Happy Friday! The McRib is back! But not everywhere. Much like a sticky, saucy golden ticket, the famed McDonald’s sandwich will only be made available at certain, so-far undisclosed restaurants. Good luck, McRib hunters!
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- A Russian missile strike on Thursday destroyed a café and grocery store in a village outside of Kharkiv, in northeastern Ukraine, killing at least 51 civilians—including children. The attack was the deadliest in the region since the start of the war, with one of the highest civilian death tolls in a single strike. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on European leaders to provide his country with missile defense systems to intercept such attacks. “Until there is a fully effective air-defense system, children cannot attend schools,” he said yesterday. Germany announced yesterday that it would send a second Patriot air-defense system to Ukraine.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Thursday that Russia had finished and successfully tested a nuclear-powered and nuclear-capable ballistic missile known as the Burevestnik. The missile was first discussed publicly in 2018 as an experimental weapon that supposedly has significantly increased range compared to traditional cruise missiles. Little else is currently known about the weapon and its reliability. Putin also signaled on Thursday that he is considering backing out of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
- A United States F-16 fighter jet shot down an armed Turkish drone in northern Syria yesterday after the drone flew within 500 meters of American troops on the ground, violating a U.S.-declared restricted operating zone. The situation marked a rare use of force between NATO allies. U.S. military officials described the shootdown as a “regrettable incident,” but said they made repeated attempts to contact the Turkish military before downing the drone. The officials also emphasized there was no indication Turkey was intentionally targeting U.S. forces.
- The Biden administration announced it would resume construction of the border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and would waive more than two dozen federal laws—like the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act—to expedite the process. “There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States in the project areas,” the waiver notice, signed by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday morning, stated. By Thursday, Mayorkas was attempting to walk back the statement, saying the language “is being taken out of context, and it does not signify any change in policy whatsoever.” President Joe Biden said yesterday that his hands were tied since the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is required to spend funds appropriated in 2019 for border wall construction.
- France officially began its withdrawal of troops from Niger this week, French defense ministry officials said Thursday. All of the approximately 1,500 French troops and military assets in the country are scheduled to be withdrawn by the end of the year, following calls from Niger’s military junta for a French exit.
- A federal court approved a new congressional map for Alabama yesterday following two failed attempts by the Republican-controlled state legislature to produce a map that met legal scrutiny under the Voting Rights Act. The new map maintained the state’s current majority-black districts, and created another district with a near majority-black population—which could potentially result in Democrats flipping a seat in 2024.
- Former President Donald Trump allegedly disclosed sensitive details regarding a U.S. nuclear submarine to Australian businessman Anthony Pratt months after leaving the White House, ABC News reported Thursday. Pratt, a Mar-a-Lago member, then reportedly shared that information with several other people, including journalists and Australian officials. He’s among scores of individuals identified to testify against Trump in special counsel Jack Smith’s federal case against Trump for his alleged mishandling of classified documents.
- Trump endorsed House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan for speaker of the House late last night in a post on Truth Social. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise has also announced his intention to seek the gavel.
Strikes, Strikes Everywhere
Striking United Auto Workers (UAW) union members may have thought they were doing a pretty good job of getting their message across when President Joe Biden joined them on the picket line late last month—but have they thought about the effectiveness of aerial advertising over the Ford, Stellantis, and General Motors headquarters? If so, striking New Jersey nurses know a guy.
As a tight labor market increases workers’ bargaining power and inflation undercuts their earnings, tens of thousands of workers have chosen to make known their frustrations. Some workers’ concerns stem from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other workers fear the ways technology could change—and potentially undermine—the nature of their work. Many are driven to action by kitchen table issues like wages and pensions. And polling suggests most Americans back workers to varying degrees in their efforts to change the state of play—as do an increasingly bipartisan contingent of politicians.
As we’ve reported in recent weeks, this year has seen a spate of high-profile strikes—and as soon as one ends, another tense negotiation or walkout crops up in a different part of the economy. Over the summer, Hollywood actors joined writers on the picket line for their first concurrent strike since Ronald Reagan was the president of the Screen Actors Guild. This past July, unionized United Parcel Service workers reached a contract agreement with UPS just days before they were set to go on strike. Tens of thousands of autoworkers represented by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union are, for the first time, striking at each of the “Big Three” U.S. car manufacturers—Stellantis, General Motors, and Ford—simultaneously. In New Jersey, 1,700 nurses at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital are in their third month of work stoppages over staffing shortages and low wages. And just this Wednesday, 75,000 Kaiser Permanente health care workers walked off the job, kicking off the largest health care strike in U.S. history.