REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo
U.S. senators worked through the weekend to draft an infrastructure bill. Shown here, steel beams, which needed replacement, on the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C. in 2016.

Monday Sunrise Briefing: Bipartisan push on infrastructure bill

Here are three news events - Senate unveils an infrastructure bill, racial reckoning in New Zealand, and Tokyo Olympics - from this past weekend (while you may have been at an outdoor concert or bass fishing, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.

Republican and Democratic senators worked through the weekend to write a massive piece of legislation and maintain the bipartisan momentum. Sunday evening they finished the 2,700-page bill that calls for $550 billion in new spending over five years on the nation’s roads, bridges, waterworks, broadband, and the electric grid. Last week, 17 GOP senators joined all Democrats in voting to start work on the bill. Whether the number of Republican senators willing to pass the bill grows or shrinks in the days ahead will determine if one of President Joe Biden’s signature issues will become law.

2. Racial reckoning and apology. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern formally apologized Sunday for a racially charged chapter of the nation’s history known as the Dawn Raids. The 1970s raids, often done with dogs, targeted Pacific Islanders who had overstayed their visas. They were convicted and deported, while unauthorized British and Americans in the country were ignored. “The government expresses its sorrow, remorse, and regret that ... these actions were ever considered appropriate,” the prime minister said. As part of the apology, Ms. Ardern took part in a traditional Samoan ritual known as an ifoga, in which the subject seeks forgiveness by exposing themselves to a kind of public humiliation.

3. Faster, higher, stronger. This was the "midway weekend” at the Tokyo Olympics as swimming events finished and track and field events took center stage.  We have a new and unexpected “fastest man alive,” as Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs took the men's 100-meter final - becoming not only the first Italian man to win gold in the event, but the first to medal in it.

Another Italian athlete took Olympic camaraderie honors, as Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar's Mutaz Essa Barshim decided to share the gold medal in the men's high jump rather than continue competing in a jump off after both athletes cleared 2.37 meters. And Yulimar Rojas became Venezuela's first female Olympic gold medalist by shattering the 26-year-old women’s world triple jump record.

American swimmer Caeleb Dressel finished his medal run Sunday with two more golds: one in the 50-meter freestyle followed by a world record in the 4x100 medley relay. “I'm really glad to be done,” said the 24-year-old Floridian, who captured his fourth and fifth gold medals. Australia's Emma McKeon became the first female swimmer to claim seven medals (4 gold, 3 bronze) in one Olympics.  And the U.S. gymnastic team says Simone Biles plans to return to compete in the balance beam final on Tuesday. 

REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Yulimar Rojas of Venezuela celebrates after setting a new world record in the women's triple jump at the Tokyo Olympic games on Aug. 1, 2021. It was the first time a woman from her country has won Olympic gold.

Look Ahead

MONDAY, Aug. 2

Justice in Russia? A court in Moscow is scheduled to deliver a verdict in the trial of a prominent American investor Michael Calvey, who was charged with embezzlement and has spent 19 months under house arrest.

Olympics watch. There are 22 medal events scheduled today, including men's vault final, men’s long jump finals, women’s 100-meter hurdles finals. Track cycling competition begins. 

TUESDAY, Aug. 3

Olympics watch.  There are 26 medal events scheduled, including the women's 10-kilometer swimming marathon, finals in men’s pole vault, men’s 400-meter hurdles, women’s long jump, and women’s 200 meter. 

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 4

California democracy test. A televised debate is scheduled for the five leading Republican candidates in the California recall election that could remove Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Olympics watch. Look for the finals of men’s team pursuit in cycling, men’s 800-meter race, and men's 10-kilometer swimming marathon. Also scheduled are the finals of women’s 300-meter steeple chase. There are 20 medal events scheduled.

THURSDAY, Aug. 5

Olympics watch. There are 31 medal events scheduled, including the finals of women's 10-meter platform diving, women's beach volleyball, women’s pole vault, men’s field hockey, men’s sport climbing combined event, and men’s shot put and triple jump. 

FRIDAY, Aug. 6

Rally of rebels. The annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota begins. Last year, organizers refused to cancel the event despite the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, a decision blamed for leading to a late-summer spike in cases across the Midwest.

Olympics watch. Look for the finals of women’s 4x100-meter relay, women’s javelin throw, and women’s field hockey. Also scheduled are the medal rounds of men’s 4x 100-meter relay, men’s 50k walk, and men’s 5000 meter.  There are 27 medal events scheduled.

SATURDAY, Aug. 7

Olympics watch. ​​There are 36 medal events scheduled, including the finals of women’s marathon, women’s high jump, women's sport climbing, women's water polo, baseball, indoor men's volleyball, men's 10-meter platform diving, and men’s marathon.  

SUNDAY, Aug. 8. 

Olympics watch. The final events and closing ceremony.

Generosity Watch

At first, Al Nixon watched the sunrise over the St. Petersburg, Florida, waterfront each morning alone, as a way of centering himself.

Then, he realized he had something to give. Instead of focusing on the rising sun, he decided: “I needed to pay attention to the people walking past,” he told The Washington Post. “I needed to make eye contact and let people know that we mattered to each other.”

Over the past six years, Mr. Nixon has become the unofficial sunrise mayor, counselor, and listening ear. Each day, as Nixon sits on the same bench, people stop and open up about their lives. “I was happy to listen,” Mr. Nixon says. “I wanted them to walk away knowing they didn’t have to feel alone.”

Sometimes he offers advice, but mostly he listens. And sometimes he doesn’t say anything at all. “A woman stopped once and said, ‘I just want to sit here with you,’” he recalls. “We stared at the water for an hour, then she said ‘Thank you’ and walked away.”

Hidden Gem

Lindsey Wasson/Reuters
U.S. women's gymnastics silver medalists (from left) Jordan Chiles, Simone Biles, Grace McCallum, and Sunisa Lee react on the Olympics podium on July 27, 2021, in Tokyo. After Ms. Biles withdrew, the team held composure, even without its leader and highest scorer.

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

Something more than gold: How US gymnasts earned silver

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our story about Port St. Lucie, Florida, by some measures the most desegregated city in the U.S. 

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

  1. As pandemic shifts, so does some Americans’ view of it
  2. ‘I need to vote.’ Why more Asian Americans are staking a political claim.
  3. With moratorium lifting, can US avoid avalanche of evictions?
  4. Why a yearlong wait is a boon for US water polo
  5. In a return to Camelot, ‘The Green Knight’ considers the price of honor

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