Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Russia on Monday withdrew from a deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations last year that had allowed for the safe export of more than 30 million tons of Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea. A Kremlin spokesman claimed Monday that the other side of the agreement—which allowed payments, insurance, and shipping for Russian agricultural exports—was not being upheld due to western sanctions, and that Russia would return to the deal “as soon as the relevant agreements are fulfilled.” Russia had briefly left the deal last fall before re-entering it under pressure from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
- On Sunday, the Kremlin seized the local assets of Danish beer company Carlsberg and French food and drinks company Danone, placing them under federal state property management agency Rosimushchestvo. Moscow in April released a decree giving itself authority to seize assets owned by people or entities from “unfriendly” states, making it harder for Western companies to leave Russia. Yale School of Management’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute estimates more than 1,000 companies have left Russia or reduced operations there since the war’s start.
- The Kremlin accused Ukrainian forces on Monday of striking a bridge linking Russia to the annexed Crimean Peninsula, killing two people and wrecking the road. An anonymous Ukrainian official later told CNN the country’s Security Service and naval forces were behind the drone attack, but Russian-installed officials in Crimea said the bridge’s railway, which is critical for Russian forces’ resupply, hadn’t been damaged.
- The U.S. is deploying additional forces to the Middle East—including F-35 fighter jets and a Navy destroyer—in response to Iranian efforts to seize two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz earlier this month. A U.S. navy destroyer intervened in both instances, prompting the Iranian vessels to abandon their attacks. A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to say how long the additional forces will be deployed, but the fighter jets will also aim to deter Russian military interference with American aircraft operating over Syria following provocative Russian intercepts of U.S. drones.
- Drugmaker Eli Lilly released phase 3 clinical trial data Monday appearing to demonstrate the effectiveness of its Alzheimer’s drug, donanemab. The trial found that when taken early, the antibody treatment slowed the progression of the disease by 35 percent by targeting amyloid, a damaging protein that builds up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The drug was associated with a higher incidence of edema, but researchers heralded the results—which slightly outperformed another, already approved antibody treatment called Lecanemab—as “very encouraging.” Eli Lilly submitted donanemab for FDA approval yesterday.
- Air-quality alerts covered much of the northern half of the United States Monday as smoke from hundreds of Canadian wildfires continues to drift south. Air quality is expected to remain at unhealthy levels throughout this week, and meteorologists don’t foresee a more permanent reprieve from the bad air until September, when rainfall should help put out the fires.
- District Court Judge Joseph Seidlin put a temporary hold on Iowa’s new abortion law on Monday, preventing enforcement of the legislation—which prohibits most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, generally around six weeks gestation—while a challenge to the law proceeds. He argued in the ruling that the petitioners’ challenge to the law is likely to succeed, so a temporary injunction is warranted.
- Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose launched a Senate bid on Monday, becoming the third prominent Republican to enter the race to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown, the Democratic incumbent. Republican state Sen. Matt Dolan and Cleveland businessman Bernie Moreno have already announced their candidacies, setting up a contentious Republican primary battle. Both Dolan and Moreno ran in the 2022 Senate primary that J.D. Vance won—Dolan finished a strong third with 23 percent of the vote while Moreno dropped out before the election.
Bibi Slices the Salami
What if we told you sliced salami is the going metaphor to encapsulate the current situation unfolding in Israel over the country’s judiciary? No, really.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit pause on a sweeping judicial reform package in March, but the game is back on—this time with only one of the several original proposals on the table. Opponents of the reforms—some of whom have been seen brandishing plastic salamis at recent protests—say Netanyahu is passing one “slice” at a time to try to make the reforms more palatable. On the other hand, “the ‘salami tactic’ is how the Supreme Court got its current power,” Eugene Kontorovich, professor at George Mason University Scalia Law School and scholar at the right-leaning, Israel-based Kohelet Policy Forum, tells TMD. “They didn’t do it in one day.”
The slice of the reform currently on the table—limiting the court’s use of the “reasonableness” test—is a significantly pared-back version of the original package, and Bibi is hoping to enact it before parliament’s summer session concludes at the end of the month. The concessions, however, weren’t enough to stave off more protests and strikes—including by military reservists—which have ramped up again in response to the renewed push.