Happy Presidents’ Day

Happy Monday! Huge news for our Maine contingent from over the weekend: We’re finally getting a moose emoji.

Between that and 🦞, Esther can now summarize her childhood with just two taps.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Citing two “senior diplomats,” Bloomberg reported Sunday the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) detected uranium in Iran last week enriched to 84 percent purity—the highest level ever recorded in the country and just shy of the 90 percent threshold generally considered to be weapons-grade. Although a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran denied the report to Iranian state media as “a smear and a distortion of the facts,” the IAEA said yesterday it was “aware of recent media reports” and that Rafael Grossi, the agency’s director general, is discussing the results of recent “verification activities” with Iran and will “inform the IAEA Board of Governors as appropriate.” According to a readout, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, in part about “broader regional challenges, including the threats posed by Iran.”
  • North Korean state media confirmed Sunday the country tested another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) off its east coast over the weekend, purportedly in retaliation for the announcement of joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States. The U.S. responded Sunday by deploying B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula to train with South Korean fighter jets.
  • U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) announced Friday the U.S. military and Syrian Democratic Forces conducted a helicopter raid in northeastern Syria on Thursday that killed Hamza al-Homsi, a senior ISIS leader, and wounded four U.S. service members and one military dog. On Saturday, CENTCOM announced another helicopter raid in eastern Syria had captured an ISIS Syria Province Official “involved in planning attacks on SDF-guarded detention centers and manufacturing improvised explosive devices.” There were reportedly no U.S. or SDF casualties in the second raid.
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Saturday the State Department has formally determined Russian forces have committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine, including execution-style killings, civilian torture, rape, and forced family separation. “These acts are not random or spontaneous,” Blinken said in a statement. “They are part of the Kremlin’s widespread and systematic attack against Ukraine’s civilian population.” Vice President Kamala Harris echoed the determination in a Saturday address at the Munich Security Conference, labeling Russia’s actions “barbaric and inhumane,” and “an assault on our common values.”
  • Blinken also announced Sunday the United States will provide Turkey and Syria an additional $100 million in earthquake relief aid, including $50 million from the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Funds and $50 million in humanitarian assistance through the State Department and USAID. The latest round of aid brings the United States’ total assistance to $185 million since the earthquake that killed more than 46,000 struck earlier this month. 
  • A 52-year-old man with a history of mental illness shot and killed six people—including his ex-wife and stepfather—in a small northern Mississippi town on Friday. The gunman—armed with a shotgun and two handguns—was apprehended in Arkabutla after a brief chase, and is being held without bond in the Tate County Jail.
  • The Carter Center announced Saturday former President Jimmy Carter, 98, has decided to forgo additional medical treatment and enter hospice care. The center did not specify which ailments required medical intervention, but Carter has dealt with melanoma and a handful of falls in recent years. Carter’s grandson Jason said he had seen both his grandparents—Jimmy and Rosalynn—on Friday, tweeting that “they are at peace and—as always—their home is full of love.”

‘Let Us Strive on to Finish the Work We Are in’

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.

In lieu of a full item today, please take a moment to read a war-weary Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, widely considered to be one of the greatest pieces of presidential oratory in American history. It was delivered on March 4, 1865, and Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865.

Fellow countrymen,

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