Wake Up To Politics - June 3, 2022
by Gabe Fleisher
Good morning! It’s Friday, June 3, 2022. Election Day 2022 is 158 days away. Election Day 2024 is 886 days away.
Happy Friday. If you’d like to help weigh in on the future of WUTP, this is your last chance to fill out our survey. Thanks to all those who have already filled it out!
What 100 days of war has meant in Ukraine
Today marks the 100th day of Russia’s war in Ukraine, a conflict unlike any Europe has seen since World War II and one which has led to dramatic shifts in the continent’s security and diplomatic posturing.
Many did not expect Ukraine to hang on this long, and yet — despite some recent losses in the nation’s east — the country continues to battle Russia’s much larger military. Thus far, Ukraine has staved off Russia’s attempts to take over its capital, Kyiv, a major victory against the invading forces.
This morning, I want to share some key numbers to know about the war in Ukraine — to give a sense of where the conflict stands, and of what the first 100 days of war have wrought:
— At least 4,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict, according to the United Nations. An additional 4,800 have been injured. Those are the official numbers, but the UN acknowledges that the actual figures are likely much higher.
— Estimates vary widely of the military death tolls on both sides, but the BBC and the Moscow Times have both independently verified the deaths of at least 3,000 Russian soldiers. Ukraine and Western authorities have pegged the number as much higher, while Russia says it is much lower. Kyiv says 60 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers are killed in action each day, although it is unknown if that number is true either.
— It is known that the Russian losses include 49 colonels and 10 generals, an unusual number of high-ranking officers to be killed.
— 6.6 million refugees have left Ukraine since the invasion began, the UN says, many of them going to Poland and other neighboring countries. 8 million more Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes but remain within the country.
— Ukraine has opened 13,000 investigations into war crimes committed by Russians. Kyiv has already convicted three captured Russian soldiers and has plans to try 48 more.
— One-fifth of Ukrainian territory is now under Russian control, president Volodymyr Zelensky announced last night. Moscow’s latest seizure was the city of Lyman, a key railway junction in eastern Ukraine.
— About 3.8 million Russians left their country in the first three months of 2022, the Russian government reports. The exodus has sparked a “brain drain” in Moscow as many top minds flee to other countries.
— The U.S. has provided about $4.6 billion in security aid to Ukraine since the invasion began, including $700 million just this week. The latest round of Western weapons, which included advanced rocket systems, could prove decisive in the next phase of the war.
— At least 17 Russian yachts have been seized by the U.S. as part of the sweeping sanctions imposed against Moscow during the war.
— And finally, just to give an idea of the unpredictable consequences of war: Several thousand dolphins have been found dead in the region around Ukraine, a mysterious phenomenon that scientists have attributed to the bombs dropped and ships sunk as part of the ongoing conflict.
And then, of course, there is much that has gone unaccounted for.
“How many buildings have been obliterated in Ukraine?” the Associated Press asked in a recent article. “How many limbs lost, children brutalized, refugees put to flight? How many mothers and fathers, sons and daughters killed in 100 days?”
“How many dreams have been destroyed?”
But there’s one more statistic I want to share with you this morning.
Per Axios, there has been a dramatic decline in social media interactions on news articles about Ukraine — from 109 million in the first week of the war to 4.8 million last week.
In a 6-week span in April and May, the same research found, there was six times as much interest in stories about Johnny Depp and Amber Heard than about Ukraine.
Social media interest may have plummeted, but the war rages on into its next 100 days — as lives continue to be lost with every day.
More news you should know
Gun violence: In a rare primetime speech Thursday night, President Biden called on Congress to pass legislation banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, expanding background checks, enacting “safe storage” and “red flag” laws, and repealing immunity for gun manufacturers.
- “For the children we’ve lost, for the children we can save, for the nation we love, let’s hear the call and the cry,” Biden said. “Let’s meet the moment. Let us finally do something.”
Covid: Vaccines for children under 5 years old are set to be available as soon as June 21, as long as regulators authorize them according to schedule, the White House announced.
Economy: The U.S. added 390,000 jobs in May, according to the Labor Department jobs report released this morning, continuing months of gains for the labor market. The unemployment rate remained at 3.6%,
White House: President Biden is poised to visit Saudi Arabia later this month, a significant turnaround from vowing during his campaign to turn the country into a “pariah.” Ahead of his planned visit, the Saudi-led OPEC announced plans on Thursday to increase oil production this summer, which the U.S. has sought in order to lower gas prices.
- Also at 1600 Penn: The White House revealed that it will pay its interns this fall for the first time in history.
Congress: Negotiations led by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to hatch a bipartisan energy deal have reportedly fallen apart, creating an opening for Democrats to strike their long-sought deal with him on a reconciliation package to address climate change and deficit reduction.
Election 2022: Former President Trump endorsed Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters to become the GOP nominee in one of the cycle’s most hotly contested races, throwing his support behind a contender who has embraced his lies about the 2020 election.
- Behind the scenes: Masters is the second Senate candidate Trump his endorsed at the urging of tech billionaire Peter Thiel, after J.D. Vance in Ohio. Per Axios, “Masters would enter Congress as a hard-right, anti-institution MAGA-libertarian eager to take on Big Tech and illegal immigration.”
- In other news: Trump-endorsed Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano has handed over documents to the January 6 committee... Democrats are fretting about their Pennsylvania Senate nominee John Fetterman’s slow return to the campaign trail after suffering a stroke.
Polling watch: A new Gallup poll found that more 55% of Americans now identify as “pro-choice,” the highest level since 1995, and a majority of Americans view abortion as “morally acceptable” for the first time.
- Plus: A new Wall Street Journal poll found that only 30% of Americans would support the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. 68% would oppose such a decision.
In the states: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is moving to ban transition-related care for transgender minors in his state, while also seeking to ban Medicaid coverage for puberty blockers, hormone therapies, and gender-assignment surgery for Floridians of any age.
Long-term story: The Social Security trust fund that allows most Americans to receive retirement benefits is set to run out of money in 2034, the Treasury Department said. That’s one year later than previously projected, but it still means Congress will eventually have to act to shore up the program to ensure Americans receive their full benefits.
What’s going on in government today
All times Eastern.
President Biden is at his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for the weekend. He’ll receive his daily intelligence briefing (9:30 am) and deliver remarks on the May jobs report at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center (10:30 am).
Vice President Harris and Second Gentleman Emhoff will travel to Reno, Nevada (9:20 am). Harris will deliver remarks on the economy and inflation at the 90th annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (3:40 pm); then, she and Emhoff will travel to Los Angeles (4:30 pm), where they’ll spend the weekend.
The Senate will briefly convene for a pro forma session (4:30 pm). No business is conducted during such sessions, which are held only to ensure the chamber meets at least every three days (as required by the Constitution). Only a handful of members are generally in attendance.
The House will also convene for a quick pro forma session (9 am).
The Supreme Court has nothing on tap for the day.
Links to watch for yourself: Senate pro forma • House pro forma
Before I go...
Last night was the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.
For the first time in its history, the competition had to go to a “spell-off” to decide the winner. That meant that the top two contestants — 14-year-old Harini Logan and 12-year-old Vikram Raju — each were given the same list of words and had 90 seconds to correctly spell as many as they could.
Logan spelled 21 correctly, compared to Raju’s 15, and was crowned the winner.
The word that put her over the top? “Moorhen,” which is the word for female grouse (a type of game bird).
You can watch the “spell-off” by clicking the play button below. Watching Logan rattle off spelling after spelling is seriously impressive. And it’s worth watching to the end to see see her sweet celebration with her family.
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