👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ Biden will keep Trump’s historically low refugee admissions target at 15,000, walking back his pledge to lift the cap to 62,500 this year and push it to 125,000 for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Biden, however, signed an emergency determination to speed refugee admissions to the U.S and adjust the allocation limits set by Trump, who placed strict restrictions on accepting refugees from certain African and majority-Muslim countries. Rep. Ilhan Omar called Biden’s decision “shameful,” while Rep. Pramila Jayapal said it was “disastrous.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NBC News)
2/ The Biden administration will spend $1.7 billion to track coronavirus variants. The money – which was part of the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill passed last month – will go toward sequencing coronavirus genomes, creating six new new genomic epidemiology centers, and creating a national bioinformatics infrastructure. (Politico / NPR / Associated Press / Washington Post)
- The U.S. and other nations will likely need booster shots and annual vaccinations against Covid-19. David Kessler, the chief science officer for Covid-19 response,, told a House subcommittee hearing that the U.S. should plan for booster shots in the future. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, meanwhile, said that a “likely scenario” included the need for a third vaccine dose within 12 months after inoculation, after which “there will be an annual revaccination.” (CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)
3/ Police officers and public officials donated money to Kyle Rittenhouse, who stands accused of murdering two protesters last August. Rittenhouse traveled about 15 miles from neighboring Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to offer armed protection to businesses during the protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot multiple times at close range and left paralyzed. A data breach at a Christian crowdfunding website revealed that the donations were attached to email addresses traceable to police and other public officials. (The Guardian)
- A gunman killed eight people and injured several others before shooting himself at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. Brandon Hole was a former employee at the facility. The FBI was previously warned by a relative about Hole’s potential for violence. The FBI opened a preliminary investigation, but closed the inquiry after concluding there wasn’t sufficient evidence to continue. (The Indianapolis Star / New York Times / CNN)
4/ A founding member of the Oath Keepers arrested in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate. Jon Ryan Schaffer is the first defendant to publicly flip in the domestic terrorism investigation, which has led to more than 410 people being charged. (Washington Post)
5/ Russia expelled 10 U.S. diplomats and indefinitely barred entry to eight U.S. officials in response to U.S. sanctions and expulsions. The officials included Attorney General Merrick Garland; Michael Carvajal, director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons; Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland security; Susan Rice, Biden’s domestic policy adviser; FBI Director Christopher Wray; and Avril Haines, director of National Intelligence. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
- The Alabama Legislature passed a bill to prevent transgender girls from playing on female sports teams. The bill would prohibit K-12 schools from letting a “biological male” participate on a female team. More than a dozen states are considering similar restrictions on transgender athletes or gender-confirming health care for transgender minors. (Associated Press)
poll/ 64% of Americans approve of Biden’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while 29% disapprove. (Quinnipiac)
poll/ 59% of Americans approve of the way Biden is handling his job as president, while 39% disapprove. (Pew Research Center)
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