Russia’s Predetermined Election

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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in his country’s pseudo-election on Sunday, paving the way to a fifth term. The final day of the three-day process was marked by protests inspired by late dissident Alexei Navalny, who died in a Siberian prison in February. Lines formed suddenly outside polling stations at noon on Sunday as Russians gathered to cast protest votes, just as Navalny had advocated before he died. 
  • Meanwhile, Ukraine launched drone strikes deep inside Russian territory on Sunday, which the governor of Belgorod Oblast claimed killed a teenage girl and injured her father. The Ukrainian strikes followed Russian missile attacks on Friday, which Ukrainian officials said killed at least 20 people in the port city of Odesa; the first missile, which hit several homes, was quickly followed by another, presumably targeting rescue workers. 
  • The first sea-borne aid delivery to Gaza, provided by nonprofit World Central Kitchen via a new maritime humanitarian corridor, arrived on Friday. A second aid ship, sailing from Cyprus, is preparing to sail across the Mediterranean to the enclave. The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that “130 pallets of humanitarian aid and 115 pallets of food and water” had been transferred to trucks operated by World Central Kitchen to distribute the goods in northern Gaza. 
  • Niger’s military junta said Saturday that the U.S. military presence in the country was no longer justified, revoking the military accord that allowed for American boots on the ground. The U.S. and Niger have long been partners in counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel region, and Niger hosts somewhere between 600 and 1,000 U.S. troops and a drone base—though the U.S. suspended military aid to the country following a coup in July. The announcement followed a visit by a U.S. delegation that included Molly Phee, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs, and Gen. Michael E. Langley, who leads U.S. military operations in Africa. 
  • The National Association of Realtors (NAR) announced on Friday that it had settled with groups of homesellers accusing NAR—and brokerages requiring their Realtors be members of NAR—of violating antitrust laws by setting inflated commissions for real estate agents and artificially increasing home prices. The NAR agreed to pay $418 million in damages to the plaintiffs, eliminate the industry-standard 6 percent commission, and curtail rules that required the seller’s agent to make an offer of payment to the buyer’s agent. Without a standard commission, Realtors will likely have to lower their commission to compete, which could lower home prices overall since sellers often priced-in the cost of those fees. The NAR denied any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.   
  • At a campaign rally in Ohio on Saturday, former President Donald Trump suggested illegal immigrants with criminal records are “not people” during his speech. “I don’t know if you call them people,” he said. “In some cases they’re not people, in my opinion. But I’m not allowed to say that because the radical left says that’s a terrible thing to say.” The former president also raised his hand in a salute during an alternative version of the national anthem honoring January 6 “hostages,” whom he praised as “unbelievable patriots.”   
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that he could not “in good conscience” endorse his former running mate’s third bid for the presidency. Pence argued Trump is “pursuing and articulating an agenda that is at odds with the conservative agenda that we governed on during our four years.” He also said he would not vote for President Joe Biden or run himself as a third-party candidate.  
  • Judge Scott McAfee of Georgia’s Fulton Superior Court—overseeing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ racketeering case against Trump and more than a dozen other defendants—ruled Friday that Willis could remain as a prosecutor provided Nathan Wade, a special prosecutor on the case and Willis’ former romantic partner, resigned. Wade swiftly resigned the same day, the culmination of a weeks-long effort by defendants to have Willis removed from the case over an alleged conflict of interest. McAfee called Willis’ decision to date Wade a “tremendous lapse in judgment.” Meanwhile, a New York judge ruled Friday that Trump’s trial in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case regarding hush-money payments to an adult film star would be delayed until at least mid-April. The additional time will allow the defense to review evidence recently turned over.  

A So-Called ‘Landslide’ in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with the media at his campaign headquarters in Moscow on March 18, 2024. (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with the media at his campaign headquarters in Moscow on March 18, 2024. (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

When it comes to election reporting, we at TMD are usually up quite late, waiting to bring you the most accurate numbers possible in contests potentially decided by razor-thin margins.

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