“The Biden administration Tuesday night pledged $100 million in defense aid for Ukraine to be used for Javelin anti-tank missiles,” NBC News reports.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NBC News: “For every Russian tank in Ukraine, we have provided or will soon provide 10 anti-tank systems, 10 for every single Russian tank.”
“Western governments prepared Wednesday to toughen sanctions against Russia and send more weapons to Ukraine, after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pointedly accused the world of failing to end Moscow’s invasion of his country and what he said was a campaign of murders, rapes and wanton destruction by Russian forces,” the AP reports.
“In scarred and silent streets of ruined towns around Ukraine’s capital, investigators collected evidence documenting what appeared to be widespread killings of civilians. Specialists cleared mines from devastated towns near Kyiv that Russian troops have left, as Moscow regrouped its forces for a new assault on Ukraine’s east and south at the end of the war’s sixth week.”
CNN: “It is still unclear what Putin’s long-term goals are, a senior defense official said. But despite the recent shift in strategy and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine peace talks, the US and its allies are preparing for the possibility that Putin tries to reinvade the Kyiv region once he completes his objectives in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, assuming he has enough manpower and equipment left to do so.”
“The United States on Wednesday announced it would impose a new slate of sanctions on Russia that includes first-time sanctions on the two adult daughters of Russian President Vladimir Putin,” CNBC reports.
“Beyond individual designations, President Joe Biden will sign a new executive order prohibiting any new investment in Russia by Americans, which will apply to both U.S. residents and those living abroad.”
New York Times: “But the British court document also holds a clue to why it has been so hard to clearly connect the Russian president to his rumored riches. The yacht, called the Olympia, was managed by a company in Cyprus, where corporation filings show that the true owner was not Mr. Putin — it was the Russian government.”
“Indeed, it is one of many extravagant assets long speculated to be Mr. Putin’s that actually are owned or controlled by the state, showing how much the private interests of the president and his inner circle have merged with those of the government he has dominated for two decades. Others include a sprawling resort, a fleet of expensive automobiles, fancy planes and still more yachts.”
Associated Press: “When President Vladimir Putin launched his war on Feb. 24 after months of buildup on Ukraine’s borders, he sent hundreds of helicopter-borne commandos — the best of the best of Russia’s ‘spetsnaz’ special forces soldiers — to assault and seize a lightly defended airfield on Kyiv’s doorstep.”
“Other Russian forces struck elsewhere across Ukraine, including toward the eastern city of Kharkiv as well as in the contested Donbas region and along the Black Sea coast. But as the seat of national power, Kyiv was the main prize. Thus the thrust by elite airborne forces in the war’s opening hours.”
“But Putin failed to achieve his goal of quickly crushing Ukraine’s outgunned and outnumbered army. The Russians were ill-prepared for Ukrainian resistance, proved incapable of adjusting to setbacks, failed to effectively combine air and land operations, misjudged Ukraine’s ability to defend its skies, and bungled basic military functions like planning and executing the movement of supplies.”
“Abortion access without government interference is now guaranteed in Colorado law after Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed a bill enshrining that right Monday,” the Denver Post reports.
“The bill passed out of the Colorado legislature last month on a party-line vote, with Democrats, who are in control of both chambers, voting in favor of the bill. Each hearing on the bill garnered hours of debate and heavy Republican opposition.”
“Oklahoma’s legislature on Tuesday passed a near-total ban on abortion, one of the most sweeping bans passed this year as Republican-led states test the constitutional limits of abortion rights,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The Oklahoma bill bans abortion from the beginning of pregnancy except if the life of the mother is in danger. There is no exception for rape or incest.”
A person who gets convicted of performing an abortion under the ban would face up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. The legislation would take effect in the summer when Stitt signs it, unless it gets blocked in court.
Abortion access in Oklahoma has been crucial for Texans seeking out the procedure after their state passed its infamous ban last year. About 45 percent of Texans who traveled out of state for abortion care got it in Oklahoma, the University of Texas at Austin found.
“A version of the controversial Florida law restricting how teachers talk about sexual orientation and gender identity has been introduced in Ohio,” the Columbus Dispatch reports.
A report from the American Library Association released Monday found over 700 “challenges” to library, school and university materials in 2021, the most since at least 2000, when the organization started tracking them, Axios reports.
“A crushing election victory over a united opposition has given Viktor Orban a fourth consecutive term as Hungary’s prime minister — and delivered another parliamentary supermajority that can change constitutional rules and entrench his conservative nationalist ideology across civil society and business,” the Financial Times reports.
“It also puts Budapest once again on a collision course with Brussels over EU funding access, with the European Commission preparing to use new procedures to confront Hungary over its corruption, rule of law breaches and a further weakening of democratic standards.”
“French bank shares fell sharply and bond spreads widened yesterday as investors priced in stronger presidential election poll numbers for Marine Le Pen, the far-right challenger,” the Financial Times reports.
“The risk of a Le Pen victory has suddenly come into sharper focus ahead of the first round of voting on Sunday as opinion polls showed her gaining ground on President Emmanuel Macron, although he is still favored to win a run-off on April 24.”
“The warnings from the French establishment are getting louder: politicians and pundits from Manuel Valls, former prime minister, to President Emmanuel Macron himself are sounding the alarm that voters could propel far-right candidate Marine Le Pen to victory in this month’s election,” the Financial Times reports.
“Le Pen is not there yet — the latest opinion poll from Harris Interactive suggests Macron would still beat her by 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent in the second round. But she is almost guaranteed her place in the run-off against Macron on April 24 — and his lead has narrowed sharply to within the margin of error.”
“Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan approved on Wednesday a set of changes to the country’s electoral rules that would bolster his party’s prospects and consolidate the shift toward an all-powerful presidency set to be tested at the ballot box next year,” Bloomberg reports.
“America’s most prominent conservative gathering, founded on ideals of personal liberty and limited government, convenes in Budapest next month to celebrate a European leader accused of undermining democracy and individual rights,” Reuters reports.
“The May meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference is seen by some Republicans as a test of how closely American conservatives are willing align themselves with a global movement of far-right, Russia-friendly strongmen embraced by former U.S. President Donald Trump.”
“The event’s keynote speaker is Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a longtime supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
David Leonhardt: “To many people’s surprise — including mine — new Covid-19 cases in the U.S. have not begun to rise. Over the past two weeks, they have held roughly steady, falling about 1 percent, even as the highly contagious BA.2 subvariant of Omicron has become the dominant form of Covid in the U.S.”
“Across much of Europe, by contrast, cases surged last month after BA.2 began spreading there, and many experts expected a similar pattern here. That hasn’t happened.”
“The COVID-19 outbreak in China’s largest metropolis of Shanghai remains ‘extremely grim’ amid an ongoing lockdown confining around 26 million people to their homes,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
“While China’s vaccination rate hovers around 90%, its domestically produced inactivated virus vaccines are seen as weaker than the mRNA vaccines such as those produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna that are used abroad, as well as in the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macao. Vaccination rates among the elderly are also much lower than the population at large, with only around half of those over 80 fully vaccinated.”
“The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol has obtained a cache of emails that right-wing lawyer John Eastman had sought to keep secret,” CNN reports.
“Among the challenges facing the federal grand jury recently empaneled to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is the sheer number of people who might have information relevant to its inquiry,” the New York Times reports. “Taken together, the total number of potential witnesses — or at some point, targets — sought after by the grand jury could easily reach into the hundreds.”
“Last year, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) publicly sounded the death knell for President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), his fellow holdout, is privately concurring,” Axios reports.
“In closed-door conversations, Sinema has told donors a path to revival is unlikely. That’s dampened expectations Congress will act on a slimmed-down bill before Memorial Day. It also means any revived BBB legislation faces an arduous route back to the center of the Senate agenda.”
“No one’s reached out to Sinema about the contours of the slimmed-down deal Manchin has discussed.”
Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) “is breaking palpably with the president as he pursues a full six-year term this fall in a once-reliable red state that’s recently become fertile territory for Democrats,” Politico reports.
“Though Kelly has at times sought distance from the president on the border and economic issues during his 16 months in Congress, his recent run of schisms with the White House demonstrates that it’s not just Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) calling her own shots in the Copper State.”
“More than 60 Republicans voted against a resolution expressing support for NATO and calling on President Joe Biden to strengthen the organization’s committement to defending democracy,” Insider reports.
“Amazon workers’ historic win last week in New York may wind up spurring union growth around the country after decades of decline, at a time when a tight labor market is empowering workers in ways that once seemed impossible,” Axios reports.
Punchbowl News: “Senators in both parties have come to the conclusion that there simply isn’t enough time to pass the $10 billion Covid bill this week. Jackson’s nomination – the overwhelming priority for both Schumer and President Joe Biden – will come to a final vote either Thursday or Friday. Schumer won’t let the Senate get bogged down in anything that jeopardizes that timetable.”
“That means the Covid prep bill – which the White House has been demanding for months – gets shelved once again. It’s the second time in recent weeks this has happened to Democratic congressional leaders, although in this case it was a dispute over immigration and border security that forced the delay, not an internal party revolt. This is a defeat for the White House and Hill Democratic leadership, which has been shouting that it needs this money.”
Politico: Covid deal hampered by GOP opposition to Biden immigration policy.
Apparently not content with hurling accusations of being pro-pedophilia, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) found a new angle with which to smear Supreme Court pick Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Yep, Cotton declared the following during Jackson’s confirmation hearing on Tuesday: “You know the last Judge Jackson left the Supreme Court to go to Nuremberg and prosecute the Nazis. This Judge Jackson may have gone there to defend them.”
It goes without saying that there’s literally nothing to back up Cotton’s latest accusation against Jackson, who would be the first Black woman on the Supreme Court if successfully confirmed.
“Recall elections had a big year internationally in 2021, grabbing the spotlight in California and Taiwan. But 2022 is set to witness the recall on a whole other level as Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, widely known by the nickname AMLO, will be facing the voters on April 10,” Mexico News Daily reports.
“While we’ve seen recalls in the United States’ largest state and against the presidents of both Venezuela and Romania, the Mexican presidential recall, dubbed a revocation of mandate vote, is by far the largest by population in history. Yet this recall has not grabbed the world’s attention as others have in the past. There’s a reason for that. AMLO not only does not fear the recall, he has welcomed it with open arms. He is hoping that it provides a boost for his political agenda. And if America’s recall history is any standard, there’s reason to think he’s right.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) “picked the right time to reach a meeting of minds with the Republican-controlled Legislature,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
“Unlike past legislative sessions shaped by tighter budgets and stifling infighting, the governor and his allies steered just about every proposal on his wish list through the General Assembly.”
“And now dozens of bills molded by the governor’s office and his key legislative supporters await Kemp’s signature just ahead of the May 24 GOP primary against former U.S. Sen. David Perdue.”
“President Joe Biden is expected to announce a new nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as early as this month,“ Politico reports.
“Deliberations are ongoing but Steve Dettelbach, a former federal attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, is seriously being considered by the White House for the post.”
CNN: “The recession call — the first from a major bank — reflects growing concern that the Fed will hit the brakes on the economy so hard that it will inadvertently end the recovery that began just two years ago.”
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will warn Congress today that Russia’s aggression “will have enormous economic repercussions in Ukraine and beyond.”
Boeing factory problems disrupted production of one of its new Air Force One planes earlier this year, adding to the manufacturer’s stumbles developing the U.S. presidential jets, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The US successfully tested a hypersonic missile in mid-March but kept it quiet for two weeks to avoid escalating tensions with Russia as President Joe Biden was about to travel to Europe,” CNN reports.
“Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett lost his razor-thin parliamentary majority on Wednesday after a lawmaker from his nationalist party quit, leaving his government with a more precarious grip on power but in no immediate danger of collapse,” Reuters reports.
Mickey Kaus: “The Biden White House is famously leak-proof (in sharp contrast to Trump’s White House). This deprives the public of valuable information, such as who is pushing Biden into foolish stridency. But the worst effect is probably on the White House itself. For one thing, leaks of policy changes can be badly-needed trial balloons.”
“In general, if everybody knew who was pushing what policy—and who were the internal opponents—it would be easier for influential non-insiders to weigh in and steer policy in more sane directions.”