It’s Runoff Time

Happy Tuesday! For the first time in its history, the Oxford English Dictionary trusted the general public to vote on the word of the year instead of having its esteemed lexicographers make the choice.

Predictably, the general public immediately abused this trust by voting overwhelmingly for the slang term “goblin mode.”

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia launched about 70 missiles at Ukraine Monday—again targeting civilian infrastructure—after Russian officials accused Ukraine of drone attacks against two Russian air bases more than 300 miles from the border, including one used to launch strikes against the country. Ukrainian officials didn’t confirm Russia’s claim, though they’ve hinted at long-range strike capability. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday the U.S. secretly altered the HIMARS missile systems provided to Ukraine to prevent long-range strikes on Russian territory that U.S. leaders fear could draw nuclear retaliation.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a law against “LGBT propaganda” that blocks Russians from promoting same-sex relationships or portraying them as normal in advertising and media, building on a 2013 law that banned promoting homosexuality to children. Breaking the law, which also includes restrictions on promoting gender transition, can incur fines of up to about $6,400 for individuals or more than $80,000 for organizations.
  • About 19 crude oil tankers have reportedly dropped anchor while waiting to cross Turkish waters after the country demanded fresh proof of insurance in the wake of the new Western price cap and sanctions on Russian crude. The International Group of P&I Clubs—which represents companies insuring about 90 percent of global shipping—said Turkey’s new policy went “well beyond” typical requirements and that the group’s members can’t guarantee coverage in the event of a sanctions breach. Russian insurance companies reportedly provided the requested confirmation letters, allowing Russian-insured tankers passage.
  • Shops in several Iranian cities reportedly closed Monday for a planned three-day strike amid ongoing protests over the September death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, detained for allegedly violating Iran’s hijab law. Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported Monday Iran’s judiciary closed a Tehran amusement park because operators weren’t following the dress code.
  • The Supreme Court on Monday heard oral arguments in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, a renewed challenge to Colorado’s law forbidding companies from denying goods or services to customers based on sexual orientation, among other categories. Lawyers for graphic designer Lorie Smith argued that requiring her to make wedding websites for same-sex couples would be compelled speech violating her religious beliefs about marriage, and the court’s conservative justices seemed sympathetic to the argument.
  • Arizona on Monday certified the 2022 midterm results, officially confirming Democratic gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs’ victory over Republican Kari Lake, Sen. Mark Kelly’s return to the Senate, and Adrian Fontes’ election to replace Hobbs as secretary of state. Lake and failed Republican secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem still refuse to concede their elections, contending that ballot printing issues in Maricopa County caused voter suppression despite county election officials’ statements that the issues didn’t prevent votes.
  • The Secret Service said Monday that the China-based cybercriminal group APT41 has stolen at least $20 million of COVID-19 relief money—including small business loans and unemployment insurance payments—in several states since 2020. The group has previously conducted a mix of government-backed and profit-motivated attacks. The Labor Department’s inspector general has previously reported improper payment of about 20 percent of the $872.5 billion in federal pandemic unemployment funding.
  • Investment bank Morgan Stanley upgraded its outlook for Chinese stocks Monday after several Chinese cities loosened COVID-19 restrictions this weekend in response to recent protests over harsh restrictions aimed at eliminating COVID in the country. Some protests reportedly continued this weekend, including a demonstration by students at Wuhan University. The lockdowns and protests have rocked China’s economy—iPhone manufacturer Foxconn on Monday reported an 11 percent year-over-year revenue drop in November after a COVID-19 outbreak and protests disrupted production at its Zhengzhou factory. 
  • Former congressman David Rivera—a Republican who represented Miami’s House district from 2011 to 2013—was arrested at Atlanta’s airport on an eight-count indictment alleging he lobbied U.S. lawmakers and officials starting in 2017 to end sanctions against Venezuela and normalize relations with the country without registering as a foreign agent. Rivera has previously been implicated in wrongdoing on campaign finance and consulting contracts and double-billing taxpayer-funded travel expenses.

Georgia On Our Minds

Georgia Republican senate candidate Herschel Walker after a campaign stop in Dawsonville, Georgia. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“Low energy” is the refrain of many GOP strategists and activists about the party’s mood going into the contest. Whether this perception manifests as a turnout problem remains to be seen—Republicans in recent years have been more likely to do their voting on election day itself. But there’s a few reasons why the party seems to be sleepwalking to the finish line.

First, the stakes are much lower this time around, with Democrats having already locked up a Senate majority (counting Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote) for the second consecutive Congress. That isn’t to say the Walker/Warnock outcome is irrelevant: Even setting aside the implications for Senate control in 2024 and 2026, there are parliamentary reasons why Republicans would much prefer an evenly divided Senate, which would win them concessions like equal seats on committees. But that’s a far cry from the 2021 runoffs, which determined whether newly elected President Joe Biden would kick off his term with single-party control of government.

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