Family fund day – USA TODAY

Families across the United States are getting long-awaited financial relief. The searing heat is making its way to the Upper Midwest. And German Chancellor Angela Merkel may be making a “farewell visit.” 

👋 It’s Julius, and let’s dive right into Thursday’s news. 

But first, see ‘fireballs’ in the sky. 🌠 How to watch the Perseid meteor shower this summer. 

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Help arrives for parents, children

Many families across the United States are receiving their first payment of the newly expanded child tax credit through President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. Eligible families will receive up to $300 monthly for each child under the age of 6 and up to $250 for each child between the ages of 6 and 18. The law also provided for half of the money to be made available in monthly installments at least through December, with Biden expected to extend the child tax credit expansion past that expiration. Eligible parents may receive half of their annual tax credit money in the form of monthly payments and will receive the other half of the credit when they file their income tax returns. 

As wildfires rage, heat impact expands

While searing heat continues to fuel fires across the West, triple-digit temperatures could break records in the Upper Midwest this weekend. A heat dome forming in the northern Rockies will cause temperatures to rocket higher into next week, Accuweather says. The latest heat wave is part of a sweltering summer in which the nation has set 585 all-time heat records in the past 30 days, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That includes 349 daily high temperatures and 236 warmest overnight lows. The onslaught of heat has also played a crucial role in fueling more than 70 major fires in 12 states from California to Minnesota. Nationally, more than 34,400 wildfires have burned 2.25 million acres of land so far this year, the National Interagency Fire Center estimates. In Paradise, California, a town ravaged in 2018 by the deadliest fire in recent memory, is now being threatened by a blaze 10 miles away.

What everyone’s talking about

A ‘farewell visit’ (potentially)

President Joe Biden met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday in what looks to be her last visit to Washington as head of state. One item on the agenda was the sharp split between the U.S. and Germany over Nord Stream 2, the gas pipeline that would run from Russia to Germany. A senior administration official said Biden would raise his objections over the pipeline with Merkel and press her on “the importance of developing concrete mechanisms to ensure that energy is not used as a coercive tool against Ukraine” or other allies. For Merkel, the meeting was a chance to reassure U.S. leaders that there won’t be a huge shift in relations following Germany’s next election. “In part this is a farewell visit, in part she is signaling continuity and stability in the German-U.S. relationship,” said Johannes Timm, a senior fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, a think tank in Berlin.

Real quick

US trained ‘small number’ of suspects in Haiti assassination, Pentagon says

The U.S. military helped train a “small number” of the Colombian suspects who have been arrested in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse,  a Pentagon spokesman said. Lt. Col. Ken Hoffman said a small number of the suspects “had participated in past U.S. military training and education programs while serving as active members of the Colombian Military Forces.” Colombian officials have said the 13 Colombians implicated in the attack are retired members of the country’s military, and 11 of them have been arrested, while two were killed as Haitian police conducted a manhunt for the killers. Moïse was killed last week in a shocking assault that has jolted the Caribbean country and sowed political chaos among its leaders.

What’s in store for Jan. 6 rioters who ransacked Capitol? 

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Prosecutions of the hundreds charged in the January Capitol riot are getting started, giving a glimpse into how severe the punishments will be for those who stormed the Capitol. The first dozen plea bargains show defendants could spend years in prison for ransacking the historic building – and legal experts say harsher penalties loom for those who assaulted police and destroyed property.  So far, initial plea agreements haven’t covered the most serious crimes on Jan. 6, and aimed for cooperation to convict organizers or more-violent rioters. Of the at least 535 people charged in the first six months after the attack, 165 have been accused of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers, according to the Justice Department.

A break from the news

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