👋 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/ Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine along three main fronts, marking the biggest land war in Europe since World War II. In televised remarks, Putin announced the start of a “special military operation” in Ukraine, adding that his goal was to “demilitarize” but not occupy the country. Putin blamed Ukraine for the crisis and reiterated its demands to NATO that Ukraine is never allowed to join the transatlantic defense alliance. Minutes later, Russia began bombing Ukraine by air, land, and sea using 75 heavy and medium bombers and more than 160 missiles of various types. Biden condemned the “premeditated war,” saying “Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable.” Putin, casting aside international condemnation and sanctions, warned other countries not to interfere, saying “whoever tries to impede us, let alone create threats for our country and its people, must know that the Russian response will be immediate and lead to the consequences you have never seen in history.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared a state of emergency and called on Ukrainians to take up arms in defense. Western intelligence officials, meanwhile, expect Kyiv may fall to Russian forces within hours. The Pentagon ordered approximately 7,000 additional U.S. soldiers to Germany. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Associated Press / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)
- Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / Bloomberg / ABC News / CNN
2/ Biden condemned “Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine,” announcing a second, larger package of “severe sanctions” intended to cripple Russia’s economy, military, and elites. Biden said Putin’s aggression “cannot go unanswered” and in response his administration would cut off Russia’s largest banks and companies from the western financial markets, freeze trillions of dollars in Russian assets, and restrict exports of technology to Russia. “Putin’s aggression in Ukraine will end up costing Russia dearly, economically and strategically,” Biden said. “We will make sure that Putin will be a pariah on the international stage.” The Treasury Department said the sanctions target 80% of all banking assets in Russia. In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the British government would expand its sanctions, freezing the assets of all major Russian banks and locking them out of London’s financial markets. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / CNN)
3/ The United Nations Security Council will vote on a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion and call for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of its troops. Russia, a permanent member of the council, is expected to veto the resolution. China, meanwhile, has refused to condemn Russia’s actions or characterize the attack as an “invasion,” but instead blamed the U.S. for “hyping” the prospect of war. China could also veto the resolution. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNBC)
4/ The White House science office will hold a first-of-its-kind event aimed at countering climate change disinformation and climate action delay tactics. The Office of Science and Technology Policy roundtable will bring together a group of 17 climate scientists, social scientists, engineers, and economists to discuss “why there is hesitancy to move ahead with effective action to reduce carbon emissions, to reduce greenhouse gases.” The Biden administration, meanwhile, is delaying new oil and gas leases and permits after a federal judge blocked federal agencies from using higher cost estimates of climate change because it would hike energy costs and hurt state revenues. On his first day in office, Biden restored the climate cost estimate to roughly $51 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions. The Trump administration had cut the number to roughly $7 or less per ton and were limited to the impacts in the U.S., rather than the world. (Washington Post / CNBC)
5/ Three former Minneapolis police officers were found guilty of violating George Floyd’s civil rights by failing to intervene while Derek Chauvin murdered Floyd by pressing his knee on his neck for more than nine minutes. A federal jury determined that Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane had willfully violated Floyd’s civil rights by not providing medical care. Kueng and Thao are also charged with failing to intervene to stop Chauvin. They each face up to life in prison. A separate state trial is scheduled for June against the men on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. (NBC News / CBS News / Washington Post / New York Times)
6/ The Florida House republicans approved legislation that bans discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools that are not considered “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” The measure, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, now moves to the Senate, where a similar piece of legislation is already being debated. Florida Gov. DeSantis has signaled support for the bill, but has stopped short of saying he would sign it if it reached his desk. Biden previously called the bill “hateful,” and vowed to “fight for the protections and safety” of LGBTQ youths. (The Hill / NBC News)
7/ Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered state health agencies to conduct “prompt and thorough” investigations into the use of gender-affirming care for transgender children. Abbott said the standard medical treatments provided to transgender adolescents should be classified as “child abuse” under existing state law, and that Texas doctors, nurses, teachers, and members of the public have an obligation to report the parents of transgender minors to state authorities if it appears they are undergoing “elective procedures for gender transitioning.” Abbott’s orders stem from a Feb. 18 legal opinion authored by state Attorney General Ken Paxton, which concluded that providing medical treatments like puberty-suppressing drugs and hormones to transgender teenagers could constitute child abuse under several provisions of state law. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)
8/ Texas is holding its midterm primary using legally disputed congressional maps. The Justice Department and civil rights groups have sued the state, saying Texas’s new congressional maps discriminate against racial and ethnic minorities and doesn’t reflect the past decade’s Latino population growth. The consolidated cases from civil rights groups and the federal government is not scheduled to go to trial until September, meaning the disputed congressional districts will likely be used when Texans elect their representatives in November. (Washington Post)
9/ A North Carolina court rejected the Republican-drawn map of the state’s 14 congressional districts. Instead, the court substituted its own version, which appears to split the districts roughly equally between Republicans and Democrats, with two seats seen as tossups. The rejected Republican-drawn map would have awarded the G.O.P. six seats to the Democrats four, leaving the remaining four as tossups. It’s the second time in less than two weeks that the Republican House map was invalidated as unconstitutionally partisan. (New York Times)
poll/ 17% of Americans say they are QAnon believers – up from 14% in March. (Public Religion Research Institute)
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