Happy Thursday! We’ve come a long way since the Boston Tea Party. After an American study claimed the perfect cup of tea included a pinch of salt, the U.S. embassy in London quickly clarified it would never be U.S. policy to put salt in the sacred British cuppa. “The U.S. Embassy will continue to make tea in the proper way,” the embassy spokesperson wrote. “By microwaving it.” God bless America. 🇺🇲
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- An explosive projectile struck a United Nations training facility housing refugees in southern Gaza on Wednesday, U.N. officials reported, killing at least nine people and injuring 75 others. “We deplore today’s attack on the U.N.’s Khan Younis training center,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel. “Civilians must be protected, and the protected nature of U.N. facilities must be respected, and humanitarian workers must be protected so that they can continue providing civilians with the life-saving humanitarian assistance that they need.” The U.N. pinned blame on tanks—which are deployed only by Israel—but the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed an early examination showed that its forces had not struck the center. The IDF is investigating whether the blast was instead caused by Hamas fire.
- Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked two U.S.-flagged ships carrying cargo for the U.S. departments of Defense and State in the Red Sea on Wednesday. The U.S. Navy was accompanying the two Maersk vessels and intercepted some of the incoming fire from the Iranian-backed group, and Maersk said in a statement that the ships, cargo, and crew were unharmed in the attacks.
- A Russian military transport plane crashed in Belgorod, Russia, near the Ukrainian border on Wednesday, reportedly killing everyone on board and prompting conflicting reports of the crash’s cause and the plane’s manifest. Moscow claimed Ukraine shot down the cargo plane, which was said to be carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war to the site of a prisoner exchange. Ukrainian officials have confirmed that a prisoner exchange was set to take place, but Ukrainian outlets have reported that the plane was carrying missiles, not the prisoners.
- The United Auto Workers (UAW) union on Wednesday endorsed President Joe Biden, who last year became the first sitting president to appear on a picket line when he joined striking UAW members in Michigan. UAW initially delayed endorsing Biden last year over concerns about what his support for electric vehicles could mean for union jobs in the industry. “Our endorsement must be earned and Joe Biden has earned it,” Shawn Fain, UAW president, said during a joint appearance with the president. Fain went on to label former President Donald Trump a “scab.”
- Ohio legislators banned gender-transition treatment for minors on Wednesday, overriding a December veto by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. The bill also ends treatments like puberty blockers and hormone replacement therapy, and bars transgender athletes from competing in girls’ sports in the state. Young people already undergoing such treatments in the state will be allowed to continue, but that grandfather clause does not apply to those coming from other states to receive treatment. DeWine signed an executive order earlier this month to ban gender-transition surgeries for children under 18.
- The chair of the Arizona Republican Party, Jeff DeWit, resigned Wednesday after audio was released in which he seemingly attempted to bribe former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake not to run for U.S. Senate. In a statement released yesterday, DeWit claimed he was “set up” by Lake, who, he says, knew she was being recorded, adding that he was given “an ultimatum from Lake’s team: resign today or face the release of a new, more damaging recording.” Senior advisors to Lake denied those claims.
Where the War Powers Are
What do former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate and one of former President Donald Trump’s biggest cheerleaders in the Senate have in common? No, this isn’t the set-up of a bad joke—Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday expressing their shared concerns over the limits of presidential power.
The bipartisan letter—signed by Democrats Kaine and Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republicans Lee and Sen. Todd Young of Indiana—called for a clarification regarding Biden’s authority to strike the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen without congressional approval. As commander in chief, a president is constitutionally charged with defending the security of the U.S., and this power may be expanded through separate authorizations for use of military force (AUMF). The legal definitions and timelines are tight, however, and Biden’s recent actions against Iranian-sponsored terror in the Middle East have sparked much debate.
The U.S. military, in partnership with the U.K. and several other allied nations, has thus far launched eight retaliatory airstrikes targeting Houthi infrastructure in Yemen since January 11, with the ultimate goal of ending the group’s attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea. These efforts have not succeeded to date—as evidenced by yesterday’s attack on two U.S.-flagged ships carrying cargo for the U.S. departments of Defense and State—but Biden has insisted the U.S. campaign will continue.