Aftermath of the Trump Administration, May 2022


My daily chronicle of news about the Trump administration (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021), Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence continues to wind down. I am still posting important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration and ones that address the toxic legacy of the Trump administration and Republicans. I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site and to working with my local activist group in pursuit of progressive change and a stronger democracy. Thanks for reading!


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Sunday, 1 May 2022:


Mariupol evacuation push resumes; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, The Washington Post, Adam Taylor, Bryan Pietsch, Jennifer Hassan, Rachel Pannett, Annabelle Timsit, Paulina Villegas, Lateshia Beachum, and Reis Thebault, Sunday, 1 May 2022: “The long-awaited evacuation of civilians from a besieged steel plant in Mariupol, where Ukrainian fighters have staged a desperate last stand, continued Sunday, the United Nations said. About 100 people were being transferred from the surrounded southeastern port city to Ukrainian-controlled territory, but officials said hundreds more — including dozens of children — are stuck there. On Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made a surprise trip to Kyiv with a congressional delegation, telling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that ‘our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done.’ The meeting with Pelosi, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, was disclosed by Zelensky on Sunday. The evacuation of civilians from the steel plant in Mariupol has been a contentious issue as Russia seeks control of the city, a strategic prize for President Vladimir Putin. For weeks, civilians who sought shelter at the sprawling facility have remained underground with dwindling supplies of food and medicine. A small group of women and children was allowed to leave the plant on Saturday.

  • Fighting continues in the eastern city of Kharkiv, where local officials reported that shelling killed three, just hours after suggesting that Russian airstrikes and artillery attacks may be slowing after a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
  • Moscow’s recent actions in the Russian-occupied region of Kherson — where civilians are facing an Internet blackout and the implementation of a plan to use Russian currency — are an attempt to ‘exert strong political and economic influence in Kherson over the long term,’ according to a British intelligence update.
  • Europe is scrambling to respond to the energy crisis prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, after Putin cut off natural gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland for refusing to pay in rubles.
  • The Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel for updates.

What Happened on Day 67 of the War in Ukraine, The New York Times, Sunday, 1 May 2022: “Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in Kyiv, making her the most senior American official to visit Kyiv. Her visit signals a deepening U.S. commitment to Ukraine as Russia has struggled to make much progress in its offensive in the separatist east and sent its highest ranking uniformed officer, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, to the front line there late last week, U.S. and Ukrainian officials said. The rare front-line visit of such a high-ranking military official comes as analysts say the Russian forces remain beset with logistical problems and disarray among its troops, despite concentrating its efforts in the east after its campaign to take the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, ended in an embarrassing withdrawal. General Gerasimov’s visit was an effort to change the eastern offensive’s direction, a Ukrainian official said, as Russian forces have been able to make only incremental gains there so far. Ms. Pelosi announced on Sunday that she had met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and had pledged ‘to help the Ukrainian people as they defend democracy for their nation and for the world.’ The visit on Saturday by Ms. Pelosi and a few fellow Democratic lawmakers was kept secret until they returned to Poland, where they held a news conference on Sunday morning and vowed to back Ukraine ‘until victory is won.’

Here are some other developments:

  • An evacuation of civilians from Mariupol was underway as women and children confined to bunkers beneath a sprawling steel plant started to make their way to safety, according to Ukrainian officials and the United Nations.

  • Ukrainian officials in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions reported fierce battles as Russian tank columns tried to push into areas that Moscow’s forces have pounded with artillery fire. The Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday that it had struck 800 targets across Ukraine over the past day, including a hangar in the port city of Odesa that it said was storing weapons and ammunition delivered to Ukraine by the United States and Europe.

  • In territory controlled by Russia, including the southern region of Kherson, the occupying forces were trying to solidify control and taking steps to erase Ukrainian identity.

  • Russian attacks on fuel depots and other infrastructure in Ukraine have led to shortages of gasoline, with drivers lining up outside gas stations.

  • Russia’s foreign minister claimed that nearly a million people had been moved to Russia from Ukraine in voluntary ‘evacuations.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 1), NPR, NPR Staff, Sunday, 1 May 2022: “As Sunday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: Congressional Democrats met Ukrainian leaders in the capital, they announced on Sunday. The Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., met with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials on Saturday for three hours to discuss American support for the war. Pelosi, the most senior American official to visit Ukraine since the war began in February, said the topics of discussion included ‘security, humanitarian assistance, economic assistance and eventually rebuilding when victory is won.’ About 100 civilians were evacuated from a Mariupol steel plant. Of the thousands of civilians still trapped in the besieged port city, about a thousand are believed to be sheltering in bunkers beneath the plant. Previous attempts to evacuate the civilians have been thwarted by repeated Russian shelling. Officials in Odesa imposed a curfew. Officials in the southern port city say the enforced curfew will extend from Sunday night through Tuesday morning after warning of possible sabotage in the city. In the past, pro-Russian activists have mobilized for protests and unrest in the city on May 2 each year. Russian ground forces are now fighting just a few hours away and Russian naval vessels are blockading Odesa’s port. Germany said it was making progress in cutting its use of Russian fossil fuels. European countries are under pressure to stop importing Russian gas, while Russia flexed its economic power by cutting off gas to Poland and Bulgaria.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, May 2022:


Monday, 2 May 2022:


U.S. warns Russia may annex more Ukrainian territory, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Hannah Knowles, Kim Bellware, Paulina Villegas, Bryan Pietsch, Adam Taylor, Julian Mark, and Rachel Pannett, Monday, 2 May 2022: “With Russian forces stalled and frustrated in the Donbas region, U.S. officials warned Monday that Moscow could soon annex more Ukrainian territory, beginning with its occupied land in the east and possibly stretching south to the city of Kherson. The planned annexations will include sham referendums in the separatist-backed parts of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces, along with the area around Kherson, said Michael Carpenter, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The move to formally seize control of the regions would come as U.S. defense officials assess Russia’s progress elsewhere in Donbas as ‘minimal’ and ‘anemic.’ Meanwhile, Ukrainians anxiously awaited news of the first convoy of civilian evacuees from a surrounded steel plant in Mariupol, which has for weeks suffered under a relentless Russian siege.

What Happened on Day 68 of the War in Ukraine, The New York Times, Monday, 2 May 2022: “Ukrainian civilians evacuated from the ruined city of Mariupol carried with them fresh accounts of survival and terror on Monday as Western nations worked to turn their increasingly expansive promises of aid into action, preparing billions of dollars in military and economic assistance, an oil embargo and other once-unthinkable steps. Despite early-morning shelling, the halting evacuation, overseen by the Red Cross and the United Nations, was seen as the best and possibly last hope for hundreds of civilians who have been trapped for weeks in bunkers beneath the wreckage of the Azovstal steel plant, and an unknown number who are scattered around the ruins of the mostly abandoned city. Those who had been trapped in Mariupol outside the steel mill described a fragile existence, subsisting on Russian rations cooked outside on wood fires amid daily shelling that left corpses lying in debris…. Heavy fighting in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions has yielded minimal gains for the forces of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Western officials say. But the Russians continued to fire rockets and shells at Ukrainian military positions, cities, towns and infrastructure along a 300-mile-long front, including bombarding the Azovstal plant, where the last remaining Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol are hunkered down. On Monday, Ukraine said it had used Turkish-made drones to destroy two Russian patrol vessels off the Black Sea port of Odesa, just before Russian missiles struck the city, causing an unknown number of casualties and damage to a religious building. The U.S. State Department said that Russia’s war aims now include annexing Donetsk and Luhansk — partially controlled before the Feb. 24 invasion by Russia-backed separatists — as soon as mid-May, and possibly the southern Kherson region as well.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 2), NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 2 May 2022: “As Monday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: Evacuees from Mariupol and its besieged steel plant made their way toward safety. Over the weekend, an evacuation began of about 100 civilians from the Azovstal plant after numerous previous failed efforts. More civilians remain in the sprawling maze under the steelworks facility, alongside thousands of Ukrainian soldiers who have refused to surrender to the Russian forces, which have bombed out and surrounded the area. Ukrainian officials said a rocket strike hit the port city of Odesa in southwestern Ukraine, killing a child. Ukraine’s military also said its drone strike has sunk two more Russian warships in the Black Sea. Russia’s Defense Ministry said a strike on a military airfield near Odesa destroyed a runway and a hangar with weapons supplied by Western allies. The Pentagon, meanwhile, has confirmed reports that Russia’s top-ranking military officer, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, traveled to the front-line Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. European Union energy ministers met in Brussels to discuss options for dealing with Russia’s decision last week to stop delivering natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria. The bloc is also working on a potential EU-wide ban on importing Russian oil. EU countries have already banned Russian coal starting in August. Israel is demanding an apology from Russia for comments its foreign minister made about Nazism. Sergey Lavrov referred to Adolf Hitler as having ‘Jewish origins’ in response to a question about Russia’s claim that it had invaded Ukraine to ‘denazify’ the country, which has a democratically elected Jewish president. It’s the strongest condemnation of Russia by Israel since the war in Ukraine began on Feb. 24. First lady Jill Biden will travel to Slovakia and Romania later this week to meet with Ukrainian refugees, aid workers and teachers who are educating displaced Ukrainian children and U.S. military personnel stationed in Romania.”

Draft opinion shows the Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights. ‘We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,’ Justice Samuel Alito writes in an initial majority draft circulated inside the court. Politico, Monday, 2 May 2022: “The Supreme Court has voted to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, according to an initial draft majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito circulated inside the court and obtained by POLITICO. The draft opinion is a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision – Planned Parenthood v. Casey – that largely maintained the right. ‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,’ Alito writes. ‘We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,’ he writes in the document, labeled as the ‘Opinion of the Court.’ ‘It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.’ Deliberations on controversial cases have in the past been fluid. Justices can and sometimes do change their votes as draft opinions circulate and major decisions can be subject to multiple drafts and vote-trading, sometimes until just days before a decision is unveiled. The court’s holding will not be final until it is published, likely in the next two months. The immediate impact of the ruling as drafted in February would be to end a half-century guarantee of federal constitutional protection of abortion rights and allow each state to decide whether to restrict or ban abortion. It’s unclear if there have been subsequent changes to the draft. No draft decision in the modern history of the court has been disclosed publicly while a case was still pending. The unprecedented revelation is bound to intensify the debate over what was already the most controversial case on the docket this term.” See also, Supreme Court Live Updates: Draft Decision Overruling Roe v. Wade Would Remake Abortion Landscape. The decision, which is not expected to be finalized for another month or more and could change in its final form, would leave it to individual states to determine abortion’s legality. The New York Times, Daniel Victor, Monday, 2 May 2022: “A leaked draft opinion indicating the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that guaranteed abortion access, sent immediate shock waves throughout the United States, as many Americans braced for a future without reproductive rights that had been established for nearly a half-century. The draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., was obtained by Politico Monday night in a highly unusual leak from the nation’s highest court, elevating to the forefront a health care issue that has long divided the country. The decision, which is not expected to be finalized for another month or more and could change in its final form, would shift the decision of abortion’s legality to individual states. Roughly half the states are expected to ban abortion, mostly in the South and Midwest. Without access to legal abortion, illegal and dangerous abortions are likely to continue. And the burden is likely to disproportionately fall on poor women who are unable to drive to other states for the procedure, even when their health depends on it…. The leak of the draft decision, a seismic breach of the court’s usually reliable confidentiality, was sure to attract continued scrutiny. Theories were flying Monday night, with little known about the motivation of the leaker. Research has indicated that overturning Roe would reduce the number of legal abortions by around 14 percent. Many states would continue to provide the procedure, and some are making provisions to help women in states that ban it. But many women who cannot travel would be left with few options, such as ordering pills online, conducting dangerous procedures themselves or going through with the birth.” See also, Leaked draft shows the Supreme Court is ready to strike down Roe v. Wade, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Mike DeBonis, Monday, 2 May 2022: “A published draft of a Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade has clouded the future of reproductive rights, disrupted the nation’s political landscape and undermined the high court’s image as a place of private deliberations free from the dramatic leaks common in the political [!!!] branches of government. Monday night’s disclosure by Politico of the draft opinion that it said was circulated by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. represents an extreme breach of modern Supreme Court protocol. The report said that Alito, along with Justice Clarence Thomas and all of three of President Donald Trump’s nominees to the court — Justices Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — had already voted to overturn the precedent, a conclusion that seemed a possibility in December when the court considered a Mississippi law that would ban abortions after 15 weeks. The fallout has included outrage from liberal politicians, a call for an investigation into the leak and a demand by some on the political right that the Supreme Court forgo protocol and issue a decision immediately — before the justices’ opinions could change. That would be an extreme move. Alito’s opinion, which Politico said was shared among the justices in February, was labeled a first draft and there was no indication that other members of the court who might have initially voted to overturn Roe agreed with the opinion’s reasoning. There is ample history of justices wanting revisions after reading the reasoning of a draft opinion, and sometimes even reversing their initial votes.” See also, 10 key passages from Alito’s draft opinion, which would overturn Roe v. Wade, Politico, Josh Gerstein, published on Monday, 2 May 2022.

Judge rejects Republican National Committee (RNC) bid to block email and fundraising data from January 6 panel. House investigates whether Trump and the RNC profited from and stoked violence through false, inflammatory claims of election fraud. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Monday, 2 May 2022: “A federal judge late Sunday rejected the Republican National Committee’s bid to block its mass email marketing vendor from releasing records to the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack as it probes whether President Donald Trump’s campaign spread false claims of fraud after the 2020 election through fundraising appeals that also stoked violence. U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly of Washington delivered a thorough victory to the House select committee, tossing out the RNC’s claims that its and the Trump campaign’s information was protected on grounds including the First Amendment and ruling that under the Constitution’s grant of legislative powers to Congress and the speech-or-debate clause, judges cannot interfere with how lawmakers obtain and use information. Kelly also dismissed the RNC’s claims against Salesforce — the business software giant used by the RNC and Trump’s reelection campaign — after the company and committee significantly narrowed the list of disputed records at issue, for example, dropping demands for any information that would reveal the identities of individual political donors. Kelly temporarily barred Salesforce from releasing any records to the House before Wednesday to give the national GOP committee time to appeal.” See also, Judge upholds January 6 committee subpoena for Republican National Committee records. U.S. District Court Judge Tim Kelly said the select committee had demonstrated its need for the party’s data on its fundraising emails. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Monday, 2 May 2022: “A federal judge late Sunday resoundingly supported the Jan. 6 select committee’s effort to obtain internal Republican National Committee data about efforts to fundraise off claims that the 2020 election was stolen. In a landmark ruling rejecting an RNC lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Tim Kelly said the select committee had demonstrated its need for the party’s data on its fundraising emails between Nov. 3, 2020, and Jan. 6, 2021 — when the RNC and Trump campaign sent supporters messages falsely suggesting the election was stolen. The committee contends those emails helped sow the seeds of the violence that erupted on Jan. 6. ‘[T]he Select Committee seeks reasonably relevant information from a narrow window during which the RNC sent emails promoting claims that the presidential election was fraudulent or stolen,’ Kelly, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, wrote in the 53-page ruling.”

Georgia Grand Jury to Consider Whether Trump Illegally Interfered in 2020 Election. The panel will have up to a year to recommend whether the prosecutor should pursue criminal charges against the former president and his allies. The New York Times, Richard Fausset, Monday, 2 May 2022: “As the criminal investigation of Donald J. Trump by Manhattan prosecutors appears to be stalling out, the separate investigation into whether the former president and his allies illegally interfered with Georgia’s 2020 election results took a significant step forward on Monday, as 23 people were chosen to serve on a special investigative grand jury. The panel will focus exclusively on ‘whether there were unlawful attempts to disrupt the administration of the 2020 elections here in Georgia,’ Judge Robert C.I. McBurney of the Fulton County Superior Court told 200 potential jurors who had been called to a downtown Atlanta courthouse swarming with law enforcement agents. The ability of the special grand jury to subpoena witnesses and documents will help prosecutors, who have encountered resistance from some potential witnesses who have declined to testify voluntarily. The panel will have up to a year to issue a report advising District Attorney Fani T. Willis on whether to pursue criminal charges. Some legal experts have said the inquiry could be perilous for Mr. Trump, who, in a January 2021 phone call, asked Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, to ‘find’ enough votes to put Mr. Trump ahead of his Democratic rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., in Georgia’s presidential election tally.” See also, A special grand jury was selected Monday for the investigation into whether former President Donald Trump and others illegally tried to influence the 2020 election in Georgia, Associated Press, Kate Brumback, Monday, 2 May 2022: “The investigation has been underway since early last year, and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis took this unusual step of requesting the special grand jury to help it along. She noted in a letter to the chief judge that the special grand jury would be able to issue subpoenas to people who have refused to cooperate otherwise. The chief judge ordered the special grand jury to be seated for a period of up to a year, beginning Monday. Of the pool of about 200 people called from the county master jury list, 26 were chosen to serve — 23 grand jurors and three alternates. Special grand juries focus on investigating a single topic and making recommendations to the district attorney, who then decides whether to seek an indictment from a regular grand jury…. Willis has confirmed that her team is looking into a January 2021 phone call in which Trump pushed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to ‘find’ the votes needed for him to win the state. She has also said they are looking at a November 2020 phone call between U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger, the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta on Jan. 4, 2021, and comments made during December 2020 Georgia legislative committee hearings on the election.”

CNN Exclusive: Ivanka Trump talked to January 6 committee about what was happening inside the White House that day, panel chairman Bennie Thompson says, CNN Politics, Gloria Borger, Ashley Semler, and Gabby Orr, Monday, 2 May 2022: “The Trump family’s cooperation with the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol — and Ivanka Trump’s appearance in particular — has proven useful in confirming other key testimony about the state of play inside the White House as well as then-President Donald Trump’s state of mind that day. In a recent exclusive interview with CNN, committee Chairman Bennie Thompson gave the most extensive account yet of the testimony behind closed doors. ‘There were questions asked about what was she doing at the time that the insurrection was occurring at the Capitol, and she told us,’ the Mississippi Democrat said of Ivanka Trump. Investigators ‘asked certain questions about her awareness of what her father was doing. She told us.'”

Former N.Y.P.D. Officer Thomas Webster Convicted of Assault in January 6 Case. Webster was found guilty in federal court after assaulting a Washington, D.C., police officer with a metal flagpole during the riot at the Capitol last year. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Monday, 2 May 2022: “A former New York City police officer who claimed he was acting in self-defense when he swung a metal flagpole at a fellow officer during the attack on the Capitol last January was convicted on Monday of all charges, including assault. The former officer, Thomas Webster, was the first person charged in connection with the riot to defend himself at trial by claiming that the officers protecting the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, had used excessive force against the pro-Trump mob that stormed the building. The guilty verdict in the case — returned within two hours on the first full day of deliberations — could give pause to other defendants planning to use similar arguments at their own trials.” See also, Ex-NYPD officer Thomas Webster found guilty in first January 6 police assault trial, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Monday, 2 May 2022: “The first person tried on charges of assaulting a police officer in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob was convicted Monday, after a federal jury deliberated about three hours and found retired New York Police Department officer Thomas Webster guilty of all six counts. Webster, 56, of Goshen, N.Y., assaulted D.C. police officer Noah Rathbun with an aluminum Marine Corps flagpole, jurors found. The panel of eight women and four men also found Webster guilty of interfering with police in a riot and trespassing, disorderly conduct and violent conduct while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon on Capitol grounds. Webster, who previously served on the protective security detail of former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, was the first of about 150 defendants charged with assaulting an officer to take his case to a jury and the first to argue self-defense. Federal juries in Washington have now found all four defendants who have gone to trial on felony charges guilty in the rioting that began after President Donald Trump urged supporters to go to the Capitol where Congress was confirming Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta set sentencing in September.”

House January 6 Panel Seeks Interviews With Three More Republican Lawmakers. All three quickly declined. The panel also said it had evidence that some House Republicans sought pardons from President Donald Trump in connection with the effort to overturn the election. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Monday, 2 May 2022: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol sent letters on Monday seeking interviews with three Republican members of Congress, and the panel said it had gathered evidence that some House Republicans sought presidential pardons in the aftermath of the violence that engulfed the Capitol. The committee requested interviews with Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, the former leader of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus; Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, who has said former President Donald J. Trump has continued to seek reinstatement to office; and Representative Ronny Jackson of Texas, Mr. Trump’s former White House doctor. All three quickly declined, seeking to paint the committee’s work as illegitimate. In a letter to Mr. Biggs, the committee’s leaders wrote that they wanted to question him about evidence they had obtained on efforts by certain House Republicans to seek a presidential pardon after Jan. 6 in connection with Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.”


Tuesday, 3 May 2022:


Russia steps up attacks on Ukraine’s railways and power stations, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Louisa Loveluck, Hannah Allam, Brittany Shammas, Rachel Pannett, Jennifer Hassan, Adela Suliman, and Sammy Westfall, Tuesday, 3 May 2022: “Russia expanded its attack on Ukrainian infrastructure Tuesday, targeting railways and power stations far from the war’s front line, while continuing to pepper the country’s east with strikes that officials say killed more than 20 civilians, one of the area’s worst known single-day tolls in recent weeks. In Lviv, a relatively peaceful western city, the sound of Moscow’s rockets cut through the night, destroying three electrical substations and disrupting power and water service. Elsewhere in central and western Ukraine, missiles hit six train stations, and the railway chief called the damage ‘severe.’ Meanwhile, in the contested Donetsk province, a regional governor said Russian strikes had killed at least 21 people Tuesday, including 10 deaths at an industrial plant. But the day also yielded positive news: The first group of evacuees from a ruined steel plant in Mariupol reached Ukrainian-controlled territory after weeks of failed efforts. More evacuations from the port city, which is under near-total Russian control, are underway, Mariupol’s mayor said Tuesday.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he is ready to help counter a Russian blockade on Ukrainian food exports.
  • Pentagon officials said Ukraine’s commitment to training by NATO and its demonstration of leadership had given Kyiv an edge in the fight against Moscow.
  • Ukraine’s top prosecutor said authorities have found evidence of Russian war crimes in the Kyiv suburb of Irpin, including murder, torture and rape.
  • The U.S. government is now characterizing Brittney Griner’s arrest in Russia as a ‘wrongful detainment.’
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 69 of the War in Ukraine, The New York Times, Tuesday, 3 May 2022: “President Biden spoke in an Alabama factory that built the Javelin missiles Ukrainian soldiers used against Russian tanks. Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain addressed members of Ukraine’s Parliament, extolling their ‘finest hour.’ President Emmanuel Macron of France pressed Russia’s Vladimir V. Putin by phone to end his ‘devastating aggression.’ Germany helped Finland and Sweden — Russia’s Nordic neighbors once wary of provoking Mr. Putin — inch closer to joining NATO. On Tuesday, the leaders of the West sought to capitalize on Russia’s apparent lack of battlefield momentum to show Ukraine support and strengthen its resolve — and its arsenal. ‘You have exploded the myth of Putin’s invincibility and you have written one of the most glorious chapters in military history and in the life of your country,’ Mr. Johnson told President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and the country’s lawmakers in a video address, the first by a foreign leader to Ukraine’s Parliament. He announced that Britain would provide a roughly $375 million package of additional weapons to Ukraine, including electronic warfare gear, a radar system and GPS-jamming equipment. And he compared Ukraine’s defense to Britain’s resistance to the Nazi onslaught in World War II. ‘This is Ukraine’s finest hour,’ he said. That display of determination, whether choreographed or coincidental, came as the European Union, often splintered by political and ideological faults, moved toward a united embargo against Russian oil, as the Pentagon described Russia’s offensive in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region as ‘anemic’ and ‘plodding,’ and as British intelligence experts issued damning new assessments of Russian military capabilities. Still, for Ukrainian civilians, Russian firepower seemed all too effective. In the ruined city of Mariupol, Russian troops renewed shelling of the battered Azovstal steel plant and the 200 civilians still ensconced there, even as about 130 evacuees arrived to relative safety in Zaporizhzhia about 140 miles west and spoke in horror about two months in the bunkers under perpetual fire.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 3), NPR, NPR Staff, Tuesday, 3 May 2022: “As Tuesday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: A new barrage of Russian missile attacks across Ukraine included targets in the western city of Lviv. Local authorities said rockets hit electrical substations, damaging the city’s electrical grid and disrupting the water supply. Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted the military as saying the Russian artillery hit more than 400 Ukrainian targets over the past day. Russian forces attacked the besieged steel plant in the bombed-out Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. Russian news agency RIA Novosti claimed this was in response to Ukrainian forces inside the plant breaking an earlier cease-fire to get into firing position. Dozens of civilians previously evacuated from the Azovstal plant have reached Ukraine-controlled Zaporizhzhia, but many more are believed to still be sheltering inside. A United Nations humanitarian official said about 30 people evacuated from the plant chose to stay in Mariupol. Hungary and Slovakia are pushing back against a potential phase-in of a ban on Russian oil in Europe, citing their dependence on such imports. European leaders have been meeting in Brussels to hash out new sanctions against Russian energy. This could include a full oil embargo, though Hungary and Slovakia might receive exemptions. Pope Francis said he offered to travel to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a bid to help stop the war. He said he made the offer in the first month of the Ukraine invasion, which began Feb. 24, but has not yet heard back. Francis said NATO’s ‘barking at Russia’s door’ perhaps led the Kremlin to ‘react badly and unleash the conflict.’ Russia has so far skirted the risk of economic default. Russia’s dollar payments on two bonds appear to be going through after the country tapped its domestic reserves of the U.S. currency. The Biden administration said WNBA superstar Brittney Griner is being wrongfully detained by the Russian government — a shift in language that indicates the U.S. will likely work more aggressively to secure her release. The State Department hadn’t gone so far in its previous statements about Griner, who was arrested at an airport outside Moscow in February after authorities there reportedly found vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.”

Supreme Court Confirms Leak but Says Text Is Not Final. The draft ruling showed that Roe v. Wade, a bedrock of American law, may be on the verge of being reversed. Chief Justice John Roberts called the leak an ‘egregious breach’ of trust. President Biden urged Congress to codify the right to abortion. The New York Times, Tuesday, 3 May 2022: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday confirmed that a leaked draft ruling to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was authentic but not final, even as the disclosure triggered political upheaval with potentially broad electoral and legal consequences. While protesters gathered outside the court, chanting loudly enough for members of Congress to hear at the Capitol across the street, Democrats led by President Biden vowed to make abortion rights a defining issue of the fall midterm elections. Republicans accused liberals of orchestrating the leak to intimidate the court while Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. ordered an investigation. ‘If this decision holds, it’s really quite a radical decision,’ Mr. Biden told reporters. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, called it ‘an abomination’ and Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the court of ‘brazenly ignoring 50 years of its own precedent.’ But House Republican leaders issued a joint statement calling it potentially ‘a decision that protects our most basic and precious right, the right to life.’… Mr. Biden warned that a decision along the lines of Justice Alito’s opinion could unravel a whole range of privacy rights, including same-sex marriage. ‘It basically says all the decisions related to your private life, who you marry, whether or not you decide to conceive a child or not, whether or not you can have an abortion, a range of other decisions,’ all of those could now be in question, he told reporters.” See also, Here are key passages from the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion, The New York Times, Maria Cramer, Tuesday, 3 May 2022.  See also, A Supreme Court in Disarray After an Extraordinary Breach. The leak of a draft majority opinion overruling Roe v. Wade raises questions about motives, methods, and whether defections are still possible. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Tuesday, 3 May 2022: “Sources have motives, and the leaked draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade raises a question as old as the Roman Empire. Cui bono? Who benefits? Not the Supreme Court as an institution. Its reputation was in decline even before the extraordinary breach of its norms of confidentiality, with much of the nation persuaded that it is little different from the political branches of the government. The internal disarray the leak suggests, wholly at odds with the decorum prized by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., was a blow to the legitimacy of the court. Relations among the justices, too, on the evidence of questioning at arguments and statements in opinions, have turned fraught and frosty. ‘Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?’ Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked when the challenge to Roe was argued in December, as it became clear that five justices were ready to overrule the decision.” See also, What Would the End of Roe Mean? Key Questions and Answers. The New York Times, Claire Cain Miller and Margot Sanger-Katz, Tuesday, 3 May 2022. See also, Supreme Court will investigate leaked draft of abortion opinion, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Tuesday, 3 May 2022: “A Supreme Court divided by ideology and shaken by public disclosure of its private deliberations vowed an internal investigation Tuesday, as a leaked draft opinion that would mean the end to a constitutional right to abortion agitated the national political landscape. The reaction focused on two questions: Why was a draft opinion by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. overturning Roe v. Wade leaked to Politico, and what would a final decision to that effect mean for the hundreds of thousands of women each year who end their pregnancies? Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. took the extraordinary step Tuesday of confirming the authenticity of the draft opinion. But it was not final and just the opening phase of the court’s work, he said, and the justices are opening an inquiry into how it became public.” See also, Chief Justice John Roberts calls release of draft Roe v. Wade reversal a ‘singular and egregious breach’ of trust and orders an investigation, CNN Politics, Ariane de Vogue and Devan Cole, Tuesday, 3 May 2022: “Chief Justice John Roberts says the Supreme Court will investigate the release of a draft opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade and called the episode ‘a singular and egregious breach’ of trust. ‘This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here. I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak,’ Roberts said in a statement Tuesday.” See also, Republicans rage about breach of draft Roe opinion. Rather than reveling in a document that supports their anti-abortion views, most Republicans trained their fire on the source of the breach. Politico, Kyle Cheney and Andrew Desiderio, Tuesday, 3 May 2022: “Few Republican lawmakers on Tuesday were celebrating a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Instead, they were angrily demanding answers to how the document became public in the first place. GOP leaders trained their fire on the breach of Supreme Court protocol that led to POLITICO’s publication of the draft opinion by the court’s conservative majoritywith only a handful of Republicans cheering the substance of the document itself even though the GOP has long opposed Roe.” See also, The Supreme Court’s draft opinion on overturning Roe v. Wade, annotated, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Tuesday, 3 May 2022. See also, Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski on the defensive after leaked Roe draft opinion, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim, Tuesday, 3 May 2022: “The stunning leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion indicating that the federal constitutional right to abortion may be on the cusp of evaporating has brought new and intense scrutiny to two prominent Republican supporters of abortion rights, Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), who provided key Senate support to justices who now appear poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. Both women voted for Supreme Court justices nominated by President Donald Trump, explaining that they were convinced through public and private statements that those nominees would respect existing court precedent and leave Roe in place. On Tuesday, both suggested that if in fact the court moves to overturn the decision in sweeping terms — as the leaked draft opinion signed by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. would indicate — it would represent a breach of those prior assurances.”

Trump loses bid to stay New York contempt of court order and avoid $10K daily fine, CNBC, Dan Mangan, Tuesday, 3 May 2022: “Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday lost an effort at a New York appeals court to stay a contempt order, and as a result still owes a fine of $10,000 per day. Trump on April 25 was found in contempt by Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron for failing to comply with a subpoena from New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is seeking records for her civil investigation of his company, the Trump Organization. James is investigating allegations that the Trump Organization improperly manipulated the stated valuations of real estate assets to obtain more favorable financial terms on loans, insurance and taxes. Engoron imposed the $10,000 daily fine until he was satisfied that Trump had complied with the subpoena.”

Oklahoma Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signs 6-week abortion ban modeled after Texas law that allows civil enforcement, CNN Politics, Veronica Stracqualursi, Tuesday, 3 May 2022: “Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday signed into law a bill modeled after the controversial Texas abortion law, which allows private citizens to take civil action against abortion providers to enforce the law. The ‘Oklahoma Heartbeat Act,’ Senate Bill 1503, takes effect immediately and prohibits abortions at the time when a physician can detect early cardiac activity in an embryo or fetus, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy — before many women even know that they are pregnant. The measure provides exceptions for medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.”

J.D. Vance Wins Republican Senate Primary in Ohio After Nod From Trump. Vance, the author of ‘Hillbilly elegy,’ won a Republican race that saw nearly $80 million in television advertising. The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher and Jazmine Ulloa, Tuesday, 3 May 2022: “J.D. Vance, the best-selling author whose ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ about life in Appalachia illuminated a slice of the country that felt left behind, decisively won the Ohio Senate primary on Tuesday after a late endorsement by Donald J. Trump helped him surge past his rivals in a crowded field. Casting himself as a fighter against the nation’s elites, Mr. Vance ran as a Trump-style pugilist and outsider who railed against the threats of drugs, Democrats and illegal immigration, while thoroughly backpedaling from his past criticisms of the former president. The contest, which saw nearly $80 million in television advertising, was one of the most anticipated of the 2022 primary season for its potential to provide an early signal of the direction of the Republican Party. The result delivered a strong affirmation of Mr. Trump’s continued grip on his party’s base. But a fuller assessment of Mr. Trump’s sway will come through a series of primaries in the next four weeks — in West Virginia, North Carolina, Idaho, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Mr. Vance had been trailing in most polls behind Josh Mandel, a former Ohio state treasurer who had also aggressively pursued Mr. Trump’s backing, until the former president’s mid-April endorsement helped vault Mr. Vance ahead. A third candidate, State Senator Matt Dolan, ran as a more traditional Republican, sometimes mocking his rivals for their unrelenting focus on the former president instead of Ohio issues and voters.” See also, A mole hunt, a secret website and Peter Thiel’s big risk: How J.D. Vance won his primary. The former Trump critic leaned on a super PAC and his billionaire patron Peter Thiel to put him in position for Trump’s all-important endorsement. Politico, Alex Isenstadt, Tuesday, 3 May 2022: “Tech billionaire Peter Thiel had already donated a record-breaking amount of money to support J.D. Vance in the Ohio Republican Senate primary — but last week, the Silicon Valley tycoon decided he wanted to give even more. ‘Peter would like to make another contribution to the PAC, this time for $1.5 million,’ a top Thiel lieutenant wrote to strategists running a pro-Vance super PAC in an April 26 email, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO. ‘We are planning to send the wire today, but before doing so I just wanted to confirm you have everything you need from us.’ With that previously unreported donation, Thiel had given $15 million in total to bolster Vance — the largest amount ever given to boost a single Senate candidate. Thiel is a contrarian who became famous for making risky investments that paid off — and with Vance’s win in Tuesday’s primary, the PayPal co-founder and early Facebook financier struck it big again.” See also, Tucker, Thiel, and Trump: How J.D. Vance Won in Ohio. A big endorsement was decisive, but a cable news megaphone and a huge infusion of spending helped pave the way to victory. The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman, published on Wednesday, 4 May 2022: “The victory of Mr. Vance, 37, in the Ohio Senate Republican primary on Tuesday was unquestionably fueled by the April 15 endorsement of former President Donald J. Trump, which catapulted Mr. Vance toward victory. But other factors had set the stage for the former president to play such a decisive role. Mr. Vance had received both behind-the-scenes and very public help: from Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s eldest son; from the not-so-quiet support of Mr. Carlson; and from the extraordinary and early investment of Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist who is also Mr. Vance’s former boss. In the end, that group — Mr. Thiel, Mr. Carlson, and the two Trumps — formed a powerful alliance. Mr. Thiel’s $15 million appears to be the most ever spent by an individual megadonor to elect a single Senate candidate. Mr. Carlson’s program is the most watched on cable television and a trendsetter for conservative media. And the former president is the most popular politician in the Republican Party. Together, they helped deliver for Mr. Vance everything he would need for his Trump-toned, anti-corporate, nationalist message to succeed: funding, media attention and a late surge of momentum.”

Trump Settles Suit Over Payments to Hotel for 2017 Inauguration. The lawsuit brought by the attorney general in Washington, D.C., claimed that the Trump hotel accepted excessive payments from the inaugural committee. The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Tuesday, 3 May 2022: “The Trump family business and President Donald J. Trump’s 2017 inauguration committee have jointly agreed to pay $750,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the attorney general for the District of Columbia, who claimed that the Trump International Hotel in Washington illegally received excessive payments from the inauguration committee. The settlement in the civil suit came with no admission of wrongdoing by the Trump Organization, the former president or the inaugural committee. But the payment amounted to nearly three-quarters of the $1.03 million that the lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Karl Racine of Washington, said had been paid to Mr. Trump’s hotel by the nonprofit inaugural committee to rent out space at what Mr. Racine asserted was an above-market rate and then use it in part to host a private reception for Mr. Trump’s children on the evening he was sworn in as president. The settlement also came just days before the Trump family was slated to formally close on the sale of the Trump International Hotel, which will be converted to a Waldorf Astoria after Mr. Trump’s name is stripped from the landmark building on Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks from the White House.”


Wednesday, 4 May 2022:


Ukrainian officials raise warnings about Russia’s Victory Day as heavy fighting continues in east, The Washington Post, Dan Lamothe, Paulina Firozi, Rachel Pannett, Jennifer Hassan, Bryan Pietsch, Adela Suliman, Ellen Francis, and Reis Thebault, Wednesday, 4 May 2022: “With heavy fighting continuing across Ukraine’s east, and Moscow still struggling to seize complete control of the Mariupol steel plant, home to the city’s last holdout fighters, Ukrainian officials are warily eyeing the calendar, warning that the May 9 Russian holiday of Victory Day could bring expanded war and further destruction to the country. The port city’s Azovstal steel facility saw another day of fierce combat on Wednesday, with Russian troops attempting to storm the plant with up to 200 civilians sheltered inside, waiting for a chance to evacuate. Ukrainian officials say Mariupol residents are being forced to clear debris in the city ahead of a planned ‘celebration’ on Monday. Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency said the festivities would be part of the Kremlin’s ‘large-scale propaganda campaign.’ Meanwhile, the European Union took its most drastic step yet to inflict pain on Russia’s economy, outlining a plan to phase out imports of Russian oil by the end of the year. The bloc’s 27 member states must first approve the proposal — and two have raised objections — but if accepted, the move would be a significant step for the E.U., which imported 35 percent of its oil from Russia in 2020.

  • Russian strikes in western Ukraine appear to be targeting electrical infrastructure with a goal of disabling railroads, the Pentagon assessed, after missiles struck around the city of Lviv.
  • In small towns and villages across Ukraine that fell under Russian occupation in February and March and have since been liberated, the fog of war has been replaced by the fog of conspiracy and suspicion.
  • A total of 344 people were evacuated from within the Mariupol humanitarian corridor on Wednesday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.
  • The E.U. plans to boost military aid to Moldova, European Council President Charles Michel said Wednesday, amid fears of spillover from Russia’s unprovoked Ukrainian war after recent explosions in the breakaway region of Transnistria.
  • The United States has called a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Thursday, the first scheduled by Washington since the war began.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 70 of the War in Ukraine. Some officials feared that Vladimir V. Putin would use Russia’s upcoming Victory Day holiday, which celebrates the Soviet triumph over Nazi Germany, to mobilize his people for a broader war. The New York Times, Wednesday, 4 May 2022: “With the Russian military still struggling, Western officials and Ukraine’s traumatized residents are looking with increased alarm to Russia’s Victory Day holiday on May 9 — a celebration of the Soviet triumph over Nazi Germany — fearing that President Vladimir V. Putin may exploit it as a grandiose stage to intensify attacks and mobilize his citizenry for all-out war. While Russia has inflicted death and destruction across Ukraine and made some progress in the east and the south over the past 10 weeks, stiff Ukrainian resistance, heavy weapons supplied by the West and Russian military incompetence have denied Mr. Putin the swift victory he originally appeared to have anticipated, including the initial goal of decapitating the government in Kyiv. Now, however, with Russia about to be smacked with a European Union oil embargo, and with Victory Day just five days away, Mr. Putin may see the need to jolt the West with a new escalation. Anxiety is growing that Mr. Putin will use the event, when he traditionally presides over a parade and gives a militaristic speech, to lash out at Russia’s perceived enemies and expand the scope of the conflict.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 4), NPR, NPR Staff, Wednesday, 4 May 2022: “As Wednesday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: The European Union has proposed to cut itself off from Russian oil. The ban would hit at a pillar of Russia’s economy by phasing out the import of Russian crude oil to Europe within six months, and refined oil by year’s end. Russia is the EU’s top supplier of oil, and Germany warned the move could lead to a surge in oil prices. Hungary and Slovakia want exemptions from the oil ban, and the Czech Republic has sought a longer phase-in. The European Commission also moved to disconnect Russia’s biggest bank from the international SWIFT system. Fighting continues at the Azovstal plant, the final holdout of Ukrainian forces in the strategic coastal city of Mariupol. The Russian military has claimed it seized the city, but Ukrainian troops and civilians remain inside the vast bunkers and tunnels under the steel plant. Aid workers are working to evacuate more people from the facility. Dozens who recently escaped the weeks-long siege describe the situation inside. Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure are targeting the flow of weapons and other supplies. Russia’s military claimed its missiles had disabled six Ukrainian railway stations used to ship Western arms to Ukrainian forces in the country’s east. The Kremlin has long complained about the West providing arms to Ukraine, and cited that as one of the justifications to launch what it still calls a ‘special operation’ to demilitarize Ukraine. The Pentagon said Russian attacks on railroads and electricity infrastructure have had ‘no appreciable impact’ on the ability of the U.S. and its allies to deliver aid. Russia is firing roughly 40 to 50 missiles a day into Ukraine, according to a senior U.S. defense official. The strikes are focused on the front-line Donbas region in the east and nearby Mariupol, with some also targeting major hubs such as Lviv in the west and the capital Kyiv.”

Covid’s toll in the U.S. reaches a once unfathomable number: 1 million deaths, NBC News, Elizabeth Chick and Corky Siemaszko, Wednesday, 4 May 2022: “The U.S. on Wednesday surpassed 1 million Covid-19 deaths, according to data compiled by NBC News — a once unthinkable scale of loss even for the country with the world’s highest recorded toll from the virus. The number — equivalent to the population of San Jose, California, the 10th largest city in the U.S. — was reached at stunning speed: 27 months after the country confirmed its first case of the virus. ‘Each of those people touched hundreds of other people,’ said Diana Ordonez, whose husband, Juan Ordonez, died in April 2020 at age 40, five days before their daughter Mia’s fifth birthday. ‘It’s an exponential number of other people that are walking around with a small hole in their heart.'”

Oath Keepers Leader Stewart Rhodes Sought to Ask Trump to Unleash His Militia. A dramatic account of how the militia leader, Stewart Rhodes, tried to reach Donald J. Trump on January 6 with a message that the group could help keep him in power was revealed in federal court. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 4 May 2022: “Even as the beleaguered police were still trying to disperse a violent mob at the Capitol last January, Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, undertook a desperate, last-ditch effort to keep President Donald J. Trump in the White House, according to court papers released on Wednesday. In a suite at the Phoenix Park Hotel, just blocks from the Capitol, Mr. Rhodes called an unnamed intermediary and, the papers said, repeatedly implored the person to ask Mr. Trump to mobilize his group to forcibly stop the transition of presidential power. But the person refused to speak with Mr. Trump, the papers said. And once the call was over, Mr. Rhodes, turning to a group of his associates, declared, ‘I just want to fight.’ Witnessing this scene, which unfolded in the twilight hours of Jan. 6, 2021, was William Todd Wilson, a midlevel Oath Keepers leader from North Carolina. On Wednesday, Mr. Wilson, 44, pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington to charges of seditious conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in their investigation of the Oath Keepers’ role in the Capitol attack. Mr. Wilson’s tale of what took place at the Phoenix Park — the same hotel that Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the far-right Proud Boys, had stayed at days earlier — was among the most dramatic accounts to have emerged so far in the government’s monthslong investigation of the Oath Keepers.”

Donald Trump Jr. met with the House January 6 committee on Tuesday, CNN Politics, Ryan Nobles, Annie Grayer, and Zachary Cohen, Wednesday, 4 May 2022: “Donald Trump Jr., the son of former President Donald Trump, met on Tuesday with the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, according to two sources familiar with the meeting. Trump Jr. was a high-profile surrogate for the Trump campaign and was among the most prominent supporters of his father to push a false narrative about the election results in the period between the 2020 election and January 6, 2021. Trump Jr. was with the former President backstage outside the White House before his speech at the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally at the Ellipse. A person familiar with the interview said it was conducted remotely, lasted a little more than three hours and was cordial. Trump Jr. answered all the questions and did not assert the Fifth Amendment during the interview, the person said. CNN exclusively reported that on November 5, 2020, two days after the election and before the race was called, Trump Jr. texted then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows a lengthy message with a long list of steps the Trump campaign could take to prevent Joe Biden from being certified as the next President of the United States. Trump Jr. joins a growing list of close associates and family members of the former President to cooperate with the committee. His sister Ivanka, her husband and top Trump adviser Jared Kushner and Trump Jr.’s fiancée Kimberly Guilfoyle have all sat for interviews with the committee.”

Former Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf changed and delayed an intelligence report detailing Russian interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, according to a new review by the department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) top watchdog, CBS News, Nicole Sganga and Olivia Gazis, Wednesday, 4 May 2022: “The decision to deviate from DHS standard review procedures ‘rais[ed] objectivity concerns,’ according to the report, and led to the perception that unorthodox interference by a top DHS official was intended to help Donald Trump’s reelection bid. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at DHS, through its Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A), released the redacted results of its investigation into Russian interference in the election  — ‘DHS Actions Related to an I&A Intelligence Product Deviated from Standard Procedures’ — on Tuesday. ‘We found that DHS did not adequately follow its internal processes and comply with applicable [intelligence community] policy standards and requirements when editing and disseminating an I&A intelligence product regarding Russian interference with the 2020 U.S. Presidential election,’ the DHS OIG report states, in part. ‘The acting secretary participated in the review process multiple times despite lacking any formal role in reviewing the product, resulting in the delay of its dissemination on at least one occasion,’ the DHS inspector general report continued. ‘The delays and deviation from I&A standard process and requirements put [them] at risk of creating a perception of politicization.'”

Of Course the Constitution Has Nothing to Say About Abortion. There is no mention of the procedure in a four-thousand-word document crafted by fifty-five men in 1787. This seems to be a surprise to Samuel Alito. The New Yorker, Jill Lepore, Wednesday, 4 May 2022: “Within a matter of months, women in about half of the United States may be breaking the law if they decide to end a pregnancy. This will be, in large part, because Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is surprised that there is so little written about abortion in a four-thousand-word document crafted by fifty-five men in 1787. As it happens, there is also nothing at all in that document, which sets out fundamental law, about pregnancy, uteruses, vaginas, fetuses, placentas, menstrual blood, breasts, or breast milk. There is nothing in that document about women at all. Most consequentially, there is nothing in that document—or in the circumstances under which it was written—that suggests its authors imagined women as part of the political community embraced by the phrase ‘We the People.’ There were no women among the delegates to the Constitutional Convention. There were no women among the hundreds of people who participated in ratifying conventions in the states. There were no women judges. There were no women legislators. At the time, women could neither hold office nor run for office, and, except in New Jersey, and then only fleetingly, women could not vote. Legally, most women did not exist as persons. Because these facts appear to surprise Alito, abortion is likely to become a crime in at least twenty states this spring. ‘The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision,’ Alito wrote, in a leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The draft decision, which Politico published on Monday night, would overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion. Chief Justice John Roberts, promising an investigation, has not denied its authenticity. Five Justices have reportedly voted in accordance with the draft: Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas, and Neil Gorsuch. Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan are sure to dissent. Roberts is not likely to concur. One theory has it that whoever disclosed the draft is trying to make it more difficult if not impossible for Roberts to recruit a defector from the majority. But, of course, this remains unknown. About as wholly speculative as the question of who leaked this decision is the history offered to support it. Alito’s opinion rests almost exclusively on a bizarre and impoverished historical analysis. ‘The Constitution makes no express reference to a right to obtain an abortion, and therefore those who claim that it protects such a right must show that the right is somehow implicit in the constitutional text,’ he argues, making this observation repeatedly. Roe, he writes, was ‘remarkably loose in its treatment of the constitutional text’ and suffers from one error above all: ‘it held that the abortion right, which is not mentioned in the Constitution, is part of a right to privacy, which is also not mentioned.’ Women are indeed missing from the Constitution. That’s a problem to remedy, not a precedent to honor.”


Thursday, 5 May 2022:


Another rescue effort underway in Mariupol; U.S. intelligence helped Ukraine sink the Russian warship Moskva, The Washington Post, David L. Stern, Reis Thebault, Paulina Firozi, Paulina Villegas, Adela Suliman, Bryan Pietsch, Ellen Francis, and Rachel Pannett, Thursday, 5 May 2022: “Despite Moscow’s promises of a cease-fire, Russian forces are relentlessly attacking the besieged steel plant in Mariupol, where Ukrainian holdout fighters are struggling to repel an increasingly fierce assault and civilians are desperately awaiting another evacuation convoy set to arrive Friday. A police chief inside Azovstal Steel and Iron Works told The Washington Post that the situation on Thursday was ‘critical,’ and Russia’s grip on the rest of the devastated port city appeared to be tightening. Mariupol officials said the Kremlin’s forces are planning a parade there to mark the Russian holiday of Victory Day, and another fleet of vehicles from the United Nations and Red Cross is rushing to the area in an attempt to rescue civilians who remain trapped. Meanwhile, more details of the American effort to aid Kyiv on the battlefield emerged, with U.S. officials telling The Post that the United States provided the Ukrainian military with intelligence that helped it attack and sink the Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. One official said the United States did not know of the strike in advance but said the United States shares maritime information with Ukraine to help it defend against threats.

  • The top U.N. human rights official said there ‘seems to be no end in sight’ for the suffering in Ukraine, citing gross rights violations, including executions, detentions and sexual violence.
  • The United States and Britain say they have seen no signs that Belarus aims to join ally Russia’s invasion, even after its newly announced military drills. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he did not expect the war to ‘drag on this way.’
  • First lady Jill Biden will travel to Romania and Slovakia this weekend, where she plans to spend Mother’s Day with Ukrainian mothers who left their home country during the Russian invasion.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin offered a rare apology on Thursday to Israel over recent antisemitic comments by Russia’s foreign minister.
  • The Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 71 of the War in Ukraine. The fighting appeared to have intensified ahead of Russia’s Victory Day holiday, which commemorates the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany. The New York Times, Thursday, 5 May 2022: “Fighting raged on Thursday across eastern Ukraine, from the Kharkiv area in the north where Ukrainian forces regained ground, to Mariupol in the south, where Russians breached the last Ukrainian redoubt in a steel plant, as Moscow’s forces battled to present President Vladimir V. Putin with something he can call victory. Some of the most ferocious combat took place between those two poles, in or near the north of the Donetsk region, where the earth heaved with constant artillery bombardment. Russian forces approached from the east, north and south, vainly trying to trap and destroy Ukrainian units in and around the cities of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk, and the towns of Lyman and Barvinkove.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 5), NPR, NPR Staff, Thursday, 5 May 2022: “As Thursday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: A third evacuation operation is underway from the destroyed and besieged southern city of Mariupol, according to the United Nations secretary-general. On Wednesday, aid workers helped evacuate 320 people from the area, he said. Earlier this week, another 59 people were evacuated, along with 101 civilians from the Azovstal steel works, the final pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the city. Fighting continues over the Azovstal plant in strategic Mariupol. The building, with sprawling tunnels underneath, has become the epicenter of the battle for Mariupol. Hundreds more civilians are still trapped inside the plant, along with about 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers, Ukrainian authorities estimate. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he did not expect Russia’s military incursion in Ukraine to ‘drag on this way.’ In a 90-minute interview with The Associated Press, the authoritarian leader and longtime Moscow ally also defended the invasion, which Russian authorities call a ‘special military operation.’ Israel says Russian President Vladimir Putin apologized for his foreign minister’s Monday remarks about Nazism. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he accepted an apology from Putin on a call; Russia has not commented on this. An interviewer had asked Russia’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov about Moscow’s claim that Ukraine, led by a Jewish president, is run by Nazis. Lavrov claimed Hitler had Jewish roots and that ‘the biggest antisemites were Jewish,’ which Israeli leaders called unforgivable lies. European leaders are nearing a deal to ban Russian oil imports, though several countries are seeking exemptions or longer phase-in. Energy alliance OPEC+ agreed to a small increase in oil production for June, despite calls for a bigger boost from Western countries.”

New Evidence Undercuts January 6 Instigator Conspiracy Theory. Recordings released to defense lawyers directly challenge assertions by prominent Republicans that an Arizona man named Ray Epps was a federal informant and helped start the Capitol riot. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Thursday, 5 May 2022: “Prominent Republicans — including former President Donald J. Trump — have for months promoted a conspiracy theory that an Arizona man named Ray Epps was a federal informant who helped to instigate the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The claims, made in congressional hearing rooms, on Fox News and at Mr. Trump’s political rallies, have largely been based on a video taken just before violence erupted at the Capitol, showing Mr. Epps at the barricades outside the building whispering into the ear of a man named Ryan Samsel. Within moments of the brief exchange, Mr. Samsel, a Pennsylvania barber, can be seen moving forward and confronting the police in what amounted to the tipping point of the riot. Despite lacking proof for their claims, many Republicans have surmised that Mr. Epps instructed Mr. Samsel to antagonize the officers. They have also pushed the notion that because Mr. Epps has not been arrested, he must have been working for the government. But for more than a year, well before the name Ray Epps was widely known in right-wing circles, federal authorities have had information — from both him and Mr. Samsel — suggesting that he was not a government agent and did not encourage the younger man to engage with the police that day. Just two days after the attack, when Mr. Epps saw himself on a list of suspects from Jan. 6, he called an F.B.I. tip line and told investigators that he had tried to calm Mr. Samsel down when they spoke, according to three people who have heard a recording of the call. Mr. Epps went on to say that he explained to Mr. Samsel that the police outside the building were merely doing their jobs, the people said. Then in late January of last year, in an interview with the F.B.I., Mr. Samsel said much the same thing, telling investigators that a man he did not know came up to him at the barricades and suggested he relax, according to a recording of the interview obtained by The New York Times. ‘He came up to me and he said, Dude — his entire words were, Relax, the cops are doing their job,’ Mr. Samsel said.”

Rudy Giuliani, Who Helped Lead President Trump’s Effort to Overturn the Results of the 2020 Election. Pulls Out of Interview With January 6 Committee, The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Thursday, 5 May 2022: “Rudolph W. Giuliani, who helped lead President Donald J. Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election as his personal lawyer, on Thursday abruptly pulled out of a scheduled Friday interview with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol after the panel refused to let him record the session. Mr. Giuliani has been negotiating with the panel about testifying for months, and had finally reached an agreement to speak about matters other than his conversations with Mr. Trump or any other topic he believes is covered by attorney-client privilege, said his lawyer, Robert J. Costello. Mr. Giuliani’s sudden withdrawal threatens what could have been a major breakthrough for the investigation. His testimony could have included details about interactions with members of Congress and others involved in the plans who were not Mr. Giuliani’s clients, Mr. Costello said. And with Mr. Giuliani under a subpoena to testify, the standoff raises the specter of yet another protracted legal battle between the committee and a former Trump aide.”

New audio: House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said 25th Amendment ‘takes too long’ and wanted to reach out to Biden after January 6 violent attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters, CNN Politics, Clare Foran and Melanie Zanona, Thursday, 5 May 2022: “House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy discussed the 25th Amendment on a call with GOP leadership days after the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and said the process ‘takes too long,’ according to an audio recording obtained by two New York Times reporters and shared with CNN. McCarthy also said during the call that he wanted to reach out to then-President-elect Joe Biden as he expressed hope for a ‘smooth transition,’ and said he thought impeachment would further divide the nation. The call took place on January 8, 2021, and the audio was obtained for the new book ‘This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden, and the Battle for America’s Future,’ by Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns. At one point in the recording, McCarthy asks an aide for a readout of what House Democrats had been discussing internally. The aide responds, ‘I think the options that have been cited by the Democrats so far are the 25th Amendment, which is not exactly an elegant solution here.’ McCarthy interjects to say, ‘That takes too long too. It could go back to the House, right?’ The aide responds, ‘Correct. If the President were to submit a letter overruling the Cabinet and the vice president, two-thirds vote in the House and the Senate to overrule the President. So it’s kind of an armful.’ That same day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent out a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter to House Democrats raising the 25th Amendment as an option. The House ended up voting days later on a resolution calling on the vice president to activate the 25th Amendment, with only one Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, joining all Democrats to support the measure.”

Former Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper Says Trump Proposed Launching Missiles Into Mexico to ‘Destroy the Drug Labs.’ It is one of the moments in his upcoming memoir that Esper described as leaving him all but speechless. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 5 May 2022: “President Donald J. Trump in 2020 asked Mark T. Esper, his defense secretary, about the possibility of launching missiles into Mexico to ‘destroy the drug labs’ and wipe out the cartels, maintaining that the United States’ involvement in a strike against its southern neighbor could be kept secret, Mr. Esper recounts in his upcoming memoir. Those remarkable discussions were among several moments that Mr. Esper described in the book, ‘A Sacred Oath,’ as leaving him all but speechless when he served the 45th president. Mr. Esper, the last Senate-confirmed defense secretary under Mr. Trump, also had concerns about speculation that the president might misuse the military around Election Day by, for instance, having soldiers seize ballot boxes. He warned subordinates to be on alert for unusual calls from the White House in the lead-up to the election. The book, to be published on Tuesday, offers a stunningly candid perspective from a former defense secretary, and it illuminates key episodes from the Trump presidency, including some that were unknown or underexplored.”

Democrats Plan a Bid to Codify Roe, but They Lack the Votes to Succeed. In announcing a Wednesday vote on doomed legislation to enshrine abortion rights into federal law, the top Senate Democrat teed up a political fight for the midterm campaign. The New York Times, Annie Karni, Thursday, 5 May 2022: “Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, moved on Thursday to set up a vote next week on a bill to codify abortion rights into federal law, acting quickly in the wake of a leaked Supreme Court draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade, despite clear evidence that the measure lacks the support to be enacted. The plan is little more than an effort to send a political message before the midterm elections and a seismic ruling that could have major legal, cultural and electoral consequences, with deep significance for voters across the political spectrum. The legislation is all but certain to be blocked by Republicans, falling short of the 60 votes needed to advance past a filibuster. It also appears to lack even the simple majority it would need to pass the 50-50 Senate, given that Senator Joe Manchin III, the centrist Democrat from West Virginia who opposes abortion rights, voted against bringing up a nearly identical measure in February and has shown no signs that he has shifted his position. Even if Mr. Manchin did change his mind on the bill, he has adamantly opposed altering Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster, leaving Democrats short of the 50 votes they would need to do so and get their measure past a Republican blockade. Still, Mr. Schumer said the vote on Wednesday would be one of ‘the most important we ever take,’ framing it as an opportunity to emphasize to voters — who polls show widely favor at least some legal abortion — that elections matter, and that Democrats are the ones fighting to preserve reproductive rights.” See also, Senator Susan Collins of Maine voices opposition to Democratic legislation that would create statutory right to abortion, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and Mike DeBonis, Thursday, 5 May 2022: “Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), one of two prominent Republican senators who support abortion rights, said Thursday that she does not support a Democratic measure that would create statutory right to the procedure, arguing that the legislation does not provide sufficient protection to antiabortion health providers. The statement from Collins comes as the Senate is preparing to vote next week on the legislation, known as the Women’s Health Protection Act, and as the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, which established a woman’s right to an abortion. ‘It supersedes all other federal and state laws, including the conscience protections that are in the Affordable Care Act,’ Collins told reporters at the Capitol on Thursday when asked whether she supports the bill authored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). She added: ‘It doesn’t protect the right of a Catholic hospital to not perform abortions. That right has been enshrined in law for a long time.’ The measure appears headed for failure with or without Collins’s support, since 60 senators would need to vote ‘yes’ to overcome a filibuster. Democrats hold a slim majority with 50 seats in the chamber and Vice President Harris casting the tiebreaking vote. Public polling shows a majority of Americans support the right to abortion in most instances.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that nearly 15 million deaths are related to covid-19. That number is more than double the official toll because it includes excess deaths from other causes largely attributable to over burdened health systems. The Washington Post, Katie Shepherd and Niha Masih, Thursday, 5 May 2022: “The pandemic led to nearly 15 million excess deaths worldwide, according to a new estimate by the World Health Organization, including people who died of covid-19 and others who died from other causes related to the crisis, such as health-care shortages as the virus surged and overwhelmed hospitals. The WHO defines excess deaths as ‘the difference between the number of deaths that have occurred and the number that would be expected in the absence of the pandemic based on data from earlier years.’ ‘These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems,’ Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director general, said in a statement. Most of the excess deaths during the first two years of the pandemic were concentrated in Southeast Asia, Europe and the Americas, the WHO said. More than two-thirds occurred in just 10 countries, including the United States.”


Friday, 6 May 2022:


Zelensky spells out his vision of victory amid caution ahead of Russian holiday, The Washington Post, Liz Sly, Timothy Bella, Meryl Kornfield, Adela Suliman, Adam Taylor, Jonathan Edwards, Felicia Sonmez, Shayna Jacobs, and Tobi Raji, Friday, 6 May 2022: “Ukraine will enter into serious peace negotiations with Moscow only after Russian troops have been pushed back or retreated from all of the territory occupied since Feb. 24, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday, spelling out his vision of what a Ukrainian victory might look like. His comments at an online event came as leaders from across Ukraine urged residents to be cautious ahead of Russia’s Victory Day, increasing patrols and instituting curfews amid warnings of increased missile strikes Monday. Heavy fighting continued at the besieged Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in Mariupol, a focus of humanitarian efforts, where 50 civilians were evacuated on buses Friday, according to Ukraine officials.

  • President Biden said the latest U.S. aid package to Ukraine ‘will provide additional artillery munitions, radars, and other equipment.’
  • Biden and other Group of Seven leaders will meet virtually with Zelensky during a G-7 forum Sunday, according to the German government.
  • European Union ambassadors did not reach a consensus Friday on a proposal to phase out Russian oil imports after strong pushback from member states, particularly Hungary.
  • Italian financial authorities said that they have frozen a $700-million megayacht that has been linked in media reports and by anti-Kremlin groups to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • First lady Jill Biden is visiting Romania and Slovakia this weekend, where she plans to spend Mother’s Day with Ukrainian women.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 72 of the War in Ukraine, The New York Times, Friday, 6 May 2022: “Ukrainian troops, emboldened by sophisticated weapons and long-range artillery supplied by the West, went on the offensive Friday against Russian forces in the northeast, seeking to drive them back from two key cities as the war plunged more deeply into a grinding, town-for-town battle. After weeks of intense fighting along a 300-mile-long front, neither side has been able to achieve a major breakthrough, with one army taking a few villages one day, only to lose just as many in the following days. In its latest effort to reclaim territory, the Ukrainian military said that “fierce battles” were being waged as it fought to retake Russia-controlled areas around Kharkiv in the northeast and Izium in the east. The stepped-up combat came as the White House announced on Friday that President Biden would meet virtually on Sunday with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and the leaders of the G7, which includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States. Additionally, President Biden is sending a new security package to Ukraine worth $150 million, according to an administration official, who says it will include 25,000 artillery rounds, counter-artillery radars, jamming equipment and other field equipment.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 6), NPR, NPR Staff, Friday, 6 May 2022: “As Friday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: Ukrainian forces inside Mariupol’s besieged Azovstal steel works continue resistance. United Nations aid workers are pushing to evacuate more people from the bunkers and tunnels inside the plant, saying that 50 more civilians — including 11 children — were rescued in the latest operation. The United Nations Security Council issued its first statement on Ukraine since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. The Security Council members, which include Russia, reached an agreement to express ‘deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine’ as well as ‘strong support’ for efforts to find ‘a peaceful solution.’ Global human rights group Amnesty International said it has documented war crimes by Russian troops in Ukraine. In a new report based on an ‘extensive on-the-ground investigation,’ the group cited unlawful attacks and willful, extrajudicial killings of civilians in the region northwest of Kyiv. Russia has denied all such accusations. Amnesty alleged that shootings, torture and other crimes were ‘part of a pattern’ for areas controlled by Russian forces. Blocked ports and transport disruptions have trapped almost 25 million tons of grain exports in Ukraine, according to a U.N. food agency official. This is one of the key reasons behind global food prices hitting an all-time high in March, though new data show they eased slightly in April. First lady Jill Biden will spend Mother’s Day along the Slovakia-Ukraine bordermeeting with Ukrainian mothers and children who fled their country after Russia’s invasion. During a four-day visit to Romania and Slovakia, she will also tour schools that have taken in Ukrainian refugees and will meet with U.S. troops stationed along NATO’s eastern flank.”

A Federal Judge Dismisses Trump’s Lawsuit Seeking to Reinstate His Twitter Account. The former president sued Twitter after it permanently blocked his account in the wake of the Capitol riot. The New York Times, Neil Vigdor, Friday, 6 May 2022: “A federal judge in San Francisco on Friday dismissed former President Donald J. Trump’s lawsuit against Twitter over the social media company’s decision to bar him from its platform permanently after the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol. “The judge, James Donato of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, wrote that he was not persuaded that Twitter had infringed on Mr. Trump’s free speech rights when it shut down his account on Jan. 8, 2021, two days after a mob spurred by Mr. Trump’s ‘stop the steal’ lies stormed the Capitol in hopes of overturning the presidential election results. At the time, the tech giant said that Mr. Trump had violated its rules against glorifying violence with a pair of tweets, including one praising his supporters as ‘patriots.’ The decision stripped Mr. Trump of his favorite megaphone: He had used Twitter to lob insults and grievances and had amassed more than 88 million followers. In his lawsuit against Twitter, Mr. Trump had asserted that the San Francisco-based company had been pandering to liberal Democrats by barring him from its platform and had sought to silence contradictory viewpoints. In mounting a First Amendment claim, Mr. Trump had argued that Twitter was effectively functioning like the government. But Judge Donato was unpersuaded, saying that Mr. Trump’s claim that Twitter had behaved like a state actor was unsubstantiated. ‘The amended complaint merely offers a grab-bag of allegations to the effect that some Democratic members of Congress wanted Mr. Trump, and the views he espoused, to be banned from Twitter because such content and views were contrary to those legislators’ preferred points of view,’ Judge Donato wrote.”

Why Republicans Are So Angry About the Supreme Court Leak, The New York Times, Jamelle Bouie, Friday, 6 May 2022: “The Supreme Court is, and has always been, a political body. That’s true of the justices, certainly. Over the course of the court’s history, most of them were chosen with political considerations in mind, to the point that many were politicians themselves. It’s true of the institution as well. The Supreme Court deals with political issues — not simply abstract questions of law — and operates within the context of political conflict and political struggle. And the Supreme Court, right now, is an avowedly partisan institution, an unaccountable super-legislature controlled by men and women drawn from a cadre of conservative ideologues and apparatchiks, acting on behalf of the Republican Party and its allies. Whatever legitimacy it had retained was sacrificed in the drive to build the majority that seems poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and open the floodgates to harsh restrictions on the reproductive autonomy of millions of Americans. When McConnell led the Senate Republican caucus in a blockade of President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court in 2016 and then killed what remained of the judicial filibuster the next year to place Neil Gorsuch in the seat instead, they diminished the legitimacy of the court. When those same Republicans looked past a credible accusation of sexual assault to confirm Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, they again diminished the legitimacy of the court. And when, with weeks left before the 2020 presidential election, Republicans ignored their own rule from four years earlier — that an election-year vacancy ‘should not be filled until we have a new president’ — to place Amy Coney Barrett on the bench in a rushed, slapdash process, they once more diminished the legitimacy of the court.”

An administrative law judge in Georgia ruled that Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene can stay on the ballot for the state’s 14th Congressional District following a challenge to her reelection candidacy, ABC News, Hannah Demissie, Friday, 6 May 2022: “A group of Georgia voters had argued that Greene was not eligible to run for reelection under the ‘disqualification clause’ of the Fourteenth Amendment due to her alleged support for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. In his 19-page opinion, Judge Charles Beaudrot said that the burden of proof is on the challengers and that they ‘failed to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence.’ Beaudrot also said that the evidence in the case was insufficient to establish that Greene ‘engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or [gave] aid or comfort to the enemies thereof under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.’ The judge’s ruling allowing Greene to stay on the ballot for the state’s May 24 primary was reaffirmed shortly afterward by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who had the final say.”


Saturday, 7 May 2022:


Women, children, elderly exit besieged Ukrainian steel plant, The Washington Post, Julian Duplain, Andrew Jeong, Ellen Francis, Tobi Raji, Shayna Jacobs, Timothy Bella, Christine Armario, and Meryl Kornfield, Saturday, 7 May 2022: “A high-ranking Ukrainian official and the Russian Defense Ministry said Saturday that all women, children and the elderly had been evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, where hundreds of civilians were trapped for weeks amid an intense Russian assault. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in a Telegram post that ‘this part of the Mariupol humanitarian operation has been completed.’ Ukrainian fighters are still holed up at the sprawling plant complex — and a regional police leader told The Washington Post that three were killed Friday during the civilian evacuation. Ukraine will continue its efforts to move its people out of the area, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Saturday. Russia aims to capture the plant — the last sliver of Mariupol still under Ukrainian control — and is pressuring the soldiers there to surrender. Control of Mariupol would allow Russia to establish a land bridge with annexed Crimea. Meanwhile, fighting continued in Ukraine’s east, with Kyiv accusing Russian forces Saturday of blowing up three bridges northeast of Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, to prevent counterattacks. Russian forces bombed a Luhansk school where 90 people were taking shelter; at least two people died, the region’s governor said. In the south, Russian forces launched cruise missiles at the Black Sea port of Odessa on Saturday, hitting a civilian target, according to the Ukrainian military.

  • First lady Jill Biden, who is in Romania as part of a four-day trip to Eastern Europe, met Ukrainian refugee students and their mothers Saturday at a school in Bucharest.
  • President Biden and other Group of Seven leaders will meet online with Zelensky on Sunday to discuss ways to support Ukraine and ‘impose severe costs’ on Russia for its invasion, the White House said.
  • By comparing Ukraine to Nazi Germany, Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying ‘to twist history’ to justify the war, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Saturday.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

Here’s What Happened on Day 73 of the War in Ukraine, The New York Times, Saturday, 7 May 2022: “Russia’s push to give its president a showcase victory in Ukraine appeared to face a new setback on Saturday, as Ukrainian defenders pushed the invaders back toward the northeast border and away from the city of Kharkiv, with the Russians blowing up bridges behind them. With less than 48 hours before President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia aimed to lead his country in Victory Day celebrations commemorating the Soviet triumph over Nazi Germany, the apparent Russian pullback from the area around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, contradicted the Russian narrative and illustrated the complicated picture along the 300-mile front in eastern Ukraine. The Russians have been trying to advance in eastern Ukraine for the past few weeks and have been pushing especially hard as Victory Day approaches, but Ukrainian forces — armed with new weapons supplied by the United States and other Western nations — have been pushing back in a counteroffensive. The destruction of three bridges by Russian forces, about 12 miles northeast of Kharkiv, reported by the Ukrainian military, suggested that the Russians not only were trying to prevent the Ukrainians from pursuing them, but had no immediate plans to return. A senior Ukrainian official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the fighting, said Russian forces were destroying bridges not to retreat but because ‘we are pushing them out.'”

How the future of Roe v. Wade is testing Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Carol D. Leonnig, and Ann E. Marimow, Saturday, 7 May 2022: “The explosive leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade not only focused the nation on the magnitude of the change facing abortion rights, it also signaled the rise of a rightward-moving bench that is testing the power of fellow conservative Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. As the country awaits a final decision, the intense deliberations inside a court closed to the public and shaken by revelations of its private negotiations appears to be not between the court’s right and left, but among the six conservative justices, including Roberts, in the court’s supermajority. The mere existence of the draft indicated that five justices had voted at least tentatively to reject the incremental approach of Roberts to restricting abortion rights. Instead, they would reverse Roe after nearly 50 years of guaranteeing a right to abortion that could not be outlawed by the states…. The leaked draft opinion is dated in February and is almost surely obsolete now, as justices have had time to offer dissents and revisions. But as of last week, the majority of five justices to strike Roe remains intact, according to three conservatives close to the court who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. A person close to the most conservative members of the court said Roberts told his fellow jurists in a private conference in early December that he planned to uphold the state law and write an opinion that left Roe and Casey in place for now. But the other conservatives were more interested in an opinion that overturned the precedents, the person said. A spokeswoman for the court declined to comment, and messages extended to justices were unreturned.”


Sunday, 8 May 2022:


G-7 leaders vow to phase out Russian oil; Jill Biden visits Ukraine, The Washington Post, Tyler Pager, Paulina Firozi, Amanda Coletta, Brittany Shammas, Annabelle Timsit, Jennifer Hassan, Rachel Pannett, and Reis Thebault, Sunday, 8 Mary 2022: “President Biden and leaders of the Group of Seven nations vowed to phase out, or altogether ban, the import of Russian oil in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, they said after a video meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The move is intended to hit the ‘main artery’ of Russia’s economy and deny President Vladimir Putin ‘the revenue he needs to fund the war,’ the White House said. The United States has already banned the import of Russian oil, and the European Union is considering a proposal to do the same. The G-7 pledge came the same day that first lady Jill Biden went to western Ukraine and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled to Kyiv, visits meant to underscore the West’s support. Along the war’s eastern front line, Russian and Ukrainian forces traded blows and territory before Moscow’s planned Victory Day holiday on Monday. A Russian strike in the Luhansk region destroyed a school turned shelter, a local leader said, and left as many as 60 people buried under the rubble and feared dead — possibly one of the deadliest attacks on civilians since the invasion began.

  • Ukrainian fighters in Mariupol’s embattled steel plant, the port city’s last holdout, pledged to fight ‘as long as we are alive, for justice,’ as Zelensky appealed for their evacuation after the last civilians were allowed to leave the facility.
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross said about 170 civilians who spent weeks at the steel plant had arrived in Zaporizhzhia on Sunday.
  • A senior American diplomat on Sunday visited the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, which personnel had departed a few days before Russia’s invasion. Although the visit did not signal that the United States has officially reopened the embassy, the Biden administration plans to do so.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 74 of the War in Ukraine. Jill Biden, the first lady, met with the wife of President Volodymyr Zelensky, and G7 leaders moved to cut off the purchase of oil from Russia. Officials said a Russian airstrike had hit a school building being used as a shelter. The New York Times, Sunday, 8 May 2022: “On a day of commemoration of the end of World War II in Europe, the war in Ukraine was marked by posturing and signaling on Sunday, as each side ramped up its rhetoric and resolve. Leaders of the world’s wealthiest democracies vowed to end their dependence on Russian energy and ensure that Russia does not triumph in its ‘unprovoked, unjustifiable and illegal aggression,’ as President Vladimir V. Putin pursued his indiscriminate bombardment of eastern Ukraine and orchestrated celebrations for Russia’s Victory Day holiday on Monday…. In Moscow, as fighter jets streaked across the sky and nuclear weapons were put on display in preparation for Victory Day, Mr. Putin appeared to signal back to Western leaders that he was determined to double down on the war until he could conjure something that might be claimed as victory. There was fresh evidence of that on Sunday, as rescuers picked through the rubble in Bilohorivka, a village in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine where a Russian bomb had flattened a school building the day before, killing people sheltering there, local authorities said…. Visits to the region by the first lady, Jill Biden, who crossed into western Ukraine to meet Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, in an unannounced visit to Uzhhorod, and by Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, who appeared unexpectedly in a war-scarred suburb of Kyiv, were clearly intended to drive home a message of unwavering Western commitment.”

Senate Democrats Warn of Republican Effort to Restrict Abortion Nationwide. The alarms came after Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, called such a ban ‘possible’ if a leaked Supreme Court opinion became final and his party gained control in Washington. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Sunday, 8 May 2022: “Democrats rang alarm bells on Sunday about the likelihood that Republicans would try to restrict abortion nationwide, two days after an interview was published in which Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said a ban was ‘possible’ if his party gained control in Washington. On the Sunday talk shows and in other public statements, Democratic senators said Republicans would not stop at letting the states decide the issue, but would most likely push for federal restrictions. That made it paramount, they said, that the Democratic Party maintain control of the Senate as it tries to codify abortion rights into federal law. ‘We need to make sure that every single voter understands that the Republican Party and Mitch McConnell does not believe that their daughters, that their mothers, that their sisters have rights to make fundamental life and death decisions,’ Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’ ‘We are half-citizens under this ruling. And if this is put into law, it changes the foundation of America.'”


Monday, 9 May 2022:


Victory Day unfolds quietly in Ukraine as Putin defends invasion, The Washington Post, Julian Duplain, Bryan Pietsch, Jennifer Hassan, Adam Taylor, Kim Bellware, Paulina Villegas, Hannah Knowles, and Reis Thebault, Monday, 9 May 2022: “After weeks of rising fears and forecasts of escalation, Monday — Russia’s Victory Day holiday — unfolded relatively quietly in Ukraine, with limited reports of fighting and no visible sign of a new attempt by Moscow to further expand its invasion or formally declare war. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not mention Ukraine by name in his speech commemorating the Allied victory in World War II, but he repeated a litany of bogus claims about the country and his so-called ‘special military operation’ there, falsely saying his army is fighting ‘executioners, punishers and Nazis.’ In Kyiv, President Volodymyr Zelensky also marked the holiday, paying tribute to the 8 million Ukrainians who died in World War II and likening Putin to Adolf Hitler, saying the Russian leader is ‘following Nazi philosophy.’ While shelling in Kharkiv was notably subdued, spasms of strikes were reported across southern and eastern Ukraine, where officials continued to warn residents of possible new Russian attacks. Four missiles — believed to have been fired from Russian-occupied Crimea — hit areas near the port city of Odessa. And in Kherson, Ukrainian forces launched a counteroffensive against Russians occupying the area, a Russian news agency reported.

  • Rescue efforts at a school in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine that was hit by a Russian airstrike Sunday have been halted after further strikes in the area, a local official said. Dozens are feared dead or buried under the rubble.
  • Russian users of smart TV systems reported that the services were hacked Monday with a message: ‘The blood of thousands of Ukrainians and hundreds of murdered children is on your hands. TV and the authorities are lying. No to war.’
  • Russia has resumed attacks on Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant after 300 women, children and elderly people were evacuated from the site last week, an aide to the city’s mayor said Monday.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 75 of the War in Ukraine. Putin, on his country’s most important holiday, did not proclaim an escalation of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The New York Times, Monday, 9 May 2022: “He made no claim of victory or ‘mission accomplished’ and no promise that the fight in Ukraine could end soon. But as President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia spoke in Moscow’s Red Square on Monday, he also made no call for new sacrifice or mobilization, no threat of a nuclear strike, no stark pronouncement about an existential war with the West. Instead Mr. Putin, speaking on Russia’s most important secular holiday, delivered a message for the broader Russian public: that they could keep on living their lives. The military would keep fighting to rid Ukraine, in his false telling, of ‘torturers, death squads and Nazis,’ but Mr. Putin did not make any new attempt to prepare his people for a wider conflict.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 9), NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 9 May 2022: “As Monday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: Russian President Vladimir Putin devoted much of his annual Victory Day speech to Ukraine, but did not claim any victories. Nor did he signal major military or policy shifts in what the Kremlin continues to call its ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine. Putin painted Russia’s campaign as this generation’s link to the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany, saying it was forced by actions of the U.S. and NATO. In a video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vowed that Ukraine would win, saying, ‘Very soon there will be two Victory Days in Ukraine.’ A senior U.S. defense official said there are no major changes on the battlefield. World leaders weighed in on the Ukraine war on Victory in Europe DayG7 leaders released a statement commemorating the end of World War II in Europe and pledging further support to Ukraine. ‘Freedom and security will win the day, just as freedom and security triumphed over oppression, violence, and dictatorship 77 years ago,’ German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a speech. Over the weekend, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reopened his country’s embassy in Kyiv. A formal reopening of the U.S. Embassy is expected soon. The United Nations head and international aid organizations are among those condemning an attack on Saturday on a school in Luhansk that was sheltering 90 people, including children. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said he was ‘appalled’ by the bombing. Thirty people have been rescued from the rubble. The rest are feared dead. First lady Jill Biden wrapped up a four-day trip to Eastern Europe, which included a surprise visit to Ukraine on Sunday to meet with Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska, who has been in hiding since the war began. The board of the Pulitzer Prizes awarded the journalists of Ukraine a special citation ‘for their courage, endurance, and commitment to truthful reporting’ since Russia’s invasion. ‘Despite bombardment, abductions, occupation, and even deaths in their ranks, they have persisted in their effort to provide an accurate picture of a terrible reality, doing honor to Ukraine and to journalists around the world,’ the citation says. Ukraine’s bomb-sniffing Jack Russell terrier received a presidential medalPatron the dog and his owner, Mykhailo Iliev of the Civil Protection Service, received a medal from Zelenskyy in recognition of their service to the country. Patron, whose name means ‘ammo’ in Ukrainian, is credited with detecting more than 200 undetonated explosive devices since the beginning of the war, according to Reuters.”

Inside Mark Meadows’s final push to keep Trump in power. The former congressman played a key role in Trump’s effort to overturn the election, according to his texts, congressional investigations, and interviews. The Washington Post, Michael Kranish, Monday, 9 May 2022: “A review … based on interviews, depositions, text messages, emails, congressional documents, recently published memoirs by key players and other material [by The Washington Post of the actions of Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows from December 22, 2020 to January 6, 2021] shows how Meadows played a pivotal role in advancing Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. In doing so, Meadows ‘repeatedly violated’ legal guidance against trying to influence the Justice Department, according to a majority staff report of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Meadows granted those peddling theories about a stolen election direct access to the Oval Office and personally connected some with the president, according to congressional reports and interviews with former White House officials. He pressed the Justice Department to investigate spurious and debunked claims, including a bizarre theory that an Italian operation changed votes in the United States — an allegation a top Justice official called ‘pure insanity,’ according to email correspondence released by congressional investigators. He also pushed the Justice Department, unsuccessfully, to try to invalidate the election results in six states through federal court action. Now Meadows’s actions are at the center of probes by both the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack and the Justice Department, which is examining whether to press contempt-of-Congress charges against him and is conducting its own inquiry into the events surrounding the insurrection. North Carolina officials, meanwhile, are looking into whether Meadows himself potentially committed voter fraud by registering to vote in 2020 at a mobile home he reportedly never stayed in.”


Tuesday, 10 May 2022:


Putin prepared for ‘prolonged conflict’ in Ukraine; House approves nearly $40 billion in aid to Ukraine, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Kim Bellware, Paulina Villegas, Annabelle Timsit, Amy Cheng, Jennifer Hassan, and Adam Taylor, Tuesday, 10 May 2022: “It’s been 75 days since Russia invaded Ukraine, and as the battle becomes a grinding war of attrition, Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be preparing for ‘a prolonged conflict,’ a top U.S. intelligence official said Tuesday, as the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved nearly $40 billion in additional aid for Kyiv. With no clear end in sight, the war could grow even more volatile in the coming months, Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, told the Senate Armed Services Committee, warning of an ‘unpredictable and potentially escalatory trajectory.’ She said Putin’s aims extend beyond controlling eastern Ukraine and include establishing a land bridge connecting Russia, the Donbas region and Crimea. In Washington, the House’s bipartisan support for the sweeping military, economic and humanitarian package sends the bill to the Senate, where it is also expected to pass.

  • A top U.S. intelligence official said that between eight and 10 Russian generals have been killed while fighting in Ukraine.
  • Russian forces continued to assault the Mariupol steel plant, home to the city’s last Ukrainian fighters, officials said, estimating that about 1,000 holdout soldiers remained, with hundreds injured.
  • The Finnish Parliament’s defense committee recommended NATO membership. The country’s official decision on whether to join the alliance could come as soon as this week.
  • A U.N. official said Tuesday that thousands more civilians have been killed in the conflict than confirmed figures suggest.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 76 of the War in Ukraine. The New York Times, Tuesday, 10 May 2022: “The escalating brutality of the war in Ukraine has dampened voices on both the right and left skeptical of the United States’ involving itself in armed conflict overseas, fueling a rush by Congress to pour huge amounts of money into a potentially lengthy and costly offensive against Russia with few questions or reservations raised. Under pressure to present a united front as President Vladimir V. Putin’s forces carry out a campaign of atrocities across Ukraine, lawmakers in both political parties who have previously railed against skyrocketing military budgets and entanglements in intractable conflicts abroad have gone largely silent about what is fast becoming a major military effort drawing on American resources. The House on Tuesday night passed a $40 billion military and humanitarian aid package for Ukraine in an overwhelming 368 to 57 vote, weeks after lawmakers overwhelmingly approved $13.6 billion in emergency aid for the war effort. That total — roughly $53 billion over two months — goes beyond what President Biden requested and is poised to amount to the largest foreign aid package to move through Congress in at least two decades. It also comes at a time when the two parties have been unable to reach agreement to invest in domestic programs. They include the extension of a tax credit that pulled millions of American children out of poverty and even a pandemic response package to control the spread of the coronavirus, as Republicans and some Democrats raise concerns that such spending could exacerbate inflation and increase the federal deficit.” See also, Ukraine War’s Geographic Reality: Russia Has Seized Much of the East, The New York Times, Michael Schwirtz, Marc Santora, and Michael Levenson, Tuesday, 10 May 2022: “Russia’s nearly three-month-old invasion of neighboring Ukraine has been punctuated by flawed planning, poor intelligence, barbarity and wanton destruction. But obscured in the daily fighting is the geographic reality that Russia has made gains on the ground. The Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday that its forces in eastern Ukraine had advanced to the border between Donetsk and Luhansk, the two Russian-speaking provinces where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting Ukraine’s army for eight years. The ministry’s assertion, if confirmed, strengthens the prospect that Russia could soon gain complete control over the region, known as the Donbas, compared with just a third of it before the Feb. 24 invasion. That is a far cry from what appeared to be the grand ambitions of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia when he launched the invasion: quick and easy seizure of vast swaths of Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, the overthrow of a hostile government and a replacement with unquestioned fealty that would ensure Ukraine’s subservience. Nonetheless, the Donbas seizure, combined with the Russian invasion’s early success in seizing parts of southern Ukraine adjoining the Crimean peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, gives the Kremlin enormous leverage in any future negotiation to halt the conflict.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 10), NPR, NPR Staff, Tuesday, 10 May 2022: “As Tuesday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: Russian missiles struck the outskirts of the southern port city of Odesa overnight. Ukrainian authorities said seven missiles were fired and hit a shopping center and warehouse, killing at least one person. They suggested Russian troops were relying on old missiles with faulty targeting systems. The Russian military has said its key targets included storage and transport lines for Western weapons. The Pentagon said it was unclear how well Russian targeting was working, or the objectives of the strikes. Lithuania became the first country to declare Russia a perpetrator of terrorismaccording to Ukraine’s Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security. Lithuania’s parliament also voted unanimously to designate Russia’s actions in Ukraine as genocide, joining Canadian lawmakers in making this formal accusation. The U.S may soon have an ambassador to Ukraine — for the first time since 2019. Congressional confirmation hearings began for President Biden’s nominee, Bridget Brink, a veteran diplomat currently serving as ambassador to Slovakia. If confirmed, she will become the first Senate-approved envoy to Ukraine since former President Donald Trump fired Marie Yovanovitch, who later testified in Trump’s first impeachment inquiry. Leonid Kravchuk — Ukraine’s first president, who led the country to independence as the Soviet Union collapsed — died at 88He was a driving force in Ukraine’s declaration of independence from the USSR in 1991 and served as president until 1994. In 2020, he returned to politics to try to negotiate a settlement for the conflict in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists had fought Ukrainian forces since 2014.”

Multiple fake electors are cooperating in Georgia criminal investigation of Trump’s efforts to overturn 2020 election, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen and Sara Murray, Tuesday, 10 May 2022: “Prosecutors in Georgia investigating former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election have interviewed several individuals who served as fake GOP electors from the state, according to two sources familiar with the ongoing criminal probe. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ office appears to be trying to determine whether the pro-Trump electors in Georgia had any knowledge that their actions may have been a component of a broader and potentially illegal plot to pressure election officials and overturn Joe Biden’s victory, a source told CNN. Biden won Georgia by a nearly 12,000-vote margin in 2020, the first Democrat to carry the state in 28 years. Conspiracy theories immediately sprung up around the state’s election and baseless claims of fraud have persisted even after three ballot counts confirmed Biden was the winner. Losing the Peach State was a stinging defeat for Trump, who spent months attempting to overturn the results, even pressuring Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to ‘find’ the votes needed to swing the state to him — a call that set off the Atlanta-area criminal investigation.”

Elon Musk says he would ‘reverse the permanent ban’ of Donald Trump on Twitter. The New York Times, Mike Isaac, Tuesday, 10 May 2022: “Elon Musk said on Tuesday that he would ‘reverse the permanent ban’ of former President Donald J. Trump on Twitter and let him back on the social network, in one of the first specific comments by Mr. Musk, the world’s richest man, of how he would change the social media service. Mr. Musk, who struck a deal last month to buy Twitter for $44 billion, said at a Financial Times conference that the company’s decision to bar Mr. Trump last year for tweets about the riots at the U.S. Capitol was ‘a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice.’ He added that it was ‘morally wrong and flat-out stupid’ and that ‘permanent bans just fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter.’ Mr. Musk’s remarks were a preview of the kinds of sweeping changes he might make at Twitter, which he is expected to take ownership of in the next six months. The billionaire, who also leads the electric carmaker Tesla and the rocket company SpaceX, has called himself a ‘free speech absolutist’ and has said he is unhappy with how Twitter decides what can and cannot be posted online. But up until Tuesday, Mr. Musk, 50, had spoken mostly in general terms and had not singled out Twitter accounts that might be affected by his takeover. He had called free speech ‘the bedrock of a functioning democracy’ and had spoken of his desire to give people more control over their own social media feeds. By specifying that Mr. Trump could return to the platform, Mr. Musk uncorked a political firestorm.” See also, Elon Musk says he would reverse Twitter ban on Donald Trump, The Washington Post, Faiz Siddiqui, Drew Haarwell, and Josh Dawsey, Tuesday, 10 May 2022: “Elon Musk said he would reverse Twitter’s ban on former president Donald Trump, articulating for the first time his stance on one of the most consequential decisions before him at the social media site he is acquiring…. Musk — one of Twitter’s most prolific users, with more than 90 million followers — has agreed to purchase the social media company for roughly $44 billion, arguing that the site should host unfettered free speech and function as a ‘de facto town square.’ He has broadly criticized Twitter’s content moderation decisions, arguing that the company’s permanent bans for rule-breaking accounts should have instead been temporary removals, so as not to suppress their use of the site long-term. Musk’s decision to un-ban Trump would not only overturn one of the most significant and widely debated corporate rulings in American tech. It could also hand the former president back a megaphone he had used for years to capture the world’s attention — and shout down his adversaries — at a moment when he is boosting allies during the 2022 midterm elections and preparing for an expected presidential run in 2024.”

There are a lot of men behind a looming wave of state abortion bans, Business Insider, Nicole Gaudiano, Esther Kaplan, Taylor Tyson, Annie Fu, and Skye Gould, Tuesday, 10 May 2022: “What does it take to dismantle nearly 50 years of abortion rights for women? Hundreds of powerful men.  A look at the players behind a likely imminent wave of abortion bans reveals a stark lack of gender diversity that extends beyond the mostly male Supreme Court justices expected to strike down Roe v. Wade and the 91% male US senators who voted to confirm them. A total of 380 state legislators served as lead sponsor or cosponsor of abortion bans in 13 states that take effect as soon as the high court overturns the landmark decision. They’re predominantly men, too — 84%. In fact, five of these so-called ‘trigger laws’ — in Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Tennessee — had zero women sponsors or co-sponsors. Of the 13 governors who signed them into law, 12 are Republican men. Yet the language in these laws specifically targets women. The vast majority of political players behind these bans were also Republicans, including 86% of bill sponsors. All of the anti-Roe justices were nominated by Republican men and 94% of the senators who voted to confirm the justices were Republican.”

Russian Orthodox Christian churches are drawing in far-right converts in the United States, NPR, Odette Yousef, Tuesday, 10 May 2022: “When Sarah Riccardi-Swartz moved from New York City to a small Appalachian town in West Virginia in the fall of 2017, she was searching for an answer to a puzzling question. Why had a group of conservative American Christians converted to Russian Orthodoxy? ‘It’s typically an immigrant faith, so I was really interested in that experience and why it spoke to converts,’ said Riccardi-Swartz, a postdoctoral fellow in the Recovering Truth project at Arizona State University. Riccardi-Swartz’s study focused on a community of mostly former evangelical Christians and Catholics who had joined the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR). The West Virginia location, in addition to having a church parish, was also home to the largest English-speaking Russian Orthodox monastery in the world. Over a year of doing research, Riccardi-Swartz learned that many of these converts had grown disillusioned with social and demographic change in the United States. In ROCOR, they felt they had found a church that has remained the same, regardless of place, time and politics. But Riccardi-Swartz also found strong strains of nativism, white nationalism and pro-authoritarianism, evidenced by strong admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

Republican Missouri Senator Josh Hawley’s Move to Strip Disney’s Copyrights Called ‘Blatantly Unconstitutional,’ Variety, Gene Maddaus, Tuesday, 10 May 2022: “Sen. Josh Hawley introduced a bill on Tuesday that aims to revoke Disney’s copyrights, as Republicans are seeking to outdo each other in attacking the ‘woke’ corporation. Hawley’s bill would dramatically rewrite U.S. copyright law, shortening the total term available to all copyright holders going forward by several decades. It would also seek to retroactively limit Disney’s copyrights, effectively stripping the company of much of its intellectual property, in a move that would face several legal obstacles. ‘That is a blatantly unconstitutional taking of property without compensation,’ said Prof. Paul Goldstein, an intellectual property expert at Stanford Law School. Hawley’s move comes on the heels of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who signed a bill last month that aims to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement District, a 40-square-mile area that Disney controls in Orlando. DeSantis took the action in retaliation for Disney’s opposition to the Parental Rights in Education bill — dubbed ‘Don’t Say Gay’ by its opponents — that restricts classroom discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Republican Senator Rick Scott of Florida demands Biden resign, calling him ‘incoherent, incapacitated, and confused’ as the president slams Scott’s tax hike proposal, Business Insider, Bryan Metzger and Joseph Zeballos-Roig, Tuesday, 10 May 2022: “In an extraordinary escalation of rhetoric, Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida called on Tuesday for President Joe Biden to resign over his handling of inflation, arguing that the president is ‘unwell’ and that it would be the ‘most effective’ way to handle the crisis. ‘Let’s be honest here. Joe Biden is unwell. He’s unfit for office. He’s incoherent, incapacitated and confused,’ said Scott in a blistering statement. ‘He doesn’t know where he is half the time. He’s incapable of leading and he’s incapable of carrying out his duties. Period. Everyone knows it. No one is willing to say it,’ he added. ‘But we have to, for the sake of the country. Joe Biden can’t do the job.’ The heated rhetoric, common among House Republicans but unusual for a US senator, came ahead of a speech in which Biden addressed inflation while slamming Scott’s proposal, seeking to tie it to the rest of the Republican Party. The president made a fresh pitch for parts of his stalled economic agenda. Those measures included raising taxes on corporations and cutting the cost of prescription drugs.”


Wednesday, 11 May 2022:


Finland’s president to address NATO membership; European Union fails to agree on embargo of Russian oil, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Annabelle Timsit, Amy Cheng, Andrew Jeong, Ellen Francis, Jennifer Hassan, Paulina Firozi, Brittany Shammas, and Reis Thebault, Wednesday, 11 May 2022: “Russian President Vladimir Putin has sought to justify his invasion of Ukraine by citing the possibility of NATO expansion, but now, more than 11 weeks into the war, the military alliance could grow by two, with Sweden and Finland poised to apply for membership and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto expected to announce Thursday his position on joining. If Niinisto voices support, it would mark a significant step toward the alliance for Finland, which shares an 800-mile border with Russia. Officials have said the two countries could apply in concert, and the United Kingdom on Wednesday signed security agreements with both Finland and Sweden, promising military support if Russia attacks — a move that would aid them if Moscow retaliates during the accession process. The Kremlin said it was monitoring closely the prospect of NATO enlargement. Elsewhere in Europe, diplomats failed to make a deal on a long-sought Russian oil embargo. The European Union, which proposed the ban last week, would like to cut off one of Moscow’s key sources of funding, but Hungary has objected, and talks on Wednesday again ended without an agreement.

  • The Senate is expected to vote in the coming days on a nearly $40 billion aid package for Ukraine that the House overwhelmingly approved Tuesday night.
  • Ukraine said it would stop the transit of some Russian gas running through its borders into Europe starting Wednesday morning local time.
  • Ukraine is willing to turn over Russian prisoners in exchange for the evacuation of injured fighters at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, a top official said Wednesday.
  • Ukraine’s prosecutor general announced Wednesday that a Russian soldier in custody will be the first to stand trial for an alleged war crime during the conflict. The 21-year-old is accused of killing an unarmed 62-year-old civilian by the side of a road in a village in the Sumy region of northeastern Ukraine in late February.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 77 of the War in Ukraine. Some experts say that Putin is calculating that Western leaders will tire of the protracted struggle before he does, especially if the price is turbocharged inflation and energy shortages. The New York Times, Wednesday, 11 March 2022: “The West united against Russia’s war on Ukraine more swiftly and solidly than almost anyone had expected. But as the war settles into a prolonged conflict, one that could rumble on for months or even years, it is testing the resolve of Western countries, with European and American officials questioning whether the rising economic toll will erode their solidarity over time. So far, the fissures are mostly superficial: Hungary’s refusal to sign on to an embargo of Russian oil, thwarting the European Union’s effort to impose a continentwide ban; restiveness in Paris with the Biden administration’s aggressive goal of militarily weakening the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin; a beleaguered President Biden blaming sky-high food and gas prices on a Putin price hike. Alongside those tensions, there are further signs of solidarity: Finland and Sweden on Wednesday edged closer to joining NATO, with Britain offering both countries security assurances to gird against the Russian threat. In Washington, the House voted 368 to 57 on Tuesday in favor of a nearly $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. Yet Russia’s tanks rolled across the Ukrainian frontier just 76 days ago, the blink of an eye in the scheme of history’s forever wars. As the fighting grinds on, the cascading effect on supply chains, energy pipelines and agricultural harvests will be felt more acutely at gas pumps and on supermarket shelves. Mr. Putin, some experts say, is calculating that the West will tire before Russia does of a long twilight struggle for Ukraine’s contested Donbas region, especially if the price for the West’s continued support is turbocharged inflation rates, energy disruptions, depleted public finances and fatigued populations.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 11), NPR, NPR Staff, Wednesday, 11 May 2022: “As Wednesday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: Ukrainian officials are raising alarms about the civilians and last soldiers remaining in the bombed-out southern city of Mariupol. Russian troops control the area, but Ukrainian forces have taken their last stand for weeks in the city’s Azovstal steel plant. Two of their spouses met with Pope Francis, hoping for his help arranging an evacuation of the Ukrainian troops. All civilians are believed to have been evacuated from Azovstal by the United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross. Ukraine is opening its first war crimes trial of a Russian soldier, accused of killing a civilian on Feb. 28 in a village 180 miles east of Kyiv. Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova identified the soldier as 21-year-old Vadim Shishimarin — a member of the elite 4th Guards Tank Division — and said he is in custody in Ukraine. Congress is preparing a $39.8 billion package to maintain U.S. support for Ukrainethe latest round of funding in a bipartisan effort to help the country repel Russia’s invasion without committing U.S. troops to a deadly war. The House of Representatives has approved the package, and the Senate is expected to quickly do so as well and send it on for President Biden’s signature. Russian gas shipments to Europe through Ukraine were disrupted for the first time since the war began. Ukraine’s pipeline operator halted Russian shipments of natural gas through a key hub in the country’s east, citing Russian occupation and fighting in the area. Ukraine said it was trying to reroute the gas but Russian gas giant Gazprom said switching paths was too complicated. A fan-favorite band from Ukraine advanced to the Eurovision grand final. The three member rap-folk band Kalush Orchestra — known for their colorful traditional clothing, pink bucket hat and energetic breakdancer — is favored to win the European song contest on Saturday.”

4 Takeaways From Tuesday’s Primaries in Nebraska and West Virginia. It was a mixed night for Trump-endorsed candidates, with fresh evidence of an urban-rural divide within the Republican Party. The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Wednesday, 11 May 2022: “A federal candidate backed by former President Donald J. Trump won a contested primary for the second consecutive week on Tuesday, as Representative Alex Mooney resoundingly defeated Representative David McKinley in West Virginia in the first incumbent-vs.-incumbent primary race of 2022. But Mr. Trump’s endorsement scorecard took a hit in Nebraska, where his preferred candidate for governor, Charles W. Herbster, lost in a three-way race to Jim Pillen, a University of Nebraska regent who had the backing of the departing Gov. Pete Ricketts.” See also, Republican voters in Nebraska on Tuesday rejected a candidate for governor accused of sexually assaulting multiple women, nominating University of Nebraska regent Jim Pillen over Charles Herbster, an agribusiness executive supported by former president Donald Trump. In West Virginia, Rep. Alex Mooney prevailed in a Republican primary contest against fellow congressman David B. McKinley — a win for Trump, who endorsed Mooney and campaigned for him. The Washington Post, David Weigel, Wednesday, 11 May 2022: “The mixed results for the former president came in contests pitting him against local Republican leaders. They served as the latest test of his influence on the selection of GOP nominees in the midterms. Herbster’s defeat in Nebraska, after a nasty and expensive intraparty battle, dealt Trump a rare blow in a conservative state he won handily twice. With most of the vote tallied in both contests, the Associated Press called the races for Mooney and Pillen. McKinley’s loss also meant the ouster one of the few House Republicans who voted for President Biden’s infrastructure bill. Herbster, who was endorsed by Trump, has been accused by eight women of touching them inappropriately; two have spoken on the record to the Nebraska Examiner about Herbster doing so at a Republican fundraiser in 2019. Herbster has denied the allegations. Pillen was endorsed by term-limited Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) and much of the state’s Republican establishment.”

Florida judge says he’ll block Governor Ron DeSantis’ redistricting plan, Associated Press, Wednesday, 11 May 2022: “A congressional map approved by Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and drawn by his staff is unconstitutional because it breaks up a district where Black voters can choose their representatives, a state judge said Wednesday. Leon County Circuit Judge Layne Smith said he would issue a formal order Thursday or Friday to keep the maps from taking effect in November’s election. He made it clear he would rule in favor of voting rights groups challenging the maps. Smith said the order will likely replace the DeSantis map with one of two that the Legislature included in a bill and sent to DeSantis in March. The governor vetoed the bill and later called the Legislature back into special session. The Republican-dominated House and Senate chose not to draw a new map, and instead passed the DeSantis map. The challenge focuses on a north Florida district now held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson. The district runs from Jacksonville west more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) to Gadsden County and nearly half of its population is Black. ‘The judge recognizes that this map is unlawful and diminishes African Americans’ ability to elect representatives of their choice,’ Lawson said in a statement emailed to news outlets. ‘DeSantis is wrong for enacting this Republican-leaning map that is in clear violation of the U.S. and state constitutions.'” See also, A judge in Florida says he will block Republicans’ new congressional map. The final decision on the map, which would give Republicans a considerable advantage in the state, could ultimately lie with the State Supreme Court. The New York Times, Patricia Mazzei, Wednesday, 11 May 2022: “A state judge in Florida said on Wednesday that an aggressively drawn congressional map adopted by Republicans was unconstitutional because it diminished Black voters’ electoral power. After a hearing, Judge J. Layne Smith of the Leon County Circuit Court said from the bench that he would issue a formal order on Thursday or Friday blocking the map, which has been challenged by several voting rights groups. The administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, will appeal.”

Judge Lifts Contempt Order Against Trump in Civil Inquiry. The former president must pay a $110,000 fine that accumulated during the two-week contempt period and meet other conditions or the order will be reinstated, a judge said. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich and Ben Protess, Wednesday, 11 May 2022: “Donald J. Trump was released from a judicial order holding him in contempt of court on Wednesday, ending an embarrassing two-week period for the former president, whose business practices are under civil investigation by the New York state attorney general. A New York State judge, Arthur F. Engoron, held Mr. Trump in contempt late last month after finding that he had failed to comply with the terms of a December subpoena sent by the attorney general, Letitia James, requesting documents from his personal files. The judge ordered Mr. Trump to pay $10,000 a day until he complied, leading to a $110,000 penalty. On Wednesday, Justice Engoron withdrew the contempt order, but set a few conditions, including requiring Mr. Trump to pay the fine. The judge ruled that if Mr. Trump and his company did not meet the conditions by May 20, he would reinstate the contempt order and retroactively apply the $10,000-a-day fine.”

All Republicans and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia Block a Senate Bill to Guarantee Abortion Rights Nationwide, The New York Times, Annie Karni, Wednesday, 11 May 2022: “Democrats tried and failed on Wednesday to push forward legislation to guarantee abortion rights nationwide, as Republicans and one Democrat in the Senate blocked an effort to enshrine the landmark Roe v. Wade precedent in federal law. With 51 senators opposed and 49 in support, Democrats fell short of the 60 votes they would have needed to take up sweeping legislation to ensure abortion access and explicitly bar a wide array of restrictions. The action came after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion thrust the issue into the political spotlight, suggesting that the court may be on the brink of overturning the nearly 50-year-old ruling that legalized abortion, and leaving states to decide whether women would have the right to terminate their pregnancies. Republicans, who unanimously opposed the measure, were joined by one Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia. Mr. Manchin, who opposes abortion rights, said the legislation was overly broad, noting that it would go substantially further than simply codifying Roe and warning that it would ‘expand abortion.’ The resulting vote showed that a majority does not now exist in the Senate to support maintaining legal abortion nationwide. Democrats who supported the bill framed it as a call to action, ahead of midterm elections, for voters who support abortion rights to elect likeminded candidates who will preserve them. ‘This vote clearly suggests that the Senate is not where the majority of Americans are on this issue,’ said Vice President Kamala Harris, who appeared on the Senate dais to open the vote in a symbolic show of support by the White House. ‘A priority for all that care about this issue — the priority — should be to elect pro-choice leaders.’ The outcome of the vote was never in doubt, given the 50-to-50 split in the Senate and the deep partisan divide over abortion rights. But Democrats pressed ahead anyway, hoping that the vote would reinforce their political message and further their efforts to portray Republicans as extremists. Still, Democrats’ failure to advance the bill capped a calculated and yearslong Republican effort, across all levels of government, to chip away at abortion rights, by electing lawmakers who oppose them, installing judges at the state and federal levels who are hostile to them and pressing forward with legislation in states around the nation to strictly limit them and test the boundaries of Roe. Democrats, by contrast, appeared to have little in the way of a plan for what would come next now that their legislative path to preserve abortion rights is effectively closed off, except to frame the stakes for voters who they hoped would be moved to punish Republicans.” See also, All Republicans and one Democrat block Senate bill to codify nationwide right to abortion. Women’s Health Protection Act failed as expected, but Democrats say the move is about mobilizing voters, not passing legislation. The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis and Rachel Roubein, Wednesday, 11 May 2022: “The Senate on Wednesday did not advance legislation that would write a constitutional right to abortion into federal law — a symbolic gesture that Democrats cast as a first step in a larger strategy to mobilize Americans around reproductive rights as the Supreme Court considers overturning Roe v. Wade and related decisions. Wednesday’s vote was 51 to 49 and well short of the 60 votes necessary under Senate rules. It was largely a reprise of a failed February vote staged by Senate Democratic leaders, but the issue has new resonance after last week’s leak of a draft opinion from Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. suggesting that the high court is poised to overturn Roe and curtail guaranteed nationwide access to abortions. All 50 Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) opposed moving ahead on the bill. President Biden said in a statement afterward that the vote ‘runs counter to the will of the majority of American people’ and that congressional Republicans, who cast the Democratic bill as a radical overreach, ‘have chosen to stand in the way of Americans’ rights to make the most personal decisions about their own bodies, families and lives.’ Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and other Democrats have acknowledged that the move was about mobilizing voters, not passing legislation in a Congress where Democrats hold majorities but do not have the votes to defeat Republican filibusters or change the Senate rules to eliminate them. ‘Elect more pro-choice Democrats if you want to protect a woman’s freedom and right to choose,’ Schumer said after the vote. ‘Elect more MAGA Republicans if you want to see a nationwide ban on abortion, if you want to see doctors and women arrested, if you want to see no exceptions for rape or incest.'” See also, Assessing the Claims in the Alito Draft Opinion Overturning Roe v. Wade, The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Wednesday, 11 May 2022: “The leaked draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade cited claims frequently made by opponents of abortion. The opinion, written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., at times presents those assertions as indisputable facts while omitting context and counterarguments. The Supreme Court confirmed last week that the draft was authentic but cautioned that it was not final. According to Politico, which first published the draftno other versions have been circulated inside the court. In the nearly 100-page decision, Justice Alito made or quoted assertions about fetal development, abortion procedures and international laws that have been disputed or are open to interpretation.”

Conservative Lawyer John Eastman Pressed Pennsylvania Legislator to Throw Out Biden Votes. The lawyer argued that mail ballots in Pennsylvania in the 2020 election could be culled in a way that would reverse President Trump’s defeat in an electorally critical state. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 11 May 2022: “Even by the standards of other ideas promoted by the conservative lawyer John Eastman to keep President Donald J. Trump in the White House after his election loss in 2020, a newly revealed strategy he proposed to take votes from Joseph R. Biden Jr. in Pennsylvania stands out as especially brazen. Mr. Eastman pressed a Pennsylvania state lawmaker in December 2020 to carry out a plan to strip Mr. Biden of his win in that state by applying a mathematical equation to accepting the validity of mail ballots, which were most heavily used by Democrats during the pandemic, according to emails from Mr. Eastman released under a public records request by the University of Colorado Boulder, which employed him at the time. The emails were the latest evidence of just how far Mr. Trump and his allies were willing to go in the weeks after Election Day to keep him in power — complete with anti-democratic plans to install fake pro-Trump electors and reject the votes of Biden supporters. Mr. Eastman would go on to champion the idea that Vice President Mike Pence could unilaterally block congressional certification of Mr. Biden’s Electoral College victory, an idea Mr. Pence rejected even as Mr. Trump was promoting the protests that turned into the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. On Dec. 4, 2020, using his university email account, Mr. Eastman wrote to State Representative Russell H. Diamond, Republican of Pennsylvania, with plans for the legislature to appoint pro-Trump electors. He suggested that a mathematical equation could be applied to the vote tallies to reject mail-in ballots for candidates at ‘a prorated amount.'”

Biden waives executive privilege for new set of Trump records. The president has authorized the National Archives and Records Administration to hand over an eighth tranche of presidential records from the Trump White House to the House committee investigating the January 6 attack. The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Wednesday, 11 May 2022: “President Biden has authorized the National Archives and Records Administration to hand over an eighth tranche of presidential records from the Trump White House to the House committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. In a letter released Wednesday by the National Archives, Biden again declined to assert executive privilege over the records — the latest batch sought by the committee after the Supreme Court rejected former president Donald Trump’s bid to block such releases. The new letter is in line with the Biden administration’s decision to err on the side of disclosure, given the gravity of the events in the Jan. 6 attack by a pro-Trump mob. The National Archives has already turned over hundreds of pages of documents to the committee, and the latest set contains approximately 23,000 emails and attachments.”

Biden pulls 3 offshore oil lease sales, curbing new drilling this year, The Washington Post, Anna Phillips, Wednesday, 12 May 2022: “The Interior Department confirmed Wednesday that it will not hold three oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska that had been scheduled to take place, taking millions of acres off the auction block. The decision, which comes as U.S. gas prices have reached record highs, effectively ends the possibility of the federal government holding a lease sale in coastal waters this year. The Biden administration is poised to let the nationwide offshore drilling program expire next month without a new plan in place. While President Biden has spoken in recent weeks about the need to supply oil and gas to Europe so those nations can stop importing energy from Russia in light of the ongoing war in Ukraine, the move would mark a victory for climate activists intent on curbing U.S. fossil fuel leasing. Barring unexpected action, the current five-year offshore drilling program will lapse at the end of June. Interior cannot hold any new oil and gas lease sales until it has completed a replacement plan. But though the federal government is legally obligated to prepare one, the administration has not released its proposal — nor have officials said when it might be coming.”


Thursday, 12 May 2022:


Russia responds to Finland’s NATO plan with threats of retaliation, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Paulina Firozi, Marisa Iati, Ellen Francis, Amy Cheng, Annabelle Timsit, and Jaclyn Peiser, Thursday, 12 May 2022: “Russia’s war in Ukraine, which began 11 weeks ago, is driving a dramatic expansion of the NATO military alliance, with Finland announcing Thursday that it intends to apply and Sweden expected to follow suit soon, marking a tectonic shift in the European security order and a significant setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has threatened retaliation. Finland’s president and prime minister endorsed NATO membership in a statement, the first step toward a formal application for a country that shares an 800-mile border with Russia and has long been militarily nonaligned. The White House has said it would strongly support both Finland and Sweden’s bids for accession. Moscow, meanwhile, has raged against the Western alliance’s potential enlargement, with Russian officials vowing ‘retaliatory steps’ to ‘balance the situation.’

  • The U.N. Human Rights Council voted overwhelmingly Thursday to expand its investigation of alleged rights abuses by Russian forces, including potential war crimes.
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) single-handedly held up the Senate’s vote on nearly $40 billion in aid for Ukraine, delaying the bill’s approval until at least next week.
  • More than 6 million people have fled Ukraine since Russian forces invaded, according to the latest data from the United Nations’ refugee agency.
  • European Union leaders are planning to assess Ukraine’s application for E.U. membership in June, according to the French Foreign Ministry.
  • Ukraine’s deputy prime minister said the country is continuing negotiations to rescue 38 wounded fighters remaining in the embattled Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 78 of the War in Ukraine? Neutral Finland’s leaders unequivocally said they intend to seek membership in N.A.T.O., with Sweden expected to do the same, inviting new threats from Moscow. The New York Times, Friday, 12 May 2022: “President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has said stopping NATO’s expansion helped drive him to invade Ukraine. But on Thursday, Finland declared its unequivocal intention to join, not only upending Mr. Putin’s plan, but also placing the alliance’s newest prospective member on Russia’s northern doorstep. The declaration by Finland’s leaders that they will join NATO — with expectations that neighboring Sweden would soon do the same — could now reshape a strategic balance in Europe that has prevailed for decades. It is the latest example of how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine 11 weeks ago has backfired on Mr. Putin’s intentions. Russia reacted angrily, with Mr. Putin’s chief spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, saying the addition of Finland and Sweden to NATO would not make Europe safer. Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Dmitry Polyanskiy, appeared to go further, saying in an interview with a British news site he posted on Twitter that as NATO members, the two Nordic countries ‘become part of the enemy and they bear all the risks.’ Finland, long known for such implacable nonalignment that ‘Finlandization’ became synonymous with neutrality, had been signaling that Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine was giving the Finns a reason to join NATO. But Thursday was the first time Finland’s leaders said publicly that they definitely intended to join, making it all but certain that Russia would share an 810-mile border with a NATO country. The addition of Finland and Sweden to NATO carries significant risks of elevating prospects of war between Russia and the West, under the alliance’s underlying principle that an attack on one is an attack on all.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 12), NPR, NPR Staff, Thursday, 12 May 2022: “As Thursday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: Finland announced that it wants to join NATO. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted the country, which shares an 830-mile border with Russia, to shift from its long history of neutrality and military nonalignment. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called Finland’s entry into NATO a threat to Russia. In a recent poll, nearly three-quarters of Finns supported joining the military alliance. Finland is already a member of the European Union and has been a NATO partner since 1994. Siemens is leaving Russia after nearly 170 years. The German industrial giant put all new business and international deliveries in Russia and Belarus on hold at the start of the war. Now it says it will exit the Russian market entirely, calling the decision a direct consequence of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Siemens employs some 3,000 people in Russia, according to Reuters. Most of its business there involves service work on high-speed trains. The Russian-installed government in the Ukrainian port city of Kherson will ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to annex the area, according to Russian state media. It’s the latest evidence that Russia wants to claim more territory in Ukraine. In response, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser in the Ukrainian president’s office, vowed: ‘The Ukrainian army will liberate Kherson.’ The U.N. Human Rights Council voted in a special session to investigate possible rights abuses in northern Ukraine. China and Eritrea voted against the resolution. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet referred to ‘egregious human rights violations that have occurred’ in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions. The U.N. suspended Russia from its top human rights body last month.”

Prosecutors Pursue Inquiry Into Trump’s Handling of Classified Material. A federal grand jury has issued at least one subpoena, and investigators are seeking interviews in the case of sensitive documents that ended up at the former president’s Florida home. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt, Thursday, 12 May 2022: “Federal prosecutors have begun a grand jury investigation into whether classified White House documents that ended up at former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida home were mishandled, according to two people briefed on the matter. The intensifying inquiry suggests that the Justice Department is examining the role of Mr. Trump and other officials in his White House in their handling of sensitive materials during the final stages of his administration. In recent days, the Justice Department has taken a series of steps showing that its investigation has progressed beyond the preliminary stages. Prosecutors issued a subpoena to the National Archives and Records Administration to obtain the boxes of classified documents, according to the two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. The authorities have also made interview requests to people who worked in the White House in the final days of Mr. Trump’s presidency, according to one of the people. The investigation is focused on the discovery by the National Archives in January that at the end of Mr. Trump’s term he had taken to his home at the Mar-a-Lago resort 15 boxes from the White House that contained government documents, mementos, gifts and letters. After the boxes were returned to the National Archives, its archivists found documents containing ‘items marked as classified national security information,’ the agency told Congress in February. In April, it was reported that federal authorities were in the preliminary stages of investigating the handling of the classified documents.” See also, Investigators have begun conducting interviews, and a federal grand jury has issued a subpoena, as part of the Justice Department’s investigation into how 15 boxes of government documents–some marked classified–made their way to President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Jacqueline Alemany, and Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 12 May 2022: “The subpoena and interviews are signs that the Justice Department investigation, which was first reported by The Washington Post last month, is moving forward, with potential legal or political consequences for Trump or others involved in the handling of the government materials. One person familiar with the matter, who like the others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said investigators had quizzed some former Trump White House aides about the boxes and how they were prepared; another person said investigators were still making interview requests of those involved. The subpoena was issued to the National Archives and Records Administration, a third person familiar with the matter said. Mishandling classified materials is a federal crime, though substantiating charges in such cases can be difficult. The FBI often investigates to determine who might have seen sensitive government information, and prevent it from spreading further.”

The January 6 House Committee Investigating the Violent Attack on the Capitol by Trump Supporters Subpoenas 5 Republicans, Including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Emily Cochrane, Thursday, 12 May 2022: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol issued subpoenas on Thursday to five Republican members of Congress, including Representative Kevin McCarthy, the minority leader, a significant escalation as it digs deeper into the role Republicans played in attempts to overturn the 2020 election. The panel’s move was an extraordinary step in the annals of congressional investigations — a committee targeting sitting lawmakers, including a top party leader, who have refused to cooperate in a major inquiry into the largest attack on the Capitol in centuries. It reflected the belief among investigators that a group of Republican members of Congress loyal to former President Donald J. Trump had played crucial roles in the events that led to the assault on their own institution, and may have hidden what they know about Mr. Trump’s intentions and actions before, during and after the attack. Mr. McCarthy, the Californian who is in line to be speaker if his party wins the House majority in November, had a heated phone call with Mr. Trump during the riot, in which he implored the president to call off the mob invading the Capitol in his name. When Mr. Trump declined, according to Representative Jaime Herrera Buetler, a Washington Republican who has said Mr. McCarthy recounted the exchange to her, Mr. Trump sided with the rioters, saying, ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.’ Mr. McCarthy also told fellow Republican leaders privately days later that Mr. Trump had conceded in another phone call that he bore ‘some responsibility’ for the attack. The panel also issued subpoenas for other Republicans who it said played central roles in the former president’s scheme to use Congress to help him overturn the 2020 election. Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania coordinated a plan to try to replace the acting attorney general after he resisted Mr. Trump’s false claims of widespread voting fraud. Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, one of Mr. Trump’s most outspoken defenders, was deeply involved in the effort to invalidate the election results. Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama was a ringleader of the Republican effort to lodge formal challenges to the counting of electoral votes from battleground states on Jan. 6, 2021, and has said Mr. Trump has pressured him in the months since to help reinstate him to the presidency. The committee also summoned Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, the former leader of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus who tried to persuade state legislators to join Mr. Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election.” See also, January 6 panel subpoenas 5 House Republicans, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Jacqueline Alemany, Leign Ann Caldwell, and Marianna Sotomayor, Thursday, 12 May 2022: “The U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Thursday announced that it subpoenaed five Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), after they refused to cooperate with the panel’s inquiry. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the select committee, said that the panel subpoenaed McCarthy and Reps. Mo Brooks (Ala.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Scott Perry (Pa.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio). The move marks a significant escalation in the committee’s efforts to obtain information related to lawmakers’ communications with President Donald Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows before, during and after the attack. All five of the Republican lawmakers subpoenaed Thursday have declined to voluntarily provide information to the committee.” See also, January 6 House committee issues subpoenas to 5 House Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, CNN Politics, Annie Grayer, Ryan Nobles, and Zachary Cohen, Thursday, 12 May 2022: “The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol is taking the extraordinary step of sending subpoenas to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and four other Republican lawmakers who have rejected the panel’s requests to voluntarily cooperate. In addition to McCarthy, the Democrat-led panel is subpoenaing Republican Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Lawmakers on the panel have been weighing whether to subpoena their Republican colleagues for months, wrestling with whether they had the constitutional right to do so, and debating if they wanted to set such a precedent. And with hearings less than a month away, the panel is facing a ticking clock to get all the information it can.”

Congressional Report Says Meatpackers Misled Public and Influenced Trump Administration During Covid. The report claims that meatpacking companies issued ‘baseless’ warnings about food shortages and influenced government decisions to keep plants open early in the pandemic. The New York Times, Linda Qui, Thursday, 12 May 2022: “The country’s largest meatpackers successfully lobbied the Trump administration in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic to keep processing plants open despite knowing the health risks to their workers, according to a congressional report released on Thursday. The report, prepared by a select House committee, describes the extent of the meat industry’s influence on the administration’s response to the pandemic: Companies stoked ‘baseless’ fears of an imminent meat shortage in an effort to prevent plant closures. The legal department of Tyson Foods drafted the initial version of an executive order President Donald J. Trump issued in April 2020 declaring processing plants as ‘critical infrastructure.’ And industry concerns prompted the government to adjust its federal recommendations on worker safety at a meatpacking plant. Representative James E. Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina and the chairman of the committee, said the findings underlined the companies’ interest in prioritizing production over the health of their workers. ‘The shameful conduct of corporate executives pursuing profit at any cost during a crisis and government officials eager to do their bidding regardless of resulting harm to the public must never be repeated,’ he said in a statement. About 59,000 workers at meatpacking plants contracted the virus from March 1, 2020, to Feb. 1, 2021, and 269 eventually died, the committee said in October.” See also, Meat industry hyped ‘baseless’ shortage to keep plants open amid covid. A House panel alleges that Tyson and other meat processors heavily influenced Trump’s executive order that compelled plants to keep operating. The Washington Post, Taylor Telford, Thursday, 12 May 2022: “The biggest players in the U.S. meat industry pressed ‘baseless’ claims of beef and pork shortages early in the pandemic to persuade the Trump White House to keep processing plants running, disregarding the coronavirus risks that eventually killed at least 269 workers, according to a special House committee investigating the nation’s pandemic response. In a report released Thursday, the committee alleges that Tyson Foods’s legal team prepared a draft with input from other companies that became the basis for an executive order to keep the plants open that the Trump administration issued in April 2020, making it difficult for workers to stay home. ‘Meatpacking companies knew the risk posed by the coronavirus to their workers and knew it wasn’t a risk that the country needed them to take,’ according to the report by the select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis. ‘They nonetheless lobbied aggressively — successfully enlisting [the U.S. Agriculture Department] as a close collaborator in their efforts — to keep workers on the job in unsafe conditions, to ensure state and local health authorities were powerless to mandate otherwise, and to be protected against legal liability for the harms that would result.’ The report alleges the nation’s largest meatpackers and industry trade groups repeatedly misled the public when they warned that any slowdown in their operations posed an imminent threat to the nation’s meat supplies. But ‘these fears were baseless,’ investigators wrote.”


Friday, 13 May 2022:


U.S. seeks clarity after Turkey signals opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, The Washington Post, Meryl Kornfield, Michael Birnbaum, David L. Stern, Marisa Iati, Ellen Francis, Andrew Jeong, Amy Cheng, Andrea Salcedo, and Tobi Raji, Friday, 13 May 2022: “The United States is seeking clarification after Turkey’s president suggested Friday that he was reluctant about Sweden and Finland potentially joining the NATO defense alliance. The Turkish warning came a day after a landmark recommendation from Finland’s leaders that the country join NATO and as Swedish leaders appeared ready to follow their lead this weekend. ‘Certainly this will be a conversation that will continue over the weekend,’ a U.S. official said as Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepares to travel to Germany on Saturday for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers that will include the top diplomats of Finland, Sweden — and Turkey. On Friday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for the first time since the war began, urging an immediate cease-fire. Britain announced new sanctions against the family of Russian President Vladimir Putin, while in Kyiv the first trial of a Russian soldier for alleged war crimes began. Shelling across Ukraine continued to claim lives.

  • Ukrainian forces are ‘frustrating’ Russian attempts to make gains by preventing Russian groups from crossing the Siverskyi Donets River to fully consolidate their forces, the Pentagon said.
  • A Russian-owned energy company, citing nonpayment, said it planned to halt electricity sales to Finland on Saturday in what appeared to be Russian blowback over the NATO plans.
  • Ukraine is entering a ‘new, long phase of the war’ as weapons supplies from Western allies gradually increase, the country’s defense minister said.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 79 of the War in Ukraine, The New York Times, Friday, 13 May 2022: “President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia faced fresh setbacks Friday over the Ukraine invasion, as Sweden became the second neutral country in two days to move toward joining NATO and the West devised ways to reroute Ukrainian grain past a Russian naval blockade. New signs of a Russian military retreat near Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, also added to Mr. Putin’s challenges, appearing to subvert or at least delay the Kremlin’s goal of encircling Ukrainian forces concentrated in eastern Ukraine. But for Mr. Putin, the biggest vexation may have been the most personal: Britain slapped sanctions on his ex-wife, Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, on a former Olympic gymnast long rumored to be his girlfriend, Alina Kabaeva, and on three cousins: Igor, Mikhail and Roman Putin.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 13), NPR, NPR Staff, Friday, 13 May 2022: “As Friday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: The first war crimes trial of the war in Ukraine began in Kyiv. A Russian soldier stands accused of fatally shooting an unarmed Ukrainian civilian in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka. The accused, a captured member of a tank unit, faces up to life in prison. Another first during the war: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Austin pressed for an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine and stressed the importance of maintaining lines of communication, the Pentagon said. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the phone call was ‘at the initiative of the American side,’ Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reported, adding, ‘The sides discussed current issues of international security, including the situation in Ukraine.’ A Moscow court handed U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner another month of pretrial detention in Russia. The 31-year-old WNBA and Olympics star was arrested in February at the Moscow airport, where authorities allegedly found cannabis vape oil in her luggage. The Biden administration says Griner is being wrongfully detained. Her lawyer, Alexander Boikov, tells NPR that Griner has ‘been treated OK and has no concerns or complaints about her health.’  Ukrainian forces repelled Russia’s attempt to cross a key river into eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, according to British intelligence. Russia suffered losses trying to cross the Siverskyi Donets river, the British Defense Ministry said on Twitter, including ‘significant armoured manoeuvre elements’ of at least one battalion tactical group. The European Union’s foreign affairs chief announced the bloc would provide another 500 million euros ($520.13 million) in military support to Ukraine. Speaking to reporters at a G-7 meeting, Josep Borrell said the new tranche would increase the EU’s total Ukraine aid to 2 billion euros ($2.08 billion). Borrell was also confident the bloc would soon reach a deal on a Russian oil embargo. Ukraine is heavily favored to win Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest, which takes place in Turin, Italy, at 3 p.m. Eastern time. The Kalush Orchestra will perform a song incorporating traditional folk melodies, costumes and instruments alongside vigorous rap breaks. The band will face competition from two dozen other finalists. Russia is banned from this year’s competition.

Texas Supreme Court Ruled That Investigations of Parents With Transgender Children for Possible Child Abuse Could Continue. The ruling reversed lower-court decisions that had temporarily halted the inquiries statewide. The New York Times, J. David Goodman, Friday, 13 May 2022: “[T]he court said neither Mr. Abbott nor the attorney general, Ken Paxton, had the authority to order such investigations, and it left in place a lower court order halting the investigation into the plaintiffs in the suit, a family and a doctor, acknowledging that the inquiry would cause ‘irreparable harm.’ It was not immediately clear whether the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services would continue its other investigations into medical treatments for transgender youth, such as puberty blockers and hormones, that have become a flash point for some conservatives and Republican elected officials. The ruling also indicated that were any inquiries to resume, families could seek to halt them in court…. Advocates for transgender people saw a kind of split decision. ‘It could have been worse,’ said Andrea Segovia, the policy director for the Transgender Education Network of Texas. But, she added, ‘all the preparations that we were doing in February and March — so that if there is a knock on your door, you know what steps to take — that’s all still relevant.’ The investigations began in February after Mr. Abbott ordered state officials to consider certain medically accepted treatments for transgender youth to be abuse, including hormones and puberty-suppressing drugs.”

We wanted to endorse in Republican primaries this year. We can’t. With abortion rights at stake and right-leaning candidates who can’t agree on who won the 2020 election, The Inquirer Editorial Board has chosen not to endorse a Republican for senate or governor. The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Editorial Board, Friday, 13 May 2022: “With Pennsylvania voters headed to the polls Tuesday to choose the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, it’s as if the primaries are occurring on two different planets. On the Republican side there was a palpable shift, one that seems to have happened between the presidential election on Nov. 3, 2020, and the insurrection in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. It is no secret that this board, for decades, has leaned toward Democrats. And yet we have endorsed Republicans in past elections — including U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick for another term in 2020 and Kevin Brobson in the primary for the state Supreme Court in 2021. Even when a candidate’s views didn’t exactly align with positions taken by this board, we’ve found points of agreement, sustained moments of mutual respect, and an appreciation of the kind of apolitical qualifications that are objectively deserving of praise. Most fundamentally: We were all operating in the same reality. That can’t be said in 2022.”

I Invented Gilead. The Supreme Court Is Making It Real. I thought I was writing fiction in The Handmaid’s Tale. The Atlantic, Margaret Atwood, Friday, 13 May 2022: “In the early years of the 1980s, I was fooling around with a novel that explored a future in which the United States had become disunited. Part of it had turned into a theocratic dictatorship based on 17th-century New England Puritan religious tenets and jurisprudence. I set this novel in and around Harvard University—an institution that in the 1980s was renowned for its liberalism, but that had begun three centuries earlier chiefly as a training college for Puritan clergy. In the fictional theocracy of Gilead, women had very few rights, as in 17th-century New England. The Bible was cherry-picked, with the cherries being interpreted literally. Based on the reproductive arrangements in Genesis—specifically, those of the family of Jacob—the wives of high-ranking patriarchs could have female slaves, or ‘handmaids,’ and those wives could tell their husbands to have children by the handmaids and then claim the children as theirs. Although I eventually completed this novel and called it The Handmaid’s Tale, I stopped writing it several times, because I considered it too far-fetched. Silly me. Theocratic dictatorships do not lie only in the distant past: There are a number of them on the planet today. What is to prevent the United States from becoming one of them? For instance: It is now the middle of 2022, and we have just been shown a leaked opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States that would overthrow settled law of 50 years on the grounds that abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, and is not ‘deeply rooted’ in our ‘history and tradition.’ True enough. The Constitution has nothing to say about women’s reproductive health. But the original document does not mention women at all. Women were deliberately excluded from the franchise. Although one of the slogans of the Revolutionary War of 1776 was ‘No taxation without representation,’ and government by consent of the governed was also held to be a good thing, women were not to be represented or governed by their own consent—only by proxy, through their fathers or husbands. Women could neither consent nor withhold consent, because they could not vote. That remained the case until 1920, when the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, an amendment that many strongly opposed as being against the original Constitution. As it was. Women were nonpersons in U.S. law for a lot longer than they have been persons. If we start overthrowing settled law using Justice Samuel Alito’s justifications, why not repeal votes for women?”


Saturday, 14 May 2022:


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell leads Republican visit to Kyiv; Mariupol rescue talks ‘difficult,’ The Washington Post, Julian Duplain, Amy Cheng, Andrew Jeong, Tobi Raji, Ellen Francis, Victoria Bisset, Marisa Iati, and Timothy Bella, Saturday, 14 May 2022: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed a delegation of Republican senators led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to Kyiv on Saturday, praising the visit as ‘a strong signal of bipartisan support for Ukraine.’ The other GOP senators visible in a video, which shows Zelensky greeting them on a Kyiv street, were John Barrasso (Wyo.), Susan Collins (Maine) and John Cornyn (Tex.). Though the Senate has been delayed in approving nearly $40 billion in additional funding for Ukraine, Zelensky said he was looking forward to ‘the United States’ support for further sanctions.’ Russia’s foreign minister, meanwhile, characterized Western support for Ukraine as a ‘total hybrid war’ against Moscow. The wide-ranging sanctions directed against Russia would have long-lasting consequences, Sergei Lavrov said in a speech. In Mariupol, another round of evacuees left the city after waiting for three days. The Azovstal steel plant continues to be bombarded, Ukrainian fighters said, as Ukrainian officials negotiate with Russia to evacuate 60 medics and ‘seriously wounded’ people. Zelensky described the negotiations as ‘very difficult’ late Friday.

  • Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra has won the Eurovision Song Contest, giving Ukraine the right to host the massively popular spectacle in 2023.
  • Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told Vladimir Putin on Saturday that Russia’s ‘massive invasion of Ukraine’ and its demands late last year that NATO deny membership to former Soviet states ‘have altered the security environment of Finland.’
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is traveling to Berlin to join a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting attended by Sweden and Finland after both countries’ leaders indicated they wanted to join the military alliance.
  • Ukrainian Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said 32 billion hryvnias, or more than $1 billion, was needed to help rebuild the hospitals damaged or destroyed by Russia during the invasion.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 80 of the War in Ukraine. With Finland and Sweden likely to request NATO membership, and Ukraine counterattacking in the east, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is facing more setbacks. Republican senators went to Kyiv to meet with Zelensky. The New York Times, Saturday, 14 May 2022: “For years, President Vladimir V. Putin has viewed the expansion of NATO as an existential threat that would leave Russia hemmed in with Western missiles on its doorstep. Now, Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine seems to be bringing the Russian leader’s nightmare to life, with NATO on the brink of starting its largest potential expansion in nearly two decades. After navigating the postwar era in nonalignment and neutrality, Sweden and Finland are now actively exploring ascension to the military alliance forged in the Cold War, with officials from both countries set to meet with their NATO counterparts on Saturday. Russia lashed out immediately, halting exports of electricity to Finland and promising an unspecified ‘military-technical’ response after warning that the move would pose a clear threat to its own national security. Some analysts were concerned that Russia was laying the groundwork to threaten the deployment of nuclear weapons near the border with Finland. But officials in both Sweden and Finland played down that threat, noting that with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad only 200 miles away, Moscow already has nuclear-capable missiles in easy range. An acceptance of Sweden and Finland into NATO, a process that could take up to a year to finalize, would bring the Western military alliance right to Russia’s 810-mile-long border with Finland and would mark another profound shift to Europe’s strategic landscape brought on by Russia’s war in Ukraine. At the same time, the Pentagon is rotating new troops into Europe to bolster the alliance’s eastern flank, signaling that the temporary troop buildup is likely to become permanent. As Western powers buckled down for what Ukraine’s defense minister called a ‘new, long phase’ in the war, developments on the ground bore out the idea that Ukraine was still fighting Russia doggedly in the east and reporting that it was gaining ground.”

The Buffalo supermarket shooting suspect allegedly posted an apparent manifesto repeatedly citing ‘great replacement’ theory. The manifesto includes dozens of pages of antisemitic and racist memes, repeatedly citing the racist ‘great replacement’ conspiracy theory frequently pushed by white supremacists. NBC News, Ben Collins, Saturday, 14 May 2022: “A manifesto allegedly written and posted by the suspect in a mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket that killed 10 people laid out specific plans to attack Black people and repeatedly cited the ‘great replacement’ theory, the false idea that a cabal is attempting to replace white Americans with nonwhite people through immigration, interracial marriage and, eventually, violence. The manifesto, which appears to have been written by 18-year-old Payton Gendron, included a shared birth date and biographical details with the suspect in custody. The PDF was originally posted to Google Docs at 8:55 p.m. Thursday, two days before the shooting, according to file data accessed by NBC News. Gendron, of Conklin, New York, was arraigned Saturday evening in Buffalo City Court on one count of murder in the first degree, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office said. He was remanded without bail, and a felony hearing was scheduled for Thursday morning, according to the office. The manifesto, which has not been modified since it was posted on Thursday, includes elaborate details of a planned shooting. The document claims the suspect chose Buffalo because it was the city with the highest number of Black people in his vicinity.”


Sunday, 15 May 2022:


Sweden and Finland move toward NATO membership, The Washington Post, John Hudson, Julian Duplain, Annabelle Timsit, Victoria Bisset, Rachel Pannett, Bryan Pietsch, Paulina Firozi, and Hannah Knowles, Sunday, 15 May 2022: “Swedish leaders moved Sunday to join Finland in ending a long-standing military nonalignment, paving the way for an application to join NATO and saying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended the European security landscape. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has endorsed admission for both countries and hailed a potential ‘historic moment.’ Russia has cast any expansion of NATO as a threat, but Finnish President Sauli Niinisto told CNN on Sunday that Russian President Vladimir Putin was ‘calm and cool’ in a call as Finland prepares to apply for membership. Speaking in Berlin on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described broad support for Sweden and Finland’s membership among foreign ministers. But all NATO countries must agree on new members, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized the Nordic nations.

  • Moscow’s forces are working to stave off Ukrainian troops’ advance toward the Russian border and continuing attacks elsewhere in the east, Ukrainian military officials said Sunday.
  • A nearly $40 billion American aid package for Ukraine will be up for full Senate debate in the coming week.
  • Britain’s Defense Ministry says Russia appears to have lost a third of the ground combat force it committed in February.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 81 of the War in Ukraine. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would support a Biden administration move to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. The New York Times, Sunday, 15 May 2022: “The head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said Sunday that the security bloc would grant fast-track membership to Sweden and Finland, raising the pressure on Vladimir V. Putin, who justified his invasion of Ukraine by what he cast as the need to keep the military alliance away from Russia’s borders. ‘President Putin wants Ukraine defeated, NATO down, North America and Europe divided,’ the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said in Berlin after meeting the foreign ministers of the alliance’s members. ‘But Ukraine stands, NATO is stronger than ever, Europe and North America are solidly united.’ Both countries said their applications were imminent. Finland’s Parliament is expected to ratify a NATO application on Monday. And Sweden’s governing Social Democratic Party said Sunday that it would vote in favor of joining NATO — all but guaranteeing that the Nordic nation would end 200 years of neutrality.”

Gunman targeted Black Buffalo neighborhood shaped by decades of segregation, The New York Times, Anushka Patil, Sunday, 15 May 2022: “The high concentration of Black residents on Buffalo’s East Side — which the suspect in Saturday’s mass shooting said was his reason for targeting the area — is a direct result of decades of segregation and systemic racism, researchers have consistently found. One analysis from the University of Michigan, based on data from the 2010 census, found that the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metro area was the nation’s sixth most segregated when ranked specifically by the distribution of Black and white residents. Segregation is also a root cause, according to experts, of why efforts to bring an economic renaissance to Buffalo have done little for Black residents. A University at Buffalo report in 2021 found that living conditions for Black residents of the city, across measures of health, housing, income and education, had improved little and in some cases had declined over the preceding 30 years.” See also, U.S. Racism and the Buffalo Shooting. The gunman seems motivated by a vision of history, pushed by the right, in which U.S. racism never existed and Black people are undeserving takers. The New Yorker, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Sunday, 15 May 2022: “On Saturday, in the parking lot of a neighborhood grocery store, an eighteen-year-old armed with a semi-automatic assault rifle, the N-word emblazoned on its front sight, began shooting. Shots cracked in the air, piercing through an unusually warm eighty-degree spring afternoon in Buffalo, New York. The teen-ager, who was later identified by the police, donned military-esque camouflage, was draped in body armor, and wore a camera to capture his bloody rampage. When the shooting stopped, thirteen people had been hit, ten of them killed. Eleven of those shot were Black. The gunman was captured by the police when he left the grocery store, and, by late Saturday night, he was arraigned on charges of first-degree murder. The shooter is alleged to have posted a hundred-and-eighty-page ‘manifesto’ avowing white-supremacist beliefs. In the hate-filled text, he denounced immigrants and Black people as ‘replacers’ of white people. The notion that white people are being replaced has recently moved from the fringe of far-right politics to mainstream Republican Party politics. The Fox News personality Tucker Carlson has helped to popularize the ideology, and it has dovetailed seamlessly with the rhetoric of the Republican Party, which has insisted on describing the arrival of migrants at the southern border—seeking entry into the U.S. as asylum seekers—as an ‘invasion.’ The shooter rationalized his vicious attack by trying to fit it into this grand, esoteric conspiracy of white replacement through immigration. His manifesto, by contrast, is filled with crudely racist memes about Black Americans. In fact, for all his denunciation of ‘replacers’ in the manifesto, an archive of his posts on the messaging platform Discord, from the past six months, barely mentions immigrants. Instead, he writes prolifically and disparagingly about Black people, whom he incessantly describes with racial slurs. In a search of archived posts beginning in 2021, the word ‘immigrant’ appears twelve times, ‘replacement’ eighteen times, ‘replacer’ twenty-two times, but ‘blacks’ and the N-word each appear a hundred times. The manifesto seems intended to confer a sense of intellectual sophistication on his savage act. But the shooter’s Discord posts are full of sophomoric, even banal stereotypes about Black people—as genetically inferior, as predisposed to crime. The shooter claims inspiration from the white supremacist who murdered fifty-one worshippers at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019. The Christchurch shooter also recorded his massacre and left a manifesto. But, for all of the Buffalo shooter’s professed inspiration from the Christchurch massacre, his actions seem to flow primarily from homegrown resentments. He searched by Zip Code for the largest Black population close to where he lived, in order to ‘kill as many blacks as possible.’ His research led him to a grocery store, on the city’s East Side, along the Jefferson Avenue commercial corridor, running through the heart of Black Buffalo.”


Monday, 16 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: Evacuation of Ukrainian soldiers underway at Mariupol steel plant, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Paulina Firozi, Paulina Villegas, Bryan Pietsch, Annabelle Timsit, Colby Itkowitz, Rachel Pannett, Alex Horton, Mary Ilyushina, and Timothy Bella, Monday, 16 May 2022: “One of the war’s bloodiest and most high-profile battles entered its final phase on Monday, as Ukraine’s military command announced the end of combat operations in Mariupol and began working to evacuate the soldiers who held off Russian forces for weeks at a sprawling steel plant. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the troops as heroes and said, ‘We hope that we will be able to save the lives of our guys.’ A top Ukrainian defense official said more than 260 soldiers have been transported to Russian-controlled territory, including 53 who were ‘seriously wounded’ and taken to a hospital. Moscow and Kyiv will broker a prisoner swap to secure their release, the official said, and efforts are underway to rescue the troops who remain trapped in the plant. Even as Russia came away with an apparent victory in Mariupol, it suffered another setback on the global stage, as Sweden ended 200 years of military nonalignment to join Finland in applying for NATO membership. The Western military alliance is now considering its largest expansion in decades, and the Nordic countries’ neighbors have pledged protection through the accession process in the event of Russian retaliation.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to downplay NATO’s possible expansion, saying he had ‘no problems’ with Sweden and Finland seeking admission.
  • Despite a mostly stalled offensive in eastern Donbas, Russian forces have made modest gains amid heavy fighting in the Donetsk region, the Pentagon said.
  • The U.S. Senate voted to advance a bill that would send nearly $40 billion in additional military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. A final vote will probably be scheduled for this week.
  • McDonald’s said Monday that it would sell its Russian business, seeking a ‘local buyer’ for its 850 restaurants in the country. French automaker Renault Group also said it would pull out of Russia.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 82 of the War in Ukraine, The New York Times, Monday, 16 May 2022: “Ukraine appeared to surrender control of the Azovstal steel complex in Mariupol late Monday, allowing hundreds of its fighters to be taken by bus to Russian-controlled territory and declaring that its combat mission in the city was over. The military ordered the remaining troops who had been sheltering beneath a steel factory there to focus on efforts ‘to save the lives of their personnel.’ President Volodymyr Zelensky said of the last soldiers who had held their positions, ‘We hope to save the lives of our boys.’ More than 200 people, including some that were seriously injured had been evacuated to towns under Russian control, Ukrainian military said, adding that the agreement was for them to be eventually returned to Ukrainian territory. It could not be determined how many soldiers remained inside the plant. The apparent Russian victory at the Azovstal plant was one of the few bright spots for Russia on Monday. Earlier in the day, Mr. Zelensky said that a small group of Ukrainian soldiers had reached the Russian border near Kharkiv — a powerful symbolic moment in Ukraine’s pushback against Russian invaders. And President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia appeared only more isolated, as he met with his five closest international allies. Only one of them spoke up in support of his war. Three months after launching its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has suffered repeated setbacks. After failing to seize the capital, Kyiv, and topple the government, Russian forces regrouped last month for what was meant to be a broad assault in eastern Ukraine, but until Monday they had yet to secure a single major strategic gain even as their losses mount. Now, Russia appears to be focusing on an even narrower objective: widening its holdings in the eastern region of Donbas. But even there, Russian troops’ ability to broadly encircle thousands of Ukrainian troops seems beyond their reach, according to military analysts.

In other developments:

  • Ukraine and its allies continued to put pressure on Moscow on Monday as NATO forces held a large military exercise on Russia’s doorstep in Estonia.

  • Sweden formally announced its decision to seek NATO membership on Monday, joining Finland in what could be the largest expansion of the military alliance in decades.

  • Mr. Putin took a measured tone on Monday in discussing the likely accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO, the latest evidence that he appears to be trying to limit, for now, an escalation of his conflict with the West. NATO’s expansion to include Sweden and Finland poses ‘no direct threat to us,’ he said at a Kremlin summit. ‘But the expansion of military infrastructure to this territory,’ he added, would cause a response that would be ‘based on the threats that are created.’

  • McDonald’s is selling its Russian business. Its move to leave Russia completely, after 32 years there, is a significant departure for a brand whose growth across the world became a symbol of globalization.

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 16), NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 16 May 2022: “As Monday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: More than 260 Ukrainian fighters were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukrainian officials said. The troops have sheltered under the plant for weeks, fighting off a Russian siege. Russia said it had agreed to the evacuation of wounded Ukrainian fighters from the plant. Reuters reported buses carried Ukrainian fighters out of Mariupol and cited a witness as seeing evacuees arrive in Novoazovsk, an area controlled by Russia-backed separatists. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said that the soldiers would come home as part of a prisoner exchange. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a video message that international organizations helped negotiate their release — and that ‘Ukraine needs its heroes alive.’ Ukrainian forces continued to gain ground around the northeast city of Kharkiv, pushing Russian troops close to the Russian border, according to the Pentagon. The Ukrainian military previously said Russian troops were pulling back from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, and the war was entering a new, long-term phase. NATO’s secretary-general said Russia was ‘not achieving its strategic objectives’ and Ukraine could win the war. Intense fighting continued in the southern and eastern regions. Sweden joined Finland in seeking membership in NATO, the trans-Atlantic military alliance. The move changes decades of Finnish policy of neutrality and upends more than two centuries of Swedish policy. Sweden has avoided all military alliances, but like Finland, has also grown closer and closer to NATO over time. McDonald’s is exiting Russia after 32 years, planning to sell its full slate of restaurants to a Russian buyer. The fast-food giant had previously paused its operations in the country days after Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February. Now, McDonald’s will start ‘de-arching’ its Russian restaurants — stripping them of its trademark signs, menus and branding to prepare for a sale. Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra returned home as winners of this weekend’s Eurovision Song ContestThe folk-rap group ended their performance with a plea to help Ukraine, Mariupol and Azovstal. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy marked the victory with a vow to one day host Eurovision in the bombed-out city of Mariupol.”

Messages show Buffalo shooting suspect wrote of plans 5 months ago, The Washington Post, Jon Swaine and Dalton Bennett, Monday, 16 May 2022: “Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old accused of killing 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo on Saturday, wrote in increasing detail of his plans to murder dozens of Black people in statements posted online over the past five months, according to a compilation of messages by a writer who identified himself as Gendron. A review of more than 600 pages of messages by The Washington Post found that Gendron resolved in December to kill those he slurred as ‘replacers,’ and decided in February to target Buffalo’s Tops grocery store based on its local African American population. In March, he performed a reconnaissance-style trip to monitor the store’s security and map out its aisles, the messages show. When a store guard confronted him about why he had repeatedly entered that day, Gendron made excuses and fled in what he described as ‘a close call,’ the messages state. Having identified the supermarket as ‘attack area 1,’ Gendron detailed two additional Buffalo locations as areas at which to ‘shoot all blacks,’ according to the messages, which showed that he had charted routes to each location, worked out the times needed for each shootout and assessed that more than three dozen people in all could be fatally shot. Police confirmed on Monday that they suspected Gendron had intended to attack multiple locations. Also on Monday, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said in a call with various law enforcement officials and community leaders: ‘I want to be clear, for my part, from everything we know, this was a targeted attack, a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.'” See also, Buffalo Shooting: Suspect Lied to Evade a State Red Flag Law. A trove of online messages linked to the suspect also suggest he spent months planning the massacre and espousing racist and antisemitic ideas. The New York Times, Jesse McKinley, Jonah E. Bromwich, Andy Newman, and Chelsia Rose Marcius, Monday, 16 May 2022: “A cache of online postings suggests months of preparation and planning preceded Saturday’s racist massacre in Buffalo and shows how the suspect evaded a state law that could have prevented him from owning a gun. New York’s so-called red-flag law took effect in 2019, allowing judges to bar people believed to be dangerous from possessing firearms. Yet Payton S. Gendron, the 18-year-old man accused of killing 10 people at a Tops supermarket on Saturday, was able to buy an assault-style weapon despite having been held for a mental health-evaluation last year after making a threatening remark at his high school. He described the remark — he responded to a school project question by writing that he wanted to commit a murder-suicide — as a joke, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the case, and was released. But the postings that came to light on Monday make it evident that Mr. Gendron was lying.” See also, Republicans Play on Fears of ‘Great Replacement’ in Bid for Base Voters, The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher and Luke Broadwater, Monday, 16 May 2022: “The mass shooting in Buffalo was the work of a lone gunman but not the product of an isolated ideology. In a manifesto, the suspect detailed how he viewed Black people as ‘replacers’ of white Americans. The massacre at the grocery store on Saturday trained a harsh light on the ‘great replacement theory,’ which the authorities say he used to justify an act of racist violence — and on how that theory has migrated from the far-right fringes of American discourse toward the center of Republican politics. Republicans across the spectrum were quick to denounce the killings. But fewer party leaders appeared willing to break with the politics of nativism and fear the party has embraced to retain the loyalties of right-wing voters inspired by Donald J. Trump. One Republican, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, on Monday called out her colleagues for not doing enough to squash the extremist wing of her own party. ‘House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism,’ Ms. Cheney, the former No. 3 House Republican who was removed from that role over her criticism of Mr. Trump, wrote on Twitter. ‘History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.'” See also, Police say mass shooting at Buffalo supermarket was a racist hate crime, CNN, Eric Levenson, Sarah Jorgensen, Polo Sandoval, and Samantha Beech, Monday, 16 May 2022: “The 18-year-old suspected of opening fire at a Buffalo supermarket Saturday told authorities he was targeting the Black community, according to an official familiar with the investigation. The alleged gunman made disturbing statements describing his motive and state of mind following his arrest, the official said. The statements were clear and filled with hate toward the Black community. Investigators also uncovered other information from search warrants and other methods indicating the alleged shooter was “studying” previous hate attacks and shootings, the official said. The revelation comes a day after a gunman killed 10 people and wounded three others at the Tops Friendly Markets store in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo. Eleven of the people who were shot were Black, officials said. The victims range in age from 20 to 86, police said. Buffalo police identified all 13 victims Sunday.”


Tuesday, 17 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: Ukraine abandons defense of besieged steel plant in Mariupol, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Paulina Firozi, Paulina Villegas, Amy Cheng, Jennifer Hassan, Ellen Francis, Andrew Jeong, and Julian Mark, Tuesday, 17 May 2022: “The fate of hundreds of Ukrainian fighters who had held off Russian forces for weeks at a Mariupol steel plant remained uncertain Tuesday, after Ukraine announced a negotiated surrender that allowed the soldiers to be evacuated into Russian-held territory, potentially ending the bloody and drawn-out battle for complete control of the southeastern port city. Ukrainian soldiers remained at the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works facility, but it was not clear how many; President Volodymyr Zelensky said late Tuesday that ‘the evacuation mission continues.’ Ukrainian officials say they will negotiate a prisoner swap with Moscow to secure the release of the roughly 260 soldiers already taken to Russian territory. The Kremlin signaled that it may interrogate them. Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of Sweden and Finland signed their countries’ applications to join NATO, bringing the Nordic neighbors a step closer to membership. Both are expected to submit their applications this week, marking what would be a significant expansion of the military alliance that Russia has long sought to weaken.

  • Switzerland, with its deep-rooted tradition of neutrality, is considering options to bolster its security amid the war in Ukraine that could bring the country closer to NATO, according to Reuters.
  • President Biden will welcome Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto to the White House on Thursday.
  • Attacks continued in other parts of Ukraine, with the regional governor of Lviv saying early Tuesday that Russian forces shelled a military facility near the border with Poland. Lviv’s mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, said the assault was ‘one of the largest’ on the Lviv region ‘in terms of the number of missiles.’
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 83 of the War in Ukraine, The New York Times, Tuesday, 17 May 2022: “Hundreds of die-hard Ukrainian soldiers who had made a last stand against Russian forces from a Mariupol steel mill faced an uncertain future Tuesday under Kremlin custody after Ukraine’s military ordered them to surrender. The surrender directive, issued late Monday, made the soldiers prisoners and ended the most protracted battle so far of the nearly three-month-old Russian invasion of Ukraine. Even as Russia has struggled on other battlefronts, the surrender at Mariupol solidified one of Russia’s few significant territorial achievements — the conquest of a once-thriving southeast port. The surrender also gave Russia’s state-run media the ingredients for claiming its side was winning. Still, Mariupol has been largely reduced to ruin, Ukrainian officials say that more than 20,000 inhabitants were killed, and the city has come to symbolize the war’s grotesque horrors. By early Tuesday, many of the fighters ensconced in a warren of shelters under the Azovstal steel mill, a Soviet-era complex besieged by the Russians for weeks, had emerged and surrendered. They were transported to Russian-held territory aboard buses emblazoned with ‘Z’ — the Russian emblem for what President Vladimir V. Putin has called his country’s ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine. The Ukrainian authorities said little about the terms of the surrender except to assert that the Ukrainian fighters were heroes and that as prisoners they would soon be exchanged for Russian prisoners held by Ukraine.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 17), NPR, NPR Staff, Tuesday, 17 May 2022: “As Tuesday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: Ukraine’s last stand in Mariupol appeared to be over, as fighters holed up in the Azovstal steel mill laid down arms after an almost three-month Russian siege of the southern port city. Since Monday, more than 260 Ukrainian soldiers — including 53 seriously injured — have been evacuated to Russian-occupied territory in eastern Ukraine. More fighters in the plant’s catacombs await similar evacuation. Russia called it surrender; Ukraine said the fighters had completed their mission, with officials expressing hope they would soon return in a prisoner-of-war exchange. Historically neutral Finland and Sweden moved forward with their bids to join NATO, as Turkey stands in opposition to the plan, which requires unanimous support of all 30 NATO members. This week, Turkey’s foreign minister is slated to meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and President Biden will meet with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. The International Criminal Court dispatched what it called ‘the largest ever single field deployment’ of war-crime investigators to Ukraine. The team includes 42 investigators, forensic experts and support staff to gather potential evidence ‘in a manner that strengthens its admissibility in future proceedings.’ The prosecutor at The Hague-based international tribunal opened an investigation into potential war crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine shortly after the invasion began on Feb. 24. The Cannes Film Festival began with a live video address from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He delivered an emotional speech, urging filmmakers to stand in vocal opposition to dictators, recalling Charlie Chaplin’s film The Great Dictator, which confronted Nazism. The festival has banned Russians with links to the government. In an address marking Greece’s anniversary of independence, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis spoke to the U.S. Congress, saying the Ukrainian people are fighting for freedom as the Greeks and the Americans had done in history. ‘We stand by Ukraine against Putin’s aggression,’ he said, vowing that Putin ‘will not succeed.’ Mitsotakis also met with President Biden to discuss developments in Ukraine and Russia.”

Justice Department Is Said to Request Transcripts From the House Committee Investigating the January 6 Violent Attack on the Capitol by a Mob of Trump Supporters. The committee has interviewed more than 1,000 people so far, and the transcripts could be used as evidence in potential criminal cases or to pursue new leads. The New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Luke Broadwater, Tuesday, 17 May 2022: “The Justice Department has asked the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack for transcripts of interviews it is conducting behind closed doors, including some with associates of former President Donald J. Trump, according to people with knowledge of the situation. The move is further evidence of the wide-ranging nature of the department’s criminal inquiry into the events leading up to the assault on the Capitol and the role played by Mr. Trump and his allies as they sought to keep him in office after his defeat in the 2020 election. The House committee, which has no power to pursue criminal charges, has interviewed more than 1,000 people so far, and the transcripts could be used by the Justice Department as evidence in potential criminal cases, to pursue new leads or as a baseline for new interviews conducted by federal law enforcement officials. Aides to Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, have yet to reach a final agreement with the Justice Department on what will be turned over, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the investigations.” See also, Justice Department and some state and local investigators seek transcripts of January 6 House committee interviews, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett and Jacqueline Alemany, Tuesday, 17 May 2022: “The Justice Department has asked the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress to share the results of its interviews — a rare moment of potential collaboration between the criminal investigation of the riot and the legislative inquiry. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), the chair of the committee, told reporters Tuesday that the Justice Department — and some state and local investigators — requested that the committee share copies of interviews conducted by House lawmakers and investigators…. The committee may allow investigators to review records in the committee’s office, he said. The Justice Department is prosecuting hundreds of the men and women who allegedly breached the Capitol as they sought to demand that Congress overturn Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Federal prosecutors also have recently expanded their investigation to include those who planned and financed the rallies in support of President Donald Trump that preceded the riot. And in Georgia, a local district attorney has opened a criminal probe related to Trump’s attempts to influence the election results in that state.”

Justice Department Says Steve Wynn Served as a Middleman for the Chinese Government When He Made Repeated Requests on Behalf of the Chinese Government to Donald Trump When Trump Was President, The New York Times, Niraj Chokshi, Tuesday, 17 May 2022: “The Justice Department sued the former casino mogul Stephen Wynn on Tuesday, saying he had made repeated requests on behalf of the Chinese government to Donald J. Trump when he was president and seeking to force Mr. Wynn to register as a foreign agent. In 2017, Mr. Wynn pushed Mr. Trump to deport a Chinese businessman who had sought asylum in the United States, according to the lawsuit. At the time, Mr. Wynn was the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, a role he had been handpicked for by Mr. Trump. The suit accuses Mr. Wynn of broaching the topic several times, including at a dinner with Mr. Trump and other administration officials in late June 2017, when he passed along passport photos of the individual to Mr. Trump’s secretary; during unscheduled meetings with Mr. Trump in August of that year; and by phone while aboard a yacht off the coast of Italy. Mr. Trump told Mr. Wynn he would look into the matter, according to the suit.”

Biden, Calling on Americans to ‘Take on the Haters,’ Condemns Racist Rhetoric After Buffalo Massacre, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Peter Baker, Tuesday, 17 May 2022: “President Biden called on Americans on Tuesday to ‘take on the haters’ and ‘reject the lie’ of racial replacement that animated a white man who gunned down Black shoppers in the latest eruption of violence targeting people of color in the United States. Declaring that ‘white supremacy is a poison’ coursing through America, Mr. Biden flew to this grief-stricken city in western New York not just to mourn the 10 people killed in Saturday’s shooting rampage but to confront ‘ideology rooted in fear and racism’ and accuse conservative political and media figures of exploiting it. ‘What happened here is simple and straightforward: Terrorism. Terrorism. Domestic terrorism,’ Mr. Biden told a bereaved crowd gathered in a community center. ‘Violence inflicted in the service of hate and the vicious thirst for power that defines one group of people being inherently inferior to any other group, a hate that through the media and politics, the internet, has radicalized angry, alienated, lost and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced.’ This so-called replacement theory, the notion that an elite cabal of liberals is plotting to substitute immigrants or other people of color for white Americans, has become an increasingly common talking point on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show and among some Republican leaders. While Mr. Biden did not specify names, he asserted that certain politicians and pundits were promoting the conspiracy theory and stoking racism out of a cynical desire to score political points and make money.” See also, Before Buffalo Massacre Began, Suspect Invited Others to Review His Plan Online, The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich, Tuesday, 17 May 2022: “About 30 minutes before he launched what investigators said was a long-planned massacre at a Buffalo supermarket, Payton S. Gendron invited a small group of people to join a chat room online. Until that moment, the posts in the room on the chat application Discord had been visible only to Mr. Gendron, who had for months uploaded numerous pictures of himself, often posing with his gear and the weapon that officials say he used to carry out the shooting, even sharing hand-drawn maps of the Tops grocery store he openly said he planned to attack. None of the people he invited to review his writings appeared to have alerted law enforcement, and the massacre played out much as Mr. Gendron envisioned. A compendium of his posts from Discord circulated online over the weekend, and details of those records were publicized on Monday. But it was not previously known that other users had joined the Discord chat room, known as a server, 30 minutes before he carried out the attack.”

Lawsuit filed in Wisconsin against Republican operatives accused in fake presidential electors scheme, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed, Tuesday, 17 May 2022: “Some of the electors for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election have sued in Wisconsin state court the Republican operatives, politicians and attorneys who allegedly orchestrated a fraudulent scheme to put forward an alternate slate of fake electors for Donald Trump. The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by two of the Biden electors from that state, as well as a Wisconsin voter, who allege that the defendants engaged in an illegal conspiracy. The complaint alleges that the scheme — in which supporters of the former President sent fake certificates declaring Trump won states he had actually lost — ’caused permanent and irreparable damage to the country’s political institutions generally, and to representative government in Wisconsin specifically.’ ‘By spreading false allegations of widespread fraud, the scheme undermined — and continues to undermine — Wisconsin voters’ faith in the integrity of their elections, and citizens’ belief in the legitimacy of their government’s authority,’ the plaintiffs said in the complaint, filed in Dane County Circuit Court.”


Wednesday, 18 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: Senate confirms Bridget A. Brink as next U.S. ambassador to Ukraine; U.S. says Russia is displaying scaled-down ambition, The Washington Post, Reis Thebault, Paulina Firozi, Michael Birnbaum, Rachel Pannett, Andrew Jeong, Jennifer Hassan, Julian Mark, and Alex Horton, Wednesday, 18 May 2022: “The Senate on Wednesday night confirmed Bridget A. Brink as the next U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, less than a month after President Biden nominated Brink, currently America’s top diplomat in Slovakia, to the post. She is the first U.S. ambassador in Ukraine since 2019, and her confirmation comes as the State Department reopened its embassy in Kyiv. As the war nears the end of its 12th week, Russian forces have made an adjustment that demonstrates diminished ambitions, the Pentagon said Wednesday: Moscow’s troops are now attacking in smaller groups with scaled-back objectives, a response to organizational problems and Ukrainian military resistance. Instead of combat units with several hundred soldiers, Russian Army companies ranging in size from several dozen to about a hundred troops have sometimes led attacks in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, a U.S. defense official said. They’ve focused efforts on villages and crossroads instead of major cities and expanses of Ukrainian territory, the official said. Meanwhile, Turkey blocked the start of NATO accession for Finland and Sweden, a sign that expanding the military alliance could be a bumpy process. President Biden endorsed the Nordic nations’ applications and expressed confidence that he could persuade Turkish leaders to drop their objections. ‘I think we’re going to be okay,’ he told reporters Wednesday.

  • A Russian soldier pleaded guilty Wednesday during the first trial on war crimes charges in the conflict, Ukraine’s public broadcaster reported. Ukraine has brought war-crime charges against two more Russian troops, the general prosecutor’s office said, and their trial is set to begin Thursday.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv reopened Wednesday for the first time since Russia invaded. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said additional safety measures are in place to protect returning staff.
  • With peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv stalled, one of Ukraine’s top negotiators said Wednesday that negotiations with his Russian counterparts are ‘impossible.’
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 84 of the War in Ukraine. Many soldiers who surrendered at a steel complex in Mariupol belong to the Azov battalion, a group with far-right roots, and the Kremlin may try them even as Ukraine is prosecuting Russians for war crimes. The New York Times, Wednesday, 18 May 2022: “Russia seized on the mass surrender of Ukrainian troops at a Mariupol steel plant as a propaganda gift on Wednesday, moving to falsely label them as terrorists and create a parallel narrative to Ukraine’s portrayal of Russian soldiers as heinous war criminals. The mass surrender, which ended the longest battle of the three-month-old war, was depicted by the Russians as a glorious turning point in a conflict that Western military analysts and rights groups have described as disastrous for the Kremlin and its forces, which have bombed Ukraine indiscriminately and been accused of other atrocities. Images of the surrendering Ukrainians were publicized by the Russians just as a Russian soldier pleaded guilty in a Ukrainian courtroom to fatally shooting an unarmed civilian, in a widely followed case. In Brussels, Turkey complicated efforts by NATO to quickly consider membership bids by Sweden and Finland, blocking an initial vote and presenting a list of grievances related to Kurdish groups that it considers terrorists. While Turkey indicated that it would not ultimately oppose membership for Sweden and Finland, its objections are slowing a process that the West had hoped would quickly strengthen European defenses against further aggression by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Turkey’s move came against the backdrop of a separate frustration for the West’s challenges to Mr. Putin: Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, another authoritarian leader, has stalled a proposed European Union embargo of Russian oil.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 18), NPR, NPR staff, Wednesday, 18 May 2022: “As Wednesday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: A 21-year-old Russian soldier pleaded guilty to killing a Ukrainian civilian in the first war crimes trial of the conflict. Vadim Shishimarin, a captured sergeant of a Russian tank unit, faces life in prison for shooting an unarmed 62-year-old Ukrainian man in northeastern Ukraine on Feb. 28, four days into the war. In a packed courtroom in Kyiv, Shishimarin was asked if he was guilty of the killing. ‘Yes. Fully yes,’ he responded from inside a glass box. Ukrainian officials say they plan many more such trials. Russia said 959 Ukrainian soldiers, including 80 wounded, have surrendered from Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant since Monday. Ukraine said evacuations of fighters from the plant were negotiated by international aid groups, but has not provided updated numbers. Ukrainian soldiers were transported to Russian-controlled territory, and Russia’s defense ministry released a video claiming to show some of them at a hospital, praising their treatment. Ukraine said it hopes to bring home its troops in a prisoner swap, though Russian officials have threatened to put some on trial for war crimes. Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO. All 30 member countries must agree to expand the world’s largest military alliance, and Turkey is opposed. Finland’s and Sweden’s bid to join NATO is a historic break with Nordic nations’ past neutrality, prompted by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss issues including Turkey’s security concerns. The U.S. Embassy reopened in Kyiv, three months after suspending operations there ahead of Russia’s invasionThe State Department said operations resumed, with the U.S. flag raised and diplomats returning from western Ukraine and Poland, where they’d temporarily relocated. Other countries have also reopened embassies in Kyiv in recent weeks. Google’s Russian subsidiary plans to file for bankruptcy following the Kremlin seizing the company’s assets. Google search, Gmail and YouTube will remain available and free to Russians, but the Wall Street Journal reports that Google has moved its staff out of Russia. Google’s tensions with Russian authorities escalated as Google has refused to remove content the Kremlin has declared illegal and blocked access to some Russian media on YouTube. Russia moved to shutter the operations of the CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster. It rescinded visas and journalist accreditation for its staff in Russia. This appeared to be retaliation for Canada’s telecommunications regulator removing Russian state broadcasters, RT and RT France, from Canadian airwaves in mid-March.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James launches investigation of Twitch and Discord after Buffalo massacre, NPR, Bobby Allyn, Wednesday, 18 May 2022: “The New York attorney general’s office said Wednesday that it has launched an investigation into tech platforms including video-streaming site Twitch, messaging platform Discord and the anonymous message board 4chan in connection with the mass shooting in Buffalo that killed 10 people. ‘Time and time again, we have seen the real-world devastation that is borne of these dangerous and hateful platforms, and we are doing everything in our power to shine a spotlight on this alarming behavior and take action to ensure it never happens again,’ New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul requested the investigation; she wrote to the state’s prosecutors that the Buffalo massacre ‘raises questions about the role of social media platforms in the promotion of violence. These questions need to be answered.'”

Group Seeks Disbarment of Republican Senator Ted Cruz Over Efforts to Overturn 2020 Election. A group trying to hold lawyers accountable for their efforts to keep Donald Trump in power after his election loss filed a complaint against the Republican senator with the Texas bar association. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Wednesday, 18 May 2022: “A group formed in the hopes of disbarring lawyers who worked on cases in which former President Donald J. Trump tried to subvert the results of the 2020 election filed a complaint with the Texas bar association on Wednesday against Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, for his efforts to keep Mr. Trump in power. The complaint against Mr. Cruz, filed by a group called the 65 Project, focuses on baseless assertions by Mr. Cruz about widespread voting fraud in the weeks between Election Day in 2020 and Jan. 6, 2021, as well as his participation in lawsuits protesting the results in Pennsylvania. ‘Mr. Cruz played a leading role in the effort to overturn the 2020 elections. And while the same can be said about several other elected officials, Mr. Cruz’s involvement was manifestly different,’ the complaint said, asserting that Mr. Cruz moved beyond simply working within the confines of Congress. ‘He chose to take on the role of lawyer and agreed to represent Mr. Trump and Pennsylvania Republicans in litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court,’ the complaint said, citing his role in two cases, neither of which succeeded. ‘In doing so, Mr. Cruz moved beyond his position as a United States senator and sought to use more than his Twitter account and media appearances to support Mr. Trump’s anti-democratic mission.’ Elsewhere, the complaint argued, Mr. Cruz continued to make statements that he knew to be false, about the election and about the state courts in Pennsylvania being partisan. ‘Mr. Cruz knew that the allegations he was echoing had already been reviewed and rejected by courts,’ the complaint says. ‘And he knew that claims of voter fraud or the election being stolen were false.'”


Thursday, 19 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: Biden praises Sweden and Finland for seeking admission to NATO, The Washington Post, Paulina Firozi, Brittany Shammas, Ellen Francis, Bryan Pietsch, Steve Hendrix, Julian Mark, and Reis Thebault, Thursday, 19 May 2022: “President Biden praised Finland and Sweden for seeking admission to NATO, saying the addition of the two Nordic nations will strengthen the Western alliance and provide a strong counterweight to autocracy and aggression. Standing alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in the Rose Garden on Thursday, Biden said their countries ‘meet every NATO requirement and then some.’ In his remarks, Niinisto acknowledged Turkey’s continued hesitation about NATO’s looming expansion and said he is ‘open to discussing all the concerns Turkey may have.’ The Senate, meanwhile, approved $40 billion in new military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and Biden is expected to sign the measure soon. Later Thursday, the United States announced that it is sending an additional $100 million in arms and equipment, bringing the total in military aid to $3.9 billion since the war’s start.

  • The first Russian soldier to be tried for war crimes committed during Moscow’s invasion asked for forgiveness in an emotional court session Thursday, one day after pleading guilty to killing a civilian.
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross is gathering information on Ukrainian prisoners of war who surrendered at the Mariupol steel plant this week. Their fate remains uncertain.
  • The Russian military has fired or replaced some field commanders in Ukraine in recent weeks, including one who was suspended after his unit failed to capture the northeastern city of Kharkiv, according to the British Defense Ministry.
  • Heavy Russian shelling on Thursday hit Severodonetsk, the easternmost city still under Ukrainian control, leaving at least 12 people dead and another 40 wounded, local officials said. The attack could be a precursor to a larger drawn-out battle.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 85 of the War in Ukraine. Russia moved to annex areas in the southeast it had been occupying in the three-month-old invasion. President Biden vowed to help gain speedy approval of applications to join NATO by Finland and Sweden. The New York Times, Thursday, 19 May 2022: “Fresh from its triumph over the last armed Ukrainian resistance in the devastated city of Mariupol, Russia appeared to be laying the groundwork Thursday for annexing swaths of southeast Ukraine, described by a high-ranking Kremlin official as having a ‘worthy place in our Russian family.’ The official, Marat Khusnullin, Russia’s deputy prime minister for infrastructure, toured the region this week and outlined plans to take full control of vital infrastructure, including Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, as Russia fortified its defensive positions there and exerted its authority over the local population…. Russia’s moves came as the United States sought to further escalate pressure on the Kremlin. President Biden vowed to help gain speedy approval of applications to join NATO by formerly neutral Finland and Sweden, as he welcomed the leaders of those countries to the White House and as U.S. officials expressed confidence that they could satisfy Turkey’s objections to Finnish and Swedish membership. And the Senate overwhelmingly approved a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine that Mr. Biden was set to sign into law.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 19), NPR, NPR Staff, Thursday 19 May 2022: “As Thursday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: Russia said another 771 Ukrainian fighters surrendered at a bombed-out steel plant in Mariupol in the past daybringing the total to 1,730. The International Committee of the Red Cross said it has registered hundreds of soldiers emerging from the Azovstal steel plant as prisoners of war. Ukraine’s government didn’t comment on the latest numbers, but has said its troops were evacuated from the last holdout in Mariupol into Russian-controlled territory and that Ukrainian officials hoped they would come home in a prisoner exchange. In Ukraine’s first war crimes trial, the accused Russian soldier asked a Ukrainian widow to forgive him for killing her husband. The widow, Kateryna Shelipova, broke down in tears on the witness stand and later confronted the 21-year-old Russian army sergeant, asking him what he felt when he shot her husband, Oleksandr Shelipov. ‘Fear,’ said the soldier, Vadim Shishimarin, who’s pleaded guilty and could face life in prison. ‘I understand you probably won’t be able to forgive me. But I ask for your forgiveness.’ Finland and Sweden have the ‘full, total, complete backing’ of the U.S. for their application to join NATO, President Biden said at the White House after meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. But Turkey has warned it will veto the two countries’ applications. Biden said he was sending paperwork to Congress for U.S. ratification of their bids. The Senate meanwhile approved $40 billion in new aid to Ukraine, bringing U.S. spending on the war to more than $100 million per day, according to defense experts. McDonald’s has found a buyer for its Russian operations as it prepares to exit the country after 32 years. The fast-food chain plans to hand over more than 800 restaurants in Russia to licensee Alexander Govor, who has operated 25 of them in Siberia since 2015. McDonald’s wants them to get new branding, logos and menus, but promised that current tens of thousands of staff can keep their jobs for at least two years. Ukrainians marked a holiday in honor of their traditional embroidered clothing. In wartime, though, Vyshyvanka Day struck a more somber note for some than the usually festive parades. But officials hoped to raise the national spirit, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calling Ukraine’s traditional dress ‘our sacred amulet in this war.’ And the prosecutor general tweeted: ‘The evil will not manage to break the thinnest threads of our national strong plexus of patterns which symbolize kindness, love and memory of kin.'”

The House Select committee investigating the violent January 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters is asking Georgia Republican Representative Barry Loudermilk to voluntarily share information about a tour he led the day before the siege that could have helped insurrectionists, NPR, Claudia Grisales, Thursday, 19 May 2022: “The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is asking Georgia GOP Rep. Barry Loudermilk to voluntarily share information about a tour he led the day before the siege that could have helped insurrectionists. The panel said Loudermilk should appear before the committee next week to explain. Soon after the attack, in which rioters broke through barriers and stormed the Capitol hoping to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election, concerns rose that some Republican lawmakers had given tours of the Capitol complex that later helped people navigate the hallways and offices. Loudermilk and House Republicans have long claimed they didn’t lead any such pre-Jan. 6 tours. ‘However, the Select Committee’s review of evidence directly contradicts that denial,’ Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., wrote in their letter to Loudermilk. ‘Based on our review of evidence in the Select Committee’s possession, we believe you have information regarding a tour you led through parts of the Capitol complex on January 5, 2021,’ they also wrote. ‘Public reporting and witness accounts indicate some individuals and groups engaged in efforts to gather information about the layout of the U.S. Capitol, as well as the House and Senate office buildings, in advance of January 6, 2021.'”

Oklahoma Legislature Passes Bill Banning Almost All Abortions. The legislation prohibits abortion from the moment of fertilization and relies on lawsuits from private citizens to enforce it. The New York Times, Kate Zernike, Mitch Smith, and Luke Vander Ploeg, Thursday, 19 May 2022: “The Oklahoma Legislature gave final approval on Thursday to a bill that prohibits nearly all abortions starting at fertilization, which would make it the nation’s strictest abortion law. The bill allows private individuals to sue abortion providers and anyone who ‘aids or abets’ an abortion. It would take effect immediately if signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican who has pledged to make Oklahoma the most anti-abortion state in the nation.”

The U.S. surpasses 1 million Covid deaths, the world’s highest known total. While Covid stole lives from all strata of society, it magnified disparities based on factors like sex, age, health care access, income, and housing. The New York Times, Adeel Hassan, Thursday, 19 May 2022: “The United States has officially surpassed one million known deaths from Covid-19, according to a New York Times database, a cataclysmic outcome that only hints at the suffering of millions more Americans who are mourning their spouses, parents, children, siblings, friends and colleagues. The milestone has been anticipated and talked about for weeks, and a New York Times database of Covid deaths surpassed one million deaths late Thursday, marking the somber moment.”


Friday, 20 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: Russia says it has full control of Mariupol steel plant, The Washington Post, Meryl Kornfield, Timothy Bella, Kim Bellware, Ellen Francis, Andrew Jeong, Amy Cheng, Jonathan Edwards, Keith McMillan, and Aaron Blake, Friday, 20 May 2022: “Russia’s Defense Ministry announced Friday that invading forces had taken ‘full control’ of Mariupol’s steel plant, the final foothold for Ukrainian resistance in the seized port city. The ministry claimed its forces had ‘completely liberated’ the Azovstal plant, where Ukrainian forces and citizens had held out for months in the commercial complex’s passageways and tunnels. Earlier in the day, remaining Ukrainian fighters at the plant were ordered to lay down their arms, Denis Prokopenko, a commander of the far-right Azov Regiment, said in a video.While the war crimes trial of Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin adjourned for the weekend, Ukrainian prosecutors identified another soldier they claimed gave orders to  wound an unarmed elderly civilian in his own yard, shoot the man’s home with a tank and then set it ablaze. The investigation is ongoing, prosecutors said. Meanwhile, heavy fighting continued in the eastern Donbas region, where troops are battling against a Russian assault that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described as ‘hell’ in a nightly address. ‘Donbas is completely destroyed,’ he said, accusing Russian forces of bombing the city of Severodonetsk.

  • Globally, the fallout from three months of war is now being felt in Finland after the state-owned energy firm Gasum announced its Russian natural gas supplier, Gazprom, will cut off shipments Saturday.
  • World financial leaders in the Group of Seven nations agreed to provide Ukraine with about $20 billion in short-term economic support to stabilize its economy amid the ongoing invasion.
  • Zelensky blasted an airstrike in the Kharkiv region as ‘absolutely evil’ after a Russian missile reportedly hit a cultural center and injured seven, including an 11-year-old. Three adults were reportedly killed Friday after intense shelling in Severodonetsk hit a school where more than 200 people — including children — were sheltering, according to the regional governor.
  • As the battle rages, the Senate approved President Biden’s $40 billion package of fresh military, humanitarian and financial aid to Ukraine. Biden is set to sign the package into law during a trip to East Asia that starts in South Korea on Friday.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 86 of the War in Ukraine. Russia moved to expand military recruitment to older citizens and said that it was suspending gas shipments to Finland. The New York Times, Friday, 20 May 2022: “Russia took new steps on Friday to gird for an escalating struggle with the West over the war in Ukraine, moving to expand military recruitment to older citizens and severing gas supplies to Finland in apparent retaliation for its Nordic neighbor’s application to join the NATO alliance. The two developments reflected the mounting pressure on Russia because of its three-month-old invasion of Ukraine, which has evolved into something of a stalemate that has seriously depleted the Kremlin’s conventional war capabilities, even as Russia has made some incremental gains. The conflict also has left Russia increasingly vulnerable economically and energized Western opposition in ways that President Vladimir V. Putin had sought to prevent. Both Sweden and Finland, which share land and sea borders with Russia, broke with their longstanding policies of neutrality and applied to join NATO over the past week, a vote of confidence in the unity of an alliance that has been cemented by the conflict. Russia said Friday that it was suspending gas shipments to Finland because the Finnish gas company had failed to make payments in rubles. But the Kremlin has used Russia’s energy supply as a political weapon in the past, and previously threatened ‘retaliation’ against Sweden and Finland should they move to join NATO. Last weekend, Moscow suspended electricity exports to Finland after the country’s intention to join the alliance had become clear. The Finnish company, Gasum, called the latest move from the Russian gas giant Gazprom ‘highly regrettable,’ but said that it did not expect disruptions.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 20), NPR, NPR Staff, Friday, 20 May 2022: “As Friday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: Russia said it completed its takeover of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, with the defense minister claiming that Russian forces seized the Azovstal steel plant, the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance. Ukraine’s government didn’t immediately comment. Meanwhile, fighting heated up in eastern Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia’s assault turned parts of the Donbas region into ‘hell.’ The governor of Luhansk said Russian attacks killed a dozen residents in the key city of Severodonetsk, including three adults killed when Russia struck a school where civilians were taking shelter. The Group of Seven wealthy economies will provide $19.8 billion in economic aid to Ukraine. The financial support is separate from weapons and humanitarian assistance, aiming to help the Ukrainian government maintain services for its population. The deal was struck by G7 finance leaders from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the U.K. and Japan. By one key estimate, Ukraine’s economy is expected to shrink by 35% because of the war. Finland’s state-owned energy company Gasum said Russia will cut off its natural gas supply on Saturday morning. Finland is applying for NATO membership and has refused Russia’s demand to pay for gas in rubles. Russia previously cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria, which also refused to pay in rubles. Gasum’s CEO said Finland had been preparing for the cutoff and ‘there will be no disruptions to the gas transmission network.’ Russia-supplied gas accounts for about 5% of Finland’s energy consumption. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder stepped down as chair of Russia’s Rosneft oil company. A long-time friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Schröder faced growing calls to shed his financial ties with Russia’s state energy companies and the Nord Stream gas pipelines connecting Russia and Germany. On Thursday, German lawmakers stripped Schröder of numerous privileges afforded to the country’s former leaders, and a European Parliament vote suggested he might face sanctions. Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, is viewed as instrumental in increasing Germany’s energy dependence on Russia.”

Lawyer John Eastman Says He Dealt Directly With Trump Over January 6 Plans. Eastman said in a court filing that he had received handwritten notes from President Donald Trump as they strategized about how to keep him in power. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Friday, 20 May 2022: “The conservative lawyer John Eastman, the architect of a strategy to overturn the 2020 election, dealt directly with President Donald J. Trump and received handwritten notes from him as the men sought to keep Mr. Trump in power, according to a new court filing. The filing underscored how instrumental Mr. Eastman was in devising ways to fight Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, and how personally involved Mr. Trump was in the attempt to keep the presidency in his hands. It also provided further documentation of how members of the Trump campaign and White House aides were involved in the plans. The filing came as the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is preparing for public hearings in June about the attempt to overturn the election, and as more information has emerged about Mr. Eastman’s role in advising state officials in Pennsylvania to reject votes cast in favor of Mr. Biden. Mr. Eastman did not release the contents of his communications with Mr. Trump and others in the White House and the Trump campaign, but he described them in general terms in a filing in his federal lawsuit in California against the House committee. He is fighting the release of hundreds of documents that the panel has demanded via subpoena, including by arguing that some of them are protected by attorney-client privilege. In the filing on Thursday, Mr. Eastman argued that some of his emails with the White House and Trump campaign were covered by attorney-client privilege because, he said, the people he communicated with were functioning as ‘conduits’ for or ‘agents’ of Mr. Trump. He said he mostly communicated with Mr. Trump using six intermediaries, three of whom worked for the Trump campaign and three of whom worked directly for Mr. Trump while he was in office. But Mr. Eastman said he also spoke directly to Mr. Trump, and the filing stated that Mr. Eastman received two ‘handwritten notes from former President Trump about information that he thought might be useful for the anticipated litigation.’ ‘While Dr. Eastman could (and did) communicate directly with former President Trump at times, many of his communications with the president were necessarily through these agents,’ Mr. Eastman’s lawyers, Anthony T. Caso and Charles Burnham, wrote, referring to the six intermediaries.” See also, Lawyer John Eastman provides new details of Trump’s direct role in legal effort to overturn election. The court filing describes the direct role of Trump himself in developing strategy, detailing ‘two hand-written notes from former President Trump about information that he thought might be useful for the anticipated litigation.’ Politico, Kyle Cheney, Friday, 20 May 2022: “John Eastman, the attorney who [designed] Donald Trump’s last-ditch legal strategy to overturn the 2020 election, revealed Friday that he routinely communicated with Trump either directly or via ‘six conduits’ during the chaotic weeks that preceded the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. In a late-night court filing urging a federal judge to maintain the confidentiality of his work for Trump, Eastman provided the clearest insight yet into the blizzard of communications between Trump, his top aides, his campaign lawyers and the army of outside attorneys who were working to help reverse the outcome in a handful of states won by Joe Biden. The filing also describes the direct role of Trump himself in developing strategy, detailing ‘two hand-written notes from former President Trump about information that he thought might be useful for the anticipated litigation.’ Those notes are among the documents Eastman is seeking to shield via attorney-client privilege. Eastman said he would also speak directly with Trump by phone throughout his legal challenges to the election. Eastman described these contacts and records as part of an effort to prevent the Jan. 6 select committee from accessing 600 emails that describe his efforts to build Trump’s legal gambit to reverse the 2020 election outcome — and, when that failed, urge state legislatures to simply overturn the results themselves. He argues that the documents are protected by attorney-client and attorney work product privileges that Congress has no business probing, even as the panel investigates the circumstances that led a mob of Trump supporters to attack the Capitol.”

Emails show Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona lawmaker to help reverse Trump’s loss, The Washington Post, Emma Brown, Friday, 20 May 2022: “Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, the conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona lawmakers after the 2020 election to set aside Joe Biden’s popular-vote victory and choose ‘a clean slate of Electors,’ according to emails obtained by The Washington Post. The emails, sent by Ginni Thomas to a pair of lawmakers on Nov. 9, 2020, argued that legislators needed to intervene because the vote had been marred by fraud. Though she did not mention either candidate by name, the context was clear. Just days after media organizations called the race for Biden in Arizona and nationwide, Thomas urged the lawmakers to ‘stand strong in the face of political and media pressure.’ She told the lawmakers that the responsibility to choose electors was ‘yours and yours alone’ and said they had ‘power to fight back against fraud.’  Thomas sent the messages via an online platform designed to make it easy to send prewritten form emails to multiple elected officials, according to a review of the emails, obtained under the state’s public-records law. The messages show that Thomas, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, was more deeply involved in the effort to overturn Biden’s win than has been previously reported. In sending the emails, Thomas played a role in the extraordinary scheme to keep Trump in office by substituting the will of legislatures for the will of voters. Thomas’s actions also underline concerns about potential conflicts of interest that her husband has already faced — and may face in the future — in deciding cases related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Those questions intensified in March, when The Post and CBS News obtained text messages that Thomas sent in late 2020 to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, pressing him to help reverse the election.” See also, Ginni Thomas Urged Arizona Lawmakers to Overturn Election. The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote to legislators in a crucial swing state after the Trump campaign’s loss in 2020. The New York Times, Jo Becker and Danny Hakim, Friday, 20 May 2022: “In the weeks after the 2020 presidential election, Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, twice lobbied the speaker of the Arizona House and another lawmaker to effectively reverse Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s popular-vote victory and deliver the crucial swing state to Donald J. Trump. Ms. Thomas, known as Ginni, a right-wing political activist who became a close ally of Mr. Trump during his presidency, made the entreaties in emails to Russell Bowers, the Republican speaker, and Shawnna Bolick, a Republican state representative. Ms. Bolick’s husband, Clint, once worked with Justice Thomas and now sits on the Arizona Supreme Court. The emails came as Mr. Trump and his allies were engaged in a legal effort to overturn his defeats in several battleground states. While the Arizona emails did not mention either presidential candidate by name, they echoed the former president’s false claims of voter fraud and his legal team’s dubious contention that the power to choose electors therefore rested not with the voters but with state legislatures.”

Two sources told CNN that Rudy Giuliani, former President Donald Trump’s onetime personal attorney and a lead architect of his attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, on Friday met with the House select committee investigating the January 6 2021 insurrection, CNN Politics, Ryan Nobles and Paula Reid, Friday, 20 May 2022: “Giuliani’s original deposition with the committee had been postponed after the former New York City mayor asked to record the interview, with both audio and video. At the time, Giuliani’s attorney Robert Costello said the committee rejected that request. Despite Giuliani backing out of the original deposition, the two sides continued to negotiate an appearance, which led to a virtual appearance Friday that lasted for more than nine hours, sources said.”

Judge rules that pandemic border restrictions must continue, a win for Republican-led states, NPR, Joel Rose, Friday, 20 May 2022: :A federal judge has blocked the Biden administration from lifting the pandemic border restrictions known as Title 42 next week. That public health order, which had been set to end on Monday, allows immigration authorities to quickly expel migrants at the border without allowing them to seek asylum. The ruling is a victory for the Republican-led states that are pushing to extend the restrictions. More than 20 states signed on to a lawsuit brought by Arizona, Missouri and Louisiana. They argued that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not go through the proper procedures to end Title 42, and should have considered the impact on state health care systems and other costs.”

Group Chat Linked to Roger Stone Shows Ties Among January 6 Figures. The roster of participants highlights how Mr. Stone, the pro-Trump political operative, was involved with a strikingly large number of people who sought to overturn the 2020 election. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Friday, 20 May 2022: “It was known as F.O.S. — or Friends of Stone — and while its members shifted over time, they were a motley cast of characters. There were ‘Stop the Steal’ organizers, right-wing influencers, Florida state legislative aides and more than one failed candidate loyal to former President Donald J. Trump. One participant ran a website that promoted disinformation about the Capitol attack. Another was an officer in the Army Reserve allied with Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser. At least three members of the group chat are now facing charges in connection with the riot at the Capitol in January 2021. They include Owen Shroyer, the right-hand man of the conspiracy theorist Alex JonesEnrique Tarrio, the onetime chairman of the Proud Boys; and Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia. But the focus of the chat was always the man whose photo topped its home page: Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime political operative and adviser to Mr. Trump. While little is known about what was said on the chat, the membership list of Friends of Stone, provided to The New York Times by one of its participants, offers a kind of road map to Mr. Stone’s associations, showing their scope and nature in the critical period after the 2020 election. During that time, Mr. Stone was involved with a strikingly wide array of people who participated in efforts to challenge the vote count and keep Mr. Trump in the White House.”

Oracle’s Larry Ellison joined November 2020 call about contesting Trump’s loss, The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Shawn Boburg, Friday, 20 May 2022: “Larry Ellison, the billionaire co-founder and chairman of the software company Oracle and the biggest backer of Elon Musk’s attempted Twitter takeover, participated in a call shortly after the 2020 election that focused on strategies for contesting the legitimacy of the vote, according to court documents and a participant. The Nov. 14 call included Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.); Fox News host Sean Hannity; Jay Sekulow, an attorney for President Donald Trump; and James Bopp Jr., an attorney for True the Vote, a Texas-based nonprofit that has promoted disputed claims of widespread voter fraud. Ellison’s participation illustrates a previously unknown dimension in the multifaceted campaign to challenge Trump’s loss, an effort still coming into focus more than 18 months later. It is the first known example of a technology industry titan joining powerful figures in conservative politics, media and law to strategize about Trump’s post-loss options and confer with an activist group that had already filed four lawsuits seeking to uncover evidence of illegal voting.”


Saturday, 21 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: Biden signs $40 billion Ukraine aid bill, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Julian Duplain, Amy Cheng, Andrew Jeong, Ellen Francis, Marisa Iati, Timothy Bella, and Meryl Kornfield, Saturday, 21 May 2022: “President Biden on Saturday signed a $40 billion package of new military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, further deepening his administration’s commitment amid signs that the United States and its allies are preparing for a longer conflict. The package includes $20 billion in additional military aid to finance the transfer of advanced weapons systems — aid that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said was ‘needed more than ever.’ Russia is continuing intense shelling of the easternmost city under Ukraine’s control, Severodonetsk, which looks set to be the war’s next major battlefield. With fighting underway on the city’s outskirts, Luhansk governor Serhiy Haidai said that ‘the Russians are destroying Severodonetsk, like Mariupol.’ Russia now says it controls the Azovstal steel plant, the sprawling complex that had been the final battleground of Mariupol. Russia’s Defense Ministry said 2,439 Ukrainian fighters there have surrendered in recent days — a figure that drastically exceeds other estimates. Ukraine has not confirmed Moscow’s claims that the entire facility is now in Russian hands.

  • Finland’s gas transmission network operator said Saturday that Russia had stopped shipping natural gas to it, a move widely viewed as retaliation after Helsinki formally applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with the leaders of Finland and Sweden to reiterate his demands that they end support for what he deems ‘terrorist organizations’ as the Nordic nations seek to join NATO.
  • Russia has banned 963 Americans, including Biden and Vice President Harris, from entering the country. The list includes a wide range of people — from political leaders and tech executives, to actor Morgan Freeman.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 87 of the War in Ukraine, The New York Times, Saturday, 21 May 2022: “President Biden on Saturday signed a new $40 billion package of military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine as the country braced for a drawn-out war of attrition in its eastern regions, vowing that it would not stop fighting until all Russian forces were expelled. Yet on Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine acknowledged that ultimately the conflict would require a diplomatic solution, raising questions about exactly what that would mean. Mr. Zelensky said that Russia had thwarted an initial attempt to end the war through dialogue and that now the conflict was ‘very difficult.’ Speaking on the third anniversary of his inauguration as president, he said that the war ‘will be bloody’ but ‘the end will definitely be in diplomacy.’ Despite a recent string of setbacks and a shortage of manpower and equipment, Russia pressed ahead with its military campaign in eastern Ukraine, and with its propaganda offensive at home, hours after claiming to have achieved complete control of the port city of Mariupol, in what would be its most significant gain since the war started. Russia said in a statement late Friday that its defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, had informed President Vladimir V. Putin of the ‘complete liberation’ of the Mariupol steel plant where Ukrainian fighters had made their last stand in the city before surrendering in recent days. Ukrainian officials have not confirmed the Russian claim.”


Sunday, 22 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: Ukrainian leaders warn of dire situation in key eastern city of Severodonetsk, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Julian Duplain, Victoria Bisset, Jennifer Hassan, Lateshia Beachum, and Paulina Villegas, Sunday, 22 May 2022: “Ukrainian leaders are warning of an increasingly dire situation in Severodonetsk — one of the last major cities in eastern Luhansk province still in Kyiv’s control — with a high-ranking official saying it is becoming ‘a new Mariupol.’ Military analysts say Russian forces are attempting to encircle the strategic city in a bid to control all of Luhansk. Russian troops destroyed a bridge into Severodonetsk on Saturday, making it harder to evacuate people and bring supplies in. The region’s governor, Serhiy Haidai, said Sunday that ‘if they destroy one more bridge, then the city will be fully cut off, unfortunately.’ He said about 10,000 people remain in Severodonetsk, which had a prewar population of more than 100,000 — and most ‘are almost constantly in bomb shelters.’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the only way out of the war will be through diplomacy — in addition to a win for Kyiv on the battlefield. Meanwhile, a delegation of U.S. diplomats was traveling to The Hague on Sunday for talks with allies on ‘atrocities committed in Ukraine,’ the State Department said.

  • Polish President Andrzej Duda delivered the first in-person address by a foreign leader to Kyiv’s parliament since the war began. He stressed Ukraine’s right to determine its own future.
  • Russia is likely to have deployed its only operational company of BMP-T ‘Terminator’ tank support vehicles to Severodonetsk, Britain’s Defense Ministry said.
  • Zelensky said Sunday that as many as 100 soldiers are killed in hard-hit eastern Ukraine each day. His government has released relatively little information on battleground deaths.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 88 of the War in Ukraine, The New York Times, Sunday, 22 May 2022: “Ukrainian and Russian forces traded fresh blows on Sunday near Sievierodonetsk, military authorities and analysts said, as Moscow renewed its push toward the city, one of the last major Ukrainian strongholds in a key part of the east. The battle for Sievierodonetsk has emerged as another crucial point in the war, as Russia struggles to notch victories. Following its failed assaults on the capital, Kyiv, and the country’s second largest city, Kharkiv, Russia’s military has regrouped and now appears concentrated on capturing the Donbas region in Ukraine’s east. A victory in Sievierodonetsk would give Russian forces control of Luhansk, one of two provinces that make up the region. Moscow has already sustained heavy losses in its push toward the city, but capturing it could allow its forces to mount an assault on Kramatorsk, Ukraine’s regional military command in the region. At the same time, Ukraine’s Western allies are racing Howitzers and other long-range weapons to the front line to bolster the resistance. The ongoing fight is also a sign of Moscow’s narrowing military objectives as the war reaches the three-month mark. Capturing all of Ukraine at once has proved out of reach for Moscow, but Russian forces have found success in slowly chipping away at the country, working their way east to west.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened this weekend (May 21-22), NPR, NPR Staff, Sunday, 22 May 2022: “As Sunday draws to a close in Kyiv and Moscow, here are the key developments of the weekend: Concerns grow about the Ukrainian fighters evacuated from MariupolRussia claims to have taken prisoner more than 2,400 Ukrainian soldiers from the Azovstal steel plant, the site of Ukraine’s final holdout in the besieged city. Ukrainian officials originally hoped the soldiers would be part of a prisoner swap, but some Russian politicians and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine have advocated for criminal tribunals instead. President Biden signed a bill granting an additional $40 billion in aid to UkraineThe bill, which is meant to provide funding through the end of the fiscal year in September, passed the Senate Thursday on an 86-11 vote. But President Biden had already departed for a trip to Asia. The bill was flown to South Korea, and Biden signed it Saturday while overseas. Polish President Andrzej Duda visited Kyiv and became the first foreign leader to address Ukraine’s parliament since the war began in February. ‘I want to say clearly: Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future. Only Ukraine has the right to decide for itself,’ Duda said. In the same session, Ukraine’s parliament also voted to extend the country’s martial law until late August. Russia halted natural gas exports to Finland after Finland announced it would seek to join NATO, the Western military alliance that has its roots in the Cold War. The cutoff is essentially symbolic, as natural gas usage in Finland is low and the country’s state-owned gas company says it can source energy from elsewhere. Amid speculation that Russia will try to annex parts of southern Ukraineresidents of the southern city of Kherson say the new Russian-backed government has disbanded many public services, and that Russian roadblocks have worsened shortages of food and medicine. ‘The Russians give people what they call Russian humanitarian aid, which is really things they’ve previously looted from our supermarket,’ one resident told NPR.”

How Trump’s 2020 Election Lies Have Gripped State Legislatures, The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti, Karen Yourish, and Keith Collins, Sunday, 22 May 2022: “At least 357 sitting Republican legislators in closely contested battleground states have used the power of their office to discredit or try to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, according to a review of legislative votes, records and official statements by The New York Times. The tally accounts for 44 percent of the Republican legislators in the nine states where the presidential race was most narrowly decided. In each of those states, the election was conducted without any evidence of widespread fraud, leaving election officials from both parties in agreement on the victory of Joseph R. Biden Jr. The Times’s analysis exposes how deeply rooted lies and misinformation about former President Donald J. Trump’s defeat have become in state legislatures, which play an integral role in U.S. democracy. In some, the false view that the election was stolen — either by fraud or as a result of pandemic-related changes to the process — is now widely accepted as fact among Republican lawmakers, turning statehouses into hotbeds of conspiratorial thinking and specious legal theories.”


Monday, 23 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: Ukrainian official says Russian soldier convicted of war crime is one of 13,000 investigations, The Washington Post, Paulina Firozi, Paulina Villegas, Karoun Demirjian, Rachel Pannett, Bryan Pietsch, Annabelle Timsit, Jennifer Hassan, and Annabelle Chapman, Monday, 23 May 2022: “A Kyiv court found a Russian soldier who killed an unarmed civilian guilty in the first war crimes trial since the invasion — as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking virtually to the World Economic Forum in Davos, accused Russia of ‘becoming a state of war criminals.’ Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old Russian tank commander who pleaded guilty last week to killing a 62-year-old Ukrainian man but said he was following orders, was convicted of premeditated murder and ‘violation of the rules and customs of war.’ He was sentenced to life in prison, and his lawyer said he would appeal. Ukraine’s prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova said the verdict represents one of about 13,000 ongoing investigations into suspected war crimes committed by Russian forces and officials. Meanwhile, the battle for Severodonetsk is becoming a focal point in the war as Russia, after seizing the southeastern port of Mariupol, seeks to capture one of the last major cities in a key eastern province still under Ukrainian control.

What Happened on Day 89 of the War in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where Russia was a pariah. A midlevel Russian diplomat broke ranks and resigned with a scathing statement on the war. The New York Times, Monday, 23 May 2022: “Hoping to shore up international resolve, Ukraine’s president told global political and business leaders Monday that as far as they have gone to punish Moscow for invading Ukraine, it was not far enough. ‘This is really the moment when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world,’ declared President Volodymyr Zelensky. The Ukrainian leader was speaking by video link to the World Economic Forum in Davos on a day when a Russian diplomat resigned with a blistering statement denouncing President Vladimir V. Putin, and when a Russian soldier became the first to be convicted by a Ukrainian court of a war crime. Earlier in the day, in a sign of the broader implications of the war, President Biden indirectly addressed warnings by Ukraine and its most ardent allies that failing to stand up to Russia would encourage future territorial aggression, including by China. At a news conference in Japan, Mr. Biden stated bluntly that he would use military force to defend Taiwan from China, and go much farther than he has to aid Ukraine, dropping the longstanding U.S. posture of ambiguity about such a conflict.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 23), NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 23 May 2022: “As Monday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said a Russian missile attack last Tuesday killed 87 people in northern Ukrainereported to be the heaviest death toll so far from a single airstrike since Russia’s invasion began three months ago. Zelenskyy did not specify whether casualties in the town of Desna were military or civilians. He disclosed the attack in his video address at the World Economic Forum in Davos. In the speech, Zelenskyy also called for ‘maximum’ sanctions against Russia and invited businesses that are leaving Russia to come to Ukraine. The first Russian soldier on trial for war crimes in Ukraine has been sentenced to life in prison for killing a civilian. Army Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, pleaded guilty last week to fatally shooting an unarmed Ukrainian man in the earliest days of the war. His Ukrainian court-appointed lawyer, who’d argued that Shishimarin acted on orders to kill the man and fired aimlessly, told journalists he would appeal the ruling. Ukrainian officials have said they are investigating more than 11,000 potential Russian war crimes. Russian diplomat at the permanent mission to the United Nations in Geneva resigned, saying he has never been ‘so ashamed’ of his country. A letter from veteran diplomatic counselor Boris Bondarev, shared with colleagues and posted on social media, was a rare public rebuke of the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine from a Russian government official. Bondarev called the invasion ‘not only a crime against the Ukrainian people, but also, perhaps, the most serious crime against the people of Russia’ as it dashed ‘all hopes and prospects for a prosperous free society in our country.’ Starbucks is leaving Russia after 15 years in business, closing all 130 stores. The coffee chain had temporarily shut down its stores in March. It’s the second major exit of a global U.S. brand from Russia, after McDonald’s last week began ‘de-arching’ its entire chain after 32 years. Starbucks said it will continue paying its nearly 2,000 employees in Russia for six months and help them find new jobs.”

New Justice Department policy says agents must intervene if they see other law enforcement officials using excessive force, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Monday, 23 May 2022: “The Justice Department has updated its use-of-force policy for the first time in 18 years, telling federal agents they have a duty to intervene if they see other law enforcement officials using excessive force — a change that follows years of protests over police killings. The new policy is outlined in a memo issued Friday by Attorney General Merrick Garland, which circulated Monday among rank-and-file federal law enforcement agents. The Washington Post reviewed a copy of the four-page memo addressed to the heads of the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Prisons. Garland wrote in the memo that the guidance aims to keep the official policies of those agencies, which are arms of the Justice Department, up to date with current training and practices of federal law enforcement. ‘Officers will be trained in, and must recognize and act upon, the affirmative duty to intervene to prevent or stop, as appropriate, any officer from engaging in excessive force or any other use of force that violates the Constitution, other federal laws, or Department policies on the reasonable use of force,’ the memo states. The policy, which is slated to take effect July 19, does not compel state and local police — or federal law enforcement agencies outside the Justice Department — to follow a similar standard.”

An appeals court finds Florida’s social media law unconstitutional, NPR/The Associated Press, Monday, 23 May 2022: “A Florida law intended to punish social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, dealing a major victory to companies who had been accused by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis of discriminating against conservative thought. A three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously concluded that it was overreach for DeSantis and the Republican-led Florida Legislature to tell the social media companies how to conduct their work under the Constitution’s free speech guarantee. ‘Put simply, with minor exceptions, the government can’t tell a private person or entity what to say or how to say it,’ said Circuit Judge Kevin Newsom, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, in the opinion. ‘We hold that it is substantially likely that social media companies — even the biggest ones — are private actors whose rights the First Amendment protects.’ The ruling upholds a similar decision by a Florida federal district judge on the law, which was signed by DeSantis in 2021. It was part of an overall conservative effort to portray social media companies as generally liberal in outlook and hostile to ideas outside of that viewpoint, especially from the political right.”


Tuesday, 24 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Putin made a ‘big strategic mistake’ in invading Ukraine, The Washington Post, Paulina Firozi, Annabelle Timsit, Amy Cheng, Adela Suliman, Andrew Jeong, and Rachel Pannett, Tuesday, 24 May 2022: “Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘made a big strategic mistake’ in invading Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as the war reached its three-month mark with no end in sight. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accused Russia of ‘trying to trample the aspirations of an entire nation with tanks.’ Meanwhile, the European Union is facing a continued hurdle in its bid to phase out imports of Russian oil: Hungary is not yet on board. Concerns from Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban were outlined in a letter to European Council President Charles Michel, according to an E.U. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. And in an interview in Davos, von der Leyen told Politico there was no guarantee of a deal next week, when there will be a special European Council session in Brussels. As the war continues, Russia has increased the intensity of its operations in Donbas, seeking to surround the cities of Severodonetsk, Lysychansk and Rubizhne, the British Defense Ministry said Tuesday, adding that capturing Severodonetsk could give Russia control over the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine. A regional official said Severodonetsk remains under Ukrainian control but is being pummeled mercilessly by nearby Russian forces that are ‘destroying the city completely.’

  • Von der Leyen accused Russia of ‘hoarding its own food exports as a form of blackmail,’ and said the best response is ‘global cooperation’ to get grain out of Ukraine and diversify global supply.
  • More than 2 million Ukrainians have crossed back into the country since Feb. 28, border authorities said.
  • European energy companies appear to have bent to Putin’s demand on purchasing natural gas using an elaborate new payment system, a move that gives Putin a public relations victory while continuing to fund his war effort in Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s prosecutor general has opened more than 13,000 investigations into cases of suspected Russian war crimes. The first war crimes trial in Ukraine concluded with the sentencing of a Russian soldier to life in prison.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 90 of the War in Ukraine. World leaders say there is no easy way to bypass a Russian blockade without a military clash and accuse Vladimir Putin of using global hunger as a weapon. The New York Times, Tuesday, 24 May 2022: “Fears of a global food crisis are swelling as Russian attacks on Ukraine’s ability to produce and export grain have choked off one of the world’s breadbaskets, fueling charges that President Vladimir V. Putin is using food as a powerful new weapon in his three-month-old war. World leaders called on Tuesday for international action to deliver 20 million tons of grain now trapped in Ukraine, predicting that the alternative could be hunger in some countries and political unrest in others, in what could be the gravest global repercussion yet of Russia’s assault on its neighbor. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where worries about the war’s consequences have eclipsed almost every other issue, speakers reached for apocalyptic language to describe the threat. ‘It’s a perfect storm within a perfect storm,’ said David Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Program, a United Nations agency. Calling the situation ‘absolutely critical,’ he warned, ‘We will have famines around the world.’ The world’s food distribution network was already strained by pandemic-related disruptions, and exports from Ukraine, ordinarily among the world’s biggest suppliers, have plummeted because of the war. Russia has seized some the country’s Black Sea ports and blockaded the rest, trapping cargo vessels laden with corn, wheat, sunflower seeds, barley and oats. Russian forces have taken control of some of Ukraine’s most productive farmland, destroyed Ukrainian infrastructure that is vital to raising and shipping grain, and littered farm fields with explosives. Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Union’s executive branch, told the political and business leaders gathered in Davos that Russia — an even bigger exporter — had confiscated Ukrainian grain stocks and agricultural machinery. ‘On top of this,’ she said, ‘Russia is now hoarding its own food exports as a form of blackmail, holding back supplies to increase global prices, or trading wheat in exchange for political support.'”

3 months into the Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 24), NPR, NPR Staff, Tuesday, 24 May 2022: “It has been three months since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. As Tuesday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments: Signs are growing that the war could become a protracted stalemate. Militarily, on almost every front, Russia has underachieved, while Ukraine has overachieved over the three months of war. Yet both sides are now digging in, and neither appears capable of delivering a decisive blow. The prospect of a major Russian advance appears less likely, but the Russians now control an unbroken swath of Ukrainian territory from the Donbas region in the east, to Crimea in the south. Russian troops have captured two important southern cities of Mariupol and Kherson, cutting Ukraine off from the Sea of Azov. Heavy fighting continues in the Donbas as Russian troops push to capture Severodonetsk and the area around it. Almost 6.6 million people fled Ukraine during the war, but also more than 2 million Ukrainians have crossed into Ukraine. Queues have stretched for miles to get into the country from Poland, the biggest hub of Ukrainian refugees. Some Ukrainians are going back and forth to visit family who fled, some return to cities that withstood Russia’s attacks, including the capital of Kyiv. Fears of a global food crisis are growing as the shock from the war added to climate change and rising inflation concerns. Ukraine and Russia combined produce 25% of the world’s wheat in addition to other grains and cooking oil. Disrupted exports are exacerbating food insecurity in AfghanistanSomalia, Kenya and many other countries. The United Nations has warned of ‘the specter of a global food shortage in the coming months’ without urgent international action.”

The Deadliest U.S. School Shooting in a Decade Shakes the Rural Texas Town of Uvalde, The New York Times, Edgar Sandoval, Victoria Kim, and Mike Ives, published on Wednesday, 25 May 2022: “Harrowing details began to emerge Wednesday of the massacre inside a Texas elementary school, as anguished families learned whether their children were among those killed by an 18-year-old gunman’s rampage in the city of Uvalde hours earlier. The gunman killed at least 19 children and two teachers on Tuesday in a single classroom at Robb Elementary School, where he had barricaded himself and shot at police officers as they tried to enter the building, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, Lieutenant Chris Olivarez, told CNN and the ‘Today’ show. It was the deadliest school shooting since 20 children and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., 10 years ago. Several other children were injured on Tuesday in the shooting in the city about an hour and a half west of San Antonio, including a 10-year-old who remained in critical condition at a nearby hospital. The gunman, whom officials identified as Salvador Ramos, was armed with multiple weapons and died at the scene. A 66-year-old woman who officials said was the gunman’s grandmother had been shot at her home in Uvalde shortly before the massacre and was also in critical condition. Acquaintances said the gunman, who attended a nearby high school, frequently missed class and had few friends. Robb Elementary lies in a rural area dotted with desert willows and bigtooth maples in Uvalde, a town founded in 1853 near the Mexico border. Census data show that more than 40 percent of the people in the neighborhood around the school have lived in the same house for at least 30 years.”

Capitol riot trial of former Army reservist and alleged ‘Nazi sympathizer’ Timothy Hale-Cusanelli begins, NPR, Tom Dreisbach, Tuesday, 24 May 2022: “A former Army reservist stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 intent on inciting a second ‘civil war,’ federal prosecutors said in court on Tuesday. The defendant, Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, is the latest alleged Capitol rioter to face trial, and brings a history of what both the prosecution and defense call ‘extreme’ statements. The jury saw a series of such statements in the form of text messages Hale-Cusanelli sent prior to the riot, in which he used anti-Black, anti-gay and antisemitic slurs. Hale-Cusanelli’s attorney, meanwhile, insisted that his client’s statements shouldn’t be taken literally, that he was ‘desperate to be heard’ when he joined the riot, and did not intentionally disrupt the counting of electoral votes that day. Over the course of an anticipated week-long trial, jurors will have to decide which case is more persuasive. On Wednesday, prosecutors intend to call Hale-Cusanelli’s former roommate, who acted as a confidential human source for the government and secretly recorded Hale-Cusanelli talking about his actions on Jan. 6. Hale-Cusanelli of New Jersey, has not been accused of assaulting police or inflicting property damage during the attack. Unlike other defendants facing similar charges, however, Hale-Cusanelli has been held in pre-trial detention for more than a year. A federal judge – appointed by former President Trump – found that Hale-Cusanelli posed too much of a danger to the public, in part because of his alleged ‘white supremacist’ ideology. As described in court papers, Hale-Cusanelli once went to his job as a security guard at a Naval weapons station while sporting a ‘Hitler mustache,’ and told a co-worker that, ‘Hitler should have finished the job.'”


Wednesday, 25 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: After talks regarding Turkey’s continued objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO, a senior Turkish official said the meeting yielded ‘positive’ signs but no immediate breakthrough, The Washington Post, Kareem Fahim, Zeynep Karatas, Paulina Firozi, Annabelle Timsit, Rachel Pannett, Amy Cheng, Andrew Jeong, and Adela Suliman, Wednesday, 25 May 2022: “Ibrahim Kalin, an adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said that Turkey was in no rush to resolve concerns unless its demands are met and that there was ‘no time pressure’ to include NATO’s secretary general in discussions until a meeting of the alliance scheduled for late next month. Meanwhile, Russia is attempting to capture Ukraine’s eastern Luhansk region at all costs, with the strategic city of Severodonetsk ‘under enemy fire around-the-clock,’ Sergei Haidai, the regional governor, said Wednesday. Civilians are sheltering in bomb shelters inside the Azot chemical plant, which has been hit by deadly strikes in recent days, Haidai added. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has described the situation in the Donbas region — of which Luhansk is a part — as ‘extremely difficult,’ accusing Russia of wanting ‘to destroy everything there.’ The British Defense Ministry said Wednesday that Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea has left ‘significant supplies of Ukrainian grain’ stranded and ‘unable to be exported,’ as fears grow that the war could spark a global food crisis.

  • After European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen accused Russia of using food ‘as a form of blackmail,’ a Russian official suggested Moscow could allow ships carrying Ukrainian grain to leave if the West were to lift sanctions.
  • U.S. financial institutions will no longer be permitted to accept bond payments from Russia, after the Treasury said it would let a sanctions waiver expire Wednesday.
  • The British government approved the sale of Chelsea Football Club after sanctions were placed on the London-based club’s longtime owner, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 91 of the War in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials say Russia is likely to resort to siege tactics as it tries to encircle and capture Sievierodonetsk and other cities in the Donbas region. The New York Times, Wednesday, 25 May 2022: “As the fourth month dawns in the war in Ukraine, the battle has narrowed to a 75-mile-wide sliver of land in the heart of the eastern Donbas region, where Russia’s concentrated firepower and shortened supply lines are helping its forces make progress toward a handful of key cities. Moscow’s main immediate target remains Sievierodonetsk, the easternmost city still under Ukrainian control. Artillery barrages fired by Russian forces approaching from three sides have knocked out water and electrical supplies, driven residents into underground shelters and, in the last 24 hours, killed at least six people, the regional government said on Wednesday. Ukrainian officials say that they expect Russian forces to attempt a repeat of the devastating siege tactics that they employed in the southeastern city of Mariupol, choking off Sievierodonetsk and other cities as they seek full control of Donbas. Shrinking its objectives has allowed Moscow to make incremental gains closer to the Russian border in eastern Ukraine, after failing to capture the capital, Kyiv, and other cities in the north. But military analysts and Western intelligence officials believe that Moscow’s forces would face brutal urban combat if they tried to fully capture Sievierodonetsk, and that they would struggle to mount an offensive deeper inside Ukraine. The intensified fighting, with each side trying to encircle the other and prevent entrapment, comes as Ukraine’s Western allies try to maintain pressure on Russia. Representatives from Finland and Sweden were in Turkey on Wednesday to meet with high-level officials in an effort to address President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s opposition to the Nordic nations’ bids to join NATO. On the eve of the talks, Turkey laid out a series of security-related demands of Sweden, including that it abandon support for the separatist Kurdistan Worker’s Party, an organization that Turkey and the European Union consider terrorists.

In other developments:

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 25), NPR, NPR Staff, Wednesday, 25 May 2022: “As Wednesday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: Parts of eastern Ukraine came under constant Russian bombardmentRussia is trying to take full control of the Donbas region that’s become the main focus of its war in Ukraine. Fighting escalated especially near the city of Severodonetsk; the Luhansk region’s pro-Kyiv governor said on Telegram 15,000 citizens remain in and around the city and Ukrainian forces are still holding out. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that his country refuses to give up any land for an end to the war. Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials offered condolences to the community of Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 21 people — including 19 students — at an elementary school. Speaking by video at a conference on the sidelines at Davos, Zelenskyy also drew a link, citing tragic killing of children in both the shooting and the war in Ukraine. Moscow could provide a humanitarian corridor for food shipments out of Ukraine in exchange for lifting of some sanctions, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko. Ukraine’s foreign minister called the offer ‘blackmail.’ World leaders are warning of a looming global food shortage as Black Sea trade routes remain blocked, trapping Ukrainian exports of wheat, sunflower oil and other foodstuffs. Russia simplified a path to Russian citizenship for residents of some occupied parts of southern Ukraine: Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. Russian President Vladimir Putin also made the first public visit to a Moscow military hospital as the Kremlin said he met with soldiers wounded in Ukraine. Russian lawmakers separately passed a bill to widen the military-recruiting pool by lifting the age cap for people signing up for voluntary contracts, allowing for recruits between 40 and 50 years old. A new European Commission proposal would permit European Union governments to seize assets of people or companies who evade EU sanctions against Russia. The proposal would streamline the law for all countries in the bloc, where member states vary in how they prosecute evasion of sanctions. The proposal also seeks to punish lawyers, bankers or any others who help circumvent sanctions.”

The Justice Department Has Stepped Up Its Criminal Investigation Into the Creation of Alternate Slates of Pro-Trump Electors Seeking to Overturn Biden’s Victory in the 2020 election, With a Particular Focus on a Team of Lawyers That Worked on Behalf of President Donald J. Trump. In recent subpoenas, federal prosecutors investigating alternate slates of pro-Trump electors sought information about Rudolph W. Giuliani, John Eastman, and others. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Katie Benner, and Luke Broadwater, Wednesday, 25 May 2022: “The Justice Department has stepped up its criminal investigation into the creation of alternate slates of pro-Trump electors seeking to overturn Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the 2020 election, with a particular focus on a team of lawyers that worked on behalf of President Donald J. Trump, according to people familiar with the matter. A federal grand jury in Washington has started issuing subpoenas in recent weeks to people linked to the alternate elector plan, requesting information about several lawyers including Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and one of his chief legal advisers, John Eastman, one of the people said. The subpoenas also seek information on other pro-Trump lawyers like Jenna Ellis, who worked with Mr. Giuliani, and Kenneth Chesebro, who wrote memos supporting the elector scheme in the weeks after the election. A top Justice Department official acknowledged in January that prosecutors were trying to determine whether any crimes were committed in the scheme. Under the plan, election officials in seven key swing states put forward formal lists of pro-Trump electors to the Electoral College on the grounds that the states would be shown to have swung in favor of Mr. Trump once their claims of widespread election fraud had been accepted. Those claims were baseless, and all seven states were awarded to Mr. Biden. It is a federal crime to knowingly submit false statements to a federal agency or agent for an undue end. The alternate elector slates were filed with a handful of government bodies, including the National Archives.”

Trump Is Said to Have Reacted Approvingly to January 6 Chants About Hanging Pence. The House committee investigating the capitol assault has heard accounts of the former president’s remarks as he watched the riot unfold on television. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Luke Broadwater, Wednesday, 25 May 2022: “Shortly after hundreds of rioters at the Capitol started chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence!’ on Jan. 6, 2021, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, left the dining room off the Oval Office, walked into his own office and told colleagues that President Donald J. Trump was complaining that the vice president was being whisked to safety. Mr. Meadows, according to an account provided to the House committee investigating Jan. 6, then told the colleagues that Mr. Trump had said something to the effect of, maybe Mr. Pence should be hanged. It is not clear what tone Mr. Trump was said to have used. But the reported remark was further evidence of how extreme the rupture between the president and his vice president had become, and of how Mr. Trump not only failed to take action to call off the rioters but appeared to identify with their sentiments about Mr. Pence — whom he had unsuccessfully pressured to block certification of the Electoral College results that day — as a reflection of his own frustration at being unable to reverse his loss. The account of Mr. Trump’s comment was initially provided to the House committee by at least one witness, according to two people briefed on their work, as the panel develops a timeline of what the president was doing during the riot. Another witness, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Mr. Meadows who was present in his office when he recounted Mr. Trump’s remarks, was asked by the committee about the account and confirmed it, according to the people familiar with the panel’s work. It was not immediately clear how much detailed information Ms. Hutchinson provided. She has cooperated with the committee in three separate interviews after receiving a subpoena.” See also, The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol is told that Trump indicated support for hanging Pence during the insurrection, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 25 May 2022: “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol collected testimony that then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows remarked to others that then-President Donald Trump indicated his support for hanging Vice President Mike Pence after rioters who stormed the Capitol on that day started chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence!’ The account of Meadows’s comment characterizing Trump’s reaction to his vice president was provided to the committee by at least one witness, according to people familiar with the investigation — but those people did not describe the tone with which the comment was made. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to be more candid about a sensitive topic. The development was first reported by the New York Times.”

After Texas tragedy, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer says Democrats will negotiate on guns, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Wednesday, 25 May 2022: “Facing yet another gut-wrenching mass school shooting, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and his fellow Senate Democrats signaled Wednesday that they are open to another round of negotiations with Republicans over potential gun-control legislation — modest and ill-fated as they may be. In his first extended remarks on the horror in Uvalde, Tex. — where an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two adults in an elementary school — Schumer (D-N.Y.) castigated Republicans for their repeated inaction after mass shootings dating back more than a decade, but said Democrats had no choice but to try again. ‘I know this is a slim prospect — very slim, all too slim. We’ve been burned so many times before. But this is so important,’ he said on the Senate floor. ‘If you do the right thing and persist, justice will eventually prevail. … And for that reason alone, we must pursue it.’ Schumer’s remarks Wednesday indicate that he is, for now, siding with members of his caucus who want to at least try to work with Republicans firmly opposed to existing Democratic gun-control bills in hopes of striking a deal around some kind of narrow legislation that could break decades of congressional stasis on guns. But if past is prologue, those talks could drag on for weeks or longer and peter out as public attention turns away from Tuesday’s shooting in Uvalde and the killing of 10 in a Buffalo supermarket earlier this month.” See also, Where Senate Republicans Stand on Gun Legislation, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Lauren Leatherby, Alicia Parlapiano, Zach Montague, Aishvarya Kavi, Chris Cameron, and Catie Edmondson, Wednesday, 24 May 2022: “The New York Times reached out on Wednesday to all 50 Republicans in the Senate to see whether they would support a pair of House-passed measures to strengthen background checks for gun buyers. Within hours of the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Senate Democrats moved quickly to clear the way for possible votes on the two bills. The legislation would expand criminal background checks to would-be purchasers on the internet and at gun shows and give the F.B.I. more time to investigate gun buyers flagged by the instant background check system. The vast majority of Republicans have opposed gun safety legislation for years, banding together to block its consideration or refusing to bring it up. Most Republicans who have responded to The Times so far have either declined to take a position or signaled they would oppose the measures, citing concerns about infringing on the rights of gun owners.” See also, A Timeline of Failed Attempts to Address U.S. Gun Violence. Time after time for more than a decade, Democrats in Congress have proposed gun restrictions and faced unyielding Republican opposition. The New York Times, Annie Karni and Luke Broadwater, Wednesday, 25 May 2022: “For more than a decade, as mass shooting has followed mass shooting in the United States, Democrats in Congress have proposed gun restrictions to try to prevent the next tragedy, hoping that the fresh outrage and anguish of another massacre would finally yield some consensus. Each time — after gun massacres at concerts, grocery stores, a Bible study and, most wrenchingly, elementary schools — they have failed amid Republican opposition. ‘We have these truly horrific moments, and then it seems like very little happens because of Republicans in Congress doing the gun lobby’s bidding,’ said Robin Lloyd, the managing director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. ‘We have had the biggest challenges in getting something done at the federal level,’ she added, noting that there has been more action in the states, with more than 450 pieces of legislation signed into law since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.”

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt Signs Bill That Bans Most Abortions at the Point of Fertilization and Relies on Civilian Enforcement to Sidestep Row v. Wade, The New York Times, Luke Vander Ploeg and Kate Zernike, Wednesday, 25 May 2022: “Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma signed a bill on Wednesday that bans nearly all abortions starting at fertilization. The new law, which takes effect immediately, is the most restrictive abortion ban in the country. The law makes exceptions in cases where an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest if they have been reported to law enforcement…. Passed by the Oklahoma Legislature last Thursday, the law relies on civilian enforcement to get around the constitutional right to abortion that was enshrined by the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. State officials cannot bring charges. The law instead requires private citizens to sue abortion providers or anyone who ‘aids and abets’ an abortion — which can include a friend who drives a woman to the clinic. Successful lawsuits in civil court yield at least $10,000 in damages.”

Biden Administration, Settling a Long Fight, Moves to Block Pebble Mine in Alaska. The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) has proposed to ban the disposal of mining waste in the Bristol Bay watershed, a decision that very likely means the end of the Pebble Mine project. The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Wednesday, 25 May 2022: “The Biden administration on Wednesday took a major legal step toward protecting Bristol Bay in Alaska, one of the world’s most valuable sockeye salmon fisheries that also sits atop enormous copper and gold deposits long coveted by mining companies. Citing its authority under the 1972 Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a legal determination that would ban the disposal of mining waste in the Bristol Bay watershed. It’s a move that could deal a death blow to the proposed Pebble Mine, an intensely disputed project that would have extracted the metals but also irreparably harmed the ecosystem, scientists said. The proposal, which would create permanent protections for the waters and wildlife of Bristol Bay, about 200 miles southwest of Anchorage, will be finalized later this year.”

Biden signs executive order on policing 2 years after George Floyd’s death, CBS News, Stefan Becket, Wednesday, 25 May 2022: “President Biden signed an executive order aimed at reforming federal police practices and establishing a national database of police misconduct on Wednesday, two years to the day since George Floyd was murdered at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis. ‘This executive order is going to deliver the most significant police reform in decades. It applies directly, under law, to only 100,000 federal law enforcement officers, all the federal law enforcement officers. And through federal incentives and best practices that are attached to it, we expect the order to have significant impact on state and local law enforcement agencies as well,’ he said. The president delivered remarks at the White House and signed the order as the nation grieves the murder of 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Texas, the deadliest school shooting in nearly 10 years. The president said he would soon travel to Texas to meet with families of the victims, and implored Congress to pass new gun control measures in the wake of the massacre. ‘While they clearly will not prevent every tragedy, we know certain ones will have significant impact and have no negative impact on the Second Amendment,’ Mr. Biden said. ‘The Second Amendment is not absolute.’ The policing order is intended to ‘advance effective, accountable policing and criminal justice practices that will build public trust and strengthen public safety,’ according to the White House, by requiring federal law enforcement agencies to implement dozens of reforms, and incentivizing state and local forces to improve their policing practices.”


Thursday, 26 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: Pentagon officials said Russians are attempting to surround Ukrainian forces defending key towns, The Washington Post, Ellen Francis, Rachel Pannett, Amy Cheng, Jennifer Hassan, Mary Ilyushina, Paulina Firozi, Alex Horton, and Sammy Westfall, Thursday, 26 May 2022: “Russians are attempting to surround Ukrainian forces defending key towns — and appear to have seized the northeastern part of Severodonetsk — as they make slow progress in eastern Ukraine, the Pentagon said Thursday. A senior U.S. defense official said Russian forces, which have recently scaled down ambitions and shifted to smaller objectives, are working on an ‘encirclement effort’ meant to cut Ukrainian forces off from any reinforcement, including from additional supplies of Western weapons. As attacks continue to ravage the eastern Donbas region, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar warned Thursday that ‘fighting has reached its maximum intensity.’ Meanwhile, Russia said it will open ports on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov to let foreign ships through, but that Western governments must cancel their sanctions for exports of Ukrainian grain to resume. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has accused Russia of ‘weaponizing hunger’ and said Thursday that sanctions should not be lifted, as Russian blockades of seaports in Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, fuel fears of a global food crisis.

  • The Pentagon estimates that as the war enters its fourth month, Russian forces have lost about 1,000 tanks, which are either destroyed or inoperable; about 350 artillery pieces; three dozen fighter-bomber aircraft; and more than 50 helicopters.
  • Russia’s economy is growing dependent on poor substitutes under the weight of Western sanctions, with shortages stirring memories from the Soviet Union.
  • The Kremlin announced a plan to raise Russia’s pension and minimum wage by 10 percent to tackle rising living costs. Putin also noted that the ruble has strengthened significantly against the dollar in recent months.
  • As Finland looks to join NATO, Prime Minister Sanna Marin met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv and visited the capital’s destroyed suburbs.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 92 of the War in Ukraine. Some Western leaders have suggested a territorial compromise between Ukraine and Russia, which Ukraine opposes. Russia shelled central Kharkiv, leaving many dead and wounded, and Ukraine’s agricultural minister warned that global grain shortages were expected this summer. The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Patricia Cohen, and Dan Bilefsky, Thursday, 26 May 2022: “Three months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia is struggling to stave off a return to Soviet-era scarcity, and the United States and its allies are debating how to bring this war to an end. The economic cost of the war, which forced Russia’s central bank to slash interest rates again on Thursday, could eventually alter President Vladimir V. Putin’s calculus, though so far he has shown no interest in a negotiated end to the war. That has not stopped presidents and prime ministers, as well as the Democratic and Republican Party leaders in the United States, from weighing in with ideas for how, if not to win the war, to at least wind it down. But after months of remarkable unity in response to the Russian invasion, divisions are emerging about the endgame. In the past few days alone there has been an Italian proposal for a cease-fire (rejected by Russia on Thursday), a vow from Ukraine’s leadership to push Russia back to the borders that existed before the Feb. 24 invasion, and renewed discussion by American officials about ‘strategic defeat’ for President Vladimir V. Putin — one that would assure that he is incapable of mounting a similar attack again. Adding to the debate, Henry Kissinger, the polarizing 98-year-old former secretary of state, said bluntly in a video appearance in Davos, Switzerland, this week that Ukraine would have to cede territory in exchange for peace. That elicited a blistering response from President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. Referring to the Munich Agreement and the appeasement of Hitler, he said, ‘I get the sense that instead of the year 2022, Mr. Kissinger has 1938 on his calendar.’ At the heart of the discourse lies a fundamental question about whether the three-decade-long project to integrate Russia into the international order has now ended: Should the country be designated a pariah state for years or decades to come, or is it, as some Europeans argue, more dangerous to isolate and humiliate Mr. Putin?”

Russia-Ukraine War: What happened today (May 26), NPR, NPR Staff, Thursday, 26 May 2022: “As Thursday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: Battling in eastern Ukraine reached a ‘maximum intensity,’ the Ukrainian deputy defense minister said. Russia continued to make incremental gains, sending smaller units to go after smaller towns in the east’s Donbas region, according to the Pentagon. A senior U.S. defense official said that 85 howitzers are now in Ukraine and over 400 Ukrainian soldiers were trained to use them. In Ukraine’s northeast, meanwhile, a governor said Russia was shelling and hitting civilians in Kharkiv. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would make a significant contribution to overcome global food shortages in return for sanctions relief, according to a Kremlin readout from his phone call with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. The British foreign minister swiftly responded that ‘Putin is trying to hold the world to ransom.’ Western powers accuse Russia of blocking key Ukrainian exports like wheat from access to ports currently under the control of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. Yet Russian fertilizer and grain sales have also been snagged by sanctions — a contributing factor to rising world food prices. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy sharply criticized suggestions by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that Ukraine should cede some territory to Russia as a way to end the war. Speaking in his nightly address, Zelenskyy castigated Kissinger for emerging from the deep past and saying that a piece of Ukraine should be given to Russia. Kissinger, who turns 99 on Friday, called for Russia-Ukraine peace negotiations to start within the next two months during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday. He also suggested the two sides return to the status quo before Russia’s February invasion — when Russia already controlled parts of eastern and southern Ukraine. Zelenskyy compared Kissinger’s remarks to Europe’s appeasement of Nazi Germany before World War II. Putin portrayed the flight of foreign companies as a win, saying ‘it’s for the best,’ that Russia could fill their niches. Starbucks and McDonald’s are among the major companies that have left. Speaking via video to a regional economic forum, Putin also insisted Russia has grown stronger due to Western sanctions. The Kremlin’s own economists have painted a more dire picture as the sanctions continue to bite. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin became the latest leader to visit Ukraine. She met with President Zelenskyy in Kyiv and visited Irpin and Bucha. Concerned by neighboring Russia’s aggression, Finland applied to join NATO earlier this month. French President Emmanuel Macron had a phone call Thursday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and urged him to drop a threat to veto Finland’s bid to join the defense alliance.”

Appeals Court Rules New York Attorney General Letitia James Can Question Trump Under Oath. The judges unanimously rejected the former president’s appeal of an earlier ruling that ordered him and two of his adult children to testify in a civil investigation into his family business. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess, and William K. Rashbaum, Thursday, 26 May 2022: “Donald J. Trump and two of his adult children must sit for questioning under oath as part of the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into their business practices, a state appeals court ruled on Thursday. Mr. Trump’s lawyers had argued that the inquiry by the state attorney general, Letitia James, was politically motivated and that she should not be permitted to question him or his children Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump. The lawyers also claimed that the attorney general could not force Mr. Trump to face questioning in her civil investigation because he was also the subject of a criminal inquiry into some of the same business practices. But the court found that the Trumps had not shown they were being treated differently from other investigative targets and argued that ‘the existence of a criminal investigation does not preclude civil discovery of related facts.’ The decision represented the latest in a string of legal setbacks for Mr. Trump, who was also recently held in contempt of court for failing to fully comply with a subpoena from Ms. James seeking documents. And the rebuke will likely embolden Ms. James at a crucial moment in her investigation, as she weighs whether to sue Mr. Trump and the Trump Organization, his family real estate business. ‘Once again, the courts have ruled that Donald Trump must comply with our lawful investigation into his financial dealings,’ Ms. James said in a statement. ‘We will continue to follow the facts of this case and ensure that no one can evade the law.'” See also, New York appeals court rules Trump, Ivanka, and Don Jr. must sit for depositions, CNN Politics, Kara Scannell, Thursday, 26 May 2022: “A New York appeals court has ruled former President Donald Trump and two of his adult children must sit for depositions in the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into the Trump Organization. In a four-page order, the court found that a lower court ‘properly rejected appellants’ arguments that the subpoenas issued by the OAG should be quashed.’ The appeals court said the parallel criminal investigation conducted by the Manhattan district attorney’s office doesn’t stop New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, from pursuing her civil investigation, including testimony.”

The Supreme Court allowed the Biden administration, for now, to use a higher estimate for the societal cost of rising greenhouse gases when federal agencies draft regulations, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Anna Phillips, Thursday, 26 May 2022: “In a one-sentence order without comment or noted dissent, the court turned aside a request from Louisiana and other Republican-led states to prevent federal agencies from using the administration’s estimate of the harm climate change causes, known as the ‘social cost of carbon.’ The federal government uses the estimate in all sorts of rulemaking, including new drilling permits and assessing the costs for crop losses and flood risks. The estimates are something of a political football. After the Trump administration lowered the cost estimate from that set in the Obama administration, President Biden’s administration increased it. Republican-led states went to court. A federal district judge in Louisiana ruled for the states and said the estimates could not be used. But a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit disagreed and put the judge’s order on hold. The Supreme Court’s action Thursday keeps that ruling in place…. The order means the Biden administration can continue to consider the economic cost of climate change as it writes new rules and strengthens existing ones. For the administration, calculating the real-world cost of climate change — and factoring that cost into its leasing decisions and infrastructure projects — is a crucial tool to meet its emissions-reduction targets. With sweeping climate legislation stalled in Congress and a forthcoming Supreme Court decision threatening the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the social cost of carbon has become a key way for the federal government to write stronger environmental rules.”

How to Prevent Gun Massacres? Look Around the World. Australia, Britain, Canada, and other countries have enacted reforms that turned mass shootings into rare, aberrational events, rather than everyday occurrences. The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Thursday, 26 May 2022: “On April 28, 1996, Martin Bryant, a disturbed twenty-eight-year-old Australian who had been bullied at school, walked into a café in the city of Port Arthur, a former convict settlement in the state of Tasmania that is now a unesco World Heritage Site. He pulled a Colt AR-15 rifle from his duffelbag and started shooting. After killing more than twenty people in the café and in an adjacent gift shop, he reloaded his weapon and roamed around the site shooting at random. A carjacking and a hostage negotiation followed. By the time he was arrested, he had killed thirty-five people and wounded another twenty-three. Australia, like the United States, is a federalized former British colony that has long styled itself as a rugged, individualistic nation. Hunting and shooting are popular there. Unlike the U.S., though, Australia has a political system that is responsive to popular opinion. Its legislatures do not have filibuster-like rules that allow a minority of lawmakers to block legislation. Within two weeks of the Port Arthur massacre, the worst in modern Australian history, governments at the federal and state levels had agreed to ban semi-automatic and pump-action firearms. The federal government also introduced several other measures, including a buyback scheme to compensate owners of the newly banned firearms, a centralized registry of gun owners, and a public-education campaign about the new laws. Just over a year ago, Australia marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the transformation brought about by the Port Arthur rampage. In a country of roughly twenty-seven million people, there are still a lot of guns in private hands—in 2020, there were an estimated 3.5 million. But the number of mass shootings, defined as attacks in which at least four people are killed, has declined precipitously. In the decade before Port Arthur, there had been eleven such incidents. In the quarter century since, there have been three, the worst of which involved a farmer in Western Australia killing six family members. It should be noted that Australia, like the U.S., has a strong gun lobby, which, until 1996, had successfully frustrated efforts to tighten gun laws there. When the conservative Prime Minister at the time, John Howard, pushed through the ban on certain firearms, gun owners were so angry that he wore a bullet-proof vest when he addressed a group of them. But the vast majority of Aussies backed Howard. After Port Arthur, Australia was ‘united in horror and grief, and there was a very strong level of support for what we had to do,’ Howard recalled to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation last year. ‘The goal was to prohibit possession of automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and that’s been achieved. The country is a much safer place.’ What happened in Australia provides a concrete example of how a healthy democracy can confront powerful interests to introduce rational policies that clearly benefit the country. The Australian success story also reminds us what a dismal outlier the United States remains in terms of gun violence and political will even in the face of the most gruesome and abhorrent of all mass shootings: the killings of schoolchildren.”

Parents Express Anger at Police Response to Uvalde School Massacre. Authorities defended their response to the shooting in a news conference, as some parents who lost children asked what happened during the hour of terror in which a gunman took 21 lives. ‘This could have been over in a couple of minutes,’ one anguished father said. The New York Times, Natalie Kitroeff, Frances Robles, J. David Goodman, and Serge F. Kovaleski, Thursday, 26 May 2022: “The grief of families in Uvalde, Texas, was compounded by anger and frustration on Thursday as police leaders struggled to answer questions about the horrific hour it took to halt a gunman who opened fire on students and teachers inside Robb Elementary School. As parents began making funeral arrangements — on a day that was meant to mark the last of the school year — criticism deepened in the majority-Hispanic ranching community of 15,200 over the protracted police response, and the failure of officials to adequately explain their actions. No school police officer confronted the gunman before he went into the school, a state police spokesman said on Thursday, contradicting earlier reports of an encounter outside, and suggesting a shortfall in the response. ‘He walked in unobstructed initially,’ Victor Escalon, a regional director for the state’s Department of Public Safety, said at a news conference. ‘He was not confronted by anybody.’ Parents had massed outside the school on Tuesday as gunfire erupted inside, urging the police who were holding them at bay to go in and stop the carnage. On Thursday, focus shifted for some lawmakers in Texas and in Washington from debates over the weapon the 18-year-old gunman had used, an AR-15-style rifle, to questions about the hourlong delay in bringing the rampage to an end. Most mass shootings are over within minutes, policing experts said.”

Scott Pruitt, While in Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Trump Administration, ‘Endangered Public Safety’ by Ordering His Drivers to Speed. an internal report validated whistle-blower allegations that Pruitt repeatedly forced his security detail to drive at dangerous speeds on routine trips because he was running late. The New York Times, Eric Lipton, Thursday, 26 May 2022: “Scott Pruitt, while in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Trump administration, repeatedly pressured his federal security officers to drive at excessive and sometimes dangerous speeds on routine trips, with sirens and emergency lights on, because he had a habit of running late, according to a federal report released on Thursday. The security officers said they knew this was a violation of federal policies and ‘endangered public safety,’ the report said. Among the incidents cited in the report was a 2017 trip in which a special agent drove Mr. Pruitt with the lights and sirens going, in the wrong direction into oncoming traffic, to pick up Mr. Pruitt’s dry cleaning, when Mr. Pruitt was late for an agency meeting…. Reports about this improper use of lights and sirens first became public in 2018, along with other assertions of wrongdoing by Mr. Pruitt, including first-class travel back to his home in Oklahoma on government-paid flights and improper use of government funds to build a $43,000 soundproof phone booth inside his office. They ultimately led to his resignation in July 2018. But until now, an internal E.P.A. report that substantiated the allegations about the abusive use of lights and sirens on his government-issued car had never been made public, even though it was completed a month before Mr. Pruitt resigned. Mr. Pruitt, who is now running as a Republican for the United States Senate in Oklahoma and previously served as the state’s attorney general, did not respond to a request for comment.”


Friday, 27 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: Russia takes territory in eastern Ukraine; U.S. to send long-range rocket systems, The Washington Post, Jonathan Edwards, María Luisa Paúl, Jaclyn Peiser, Claire Parker, and Erin Cunningham, Friday, 27 May 2022: “Russian troops and allied forces made steady gains in eastern Ukraine Friday, seizing a strategic railway hub and advancing on other cities at the center of the contested Donbas region. The battlefield losses have raised concerns in Washington, where the Biden administration was preparing to send advanced long-range rocket systems to Ukraine, according to U.S. officials. Russia’s progress, while incremental, has solidified its control over most of Luhansk, a key territory in the east. The moves also brought President Vladimir Putin closer to his stated goal of capturing both Luhansk and Donetsk, which together make up Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland. Ukrainian officials vowed to thwart the Russian advance but acknowledged that some forces may need to retreat. ‘Donbas will be Ukrainian,’ President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an evening address Friday.

  • Russian forces control more than 95 percent of the Luhansk oblast, according to the Institute for the Study of War.
  • The port of Mariupol will reopen to incoming ships by the end of the month, a Russia-backed separatist leader said Friday.
  • While Russian forces have made some gains in their attempt to entrap key areas in eastern Ukraine, several decisions revealed ‘tactical failures,’ Britain’s Defense Ministry said Friday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for sending more weapons to Ukraine, including multiple launch rocket systems.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 93 of the War in Ukraine. A report by legal and rights experts cited a ‘genocidal pattern’ by Russia. Russian troops seized Lyman and moved closer to encircling Sievierodonetsk. The New York Times, Victoria Kim, Megan Specia, Andrew E. Kramer, and Michael Levenson, Friday, 27 May 2022: “The increasing carnage and destruction inflicted by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine — punctuated by the use of thermobaric explosives that set off huge, destructive shock waves — led to fresh accusations Friday that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was waging a genocidal campaign to wipe out a substantial part of the Ukrainian population. A new report by international legal scholars and human rights experts said mass killings, deliberate attacks on shelters and evacuation routes, and the indiscriminate bombardment of residential areas by Russian forces had established a ‘genocidal pattern’ against Ukrainians, in violation of the United Nations Genocide Convention.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 27), NPR, NPR Staff, Friday, 27 May 2022: “As Friday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: Russian forces appeared to have taken control of the strategic railway hub of Lyman in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region. The area remains under constant bombardment in a grinding fight. The geography of the Donbas makes the war there an artillery battle, and Ukrainian soldiers say they are outgunned by Russia’s heavy weaponry. The Biden administration has sent Ukraine dozens of howitzers, but Ukrainian military officials say Russia is targeting the weapons as they appeal for more Western-supplied weaponry. The United Nations human rights office recorded 8,766 civilian casualties in Ukraine as a result of Russia’s war. That includes 4,031 people killed, including 261 children, and 4,735 people injured, including 406 children. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights noted it believes actual figures are ‘considerably higher.’ A previously Russia-aligned Orthodox church in Ukraine has split from Moscow. The church, backed by Russia, has now announced its ‘independence and autonomy’ and publicly stated its disagreement with Russia’s Patriarch Kirill over his support for the Kremlin’s offensive in Ukraine. The Ukraine outpost of the Russian Orthodox Church has been a key ally for Moscow’s religious leaders, in a country that’s home to notable monasteries and other holy sites. It’s been in a tricky position since the war began. Russia paid off the latest batch of foreign-currency debt coupons as economists warn the country remains on the verge of a debt crisis. So far, the country has avoided defaulting, but could face an unusual economic crisis prompted by geopolitics rather than financial shortfall. That’s because the U.S. Treasury Department has ended a waiver that had allowed U.S. banks and investors to receive Russian government debt payments.”

Texas School Shooting: ‘It Was the Wrong Decision,’ Police Say of Delay in Confronting Gunman At Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Officials described a harrowing series of 911 calls, including some from children inside Robb Elementary in Uvalde. The National Rifle Association’s annual convention opened in Houston and former President Donald J. Trump defended gun owners. The New York Times, J. David Goodman, Edgar Sandoval, Karen Zraick, and Rick Rojas, Friday, 27 May 2022: “Furtively, speaking in a whisper, a fourth-grade girl dialed the police. Around her, in Room 112 at Robb Elementary School, were the motionless bodies of her classmates and scores of spent bullet casings fired by a gunman who had already been inside the school for half an hour. She whispered to a 911 operator, just after noon, that she was in the classroom with the gunman. She called back again. And again. ‘Please send the police now,’ she begged. But they were already there, waiting in a school hallway just outside. And they had been there for more than an hour. The police officers held off as they listened to sporadic gunfire from behind the door, ordered by the commander at the scene not to rush the pair of connected classrooms where the gunman had locked himself inside and begun shooting shortly after 11:30 a.m. ‘It was the wrong decision, period,’ the director of the state police, Steven C. McCraw, said on Friday after reading from the transcripts of children’s calls to 911 and from a timeline of the police inaction during nearly 90 minutes of horror at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. After days of shifting explanations and conflicting accounts, the disclosures answered many of the basic questions about how the massacre had taken place. But they raised the even more painful possibility that had the police done more, and faster, not all of those who died — 19 children and two teachers — would have lost their lives.”

House Oversight Committee initiates gun manufacturer investigation. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) contacted five gunmakers on Thursday, requesting information regarding the manufacturing, sale, and marketing of deadly weapons used in mass shootings. The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Friday, 27 May 2022: “In the wake of two massacres that have killed 31 people in less than two weeks, the chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has launched an investigation into gun manufacturers. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) contacted five gunmakers on Thursday, requesting information regarding the manufacturing, sale, and marketing of deadly weapons used in mass shootings. Both gunmen responsible for the carnage in Buffalo and Uvalde, Tex., used AR-15-style rifles, purchased legally at the age of 18. The companies being investigated, according to letters provided to The Washington Post, include Daniel Defense, the maker of the DDM4 rifle the gunman used to kill 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, and Bushmaster, the maker of the Bushmaster XM-15 semiautomatic rifle that the suspected Buffalo shooter said he illegally modified and then used to kill 10 people at a Tops Friendly Markets store.”

Trump’s Federal Suit Against New York Attorney General Is Dismissed. Mr Trump had argued that an inquiry by the attorney general, Letitia James, violated his constitutional rights. It was his second legal loss in two days. The New York Times, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum, and Jonah E. Bromwich, Friday, 27 May 2022: “In the latest legal blow to Donald J. Trump, a federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit the former president filed that sought to halt the New York attorney general’s civil investigation into his business practices. The ruling, in federal court in Albany, was Mr. Trump’s second defeat related to the investigation in two days. On Thursday, an appellate court ordered Mr. Trump and two of his children to sit for questioning under oath from the office of the state attorney general, Letitia James. Together, the rulings clear the way for Ms. James to complete her investigation in the coming weeks or months. While Ms. James, a Democrat seeking re-election, does not have the authority to bring criminal charges against Mr. Trump or his family’s real estate business, she can file a lawsuit if she concludes that they committed fraud. Last month, one of her lawyers indicated that a suit could be coming soon, saying that the office was preparing an ‘enforcement action’ in the near future. It is unclear if Mr. Trump plans to appeal either of the rulings. His lawyers did not respond to requests for comment.”


Saturday, 28 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: Russia claims capture of Lyman, a key Ukrainian transport hub, The Washington Post, Marisa Iati, Julian Duplain, Amy Cheng, Victoria Bisset, and Andrew Jeong, Saturday, 28 May 2022: “Russia’s Defense Ministry said Saturday that its forces now control Lyman, a key transport hub providing access to bridges over the Siversky Donets River, and the British Defense Ministry said most of the town has probably fallen into Russian hands. Ukraine’s military hasn’t confirmed the capture but said Moscow’s troops had consolidated positions around the city. Russia is also trying to encircle the eastern city of Severodonetsk, but the regional governor said Saturday that the city has not been cut off. The Pentagon described the city as ‘still being actively fought over,’ and compared the Donbas clashes to a ‘knife fight.’ More than three months into the conflict, prosecutors from more than a dozen countries and several international and human rights groups are investigating thousands of suspected war crimes in Ukraine. But the number of probes has prompted questions about whether duplication and overlap could lead to jurisdictional disputes. It also could take years for high-level decision-makers to be held accountable, if they are at all.

  • Russian forces in the occupied southern Kherson region have closed the borders to Ukrainian-held territory, Russian state media said Saturday. The regional capital, also called Kherson, was the first major city to fall to Russia following the Feb. 24 invasion.
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to agree to an immediate cease-fire and withdraw Russian forces from Ukraine.
  • Disapproval of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is increasingly bubbling to the surface in Russia — from hawks demanding a more aggressive policy to officials and service members who want no part of the bloodshed.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 94 of the War in Ukraine. Russian troops are engaged in heavy street fighting inside the city of Sievierodonetsk, a major railway hub. Zelensky says the situation is ‘indescribably difficult.’ The New York Times, Andrew E. Kramer, Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Neil MacFarquhar, and Patrick Kingsley, “Russia edged closer on Saturday to occupying the entirety of Luhansk, a key province in eastern Ukraine, after its forces entered a critical eastern city still under partial Ukrainian control. Aided in part by thermobaric warheads, one of the most fearsome conventional weapons available to contemporary armies, the Russian advance in eastern Ukraine highlighted the dividend that Russia has gained by seizing a port on the Black Sea and halting its attempts to capture the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv. That has allowed the Russian Army to concentrate its forces in a small pocket of eastern Ukraine, where Russian supply lines are less vulnerable; where Russian forces have shored up their control of some newly captured territory; and where Ukrainian officials say their army is now considerably outnumbered and outgunned. The latest indicator of this dividend came on Saturday, when two senior Ukrainian officials said that Ukrainian and Russian forces were locked in heavy street fighting inside the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk, where Russian soldiers had advanced to within a few blocks of the administrative headquarters. By Saturday morning, the Russians had captured a bus station and a hotel in the city’s northeast and damaged 14 high-rise buildings during at least three rounds of shelling overnight, the head of Luhansk Province’s military administration, Serhiy Haidai, said.”


Sunday, 29 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: Russia is closing in on Severodonetsk as attacks reduce buildings to rubble, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Julian Duplain, Jennifer Hassan, Paulina Firozi, Emily Rauhala, and Hannah Knowles, Sunday, 29 May 2022: “Russian troops have destroyed all of the ‘critical infrastructure’ and damaged most of the buildings in the eastern city of Severodonetsk, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday. The onslaught continued, with Moscow’s forces advancing in the industrial hub, Ukraine’s military said. The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War estimates that Russia controls more than 95 percent of the broader region of Luhansk as Kremlin-backed troops focus on eastern Ukraine three months into their struggling invasion. Elsewhere in the eastern Donbas region, in the Donetsk oblast, The Washington Post spoke with soldiers who described their situation as dire and demoralizing. ‘Seventy people from my battalion were injured in the last week,’ said a soldier and ambulance driver outside hospital gates who identified himself only as Vlad, 29. ‘I lost too many friends; it’s hard for me. I don’t know how many. … It’s getting worse every day.’

  • Zelensky met with troops in the northeastern Kharkiv region on Sunday and said he fired the local head of Ukraine’s security and intelligence agency for putting personal interests above Ukraine’s defense.
  • Poland’s president said his nation is boosting its defenses so Russia — its neighbor — ‘will be afraid to attack us.’
  • The European Union did not strike a deal on a plan to phase out Russian oil ahead of a special European Council summit in Brussels scheduled for Monday night.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 95 of the War in Ukraine. As his military announced a counteroffensive around the southern port city of Kherson, President Volodymyr Zelensky made a rare visit to frontline positions. European leaders are gathering in Brussels on Monday for a two-day summit on Ukraine. The New York Times, Andrew E. Kramer and Jason Horowitz, Sunday, 29 May 2022: “Ukrainian soldiers, seeking to spread Russian forces thin, launched a counteroffensive on Sunday in Kherson, the key southern city that Moscow considered so securely under its thumb that it had introduced the ruble. Ukraine’s push in Kherson came as its forces were desperately battling to hold off Russia’s efforts to conquer and cut off a strategic strip of Eastern Ukraine that is central to Moscow’s struggling war effort, and it had the effect of expanding the battlefield. The opening of the new front underlined that when it comes to territory in Ukraine, little is for keeps as each side tries to exploit the enemy’s shifting strategic vulnerabilities. That volatility promises to only increase as Ukraine receives more sophisticated long-range artillery, and soon possibly American missiles. On Sunday, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who has appealed for those weapons, sought to build morale by visiting the country’s northeast, near Kharkiv, which is still under shelling.”

Texas School Shooting: Biden Mourns With Survivors During Texas Visit. The president and first lady attended Mass and are visiting families in Uvalde. The Department of Justice will open an investigation into the law enforcement response. The New York Times, Edgar Sandoval, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Karen Zraick, and Jonathan Weisman, Sunday, 29 May 2022: “For the second time in less than two weeks, President Biden on Sunday touched down in an American community consumed by grief, embracing survivors, laying a bouquet and consoling families of victims of another mass shooting. Outside Robb Elementary School, where 19 children and two teachers were gunned down last week, Mr. Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, stopped in front of life-size photos of the victims, placing their hands on the photos and reading their names. As Mr. Biden wiped away a tear, some spectators let it be known that in addition to empathy, they expected action…. The Justice Department said on Sunday that it would initiate a review of the steps law enforcement took to respond to the shooting. The review is not a criminal investigation, and the department is expected to issue a review of its findings. The protracted police response came despite some children inside the classroom calling 911 for help, raising questions about whether lives could have been saved if officials had acted sooner.” See also, Biden visits Uvalde as Department of Justice announces review of how police responded to the attack, NPR, Joe Hernandez, Sunday, 29 May 2022: “The Justice Department will conduct a review of the police response to the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the department announced Sunday. ‘The goal of the review is to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events,’ DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement. Law enforcement officials in Texas have come under blistering criticism for their response to the massacre that left 19 fourth-grade students and two teachers dead. The gunman spent more than an hour inside the school before he was ultimately killed by a tactical unit of Border Patrol agents, despite officers being on the scene for much of the attack. Col. Steven McCraw of the Texas Department of Public Safety said at a Friday news conference that there were as many as 19 local and federal officers in the hallway during much of the shooting, but the commander on scene decided not to immediately go into the classroom because he believed the shooter had barricaded himself inside and no other people were at risk. At least two students hiding in the classroom called 911 for help during the course of the shooting.”

The House select committee investigating the January 6 violent attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters is no longer fighting for Republican National Committee (RNC) marketing data for public hearings, CNN, Katelyn Polantz, Sunday, 29 May 2022: “The House select committee investigating the insurrection is no longer fighting for access to Republican National Committee email marketing data in time for its public hearings next month. The announcement on Sunday – filed in the court case over the House’s subpoena of Salesforce, Inc. – diffuses one of the most substantial subpoena fights in the House’s sprawling investigation of the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. The DC Circuit had been planning to hear arguments against the House accessing the data in mid-June, and Salesforce was barred from providing the data to the House until at least then. Its court filing Sunday now asks to push the court proceedings later into the summer. Lawyers for the House wrote to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit that they recognize ‘that the Salesforce documentation will not be available on the timeline required for use in its hearings.’ The information ‘cannot be obtained, analyzed, and utilized by the Select Committee in the public hearings scheduled during the next several weeks. That information, therefore, could only be useful for additional hearings later this year and/or for an ensuing final Select Committee report recommending legislative action.'”


Monday, 30 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: Ukraine confirms Lyman is under Russian control. French journalist is killed in the Severodonetsk area. The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Rachel Pannett, Julian Duplain, Victoria Bisset, Annabelle Chapman and Meryl Kornfield, Monday, 30 May 2022: “Russian forces closing in on the city of Severodonetsk killed a French journalist who was covering evacuations in one of the last major Ukrainian-held areas of the country’s eastern Luhansk oblast, officials said Monday. The city, which has lost most of its buildings and critical infrastructure in attacks, is a key objective for Russian troops aiming to gain control of the Donbas region. A Ukraine official acknowledged Monday for the first time that Russian forces had taken over the city of Lyman, where Kremlin-backed troops had outgunned Ukrainian defenders. Meanwhile, European Union countries finally reached a deal to phase out Russian oil imports, though the impact will be reduced by an exemption for pipeline oil — a concession to Hungary and other holdouts.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked leaders of the European Union to hasten his nation’s entry into the 27-nation bloc and further isolate Russia with a new package of sanctions.
  • A senior U.S. official said Monday that President Biden has not ruled out sending Ukraine the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS, after Biden told reporters earlier that the United States would not ‘send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia.’
  • Billionaire Roman Abramovich sold the Chelsea soccer club to a group that includes a partial owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday after Western authorities pushed for the Russian oligarch’s ouster.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 96 of the War in Ukraine. Europe agrees to ban most Russian oil imports. The New York Times, Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Richard Pérez-Peña, Monday, 30 May 2022: “The European Union on Monday agreed to ban most imports of Russian oil, the harshest economic penalty yet imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, and potentially the biggest sacrifice by Europe, itself. The deal is the latest and most far-reaching demonstration that over more than three months of war, in reaction to mounting Russian aggression and atrocities, European leaders have grown willing to take steps they considered too extreme when the invasion began. They have already cut off Russian banks from global financial networks, frozen Russian assets and sent advanced weaponry to Ukraine. After weeks of intense wrangling, E.U. leaders meeting in Brussels endorsed an embargo on Russian oil delivered by tankers, the primary method, with commitments to reduce imports by pipeline, according to a draft agreement seen by The New York Times. The deal was announced in a late-night tweet by Charles Michel, president of the European Council, though many details remain to be hashed out. The endorsement came as a multipronged Kremlin assault closed in on the easternmost Ukrainian-controlled city, Sievierodonetsk. Russian forces continued their pattern of bombarding cities and towns, including civilian areas, reducing them to depopulated wastelands before attempting to seize control.”

Cleta Mitchell, a Lawyer and Central Figure in the Scheme to Overturn the 2020 Election, Is Mobilizing Grass-Roots Activists Into an ‘Army of Citizens’ Trained to Aggressively Monitor Elections, The New York Times, Alexandra Berzon, Monday, 30 May 2022: “In the days after the 2020 election, [Cleta] Mitchell was among a cadre of Republican lawyers who frantically compiled unsubstantiated accusations, debunked claims and an array of confusing and inconclusive eyewitness reports to build the case that the election was marred by fraud. Courts rejected the cases and election officials were unconvinced, thwarting a stunning assault on the transfer of power. Now Ms. Mitchell is prepping for the next election. Working with a well-funded network of organizations on the right, including the Republican National Committee, she is recruiting election conspiracists into an organized cavalry of activists monitoring elections. In seminars around the country, Ms. Mitchell is marshaling volunteers to stake out election offices, file information requests, monitor voting, work at polling places and keep detailed records of their work. She has tapped into a network of grass-root groups that promote misinformation and espouse wild theories about the 2020 election, including the fiction that President Biden’s victory could still be decertified and Mr. Trump reinstated. One concern is the group’s intent to research the backgrounds of local and state officials to determine whether each is a ‘friend or foe’ of the movement. Many officials already feel under attack by those who falsely contend that the 2020 election was stolen. An extensive review of Ms. Mitchell’s effort, including documents and social media posts, interviews and attendance at the Harrisburg seminar, reveals a loose network of influential groups and fringe figures. They include election deniers as well as mainstream organizations such as the Heritage Foundation’s political affiliate, Tea Party Patriots and the R.N.C., which has participated in Ms. Mitchell’s seminars. The effort, called the Election Integrity Network, is a project of the Conservative Partnership Institute, a right-wing think tank with close ties and financial backing from Mr. Trump’s political operation.”

Peter Navarro, Former Trump Aide, Gets Grand Jury Subpoena in January 6 Inquiry. The subpoena, the latest indication of an expanding inquiry by federal prosecutors, seeks Mr. Navarro’s testimony and any records he has related to the attack on the Capitol last year. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer, Monday, 30 May 2022: “Peter Navarro, who as a White House adviser to President Donald J. Trump worked to keep Mr. Trump in office after his defeat in the 2020 election, disclosed on Monday that he has been summoned to testify on Thursday to a federal grand jury and to provide prosecutors with any records he has related to the attack on the Capitol last year, including ‘any communications’ with Mr. Trump. The subpoena to Mr. Navarro — which he said the F.B.I. served at his house last week — seeks his testimony about materials related to the buildup to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and signals that the Justice Department investigation may be progressing to include activities of people in the White House. Mr. Navarro revealed the existence of the subpoena in a draft of a lawsuit he said he is preparing to file against the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Matthew M. Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.” See also, Former Trump aide Peter Navarro says he has received a grand jury subpoena related to January 6. He claims they have asked for records of ‘any communications’ with the former president. Politico, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, Monday, 30 May 2022: “Peter Navarro, a former White House aide to Donald Trump, says he’s been served a grand jury subpoena by federal prosecutors probing the Jan. 6 insurrection — and claims they have asked for records of ‘any communications’ with the former president. In a draft lawsuit that Navarro began circulating Monday, the former Trump trade adviser said ‘two FBI special agents banged loudly on my door in the early morning hours’ on May 26 and served him a subpoena signed by Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C…. According to Navarro, the grand jury subpoena directs him to appear for June 2 testimony and to produce any documents that would shed light on his refusal to testify to congressional investigators in February. The demand for documents, he says, include records of any contacts he had with Trump or the former president’s attorneys. A grand jury subpoena for Navarro would be the most aggressive known step that prosecutors have taken into Trump’s West Wing related to Jan. 6. There have long been indications, though, that federal prosecutors have been laying the groundwork for a broader probe into Trump’s inner circle to examine their role in attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election — and stoking the violence that ensued Jan. 6, 2021.”


Tuesday, 31 May 2022:


War in Ukraine: U.S. will send advanced rocket systems to Ukraine, Biden says, as Donbas conflict rages, The Washington Post, Adela Suliman, Amy Cheng, Andrew Jeong, Ellen Francis, Kim Bellware, Reis Thebault, and Rachel Pannett, Tuesday, 31 May 2022: “The Biden administration on Tuesday confirmed it is sending advanced rocket systems to Ukraine, responding to a top request from Ukrainian officials who say the weapons are necessary to curb the advance of Russian forces in the east. ‘America’s goal is straightforward: We want to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression,’ Biden said in an essay published Tuesday evening in the New York Times. Ukrainian officials provided assurances they would not use the weapons to strike targets inside Russia, a senior U.S. official said. Russian forces now control most of Severodonetsk, one of the last major Ukrainian-held areas of the eastern Luhansk region, local officials said Tuesday evening. Russia has pummeled the city for weeks and capturing it would give the Kremlin a significant symbolic victory. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow’s combat power is at ‘maximum’ strength in its push to capture the wider Donbas region, which includes Luhansk and Donetsk. ‘The situation in the Donbas direction is very difficult,’ Zelensky said in his nightly address, adding that Severodonetsk is ‘at the epicenter of the confrontation.’

  • A Ukrainian court found two Russian soldiers guilty of shelling civilian sites during fighting in Kharkiv, the second verdict handed down in a war crimes trial in Ukraine since the conflict began.
  • Fuel prices in the United States set a record Tuesday after the European Union agreed to a partial ban on Russian oil, the bloc’s most significant economic move yet to punish Moscow for the unprovoked invasion.
  • Jailed Russian opposition leader and Ukraine war critic Alexei Navalny said Russian authorities are pursuing a new criminal case against him that could keep him in prison for 15 more years.
  • Zelensky has denounced Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports, which has halted the export of 22 million tons of grain.
  • The Washington Post has lifted its paywall for readers in Russia and Ukraine. Telegram users can subscribe to our channel.

What Happened on Day 97 of the War in Ukraine. As Russian forces advanced into Sievierodonetsk, Ukraine’s allies in Europe promised to increase aid, cut Russian oil imports, and work to ship Ukrainian grain out of the country. Biden said the U.S. would send more advanced rocket systems. The New York Times, Tuesday, 31 May 2022: “Russian troops battled their way into the devastated Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk on Tuesday, as their slow, brutal offensive in eastern Ukraine shifted from indiscriminate shelling to street fighting, with thousands of civilians still trapped among the ruins. With Moscow pressing its advance despite heavy losses, Ukraine’s allies looked to new ways to raise the price Russia pays for aggression, while easing the pain it causes elsewhere. A day after the European Union agreed to ban most Russian oil imports, the bloc’s focus shifted to aiding Ukraine and helping it resume food exports that are vital to feeding the world. Wrapping up a two-day summit meeting in Brussels, E.U. leaders agreed to $9.7 billion in aid to Ukraine this year, albeit with demands attached to fight the corruption that has plagued the country. And Ursula von der Leyen, president of the E.U. executive commission, said the developing global food crisis is ‘only the fault of Russia,’ which has seized or blockaded all of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. ‘The only reason we are struggling with this is because of this brutal, unjustified war against Ukraine,’ she said. Details of the oil embargo have yet to be hammered out, but E.U. officials said that it would reduce imports of Russian oil by 90 percent by year’s end — a severe blow to a major source of revenue for Vladimir V. Putin’s government and its ability to pay for high-tech weaponry.”

Russia-Ukraine war: What happened today (May 31), NPR, NPR Staff, Tuesday, 31 May 2022: “As Tuesday draws to a close in Kyiv and in Moscow, here are the key developments of the day: The Russian ground offensive continued on the eastern city of Sievierodonetsk. Russian forces have seized half the city ‘in a frenzied push,’ the mayor told The Associated PressLocal leadership said Russian troops hit a nitric acid tank at one of the city’s chemical facilities. Russia’s military suggested the Ukrainian forces were to blame, saying that’s who still controlled the area during the explosion. Ukraine’s military claimed some gains in its counter-offensive in the southern Kherson area, under Russian control. Russian state media, meanwhile, reported that Kherson was preparing to potentially formally join the Russian Federation. Ukrainian military officials accused enemy forces of cutting the fiber optic connections between Kherson and the rest of Ukraine, disrupting mobile internet for residents. Russia denied this, accusing Ukrainian leadership of undermining alleged local pro-Russian sentiment. European Union leaders agreed to ban most oil imports from Russia. The move is part of the bloc’s newest sanctions package on Moscow, which had been held up by Hungary and other member states that rely heavily on Russian oil. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the embargo would apply to around 90% of oil imports from Russia to the EU by the end of this year. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban forced the EU to accept a ban solely on sea shipments of Russian oil. Pipeline deliveries, which are critical to Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, won’t be affected by the ban. Over 3,000 Russian soldiers have been confirmed killed in action in Ukraine, says a new report by the independent Russian website IStories. The report — based on local news coverage, social media postings and confirmations from families of the dead — said it verified a total of 3,043 deaths from the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine. The last official numbers published by Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed 1,351 deaths on March 25. Western intelligence services have placed Russian losses between 7,000 and 15,000, even as Ukrainian officials have claimed much higher totals. Thirty-two media workers have died while covering the war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. Speaking in his nightly address, the president noted that French journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff became the latest victim on Monday, when an armored evacuation vehicle came under enemy fire in the eastern Luhansk region. Media workers killed in the Ukraine war have also included Brent RenaudOleksandra KuvshynovaVira Hyrych and many others.”

Michael Sussmann Is Acquitted in Case Brought by Trump-Era Prosecutor. The Democratic-linked lawyer was accused of lying to the F.B.I. about his clients when he passed on a tip about possible connections between Donald J. Trump and Russia. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 31 May 2022: “Michael Sussmann, a prominent cybersecurity lawyer with ties to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, was acquitted on Tuesday of lying to the F.B.I. in 2016 when he shared a tip about possible connections between Donald J. Trump and Russia. The verdict was a significant blow to the special counsel, John H. Durham, who was appointed by the Trump administration three years ago to scour the Trump-Russia investigation for any wrongdoing. But Mr. Durham has yet to fulfill expectations from Mr. Trump and his supporters that he would uncover and prosecute a ‘deep state’ conspiracy against the former president. Instead, he has developed only two cases that led to charges: the one against Mr. Sussmann and another against a researcher for the so-called Steele dossier, whose trial is set for later this year. Both consist of simple charges of making false statements, rather than a more sweeping charge like conspiracy to defraud the government. And both involve thin or dubious allegations about Mr. Trump’s purported ties to Russia that were put forward not by government officials, but by outside investigators.” See also, Michael Sussman acquitted on charge brought by special counsel John Durham. The jury acquitted him on a charge that he lied when he allegedly denied he was acting on behalf of any client in alerting the FBI to claims that a secret server linked Trump and a Moscow bank. Politico, Josh Gerstein, Tuesday, 31 May 2022: “The first courtroom test for Special Counsel John Durham ended in defeat Tuesday as a federal jury found a Democratic attorney not guilty of making a false statement to the FBI related to allegations of computer links between Donald Trump and Russia. The jury deliberated for about six hours before acquitting Michael Sussmann, 57, on the single felony charge he faced: that he lied when he allegedly denied he was acting on behalf of any client in alerting the FBI to claims that a secret server linked Trump and a Moscow bank with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.” See also, A federal jury delivered a major setback to special counsel John Durham, acquitting cybersecurity lawyer Michael Sussmann on a charge that he lied to the FBI in 2016 while acting on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Tuesday, 31 May 2022: “After a two-week trial that revived old controversies about the FBI’s role in that presidential election, the verdict was not a close call or a hard decision, two jurors told The Washington Post. ‘Politics were not a factor,’ said the jury forewoman, who declined to give her name as she left the federal courthouse in downtown Washington. ‘We felt really comfortable being able to share what we thought. We had concise notes, and we were able to address the questions together.’ ‘Personally, I don’t think it should have been prosecuted,’ the forewoman added, saying the government ‘could have spent our time more wisely.’ A second juror told The Post that in the jury room, ‘everyone pretty much saw it the same way.’ Sussmann was accused of lying to a senior FBI official in September 2016 when he brought allegations of a secret computer communications channel between the Trump Organization and Russia-based Alfa Bank. FBI agents investigated the data but concluded there was nothing suspicious about it. Durham was appointed three years ago by President Donald Trump’s attorney general, William P. Barr, to look for possible wrongdoing among federal agents who investigated Trump’s 2016 campaign. The probe has become a Rorschach test of sorts for partisans still eager to spar over which presidential candidate was treated unfairly in the 2016 election.”

Supreme Court temporarily blocks Texas’s social media moderation law, CNN Business, Brian Fung and Ariane de Vogue, Tuesday, 31 May 2022: “The Supreme Court of the United States temporarily blocked a sweeping Texas law on Tuesday that restricts the ability of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to moderate content on their platforms. By a 5-4 vote, the justices granted an emergency request from the tech industry to block a lower court order that would have allowed the law to take hold, pending legal challenges. In an unusual alignment the five justices in the majority were Chief Justice John Roberts, Stephen Breyer, Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Sonia Sotomayor.” See also, Supreme Court blocks Texas’s controversial social media law, Axios, Ashley Gold, Tuesday, 31 May 2022: “The Supreme Court has voted 5-4 to block Texas’ social media censorship law, a major boon for tech companies who have been fighting against content moderation laws that would fundamentally change how they do business. Why it matters: Conservative states have launched a legal war on social media companies in an effort to stem what they see as a wave of censorship, but this decision, like other recent rulings, suggests they face an uphill climb in court. What’s happening: The Supreme Court’s decision means that Texas can’t enforce a new law that would allow Texans and the state’s attorney general to sue tech giants like Meta and YouTube over their content moderation policies. The court’s order isn’t a final ruling on the merits of Texas’ law, but when the courts freeze a particular law or policy, it’s often a sign the measure faces a difficult road on the merits. It comes just a few days after a federal appeals court ruled against a similar law in Florida.” See also, Supreme Court puts Texas social media law on hold while legal battle continues, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Cat Zakrzewski, Tuesday, 31 May 2022: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped a Texas law that would regulate how social media companies police content on their sites, while a legal battle continues over whether such measures violate the First Amendment. The vote was 5 to 4. The five in the majority — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — did not provide reasoning for their action, which is common in emergency requests. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil M. Gorsuch, said he had not made up his mind about the constitutionality of the law, but would have allowed it to go into effect while review continues. Justice Elena Kagan also would have let stand for now a lower court’s decision allowing the law to take effect, but she did not join Alito’s dissent or provide her own reasons. Two Washington-based groups representing Google, Facebook and other tech giants filed the emergency request with the Supreme Court on May 13. The Texas law took effect after a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit lifted a district court injunction that had barred it. The appeals court’s order, which provided no legal reasoning, shocked the industry, which has been largely successful in batting back Republican state leaders’ efforts to regulate social media companies’ content-moderation policies. ‘No online platform, website, or newspaper should be directed by government officials to carry certain speech,’ Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) president Matt Schruers said after the Supreme Court issued its order. ‘This has been a key tenet of our democracy for more than 200 years.'”





Even though the Trump administration is no longer in office, I am continuing to post summaries of the daily political news and major stories relating to this tragic and dangerous period in US history. I will try to focus on the differences between the Trump administration and the Biden administration and on the ongoing toxic residual effects of the Trump administration and Republicans. I usually post throughout the day and let the news settle for a day or so before posting.

I created Muckraker Farm in 2014 as a place to post muckraking (investigative) journalism going back to the 19th century. Recently I have been able to make time to return to this original project. You can find these muckraking pieces under the Home Page link at the top of this site. Thanks for reading!