A Pivotal Moment for Ukraine

Happy Thursday! A man was pulled over in Norfolk, Nebraska, yesterday for driving with a several-hundred-pound Watusi bull—named Howdy Doody, apparently—riding shotgun in his Ford sedan. 

We hope the two were still able to make it to the Cornhuskers’ volleyball game against Omaha, which broke a record on Wednesday for the largest live crowd to ever witness a women’s sporting event.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Florida Wednesday morning as a Category 3 hurricane, slamming the state’s Big Bend coast with rain and winds up to 125 mph. Three deaths have been attributed to the storm thus far—two from car crashes and one from a downed tree—and the system was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved across Georgia and into the Carolinas overnight. 
  • Ukraine launched a large-scale attack in southern Russia last night, with drones striking six different regions, causing significant damage to a military airport in one of them. Russia had launched an overnight strike, sending a barrage of 28 missiles and 16 drones to attack Kyiv early Wednesday morning and killing two people, according to the Ukrainian military.  
  • Military leaders seized power in Gabon yesterday, detaining President Ali Bongo in the Central African oil-producing country. Gabon’s electoral commission had declared Bongo—whose family has been in power for more than 50 years—the victor of the country’s recent disputed election. The coup leaders claimed the vote was illegitimate and installed Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema—the leader of the Republican Guard—as the president of a transitional committee to head the country.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services recommended to the Drug Enforcement Agency on Tuesday that marijuana be reclassified as a less restricted substance under the Controlled Substances Act. The agency recommends the drug be moved from Schedule I to Schedule III, which would put it in a class with drugs that are considered lower risk and can be purchased legally with a prescription. If the DEA makes the change, businesses that sell marijuana will be able to take advantage of tax exemptions—such as salaries and benefits—that are currently unavailable to do while selling a Schedule I drug.
  • American Airlines flight attendants voted to authorize a strike yesterday, empowering their union to call out its members—99 percent of members voted for the authorization. The union is currently negotiating pay raises with the airline. Federal law prevents airline workers from striking unless the National Mediation Board—an independent federal labor-management relations agency—allows it.
  • The United States approved an $80 million military aid package to Taiwan Wednesday under the Foreign Military Financing program—a route typically used to provide aid to sovereign states. The State Department said that the use of the program did not reflect a change in America’s stance toward the island democracy—the U.S. “one China” policy does not recognize Taiwan as an independent nation. 
  • The State Department warned American citizens to leave Haiti yesterday. “Given the current security situation and infrastructure challenges, U.S. citizens in Haiti should depart Haiti as soon as possible via commercial or private transport,” the U.S. Embassy in Haiti said in a security alert yesterday. The embassy evacuated nonessential staff last month. Violence and kidnappings have skyrocketed in the country since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, and gangs now control most of Port-au-Prince.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell froze up while taking questions from reporters at a chamber of commerce event in Covington, Kentucky, yesterday, appearing unable to take questions for 30 seconds. Last month, he experienced a similar episode, freezing in the middle of remarks at a press conference. McConnell’s office blamed both instances on lightheadedness. The 81-year-old senator fell at a hotel earlier this year, breaking a rib and suffering a concussion.

The Future of U.S. Aid to Ukraine

Banner seen during President Joe Biden's visit to Warsaw, Poland, on February 22, 2023. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Banner seen during President Joe Biden's visit to Warsaw, Poland, on February 22, 2023. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Biden administration greenlit the first delivery of Patriot air defense systems in December, M1 Abrams tanks in January, cluster munitions in July, and F-16 fighter jets in August

Over the last 18 months, the United States has supplied Ukraine with this materiel straight off of Kyiv’s wishlist as it tries to beat back the Russian invasion—but only after the White House had spent months insisting there was no way, no how the U.S. would part with that equipment. The administration’s reasons varied—low U.S. supplies of a particular item or perennial fear that supplying certain weapons would escalate the conflict with U.S. fingerprints all over it—but there’s now an established pattern of U.S. stonewalling that eventually turns to acquiescence months after Kyiv’s original request.

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