on June 21, her response was: "What if that was my dad?"

But she didn’t leave it there. She got busy raising money for Officer Beesley’s wife and two children. Scarlet and her best friend 10-year-old Addyson Elliot set up a lemonade stand in Commerce City, Colorado. Over the course of three days, they raised $1,800 for the Colorado Fallen Hero Foundation. When Scarlet and Addyson delivered their donation to the police department, the officers were "teary-eyed," Scarlet’s mom, Ashley Conn told Fox News.

Hidden Gem

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

Window dressing: Empty storefronts host New York City artists

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about how a hidden creek in Baltimore became a pastor's class in stewardship.

Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday's subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. As pandemic wanes, border debate takes new twists
  2. Heat waves challenge governments to step back from ‘climate abyss’
  3. In England’s Euro success, so much more than just a soccer win
  4. Parents, everywhere I turn
  5. Stronger: Worked over by pandemic, these women reach for recovery

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