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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

Taken from The Morning Dispatch.


  • After being blocked from leaving the country at least twice on Monday, embattled Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa successfully fled to the Maldives yesterday, effectively ending the decades-long Rajapaksa family dynasty in the South Asian country of 22 million. Protesters frustrated with deteriorating economic conditions have occupied the presidential palace for days, and it’s unclear whether the public will accept the unity government currently being assembled.
  • U.S. Central Command announced yesterday the military conducted a drone strike in northwestern Syria on Tuesday, killing Maher al-Agal—the Islamic State’s highest-ranking official in Syria—and seriously injuring one of his associates. CENTCOM claimed the strike resulted in no civilian casualties, and President Joe Biden heralded the strike’s execution, saying it demonstrates the United States “does not require thousands of troops in combat missions to identify and eliminate threats to our country.”
  • The Senate voted 48-46 on Tuesday to confirm Steven Dettelbach as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, with Republican Sens. Rob Portman and Susan Collins joining all present Democrats in supporting the former federal prosecutor from Ohio. The ATF had been without a Senate-confirmed leader since 2015.
  • The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Tae Johnson is preparing to issue a memo this week instructing immigration detention centers around the country that women in custody are entitled to abortions and should be transferred to another state if they are being detained somewhere the procedure is prohibited.
  • In a speech at the Pacific Islands Forum on Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris outlined several steps to counter China’s influence in the Pacific. The Biden administration plans to establish new embassies in Tonga and Kiribati, appoint a U.S. envoy to the Pacific Islands Forum, triple its request to Congress for regional economic development and ocean resilience funding, and release a more fleshed out U.S. strategy on the Pacific Islands.
  • The United States is launching a new, consolidated mental health crisis hotline on Saturday, when anyone experiencing mental health or emotional distress—as well as suicidal ideations—will be able to reach trained counselors by texting or calling 988. State health officials are reportedly concerned, however, that the hotline won’t have enough resources to keep up with expected demand when it launches.
  • Twitter sued Elon Musk on Tuesday over his recent attempt to back out of an agreement he signed in April to acquire the social media company for $44 billion. The case will be heard in the Delaware Court of Chancery, which will be tasked with determining whether Musk is responsible for “a long list of material contractual breaches” that have “cast a pall over Twitter and its business.”
  • In the days after Dobbs was handed down, a tragic story began circulating the internet, of a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio who had to travel to Indianapolis to terminate her pregnancy. President Joe Biden cited it when signing an executive order last week, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem was asked about it on CNN. But there’s little evidence backing up the account. As Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler notes, the only source cited for the anecdote was Dr. Caitlan Bernard, an Indianapolis-based OB-GYN who claimed she received a call from a “child abuse doctor” in Ohio alerting her to the girl’s situation. “Bernard declined to identify to the Fact Checker her colleague or the city where the child was located,” Kessler writes. “‘Thank you for reaching out. I’m sorry, but I don’t have any information to share,’ she said in an email. … As a spot check, we contacted child services agencies in some of Ohio’s most populous cities, including Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo. None of the officials we reached were aware of such a case in their areas.” Speaking with Fox News, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said his office hasn’t heard “a whisper” of evidence to support the story. “Any case like this, you’re going to have a rape kit, you’re going to have biological evidence. There is no case request for analysis that looks anything like this,” he said. Yost also pointed out that such a girl could have qualified for a “medical emergency exception” under Ohio’s fetal heartbeat law. “This young girl, if she exists and if this horrible thing actually happened to her, breaks my heart to think about it. She did not have to leave Ohio to find treatment.”

https://twitter.com/justinbaragona/status/1546955197045415936

Will Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s legislative ultimatum doom Build Back Better, the America Competes Act, or both? “Republicans won’t work on the bipartisan China competition bill as long as Democrats are working on their partisan budget reconciliation package.”

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