May 16, 2023


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UKRAINE | Today is day 446 of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Here are your updates:

  • Ukrainian military officials say Russia launched 18 missiles at the capital Kyiv overnight in an apparent attempt to overwhelm the city’s air defenses and that all the missiles were intercepted. No casualties from the attacks have been reported. [more]
  • A two-day summit of the 46-nation Council of Europe begins today in Iceland. Talks on supporting Ukraine and holding Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine are expected to dominate the agenda. [more]
  • Amidst reports that Russia is seeking to purchase additional advanced attack drones from Iran for use in its invasion of Ukraine, U.S. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said yesterday that such sales mean that “Iran has been directly enabling Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.” [more]

U.S. GUN VIOLENCE | Police in Farmington, New Mexico, say three people were killed and six others, including two police officers, were wounded yesterday when an 18-year-old man with multiple firearms fired randomly at people and property while roaming through a neighborhood. The suspect, whose identity has not yet been released, was killed by police. [more]

TRUMP INVESTIGATIONS | In a report released yesterday, special counsel John Durham, who was appointed by then-Attorney General William Barr in 2019 to investigate the FBI's probe of alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election, concludes that the FBI should never have launched a full-scale investigation into the Trump-Russia allegations, and that the Bureau relied too much on raw data and unconfirmed intelligence in conducting its investigation. [full report PDF] [more]

U.S. DEBT | Ahead of today’s scheduled talks between President Biden and Congressional leaders on raising the federal debt limit, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reiterated yesterday that the federal government could run out of money to pay its debts as early as June 1 if no resolution on the debt limit is reached. [more]

VIRGINIA | Police in Fairfax, Virginia, say 49-year-old Xuan-Kha Tran Pham is being held without bond in connection with an attack on two staff members yesterday at an office of 11th District Congressman Gerry Connolly. The attack came amidst what U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger says is a significant increase in the number of threats against members of Congress over the past several years. [more]

PENNSYLVANIA | Two special elections taking place today to fill vacant seats in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives will determine whether Democrats, who currently hold narrow majority, or Republicans control the state chamber. [more]

RENEWABLE ENERGY | U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced nearly $11 billion in funding yesterday for clean energy programs in rural communities around the country. The programs will fund efforts by rural electric cooperatives to create renewable energy, zero-emission, and carbon capture systems, and provide partially-forgivable loans to renewable energy companies and electric utilities to help finance renewable energy projects. [more]

NUCLEAR WEAPONS | In a move aimed at pressuring Russia to resume reporting under the New START treaty, the U.S. State Department released updated data on the U.S. nuclear arsenal yesterday, saying that the country has 1,419 deployed nuclear warheads, 800 deployed and non-deployed delivery systems, and 662 deployed ICBMs, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and heavy bombers. [more]

NEW ZEALAND | Officials in New Zealand say at least six people were killed early this morning when a fire broke out at the Loafers Lodge Hostel in Wellington. Reports say the search for victims is continuing at the hostel and that the death toll from the fire is expected to increase. [more]

CROATIA | Reports say hundreds of military and rescue personnel were deployed to multiple regions of Croatia yesterday to assist in flood recovery efforts after days of heavy rain caused rivers to overflow their banks. More rain for the region is expected in the coming days. [more]

COLOMBIA | Colombian rebel leader Pablo Beltran said yesterday that peace talks between the government and his National Liberation Army have been paused following President Gustavo Petro’s comments that the rebel group is not motivated by political change, but by drug trafficking profits and his questioning of whether the group’s leaders have effective control of their commanders on the battlefield. [more]

UKRAINE | Reports say anti-corruption prosecutors in Ukraine detained the head of the country’s Supreme Court, Vsevolod Knyazev, today in connection with a bribery scheme — one day after the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine announced that it had exposed large-scale corruption at the court. [more]

CHINESE ECONOMY | Data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics released today indicates that consumer spending and factory output in China were lower than expected in April, and that unemployment among young workers stood at about 20.4% for the month. NBS spokesman Fu Linghui said the country’s “recovery of demand is still insufficient” and that “external demand has weakened.” [more]

CRYPTOCURRENCY | The European Council reportedly gave final approval today to a new comprehensive framework for E.U. regulation of cryptocurrencies. The new rules, which are expected to begin implementation in 2024, include requiring licenses for firms that want to issue, trade, and safeguard cryptoassets, implementing measures to combat tax evasion and use of cryptoasset transfers for money laundering, and mandating that, from 2026, service providers obtain the names of senders and recipients in cryptoasset transfers, regardless of the amount being transferred. [more]

AI | In testimony today before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on Privacy, Technology & the Law, Sam Altman, CEO of artificial intelligence platform ChatGPT maker OpenAI, is expected to advocate for licensing or registration requirements for companies to develop powerful artificial intelligence systems. [more]

LITERATURE | The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has announced the winners of its annual Nebula Awards for “writers of the most outstanding speculative fiction works released in 2022,” including the novel “Babel” by R.F. Huang, novella “Even Though I Knew the End” by C.L. Polk, novelette "If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You" by John Chu, and short story “Rabbit Test” by Samantha Mills. [full list of winners] [more]

FILM | The 76th Cannes Film Festival opens today in France with a screening of the Louis XV period drama “Jeanne du Barry,” starring Johnny Depp. Other films to be shown at the festival include James Mangold’s “Indiana Jones and the Dial of the Destiny” and Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon." Actors Michael Douglas and Harrison Ford are scheduled to receive honorary Palme d’Or awards at the festival. [more]

TODAY IN HISTORY | On this date in 1961, the military seized power in South Korea, overthrowing the Second Republic, as General Park Chung-Hee took over the government machinery, dissolved the National Assembly, and imposed a strict ban on political activity. Military control of South Korea continued until Park was elected president in 1963.  [more history]

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