The Morning Dispatch: Liftoff

The Space Shuttle Discovery takes off from Pad 39-B at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. April 24, 1990. (Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Happy Wednesday! If you’re reading this, that means our new website is up and running! Our operations team has worked incredibly hard these past few months to ensure this process is as smooth as possible, but there are bound to be some hiccups in the early going. (For instance, we’re not sure links in bulleted lists like Quick Hits and Worth Your Time are displaying correctly yet; the links are there, but on some screens they seem to be invisible. We’ll figure this one out before tomorrow.) Please bear with us!

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Russian airstrikes on civilian targets throughout Ukraine continued on Tuesday, with rockets reportedly hitting residential buildings in Zaporizhzhia and electrical infrastructure in Lviv—though Ukrainian officials claimed they intercepted many of the attempted strikes. About 20 people died as a result of the renewed bombings on Monday and Tuesday, according to Ukraine’s emergency services, and more than 100 additional people have been injured. G7 leaders met virtually with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday, issuing a joint statement afterwards condemning Russia’s recent attacks and pledging to provide Ukraine with financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic, and legal support for “as long as it takes.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters yesterday the alliance plans to “step up” its backing of Ukraine, and defense ministers huddling this week are expected to discuss sending Ukraine air defense systems to protect the country’s infrastructure from additional strikes. 
  • NASA announced Tuesday it has confirmed that last month’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission—in which the agency crashed a spacecraft into an asteroid 7 million miles away—was a triumph, altering the asteroid’s orbit by more than 25 times the amount NASA officials had previously defined as the minimum threshold for success. “As new data come in each day, astronomers will be able to better assess whether, and how, a mission like DART could be used in the future to help protect Earth from a collision with an asteroid if we ever discover one headed our way,” said Lori Glaze, NASA’s planetary science division chief.
  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with a Republican judicial candidate in Pennsylvania who lost his race earlier this year, vacating a May 2022 ruling from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that required 257 undated mail-in ballots in that election to be counted. The Supreme Court’s decision does not retroactively change the outcome of that race, but could affect the outcome of future elections in the state. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson indicated they would have declined to take up the case.
  • The Supreme Court on Tuesday also declined to take up dozens of other cases, including one from Rhode Island on fetal personhood that would have tasked the justices with determining—in light of this summer’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling—whether unborn children have constitutional rights.
  • The Labor Department issued a draft rule on Tuesday that—if finalized after a several-week public comment period—would expand the federal definition of who counts as an employee (rather than an independent contractor) for the purposes of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Biden administration’s broader rule would supplant a simpler one instituted by the Trump administration, reinstating a “totality-of-the-circumstances” test that looks at “the opportunity for profit or loss, investment, permanency, the degree of control by the employer over the worker, whether the work is an integral part of the employer’s business, and skill and initiative.”
  • Israeli and Lebanese officials announced Tuesday the two countries had reached an agreement on a deal—brokered by the United States—that would resolve a decades-old maritime territorial dispute by divvying up drilling rights at multiple gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea. The two countries’ governments—which don’t recognize one another diplomatically—still need to ratify the agreement before it is formally signed, but that process is expected to be completed within a few weeks.
  • For the third consecutive day, People’s Daily—a state-owned Chinese publication widely seen as a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party—published a story this morning touting the supposed benefits of President Xi Jinping’s COVID-zero policies, indicating the country’s lockdowns and mass surveillance programs are likely to persist into the foreseeable future. Xi is all but assured to secure a third term in office when the CCP’s party congress kicks off this weekend.

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