🔎 His emails

What was Dr. Fauci really thinking during the early days of the pandemic? The intersection where George Floyd died was reopened. And NASA just sent a whole bunch of tiny critters into space.

👋 It’s Laura. Thursday’s news is out of this world!

But first, you don’t have to tell me twice. If you’ve got a certain food allergy, don’t chow down on cicadas. I wasn’t planning on eating a CICADA – but say no more, fam.

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Reading Fauci’s emails

Ever wonder what Dr. Anthony Fauci was really thinking during the early days of the pandemic? A trove of emails obtained by media organizations reveals his written responses to hundreds of people.

  • Thoughts evolved over time: In the early days, Fauci said both publicly and privately that not everyone needed to wear a mask. Later, he emailed that new information indicated mask-wearing was “the most practical way to go.” Soon after, the CDC issued new guidelines, recommending the voluntary use of face masks.
  • No info: On some issues, particularly the origins of COVID-19, it’s impossible to tell what Fauci thought. He didn’t offer an opinion when emailed with concerns the virus could have leaked from a Chinese laboratory. Other responses were redacted before being released to the media.

Overall, the emails offer a glimpse into how the nation’s top infectious disease expert communicated with senior U.S. officials and his overseas counterparts as events unfolded rapidly.

  • Read more: Comparing Dr. Fauci’s private comments in his emails to what he said publicly during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Fact check: Does an email to Fauci contain the origin of ‘coronavirus bioweapons’?

Dr. Anthony Fauci (R), director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, looks on as U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks about coronavirus vaccine development in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Drew Angerer, Getty Images)

George Floyd Square memorial dismantled

It took less than four hours Thursday for work crews to clear the barriers, artwork, flowers and other items at the intersection in Minneapolis where George Floyd was killed. George Floyd Square in Minneapolis closed to traffic soon after Floyd’s death, and quickly turned into a memorial, becoming an almost sacred space for collective mourning, healing and joy. Officials have said for months that the site should be cleared, but activists believe it should remain closed until the city meets their list of demands to achieve justice. Traffic briefly flowed through the intersection after it was cleared, but impromptu barricades were put up by activists to replace the ones taken down earlier.

  • Should Derek Chauvin serve prison time for the murder of George Floyd? His attorney says no.

An iron first at the center of George Floyd Square in south Minneapolis, the intersection where George Floyd was killed in the hands of police. (Photo: Harrison Hill/USA TODAY)

What everyone’s talking about

  • ‘Stand your ground’ vs. an iguana? A Florida man accused of killing an iguana tried using the ‘stand your ground’ defense in court. The judge denied it.
  • A surprising number of hospital workers still aren’t vaccinated. What does that mean for the fight against COVID-19?
  • Like wine tasting, but for weed: Get paid to smoke marijuana? A company in California is looking for an intern to test cannabis, eat edibles for three months.
  • A bride in India died of a heart attack at her wedding. With her body in the next room, the groom went ahead with the marriage — to her sister.

FBI investigating DeJoy over campaign contributions

Campaign contributions tied to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s former business are under scrutiny by the FBI. Mark Corallo, DeJoy’s spokesman, said the Justice Department is investigating campaign contributions that employees made when DeJoy was in the private sector, but he said DeJoy never knowingly violated campaign contribution laws. DeJoy, a longtime Republican donor and ally of former President Donald Trump, has been the subject of controversy since he became head of the U.S. Postal Service in May 2020.

U.S. Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy arrives at Rayburn House Office Building for a hearing before House Oversight and Reform Committee August 24, 2020. (Photo: Pool, Getty Images)

Mr. President, Her Majesty

Amid explosive new allegations of systemic racism in the royal family, Buckingham Palace says Queen Elizabeth II will meet President Joe Biden at Windsor Castle during his visit to the U.K. to attend the Group of Seven leaders’ summit next week. The monarch will host the president and first lady Jill Biden on the final day of the June 11-13 summit taking place in Cornwall, England, the palace said Thursday. The queen, who is set to celebrate 70 years on the throne next year, has met with every U.S. president except for Lyndon Johnson during her reign.

  • New racism allegations hit Buckingham Palace — and not from Prince Harry or Duchess Meghan.

After attending Sunday services together, the first families of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the United States of America pose on the veranda of the Roosevelt family estate in Hyde Park, N.Y., on June 11, 1939. From left are, first lady Eleanor Roosevelt; King George VI; Sarah Delano Roosevelt, the president's mother; Queen Elizabeth; and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Photo: AP Photo)

Real quick

  • Happy birthday, Mrs. President: First lady Jill Biden celebrates her 70th birthday with a beach day and her husband.
  • An Olympic-size problem: 10,000 volunteers drop out of Tokyo Olympics with 50 days until opening.
  • New York to London in 3 ½ hours? United says it’ll be possible with a new supersonic jet.
  • Aiden Leos case: Reward grows to $450K in suspected road-rage killing of California boy; suspects’ vehicle identified.

🚀 Tiny critters headed to space

NASA just sent a whole bunch of itty-bitty creatures to the International Space Station. On Thursday, 128 baby bobtail squid and about 5,000 microscopic animals launched aboard Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket on a mission to the ISS. They won’t be pets, though. The baby bobtail squid, which glow in the dark, will be used as part of research into the effects of spaceflight on the interactions between microbes and animals. The microscopic animals are tardigrades, also known as water bears, which are the most resilient lifeform on Earth, able to survive for up to 30 years without food or water, making them an ideal organism for studying biological survival under extreme conditions. The results could advance understanding of the stress factors affecting humans in space. Thank you, tardigrades and baby squids for your service.

A computer-generated image of a tardigrade or "water bear." Cute, huh? 🤨 (Photo: Science Picture Co via Getty Images)

A break from the news

  • 💰 Does your state tax Social Security benefits? Here’s why that’s crucial to your retirement strategy.
  • 🏳️‍🌈 What are the origins of Pride Month? Here’s who to thank for the LGBTQ celebration.
  • 🥚 Egg-sellent: Can you eat raw yolks? This, and other myths, busted.

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Want this news roundup in your inbox every night? Sign up for The Short List newsletter here.

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