👋 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/ The White House abruptly reversed course on the number of refugees it will allow into the U.S. On Friday, the administration said it would keep Trump’s historically low refugee admissions target at 15,000, walking back Biden’s pledge to lift the cap to 62,500 this year and push it to 125,000 for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. Democratic leaders called the administration’s admissions target “unacceptable” and hours later the White House said it would increase the cap on refugee admissions for the rest of this fiscal year by May 15. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden would set the final cap and expects that it will be higher than Trump’s ceiling, but is “unlikely” to rise to the 62,500 that Biden had promised in February. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)
2/ The Biden administration ordered U.S. immigration enforcement agencies to stop using terms such as “alien,” “illegal alien,” and “assimilation” when referring to immigrants. In memos sent to department heads at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, “alien” will become “noncitizen or migrant,” “illegal” will become “undocumented,” and “assimilation” will change to “integration,” among others. (Washington Post)
3/ The U.S. and China agreed to cooperate to fight climate change “with the seriousness and urgency that it demands.” John Kerry, the Biden administration’s special envoy for climate, said that despite various political disputes between the two countries, “it’s very important for us to try to keep those other things away, because climate is a life-or-death issue in so many different parts of the world.” China and the U.S. are the world’s two biggest carbon emitters, accounting for nearly half of the planet’s carbon dioxide. Biden is scheduled to hosts a virtual summit of world leaders to discuss efforts to reduce carbon emissions later this week. (New York Times / Associated Press)
- poll/ 56% of Americans think climate change needs to be addressed immediately, while 11% think it needs to be addressed in the next few years, and 33% say action on climate can wait or doesn’t need to be addressed. (CBS News)
4/ The White House removed the Trump-appointed scientist from overseeing the National Climate Assessment, the government’s definitive report on the effects of climate change. Betsy Weatherhead – considered a mainstream scientist who believes that climate change is a real and serious issue – was reassigned to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Interior Department’s scientific arm. (Washington Post / CNN)
5/ The Supreme Court declined to take up a case from Republicans challenging changes to election rules in Pennsylvania. The case, by a former Republican congressional candidate and four individual voters, challenged the secretary of state’s decision to allow three extra days for receiving mail ballots because of the statements from the U.S. Postal Service that delivery would likely be slow amidst the coronavirus pandemic. (CNN / NBC News)
- poll/ 63% of Americans supported term or age limits for Supreme Court justices, while 22% said they opposed limits. (NBC News)
6/ The Biden administration allocated $150 million to boost coronavirus response for underserved communities and vulnerable populations. Community-based health care providers must apply for the funds from the American Rescue Plan by May 14 and then the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will decide who is approved for funding. (CNN)
7/ Trump won nine of the 10 states in the 2020 election where most residents said they would probably or definitely not get a Covid-19 vaccine. Further, in more than 500 counties, at least a quarter of adults are unwilling to get vaccinated. A majority of residents in these counties voted to re-elect Trump. (New York Times)
- poll/ 36% of adults under the age of 35 say they don’t plan on getting a Covid-19 vaccine. Overall, 27% of adults say they don’t plan to get the vaccine. (Quinnipiac / CNN)
8/ The Justice Department sued Roger Stone for nearly $2 million in unpaid federal income taxes and fees. The lawsuit accused Stone and his wife, Nydia, of underpaying their income taxes by $1,590,361 from 2007 to 2011, and that Stone was short on his 2018 tax bill by $407,036. (NBC News)
9/ A federal judge revoked bail for two leaders of the Proud Boys, contending that they’re too dangerous to remain free while awaiting trial. “The defendants stand charged with seeking to steal one of the crown jewels of our country, in a sense, by interfering with the peaceful transfer of power,” Judge Timothy Kelly said. “It’s no exaggeration to say the rule of law and […] in the end, the existence of our constitutional republic is threatened by it.” Ethan Nordean and Joseph Biggs are charged with conspiring to stop the certification of the 2020 election, and with organizing dozens of Proud Boys to the Capitol. (Politico)
10/ Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules governing the use of taxpayer-funded resources, according to a report by the State Department’s inspector general’s office. The government watchdog determined that Pompeo and his wife, Susan, asked State Department employees to carry out tasks for their personal benefit more than 100 times. In 2020, Trump fired the State Department inspector general, Steve Linick, who had opened an investigation into Pompeo. (Politico)
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