Happy Tuesday! Congratulations to the UConn Huskies on defeating the San Diego State Aztecs to win their fifth NCAA men’s basketball championship last night—and congratulations to Jackman12121 for coming from behind to win the third annual TMD March Madness pool!
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- NBC News reported Monday the Chinese surveillance balloon that traversed the United States in February was, in fact, able to collect intelligence from sensitive U.S. military sites, though Defense Department spokeswoman Sabrina Singh claimed the military was able to limit the “additive value” of that intelligence. The balloon allegedly made multiple passes over targets—sometimes flying figure eight formations—and transmitted information, including images and signals intelligence, back to Beijing.
- Russian officials claimed their troops gained control of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut Monday after a months-long offensive, though both Ukrainian officials and the White House said the fight for the city remains ongoing. The head of Ukraine’s presidential office said Russian declarations of victory—including those made by the mercenary Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin—are “not even close to reality.”
- Russian authorities arrested and charged a 26-year-old Russian woman on Monday with delivering the bomb that injured 30 and killed prominent propagandist and war blogger Maxim Fomin—known by his pseudonym Vladlen Tatarsky—in St. Petersburg on Sunday. In a video released by the interior ministry, Darya Trepova—who has previously attended anti-war protests—confessed to handing Fomin a statue of himself that allegedly contained the bomb, though unconfirmed reports suggest she may have been set up. The Kremlin alleged Monday Ukraine had orchestrated the attack, a claim Ukrainian officials deny.
- The Israeli military shot down two unidentified aircraft near Israel’s northern and southern borders Sunday night and Monday morning. While officials said neither aircraft posed a threat, the one hailing from Syria in the North crossed into Israeli territory. Israel has reportedly launched three rounds of airstrikes against Syria in the last several days, and amid the tense security situation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has temporarily suspended his decision to fire Defense Minister Yoav Gallant—dismissed last month for opposing Netanyahu’s judicial reforms.
- House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced Monday he will host a bipartisan meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday at the Reagan Presidential Library in California. The rumored meeting had already prompted a promise of retaliation from China, and will likely result in renewed Chinese military maneuvers near Taiwan.
- The Justice Department on Friday announced the arrest of an Ohio man accused of using Molotov cocktails in an effort to burn down a church in Chesterland, Ohio, last month that was set to host a drag show event. The 20-year-old man was part of a “White Lives Matter” group and had previously participated in a protest at a drag show during which members of the group carried Nazi flags.
- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday making Florida the 26th state to allow eligible gun owners to carry concealed firearms without a permit. Once the law goes into effect on July 1, Floridians will no longer need to attend a training course to carry their guns in a concealed manner outside their homes.
What Would a TikTok Ban Actually Look Like?
U.S. officials seem to finally be getting serious about TikTok. After years of talk, the Chinese-owned social media platform is now banned on federal government devices, as well as government devices in more than half of states in the country. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)—a body that reviews international transactions for potential national security risks—issued TikTok an ultimatum last month, telling the company to either ditch its Chinese parent company or get out of the country. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have introduced multiple bills targeting the app. And, as we noted last month, CEO Shou Zi Chew’s appearance before Congress only added fuel to the fire.
Now, lawmakers may actually pass a ban. How exactly would it be implemented? It’s complicated, but not impossible.