👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
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1/ Justice Stephen Breyer will retire at the end of the current Supreme Court term. Breyer, at age 83, is the oldest member of the court and one of the three remaining liberal justices. After the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020 and the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett by Trump, Breyer’s been under pressure to retire while Democrats control the Senate. Although Biden’s pick will not change the balance of the court, currently split 6-3 between conservative and liberal justices, the new nominee is expected to be a much younger liberal who could serve on the court for decades. The White House, meanwhile, said Biden remains committed to nominating the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. (NBC News / CNN / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)
2/ Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. offered Russia a “serious diplomatic path forward” to de-escalating military threats against Ukraine. The U.S. and NATO formally responded to Russia’s demands that NATO pull back forces from Eastern Europe and bar Ukraine from ever joining the alliance. Russia also demanded that the U.S. “shall not establish military bases” in the territories of any former Soviet states that are not already members of NATO, or “use their infrastructure for any military activities or develop bilateral military cooperation with them.” The U.S. and NATO previously said those requests would not be accommodated. The response, which U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan hand-delivered to Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “sets out a serious diplomatic path forward, should Russia choose it,” Blinken said, adding: “The ball is in their court.” (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / ABC News / CNBC / Washington Post)
3/ The Biden administration canceled two mining leases in Minnesota that had been granted under the Trump administration. The Interior Department said it found that the leases to extract copper, nickel, and other hardrock minerals near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness — were improperly renewed under Trump. The Obama Interior Department had blocked the Twin Metals Minnesota’s renewal request in December 2016 over concerns about the ecological and economic impact. (Washington Post / The Hill)
4/ The Federal Reserve said it would “soon” raise interest rates in order to tackle the highest inflation in a generation. Although central bankers left rates unchanged at near-zero — where they have been since March 2020 — Chairman Jerome Powell signaled that the Fed could begin raising interest rates at its next meeting in March and continue multiple times in 2022. “I think there’s quite a bit of room to raise interest rates without threatening the labor market,” Powell said. “This is by many measures a historically tight labor market.” (NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post)
poll/ 46% of Americans believe Biden’s Build Back Better plan could lead to more inflation. 43% also say the bipartisan infrastructure bill will increase inflation. However, 23% self-report that they know a lot about what is in Build Back Better, while 47% say they don’t much at all. (Politico)
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