👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
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1/ The Biden administration will send cluster bombs to Ukraine, as well as armored vehicles and air defense missiles, in the next $800 million weapons package. Cluster weapons have been banned in more than 100 countries because they scatter “bomblets” across large areas that can fail to explode on impact but can cause indiscriminate harm to civilians long after the fighting ends. Biden defended the decision saying “the Ukrainians are running out of ammunition” in the fight against Russia. National security adviser Jake Sullivan added that Russia has already targeted Ukraine with cluster bombs. Biden, meanwhile, said it’s “premature” for Ukraine to join NATO, saying that Russia’s war in Ukraine needs to end before the alliance can consider adding Kyiv. (New York Times / Politico / CNN / CNN / Politico)
2/ A U.S. drone strike killed a top Islamic State group leader in Syria. Usamah al-Muhajir was killed while riding a motorcycle in northwestern Syria in an area where Russia conducts flight operations in support of the Syrian regime. Hours earlier, the same MQ-9 Reaper drones were “harassed” by Russian military jets for about two hours, according to the Defense Department. (Politico / ABC News)
3/ A retired college football coach turned U.S. senator has single-handedly blocked hundreds of promotions for key military officers since February. As a result, the Marine Corps are without a confirmed leader for the first time in 164 years and the nominations of more than 200 general and flag officers are currently stalled in the Senate. Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville is protesting the Defense Department’s reproductive health policies, which offer time off and travel reimbursement to service members if they cannot obtain abortions in their state. Further, more than half of the current Joint Chiefs are expected to retire in the coming months without a Senate-approved successor in place. [Editor’s note: Roll Tide.] (CNN / New York Times / The Hill / Politico)
4/ The House Freedom Caucus removed Marjorie Taylor Greene from their pro-Trump group “for some of the things she’s done.” The caucus voted just before Congress went on recess at the end of June and days after Greene got into a verbal fight with Lauren Boebert, another Freedom Caucus member. Greene called Boebert a “little bitch” on the House floor. (Politico / CNN / ABC News / USA Today)
5/ A D.C. Court of Appeals discipline committee recommended that Rudy Giuliani be disbarred for “frivolous” and “destructive” efforts to subvert the 2020 presidential election. “He claimed massive election fraud but had no evidence of it,” the three-member panel wrote in its 38-page decision. The committee accused Giuliani of “dishonesty,” saying his “hyperbolic claims of election fraud” were “utterly false” and “reckless.” The report concluded that Giuliani had “forfeited his right to practice law” in the District of Columbia. (Washington Post / Politico)
Special counsel prosecutors question witnesses about chaotic Oval Office meeting after Trump lost the 2020 election. “Investigators have asked several witnesses before the grand jury and during interviews about the meeting, which happened about six weeks after Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. Some witnesses were asked about the meeting months ago, while several others have faced questions about it more recently, including Rudy Giuliani.” (CNN)
Trump’s former Chief of Staff said in a sworn statement that Trump had discussed having the IRS investigate two FBI officials involved in the Russia investigation. “[John] Kelly’s assertions were disclosed […] in connection with lawsuits brought by Peter Strzok, who was the lead agent in the FBI’s Russia investigation, and Lisa Page, a former lawyer in the bureau, against the Justice Department for violating their privacy rights when the Trump administration made public text messages between them.” (New York Times)
A New York judge ordered Steve Bannon to pay nearly $500,000 in unpaid legal fees related to congressional and criminal investigations into his efforts to crowdfund a wall along the southern U.S. border. “In a six-page order issued Friday, Judge Arlene Bluth ordered Bannon to pay $480,487.87 in unpaid bills as well as “reasonable legal fees” to his former lawyers who brought the lawsuit.” (CNN)
Federal appeals court allowed Tennessee’s ban on gender-affirming care for transgender minors to take effect. “The appeals court granted a stay of a lower court injunction, which had been blocking enforcement of a part of the state’s ban. The ban prohibits health care providers from performing gender-affirming surgeries and administering hormones or puberty blockers to transgender minors, pending the duration of the appeal.” (CNN)
A Kansas judge blocked transgender people from changing the sex listed on their driver’s licenses. “The judge issued the order three days after Attorney General Kris Kobach sued two officials in Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration. Kelly announced last month that the state’s motor vehicles division would continue changing driver’s licenses for transgender people so that their sex listing matches their gender identities.” (Associated Press)
Telecom companies have knowingly left behind more than 2,000 lead-covered cables that stretch across the U.S. The lead-covered cable network includes more than 1,750 underwater cables, and about 250 aerial cables alongside streets and fields next to schools and bus stops. “Roughly 330 of the total number of underwater cable locations identified are in a ‘source water protection area,’ designated by federal regulators as contributing to the drinking-water supply.” (Wall Street Journal)
City utilities have been leaving lead pipe in the ground for decades – even when it is easiest to remove during water main work. “Decades after the dangers of lead became clear, other cities have made different decisions and have been leaving lead pipe in the ground. Experts say it has likely happened hundreds of thousands of times.” (Associated Press)
An Oklahoma judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking reparations for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. “Judge Caroline Wall dismissed with prejudice the lawsuit trying to force the city and others to make recompense for the destruction of the once-thriving Black district known as Greenwood.” (NPR)
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