👋 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/ The Biden administration has exhausted the funds needed to purchase a potential fourth coronavirus vaccine dose for all Americans, unless lawmakers pass the $15 billion funding package. “Right now, we don’t have enough money for fourth doses, if they’re called for,” White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients said. While federal regulators have secured enough doses to cover a fourth shot for Americans age 65 and older as well as the initial doses for children under age 5, analysts say the U.S. would need to purchase hundreds of millions of additional doses to ensure that every American could receive four shots, if necessary. In the United Kingdom, Covid-19 cases have jumped more than 36% over the past week, while in the U.S. the omicron subvariant BA.2 now represents between 50% to 70% of all Covid cases. Meanwhile, the number of at-home Covid-19 tests shipped each week by manufacturers in the U.S. has fallen by more than 50% over the last month. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico)
2/ White House press secretary Jen Psaki tested positive for Covid-19 for a second time in five months. Psaki was scheduled to join Biden on a diplomatic trip to Europe tomorrow to attend a NATO summit, meet with G-7 leaders, and join a scheduled European Council Summit. Psaki said that she had “two socially distanced meetings” with Biden on Monday that were not considered to be in close contact, according to the CDC. Biden tested negative for the coronavirus on Tuesday. (CNN / New York Times / ABC News)
3/ Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson rejected misleading accusations by several Senate Republicans that she imposed lenient sentences in child pornography cases, asserting that “nothing could be further from the truth.” On her second day of confirmation hearings, Judge Jackson pushed back on the notion that she was tolerant of child sex-abuse, calling the crimes “sickening and egregious” and that she imposed “strict sentence[s] and all of the additional restraints available in the law.” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, called the misleading claims by Josh Hawley and Marsha Blackburn “extreme” and “meritless.” Ted Cruz, meanwhile, used his time to question Judge Jackson about her views of critical race theory and called the nomination of enslaver Bushrod Washington not “controversial,” while Lindsey Graham used his allotted time to air grievances about the treatment of past Republican Supreme Court nominees and to attack Biden and other Democrats. (New York Times / Washington Post / The Hill / Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
4/ A federal judge convicted an elected official from New Mexico of illegally entering restricted U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6. Couy Griffin, who waived his right to a jury and elected to have U.S. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden decide his case, is the second Jan. 6 defendant to go on trial as part of the Justice Department’s prosecution. Griffin was acquitted, however, of engaging in disorderly and disruptive conduct during the riot that disrupted Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential election victory. (Politico / Associated Press / CNN)
5/ Biden confirmed that Russia has used a hypersonic missile in Ukraine, saying it’s “the only thing that they can get through with absolute certainty.” Biden added: “It’s a consequential weapon […] it’s almost impossible to stop it. There’s a reason they’re using it.” Hypersonic missiles are capable of adjusting course and altitude to evade radar detection and missile defenses. The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, meanwhile, said it expects Russia to “increasingly rely on its nuclear deterrent to signal the West and project strength” as the invasion of Ukraine stalls. And… at least seven forest fires have broken out near the Russian-held Chernobyl nuclear plant, raising fears that radiation could spread from the defunct facility. (ABC News / New York Times / CNN / Politico / Washington Post)
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