“Russia declared that its offensive for control over Ukraine’s industrial heartland was underway on Tuesday as it bombarded targets across the sprawling eastern front, with Ukrainian officials saying they were mounting a spirited defense,” the New York Times reports.
“The Pentagon estimated that Russia has already sent 11 more battalion tactical groups into Ukraine, additional forces likely to comprise 8,000 to 11,000 soldiers. It also has tens of thousands more in reserve north of Ukraine who are being resupplied and readied to join the fight.”
Washington Post: “Russia appeared on Monday to launch its anticipated ground offensive in eastern Ukraine as Moscow stepped up missile and artillery strikes across the country in some of the broadest attacks in recent weeks.”
Walter Mead: “As the war exposes the darkness inherent in Mr. Putin’s regime, and as atrocities abroad and repression at home impress the mark of Cain ever more deeply on its brow, it is impossible not to hope for a Russian defeat. Nevertheless, caution is in order. Mr. Putin and those around him know that in Ukraine they aren’t fighting only for an adjustment of frontiers. They are fighting for their world, and it may be psychologically impossible for them to accept defeat until every measure, however ruthless, and every weapon, however heinous, has been brought into play. For Vladimir Putin and the people around him, the stakes in Ukraine are almost infinitely great.”
“The sinking of the Russian warship Moskva is causing tension back home, where some families are reporting sailors dead or missing despite a defense ministry claim that the whole crew had been evacuated,” the Washington Post reports.
“In a blow to Russia’s richest business people, President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on April 16 that requires Russian companies to remove their listings from overseas stock exchanges,” Insider reports.
Bloomberg: “That could force tycoons including Russia’s richest man, Vladimir Potanin, as well as steel billionaires Vladimir Lisin and Alexey Mordashov, to reconfigure the ownership structure of businesses they hold — in part — via overseas shares paying foreign-currency dividends.”
“Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will boycott several meetings of the powerful Group of 20 nations this week to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with a conference in Washington emerging as a key test for world leaders who have condemned the war,” the Washington Post reports.
“Yellen will attend the opening session of the G-20 finance ministers’ meeting Wednesday to show support for Ukraine’s finance minister, who has flown in from Kyiv for the conference, according to a Treasury Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of internal planning. But Yellen will skip other sessions over Russia’s presence.”
“The Biden administration is preparing to announce another substantial military aid package for Ukraine this week,” NBC News reports.
“Three officials said the package is expected to be similar in size to the $800 million one the administration announced last week.”
“Two officials said the package is expected to include more artillery and tens of thousands more artillery rounds, which will likely be critical to the fighting in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.”
“The Russians, who invaded Feb. 24, have faced spirited, effective resistance from Ukrainian troops and have lost about 25% of the combat force Vladimir Putin deployed,” USA Today reports.
“A decision by a federal judge in Florida to throw out a national mask mandate for public transportation across the U.S. created a confusing patchwork of rules for passengers as they navigate airports and transit systems,” the AP reports.
“The ruling gives airports, mass transit systems, airlines and ride-hailing services the option to keep mask rules or ditch them entirely, resulting in rules that vary by city and mode of transportation.”
“Delta Air Lines said late Monday it would stop requiring masks on flights following a federal judge’s decision voiding the federal mask mandate for transportation,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
CNN reports other airlines — American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines — soon followed in ending their mask requirements.
“The Transportation Security Administration will stop enforcing the Biden administration’s rule mandating masks on planes, trains and other forms of public transportation,” Axios reports.
“Americans greeted the lifting of mask mandates on planes, trains, buses, and public transit with a mixture of joy, relief and alarm on Tuesday, marking an abrupt end to a directive that had been widely in place in various forms for nearly two years,” the New York Times reports.
“Some airline passengers received the news in airports or in flight, sharing celebratory photos and videos on social media. That elation was accompanied by nervousness and dread from other people who are fearful that the end of the mandate would increasingly expose them and their loved ones to the coronavirus as a new variant is driving up case counts around the United States.”
Philip Bump: Cheering on planes aside, Americans are divided on ending the mask mandate.
“White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday didn’t rule out appealing a federal judge’s ruling that struck down the CDC’s mask requirement for planes, trains and other public transportation, saying that the Biden administration is awaiting a decision from the Justice Department about how to proceed,” Politico reports.
Vox: The Trump judge’s opinion striking down the airplane mask mandate is a legal disaster.
“President Biden said that Americans should decide for themselves whether to wear masks, undercutting efforts by his administration to urge Americans to keep wearing face coverings on airplanes, trains and buses even after a federal judge struck down a nationwide mask mandate on public transport,” the New York Times reports.
Biden said the decision to wear a mask is “up to them.”
“The patchwork of messaging contributed to confusion less than 24 hours after the ruling was handed down. The president, caught somewhere between politics and science, left it up to Americans to make their own choices.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) “asked the Legislature to repeal a law allowing Walt Disney World to operate a private government over its properties in the state, the latest salvo in a feud between the Republican and the media giant,” the AP reports.
“The move comes after Disney announced it would suspend political donations in the state over the new Parental Rights in Education law, which opponents dubbed ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ over criticism that barring lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in early grades would marginalize LGTBQ people. Disney is one of Florida’s biggest private employers.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) rule “doubling the inspections for commercial trucks coming in from Mexico caused delays that cost the U.S. nearly $9 billion in gross domestic product,” Axios reports.
“John Eastman, a far-right lawyer for then-President Donald Trump who wanted to block his electoral loss in 2020, is still withholding about 3,200 documents from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, according to a new court filing this week,” CNN reports.
New York Times: “In statehouses and courtrooms across the country, as well as on right-wing news outlets, allies of Mr. Trump — including the lawyer John Eastman — are pressing for states to pass resolutions rescinding Electoral College votes for President Biden and to bring lawsuits that seek to prove baseless claims of large-scale voter fraud. Some of those allies are casting their work as a precursor to reinstating the former president.”
“The efforts have failed to change any statewide outcomes or uncover mass election fraud. Legal experts dismiss them as preposterous, noting that there is no plausible scenario under the Constitution for returning Mr. Trump to office.”
“Top members of the Oath Keepers now facing seditious conspiracy charges chatted for days about providing security for some of the highest-profile figures associated with Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the election, according to a newly released trove of text messages,” Politico reports.
“Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel who helped allies of Donald Trump promote false claims of election fraud, is suing to block the Jan. 6 select committee from obtaining his phone records from AT&T,” Politico reports.
“Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancée of Donald Trump Jr. and a former member of the Trump presidential campaign, is meeting Monday with the House select committee investigating the Capitol Hill insurrection,” CNN reports.
“Guilfoyle is a key witness to the events leading up to the insurrection on January 6, 2021. She was with then-President Donald Trump on that morning and was backstage with him and other members of the family during the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally on the Ellipse. She was also one of the guest speakers at the rally.”
“Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) said he has never spoken to the leaders of the Oath Keepers despite newly revealed text messages showing that the group discussed contacting and protecting him during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol,” Politico reports.
Said one of the texts: “Dr. Ronnie Jackson – on the move. Needs protection. If anyone inside cover him. He has critical data to protect.”
“Jackson notably remained on the House floor during the attack and was one of the last lawmakers to leave the chamber during the evacuation.“
“China’s health minister has pledged the toughest measures yet to prevent a major outbreak of Covid-19, ruling out any relaxations ahead of this year’s 20th Communist Party national congress,” the South China Morning Post reports.
Wall Street Journal: “China’s severe Covid-19 restrictions, which for two years aided the country’s pandemic rebound by keeping the virus outside its borders, are now emerging as the largest threat to its growth.”
“The Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper called on the nation to support President Xi Jinping’s Covid Zero strategy, showing any shift in policy is unlikely even as lockdowns in Shanghai and elsewhere threaten to hurt the economy,” Bloomberg reports.
Wall Street Journal: “During the past 80 years, the Fed has never lowered inflation as much as it is setting out to do now—by 4 percentage points—without causing recession. In this case, the central bank will need a number of factors out of its control to break its way.”
“Still, Fed officials can find reason for both optimism and caution from history. In seven different episodes during the past 80 years, inflation has fallen as much as the Fed bank wants it to drop now, with varying outcomes. The episodes suggest that the desired scenario is theoretically possible though the risk of failure is high, especially because the bank is chasing inflation that already exists, rather than addressing the problem before it arises as it did in some earlier episodes.”
“The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday downgraded the outlook for the world economy this year and next, blaming Russia’s war in Ukraine for disrupting global commerce, pushing up oil prices, threatening food supplies and increasing uncertainty already heightened by the coronavirus and its variants,” the AP reports.
“Congress is returning from a spring recess this week and will soon resume a tense battle over the stalled $10 billion pandemic aid package that senators failed to pass earlier this month, despite increasing pressure from the White House to approve emergency aid for new vaccines, therapeutics and research,” the New York Times reports.
“The White House on Tuesday announced it has restored key protections to a landmark environmental law governing the construction of pipelines, highways and other projects that President Donald Trump had swept away as part of an effort to cut red tape,” the Washington Post reports.
“The new rule will require federal agencies to scrutinize the climate impacts of major infrastructure projects under the National Environmental Policy Act, a 1970 law that required the government to assess the environmental consequences of federal actions, such as approving the construction of oil and gas pipelines.”
“The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the Pentagon may take disciplinary action against a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve who refused to be vaccinated against the coronavirus on religious grounds,” the New York Times reports.
“The court’s brief, unsigned order gave no reasons, which is common when the justices act on emergency applications. The court’s three most conservative members — Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — noted dissents but did not explain their thinking.”
The Islamic State terror network has declared a new “global offensive” against Europe and Israel in a bid to avenge the death of its leader in a US special forces raid earlier this year, the Times of London reports.
“The Biden administration said it plans to make it easier for lower-income student-loan borrowers to get debt forgiveness through an existing program that has enrolled millions of people, but provided few with relief,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
CNN: Biden’s latest student debt move will bring 3.6 million borrowers closer to loan forgiveness.
Tucker Carlson featured a guest who recommended using “testicle tanning” to combat what he calls the “collapse” of testosterone levels in men.
Philip Bump: “The video is a weird combination of homophobia and homoerotica, but we can leave that to others to analyze. Either way, it’s a compelling bit of marketing. The testicle-tanning is the lure; the trap closes when you agree to follow the line from that to Carlson’s broader argument about the decline in masculinity and the rise of the left.”
Associated Press: “Migrants attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border at the highest level in two decades as the U.S. prepares for even larger numbers with the expected lifting of a pandemic-era order that turned away asylum seekers.”
“Immigration authorities stopped migrants 221,303 times along the Southwest border in March, a 33% increase from a month earlier.”
Wall Street Journal: “The U.S. has made more than a million arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border since October, the fastest pace of illegal border crossings in at least the last two decades.”