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A curated weekday guide to major national security news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS – U.S. RESPONSE
Russia has suffered an estimated 100,000 casualties since December, including more than 20,000 killed, White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said yesterday. Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in November that Russia had suffered well over 100,000 killed or wounded in the first eight months of the war. The new figures suggest that Russian losses have dramatically accelerated in recent months. Aamer Madhani and Zeke Miller report for AP News.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made a public promise yesterday to continue supporting Ukraine’s war effort, walking back previous suggestions that he might curtail the U.S. military aid for Ukraine. McCarthy’s promise could put him in an awkward position with a small but critical faction of ultraconservative Republicans that vocally oppose further military funding for Ukraine. Karoun Demirjian and Patrick Kingsley report for the New York Times.
OTHER RUSSIA-UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS
Ukrainian forces shelled a village in Russia’s Bryansk region bordering Ukraine early on Tuesday, according to Bryansk Governor Alexander Bogomaz. There were no casualties, Bogomaz said. Ukraine almost never publicly claims responsibility for attacks inside Russia and on Russian-controlled territory in Ukraine. Reuters reports.
An explosion derailed a freight train in Russia’s Bryansk region yesterday, according to the Bryansk Governor Alexander Bogomaz and the Russian railway company. Bogomaz blamed an “unidentified explosive device,” while the Russian railway company said that “an intrusion by unauthorized individuals” derailed the train. Ukraine did not claim to have been behind the blast. Cassandra Vinograd and Ivan Nechepurenko report for the New York Times.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen yesterday warned that the United States may run out of cash by the beginning of June if Congress fails to raise or suspend the debt ceiling. Reaching the debt ceiling would mean the government cannot borrow more money. Yellen urged Congress to act “as soon as possible” to address the $31.4tr limit. Bernd Debusmann Jr reports for BBC News.
The Biden administration will allow tens of thousands of Afghan refugees to renew temporary work permits and protections from deportation for another two years, according to two administration officials. Congressional efforts to permanently resolve their immigration status have stalled. The extension is a temporary fix for more than 76,000 Afghans who arrived in the United States following the chaotic withdrawal. Farnoush Amiri and Colleen Long report for AP News.
Mohamed Khairullah, New Jersey’s longest-serving Muslim mayor, said he is “shocked” the Secret Service denied him entry to the White House’s celebration marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan yesterday. Khairullah said the incident “reeks of Islamophobia by certain federal agencies.” Rebecca Falconer reports for Axios.
Francisco Oropesa, a fugitive Mexican national accused of killing five neighbors over the weekend, had been deported four times, immigration officials revealed yesterday. Attention has quickly turned to the immigration status of the suspect and his victims. The FBI and several Texas law enforcement agencies continue to search for the fugitive. Jesus Jiménez report for the New York Times.
Authorities found the bodies of seven people yesterday on a property in Oklahoma during a search for two missing teens, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said. One of the bodies appeared to be that of Jesse McFadden, 39, who previously failed to appear in court on charges of child pornography and soliciting sexual conduct/communication with a minor. Okmulgee County Sheriff Eddy Rice said the medical examiner’s office would confirm the identity of McFadden and the others. Tim Stelloh, Juliette Arcodia, and Lindsey Pipia report for NBC News.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a measure into law yesterday making it a capital crime to rape a child under 12, a law that could set up a future Supreme Court case. The measure, which overwhelmingly passed the Florida legislature last month with bipartisan support, will go into effect even though it is unconstitutional. In 2008, the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that allowed a child rapist to be sentenced to death, barring states from executing child sex predators unless they also murdered their victims. Tim Craig reports for the Washington Post.
Many of the initial 20 arrests announced by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ new Office of Election Crimes and Security have stumbled in court. Only one case has gone to trial, resulting in a split verdict. Critics say this points to the overall strength of Florida’s electoral system. Nonetheless, as he gears up for a possible presidential run, DeSantis is moving to give the office more teeth, asking the legislature to nearly triple the division’s annual budget. Lori Rozsa reports for the Washington Post.
Some federal prisons face such severe staffing issues that teachers, case managers, counselors, facilities workers, and even secretaries have been enlisted to serve as corrections officers, despite having only basic security training. John Butkovich, a corrections officer at Florence Prison, which includes the country’s most secure supermax unit, said the staffing shortage “creates a safety issue.” About 4,293 positions for corrections officers funded by Congress remain unfilled as of September, according to a report in March by the Justice Department’s inspector general’s office. Glenn Thrush reports for the New York Times.
Hunter Biden will need to sit for a sworn deposition and answer additional written questions about his investments, art sales, and other financial transactions as part of a paternity-related case, an Arkansas judge said yesterday. The hearing was convened after Hunter Biden asked to reduce his monthly child support payments. The two sides are now locked in a legal tussle over which documents Hunter Biden needs to hand over to his former partner Lunden Roberts as part of the discovery process. The dispute has morphed into a partisan proxy battle. Roberts’ attorneys are outspoken GOP activists, and many requests for Hunter Biden’s financial records dovetail with what House Republicans are trying to obtain. Marshall Cohen reports for CNN.
The United States remains “ironclad in our commitment to the defense of the Philippines, including the South China Sea,” President Biden said yesterday. The comments were made during a visit by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. of the Philippines to the White House. Marcos’ trip comes days after the U.S. and Philippine militaries held joint exercises to curb China’s influence in the South China Sea and strengthen the United States’ ability to defend Taiwan if China invades. Katie Rogers Reports for the New York Times.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said yesterday that he would invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress if President Biden refuses to invite Netanyahu to the White House. The comments come amid tensions between the White House and the current Israeli coalition, widely deemed the most right-wing in the country’s history. President Biden said in March that he was very concerned by the state of Israeli democracy following a planned judicial overhaul. Aaron Boxerman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will meet with White House Homeland Security adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall today to discuss migration. The end of Title 42, scheduled on May 11, could sharply boost the number of migrants attempting to cross the border and lead the United States to lean on Mexico for tighter controls. Reuters reports.
U.S. officials yesterday determined that “no action need be taken” to remove the balloon spotted off the coast of Hawaii over the weekend. Though it is unclear whom the object belongs to, it did not appear to be controlled by “a foreign or adversarial actor,” a Defence Department spokesperson said yesterday. Kelly Garrity reports for POLITICO.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – SUDAN
More than 800,000 people could flee Sudan due to the ongoing clashes between rival military factions. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, tweeted yesterday.
Sudan’s rival military factions have accused each other of violating a fresh ceasefire. U.N. emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths said the country’s “humanitarian situation is reaching breaking point.” At least 528 people have been killed and 4,599 wounded. The Guardian reports.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
Israel is increasingly relying on facial recognition in the occupied West Bank to track Palestinians and restrict their passage through key checkpoints, according to a new report by Amnesty International on what it refers to as “automated apartheid.” “These databases and tools exclusively record the data of Palestinians,” said the report. Government use of facial recognition technology to explicitly target a single ethnic group is rare. Adam Satariano and Paul Mozur report for the New York Times.