Happy Memorial Day

Happy Monday! Delivering the commencement address at UMass Boston last week, billionaire Robert Hale informed the graduating class that he’d be giving each and every one of them an envelope with $1,000 in cash—$500 to keep, and $500 to give away.

We have an equally exciting announcement for you: Today, every single TMD reader will receive … a newsletter on a federal holiday!

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • After weeks of negotiations, President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached a tentative agreement on Saturday evening—days before the U.S. was set to default on its debts—to raise the debt ceiling until January 2025. Congressional leaders are now racing to pass the bill ahead of June 5—when the Treasury says it will run out of money to pay its obligations—but the far-right and far-left flanks of both parties have balked at some of the provisions. The agreement raises the debt limit for two years and effectively freezes non-defense spending for the same period while also protecting spending on veterans programs and imposing expanded work requirements on some adults receiving food stamps. House Republicans released draft text of the legislation Sunday, even as GOP and Democratic representatives criticized the deal.   
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won reelection in a runoff Sunday with about 52 percent of the vote to challenger Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s 48 percent. The unusually united opposition coalition campaign had threatened to end Erdoğan’s 20-year rule, but he will now continue leading the country amid high inflation, the fallout from February’s twin earthquakes, and his growing ties with Russia and tensions with fellow NATO allies.
  • The Texas House voted overwhelmingly on Saturday to impeach the state’s Republican attorney general, Ken Paxton, over accusations of bribery, using his position to enrich himself and a campaign donor, and abuse of public trust. The vote immediately removed Paxton—in his third term as A.G.—from office, pending a trial in the state Senate, where a two-thirds majority of the 31 senators is needed to convict him. If convicted, he would be barred from ever holding office in Texas again. This is the first time since 1917 Texas has impeached a state-wide office-holder.
  • Ukraine faced a barrage of missile and drone strikes over the weekend and on Monday as Russia escalated its bombing campaign. In rare daytime attacks this morning, Russia launched dozens of drones and missiles at Kyiv, sending civilians scrambling to take shelter in the capital city’s metros. Early on Sunday, Russia carried out the largest drone attack on Kyiv since the war began, coinciding with the ancient anniversary of the city’s founding in 482 A.D. According to the Ukrainian Air Force, 59 drones were deployed and 58 shot down. One person was killed and another hospitalized from building debris felled by the attack. Strikes on the Ukrainian city of Dnipro preceded the Kyiv attacks—Russia launched 17 missiles and 31 drones overnight Friday, killing one and injuring 23. Russian officials said over the weekend Ukraine used drones to attack oil pipelines and refineries inside Russia.
  • Oleksiy Danilov, a top Ukrainian security official, told the BBC over the weekend the Ukrainian counteroffensive against Russian forces is set to begin any day. “It could happen tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or in a week,” he said. Danilov also confirmed Wagner mercenaries were pulling out of the embattled Eastern city of Bahkmut—likely just to regroup—and conceded Ukraine now only controls a small part of the city over which Russian forces declared victory last week.
  • The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index—the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation—rose 4.4 percent year-over-year in April, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) reported Friday, up from a 4.2 percent annual increase in March. The core index, which excludes volatile food and energy prices and is considered a better predictor of future inflation, was up 4.7 percent year-over-year, a tick above March’s 4.6 percent annual rise. Consumer spending, meanwhile, grew by 0.8 percent in April—0.5 percent adjusted for inflation—up from March’s 0.1 percent increase. Although many central bankers have signaled a desire to pause their campaign of interest rate hikes, Friday’s data could potentially lead the Federal Reserve to stay the course at its June meeting.
  • Microsoft announced last week it’d discovered that a Chinese state-sponsored hacking group, “Volt Typhoon,” had been targeting critical U.S. communications infrastructure since mid-2021. The latest episode in a yearslong hacking campaign, the attack appeared to be an attempt to lay the groundwork to disrupt communications between North America and Asia in case of a military conflict. The U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom issued a joint warning against ongoing Chinese hacking efforts.
  • The Justice Department is reportedly investigating Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, over allegations he and his wife received tens of thousands of dollars worth of gifts—including a Mercedes-Benz, an apartment in D.C., and jewelry—from a New Jersey business. In 2019, the Egyptian government named the company—IS EG Halal—the sole authorized importer of halal meat into the country, despite a U.S. Department of Agriculture assessment finding such a move would disrupt markets and increase prices worldwide. 
  • Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill on Friday limiting instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. The bill, similar to measures enacted in Florida, also removes all books depicting sexual acts from school libraries and requires parents be notified if students request a new name or gender pronouns. 
  • Special counsel John Durham will reportedly testify before the House Judiciary Committee in late June on the findings of his probe into how federal law enforcement handled the Trump-Russia investigation.

Remembering the Fallen

Los Angeles National Cemetery on Memorial Day.
Los Angeles National Cemetery on Memorial Day.

In lieu of a main item today, we hope you’ll take a minute or two to read a few poems we’ve selected commemorating and honoring the memory of those who gave their lives for their country.

“Not to Keep,” by Robert Frost

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