Aid Of Honor
May 12, 2022
Some Good News
- Anonymous donor pays tab for graduates of historically Black college in Texas: “You are debt-free” (CBS)
- US to provide more than $800M in new humanitarian assistance to Syria (CNN)
“Love is a springtime plant that perfumes everything with its hope, even the ruins to which it clings.” – Gustave Flaubert
Inflate Of The Union
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Consumer Price Index on Wednesday, revealing some unsurprising but still discouraging news regarding the state of inflation. Food prices increased by 0.9% in April from the previous month, marking the 17th month in a row that prices have increased. Multiple issues conspired to create the price increases – some manmade, some not. An increase in the costs of fuel and fertilizer and labor shortages lifted prices at restaurants and grocery stores alike, while the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has marked up costs for wheat and cooking oil. An outbreak of avian flu absolutely ravaged the poultry industry, sending dairy and egg prices skyrocketing by 2.5% and 10.3%, respectively. Ongoing droughts have also wiped out a lot of crops, but fruit and vegetable prices mellowed out a bit, going up only 1% after a 1.5% increase the month prior.
Inflation has hit poorer households the hardest, as a bulk of their budget goes to food. On Tuesday, President Biden spoke about how Americans are struggling with inflation, saying, “They’re frustrated. I don’t blame them.” According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted this week, only 42% of Americans approve of Biden’s presidency, with their number one concern being the economy. But Biden noted in his speech, “I want every American to know that I am taking inflation very seriously and it is my top domestic priority.”
As the Federal Reserve continues to decide how to proceed in terms of interest rate increases, Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller said on Tuesday, “It’s time to raise rates now when the economy can take it. Front-load it, get it done, and then we can judge how the economy is proceeding later, and if we have to do more, we’re going to do more.” Many Republicans have been quick to blame Democrats for pumping stimulus checks into the economy, saying that the checks are largely to blame for higher prices. However, a March study from the Federal Reserve bank of San Francisco estimated U.S. fiscal stimulus added 3 percentage points to current inflation data, but without the stimulus the economy might have tipped into deflation, which would have been even harder to navigate out of. (NYT ($), Reuters)
Putin The Cards On The Table
- Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that Vladimir Putin and his entire regime need to be removed from power in order to stop Russia’s “warmongering.” On Tuesday, Landsbergis noted that Lithuania was seeking a permanent U.S. troop presence to prevent more erratic behavior by Russia as the battle in Ukraine rages on.
- Lithuania has been a strong supporter of Ukraine since the start of the war more than two months ago and has pushed for a robust response to counter Russia, becoming the first country in the European Union to stop Russian gas imports.
- Landsbergis stated that the United States and European allies need to think strategically about the long-term actions that must be taken in order to stop Russia from aggressive action toward other countries rather than focusing on just what is happening now in Ukraine. “Russia’s warmongering state will be over when the regime is over in Russia. That’s the only way that we see it,” he said. (CNN)
Al Jazeera Journalist Killed
- Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, 51, was shot and killed while reporting on an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp when she was shot despite wearing a press vest. Al Jazeera reported that she had been “assassinated in cold blood” after she was targeted by the Israeli forces.
- Producer Ali Samoudi was also shot while covering the raid, and stated that despite the crew wearing blue vests clearly marked “PRESS,” gunshots hit him and Abu Akleh. Another witness, Palestinian journalist Shatha Hanaysha, said journalists had been cornered when Abu Akleh was shot. She claims that her colleague’s death was an assassination. (NPR)
Additional World News
- Czech Republic elected to replace Russia on UN rights council (Reuters)
- Siberia wildfires: Putin tells local officials to do better on fighting fires (CNN)
- Russian gas flows to Europe via Ukraine fall after Kyiv shuts one route (Reuters)
- Ukraine Accuses Russia of Stealing Its Grain (WSJ, $)
- Why is Hungary not backing EU sanctions on Russian oil? (Al Jazeera)
- Sinn Fein calls for united Ireland debate after historic election win (Reuters)
- Nigerian airlines suspend flights over soaring jet fuel prices (Al Jazeera)
A House United
- On Tuesday, the House voted to allow staffers to collectively bargain and form unions. The vote came as the legislative branch faces its largest brain drain in years thanks to Covid-19 and the January 6 attack on the Capitol, with 2021 bringing the highest rate of House staff turnover in over 20 years.
- “It’s just outrageous that our own staffers had to wait 26 years after collective bargaining rights were afforded to everybody else on Capitol Hill,” said Democratic Representative Andy Levin, who introduced the bill. “This is the temple of our democracy, and if workers don’t have their rights here, it’s kind of hollow to say that we’re standing up for the rights of people everywhere.”
- In recent years, the House has tried to make improvements for its employees, including a 20% increase in individual office budgets allowing for pay raises, and a new minimum wage paid by the House to $45,000. Despite these changes, House workers are expected to begin organizing, at least within Democratic offices, in the coming weeks. (Politico)
Aid Of Honor
- The House passed another measure on Tuesday that authorizes $40 billion to send military aid to Ukraine amidst Russia’s invasion of the country. The legislation allocates funds to many areas, including humanitarian and military aid.
- Presidential drawdown authority funding was increased from $5 billion to $11 billion, allowing the White House to send more military equipment from U.S. stockpiles to Ukraine. Another $6 billion goes to the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which buys weapons from contractors to send to Ukraine.
- To top it off, $9 billion is going back to the U.S. to replenish weapon stocks sent to Ukraine, and $900 million is going to Ukrainian refugee assistance. The largely bipartisan bill passed the House 368-57, though all dissenting votes were from the red side of the aisle. (CNN)
Additional USA News
- Delaware State University ‘incensed’ after lacrosse team’s bus stopped, searched in Georgia (USA Today)
- Bill Gates tests positive for COVID-19, says he’s experiencing mild symptoms (NPR)
- Republican lawmaker announces resignation from Congress following sexual misconduct claims (The Hill)
- Firearm-related homicide rate skyrockets amid stresses of the pandemic, the CDC says (NPR)
- New York Lawmakers Push for Abortion Fund to Establish ‘Safe Harbor’ (NYT, $)
- Hospital admission totals tick up after weeks of rising COVID-19 cases (ABC)
- Senate passes bill to give police protection to families of Supreme Court justices (NPR)
I Beg Your Parton
- We don’t know how to say this gently, so we’re just going to say it: Dolly Parton is going to star in a TikTok musical about Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza. Parton, who was reluctantly inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last week, posted an Instagram photo of a screenplay titled “Mexican Pizza: The Musical” on Monday. The work of art will be released on May 26.
- Written by Hannah Friedman and with music by Grammy award-winning songwriting duo Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, the musical is a satirical reenactment of when the fast-food chain removed the Mexican Pizza from their menu in late 2020. It is inspired by TikTok star Victor Kunda’s viral video parodying what a dress rehearsal of the musical would look like, based on a jingle posted by Doja Cat.
- Dolly Parton said in January, “[Taco Bell] used to make a little … Mexican Pizza, which is also good. I love that.” While all of this might sound like a jumbled mess of words, it’s not a new concept. “Ratatouille: The Musical” was posted on TikTok back in 2020, and Barlow and Bear actually made history this year at the Grammys as the youngest composers ever nominated for a Best Musical Theater Album award. (NBC, NYT ($), BuzzFeed)
- Passenger with “no idea how to fly” a plane lands Cessna at Florida airport after pilot suffers possible medical emergency (CBS)
- Soldier dies after being attacked by bear on base in Alaska (CBS)
- No charges for Mike Tyson for punching airplane passenger (ABC)
- ‘Devastating’: 91% of reefs surveyed on Great Barrier Reef affected by coral bleaching in 2022 (Guardian)
- How TikTok’s king of poses teaches his 4 million followers to take better photos (LAT, $)
- Secret chamber beneath a home reveals Iron Age mysteries (CNN)