U.S.-Japan Summit Addresses Chinese Threat in the Indo-Pacific

Happy Friday! Adidas Sambas owners were devastated last week to see British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sporting the gym shoes—er, “trainers”—in an interview, thus immediately rendering them uncool.

Sunak issued a “fulsome apology” while noting that he’d been wearing the shoes for “many, many years.” There’s a simple solution here, Mr. Prime Minister.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Ukrainian parliament passed a law on Thursday to boost military mobilization and conscription by increasing pay incentives for people to join the military, stiffening penalties for men who try to dodge the draft, and decreasing the number of exemptions for military service. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a law last week lowering the conscription age for Ukrainian men from 27 to 25, and this new bill still requires Zelensky’s signature to come into force. Meanwhile, Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, head of the U.S. European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, testified before Congress yesterday that Ukraine will be outgunned by Russia “10 to one in a matter of weeks” without additional U.S. security assistance.
  • The House Rules Committee advanced an updated version of the bill to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on Thursday. The bill would reauthorize the program for only two years instead of five, and the rule on the bill—a procedural measure that sets the guidelines for debate—allows for a vote on an amendment that would add a warrant requirement to Section 702 for searches of Americans’ data. Some of the hardliners who shot down reauthorization earlier this week signaled Thursday that they would vote “yes” on the rule, likely allowing the procedural vote to proceed today. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said in a report released Thursday that the U.S. is in danger of losing its measles elimination status—meaning no outbreak has lasted for more than a year—due to the growth in cases in recent months. There were 97 cases reported between January and March of this year, compared to an average of five such reported cases during the first quarter of each year between 2020 and 2023. The report noted that the “risk for widespread U.S. measles transmission remains low because of high population immunity,” but emphasized the need to increase vaccination coverage in under-vaccinated communities.
  • Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley announced her retirement on Thursday, saying she won’t seek another term when her current one ends in 2025. Because the state’s court currently has four liberal-leaning and three conservative-leaning justices, Bradley’s retirement opens up the possibility that control of the court may change hands, which could have implications for abortion access in the state. 
  • The Atlanta Journal Consitution reported Thursday that Georgia state prosecutor Pete Skandalakis will lead an investigation into Georgia Lt. Gov. Burt Jones for his alleged involvement in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the state as a false elector. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis was barred from investigating Jones in 2022 because she hosted a fundraiser for his political opponent. 
  • O.J. Simpson, the Buffalo Bills football star and infamous criminal defendant, died of cancer on Wednesday at the age of 76. Simpson’s mid-1990s murder trial—related to the deaths of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman—and his subsequent acquittal captivated and divided the country. In 2008, Simpson was convicted of kidnapping, assault, and armed robbery and handed a 33-year prison sentence, of which he served nine years before being released on parole in 2017. 

Biden and Kishida Shoot the Moon

U.S. President Joe Biden holds a trilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos at the White House on April 11, 2024. (Photo by Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)
U.S. President Joe Biden holds a trilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos at the White House on April 11, 2024. (Photo by Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

State dinners in honor of visiting dignitaries have a familiar rhythm: U.S. Presidents raise a glass to their ally, talk of enduring friendship, and feast on fancy foods in black tie garb. When Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida came to town this week, American folk singer Paul Simon serenaded the guests, among whom were the Clintons, Jeff Bezos, Robert De Niro, and Kristi Yamaguchi.

During these functions, the language of high-level diplomacy can be a little stuffy and contrived. “We also affirmed the science and education ties between Japan and the United States,” President Joe Biden said in the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday. But sometimes, couched in all that diplomatic jargon, the assembled leaders make an announcement that is—simply put—really cool. “Those ties stretch up to the moon,” he continued, “where two Japanese astronauts will join future American missions, and one will become the first non-American ever to land on the moon.”

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