👋 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/ A federal judge in Florida struck down the Biden administration’s Covid-19 mask mandate for public transportation. U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a Trump appointee, said the CDC exceeded its authority and had incorrectly claimed the mask mandate was a form of “sanitation.” Mizelle wrote that “Wearing a mask cleans nothing. At most, it traps virus droplets. But it neither ‘sanitizes’ the person wearing the mask or ‘sanitizes’ the conveyance.” The White House, meanwhile, said the CDC continues to recommend that people wear masks on public transportation and that the Justice Department will determine whether it will appeal the ruling. (CNN / CNBC / Associated Press / Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / NPR / Politico)
2/ At least 10 mass shootings across the U.S. this weekend left eight people dead and dozens injured. The violence comes following Biden’s announced tougher gun regulations last week. In 2022, there have been 144 mass shootings, and total gun deaths for the year have reached more than 12,600. (CNN / Associated Press / NBC News)
3/ Alex Jones’s Infowars filed for bankruptcy in an effort to settle defamation lawsuits over his comments that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax. Jones and his companies last year were found liable in a defamation lawsuit brought by the relatives of the 20 children and six teachers who were killed in the 2012 shooting. Jones called the massacre a hoax and that crisis actors faked the shooting in an effort by the government to take away guns and restrict firearms. The bankruptcy filing puts civil litigation on hold while the business reorganizes its finances. (NPR / Associated Press / Reuters / Bloomberg)
4/ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that “all of the countries of the world” should be prepared for the possibility that Putin could use tactical nuclear weapons. Zelenskyy added that there is a “possibility” that Putin could turn to either nuclear or chemical weapons because he does not value Ukrainian lives. “We shouldn’t wait for the moment when Russia decides to use nuclear weapons,” Zelenskyy said. “We must prepare for that.” (CNN / The Hill)
5/ The Biden administration will resume selling onshore oil and gas leases on federal land to boost oil production in the U.S. amid soaring prices partly from the war in Ukraine. The Interior Department said the land offered for auction is 80% less than the 733,000 acres nominated and that royalties will also rise from 12.5% to 18.75% to “ensure fair return for the American taxpayer” – a 50% jump and the first increase to royalties since they were imposed in the 1920s. On the campaign trail, however, Biden called for an end to drilling on federal lands. (ABC News / CNN / NPR / Axios / CNBC)
6/ The Florida education department rejected 54 math books for its K-12 curriculum because they “contained prohibited subjects,” including critical race theory and Common Core learning concepts. Florida said 12 books were rejected because they didn’t meet the state’s benchmark standards, while 14 were rejected because they included prohibited topics and failed to meet curriculum standards. Overall, 41% of the 132 books submitted for review were rejected. (NPR / Washington Post)
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