Happy Monday! Now that Andrew has his own newsletter and doesn’t edit TMD in the morning, we are free to post all the St. Louis Cardinals slander we want. They’re fourth out of five teams in the N.L. Central, their manager is feuding with one of their star players, and their new catcher—whom they paid $87.5 million—is currently the eighth-worst hitter in all of baseball. Go Cubs! [Editor: The Brewers are in first place in the NL Central, ahead of the Cubs and Cardinals.]
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Violence erupted across Sudan over the weekend as the military and the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary group grappled for control of key areas, including the presidential palace and airport in the capital city of Khartoum. At least 60 civilians have been killed—and 600 more injured—in the clashes between the formerly allied groups who executed a 2021 coup that derailed Sudan’s transition to democracy. Officials from China, Russia, and the U.S. have all called for peace in a rare show of unity among the three powers.
- A rebel militia killed 42 people in three towns across eastern Congo on Friday, the Congolese military confirmed. The attacks, allegedly at the hands of CODECO fighters, come as the region deals with a spike in long-simmering ethnic tensions.
- North Korea confirmed Friday it had tested a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which set off an evacuation alert on Hokkaido island in northern Japan on Thursday before falling into the sea east of the Korean peninsula. The test represents a technological advance allowing the country to launch missiles more quickly, since the updated missiles can be fueled at manufacturing and sit on alert for much longer than ICBMs requiring liquid fuel.
- A Moscow court on Monday sentenced Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza to 25 years in prison after finding him guilty of treason for his criticism of the war in Ukraine. “I’m in jail for my political views. For speaking out against the war in Ukraine. For many years of struggle against Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship,” Kara-Murza said in the closing remarks of his trial last week. “Not only do I not repent of any of this, I am proud of it.”
- Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has fallen “seriously ill” in the Russian prison where he’s being held, according to members of his Anti-Corruption Foundation. An ambulance was reportedly called for Navalny earlier this month, but he received no medication to treat severe stomach pains. A spokeswoman for his organization said he has lost 18 pounds in about two weeks and alleged he was being “administered low doses of poison” while behind bars.
- France’s Constitutional Council approved President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial pension reform plan on Friday, clearing the way for him to sign the bill into law on Saturday. The development sparked another round of violent protests, and trade union leaders—who have remained united in opposition to the law—rebuffed the government’s offer to meet with Macron this week.
- The Energy Department last week approved exports of liquefied natural gas from Alaska to countries—mostly in Asia—with which the U.S. does not have a free trade agreement. The project, originally greenlit by former President Donald Trump’s administration, is expected to be up and running—pending permits—by 2030, and could help the U.S. compete with Russian natural gas sales.
- The Justice Department announced charges on Friday against 28 members of the powerful transnational Sinaloa cartel, including several sons of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. The individuals, indicted in three districts, face a number of narcotics, money laundering, and firearms charges that are aimed at dismantling the cartel’s global network of fentanyl manufacturing and trafficking. “Families and communities across our country are being devastated by the fentanyl epidemic,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland. “We will never forget those who bear responsibility for this tragedy. And we will never stop working to hold them accountable for their crimes in the United States.” Seven of the defendants are in custody pending extradition proceedings, according to the DOJ.
- In a unanimous decision last week, the Supreme Court held that litigants wishing to contest a federal agency’s decision are not obligated to go through that agency’s adjudication process and can instead go straight to federal court. “The question presented is whether the district courts have jurisdiction to hear those suits—and so to resolve the parties’ constitutional challenges to the Commissions’ structure,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote for the majority opinion in Axon v. Federal Trade Commission. “The answer is yes.”
- Justice Samuel Alito issued an order Friday halting a lower court’s ruling that would have restricted access to the abortion drug mifepristone. The administrative stay, meant to maintain the status quo while justices examine the briefs and lower court rulings on a challenge to the drug’s 2000 Food and Drug Administration approval, will expire at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday.
- The Commerce Department reported Friday that U.S. retail sales fell 1 percent month-over-month in March, the second straight month of decline. The data suggests higher interest rates are starting to affect consumers, who spent less on goods like cars, furniture, and appliances.
- Montana legislators voted 54-43 last week to ban the video app TikTok, making Montana the first state to attempt to implement a total ban of the Chinese-owned app. If signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte, the legislation would prohibit the app from operating in the state and bar app stores from offering it to users beginning in January. Individual users would not be punished for using the app, but a $10,000 fine would be assessed for any entity violating the measure.
- Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey announced Thursday new restrictions on gender transition procedures for both minors and adults, making Missouri the first state to limit access for people over 18. The rule will require patients to undergo 18 months of therapy—and demonstrate they’ve been experiencing medically documented gender dysphoria for at least three consecutive years—before beginning any gender transition procedures. The rule—which LGBTQ activists have vowed to challenge—comes as the AG’s office investigates Washington University’s Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital after a whistleblower claimed earlier this year the clinic was not appropriately informing patients of the effects of treatment.
- Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday he will not run for president in 2024. In an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier, he added that he would wait to make an endorsement in the GOP primary, saying “it might not be” former President Trump who earns his support. “I think Americans are thirsting for people making arguments, not just tweets.”
Putting the NatSec Toothpaste Back in the Tube
Join the Massachusetts Air National Guard, its website declares, and you can choose from a thrilling menu of more than 200 career fields for missions involving intelligence, surveillance, and cyber engineering. “No matter what you’re interested in,” the home page promises, “there’s a good chance you’ll find it here.” Rarely has a marketing pitch been so unfortunately true.
While he was a member of the guard, 21-year-old Jack Teixeira found exactly what he was interested in—allegedly downloading and sharing hundreds of pages of highly classified material about the war in Ukraine and American surveillance activities. His motivations for doing so aren’t yet entirely clear, but he’s been arrested and charged with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and unauthorized removal of classified material.
As we reported last week, classified documents began surfacing in early March on digital platforms like 4chan, Telegram, and Twitter. They included information on troop movements in Ukraine and intelligence collected on the United States’ enemies and allies. Administration officials have claimed a few of the documents had been altered or doctored in some way, but they’re generally operating as if the materials are legitimate. And in addition to providing adversaries hints about the United States’ intelligence capabilities, the documents’ leak has strained relationships with allies—including South Korea and Israel—who were featured in the papers.