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Buffalo Shooter’s Plans Went Online 30 Minutes Before Attack

30 minutes before 18-year-old Payton S. Gendron shot and killed 10 people — while wounding three — in a Buffalo, New York supermarket March 14, his plans of the racially-motivated attack surfaced on social media.

According to a Discord spokesperson, Gendron created a private chat room on the instant-messaging platform and invited others to read his chat logs. “What we know at this time is that a private, invite-only server was created by the suspect to serve as a personal diary chat log,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that before the “small group of people” were added to the room, no one had saw Gendron’s diary logs. In the logs, Gendron writes how he visited the Tops Friendly Markets store three times on March 8 to survey the layout and security. When a security guard asked Gendron why he repeatedly entered that day, he made excuses and referred to the incident a “close call.”

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Gendron also stated how he used Google to determine the busiest times of the day for the store, and that he chose the area due to it possessing the largest amount of black residents near his home in Conklin, New York. 11 of the 13 people shot are black.

Gendron detailed other potential shooting locations, not only referring to the supermarket as “attack area 1” and mapping out routes to each, but assessing the times and how many people could be fatally shot in total.

Though Gendron’s attack was initially planned to take place on March 15, it was delayed a number of times. The messages, wrote out over a span of months and consisting of more than 600 pages, circulated online over the weekend.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the victims and their families,” the spokesperson said. “Hate and violence have no place on Discord. We are doing everything we can to assist law enforcement in the investigation.”

As the New York Times noted, Discord — founded in 2015 — has struggled to balance free speech and privacy with the combating of hate speech and overall content moderation in the midst of its usage rise during the pandemic. In the second half of 2021, Discord reported disabling 25,170 accounts for violent extremism.

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Gendron’s use of social media was frequent throughout his planning and shooting. Gendron credit the controversial online forum 4chan as an inspiration for the massacre, which he live streamed on Twitch. The stream was taken down in less than two minutes, the company reported.

Gendron additionally published a 180-page manifesto, which gives insight into his deeper beliefs. Gendron, a white supremacist and anti-semite, heavily discussed the “great replacement,” which attests that nonwhite individuals are brought into the U.S. and other countries to replace white individuals in order to achieve political goals.

Gendron targeted Jewish communities as well. “I wish all Jews to HELL!,” he stated in the document. “Go back to hell where you came from DEMON!” Gendron’s troubled state has come into question before, when he made a “general threat” at Susquehanna Valley High School last summer that brought in state police.

Among the people killed by Gendron — who was using an AR 15-style rifle — was a security guard, a taxi driver, and teacher. The victims range between the ages of 20 to 86. Gendron pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder, though other charges are forthcoming.

Baby Formula Shortage

White House Working “24/7” To Address Baby Formula Shortage

On Wednesday aboard Air Force One, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed the ongoing baby formula shortage in the United States, calling the situation a “top priority” for the Biden administration.

Since April, baby formula has seen its nationwide supply decrease by a devastating 40%. “That’s something certainly we’ve been tracking. Ensuring that infant formula is safe and available for families across the country is a top priority to the White House,” Jean-Pierre told reporters, noting families should be able to find general powdered formula in stores.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meanwhile, has been working with manufacturers to increase their production and streamline the import entry process for certain products coming from foreign facilities.

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“Our teams have been working tirelessly to address and alleviate supply issues and will continue doing everything within our authority to ensure the production of safe infant formula products,” FDA commissioner Robert Califf stated.

The shortage — which is rooted amidst the struggling supply chain — has gotten worse due to Abbott Nutrition experiencing a production halt at their facility in Michigan. The company was forced to recall three brands of powdered infant formula after reports of four babies who consumed the formula contracted rare infections caused by Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria. Two of the infants died.

Abbott, one of the largest formula makers in the country, stated that it would be able to start reproduction of the formula within two weeks if U.S. regulators allow it to do so, getting products back on shelves by July. However, the company has also denied responsibility for the deaths, stating their investigation found it was “unlikely” the facility was the source of the infections.

The problem is especially difficult for families who cannot breastfeed naturally, or whose children can’t use other sources of nutrition. Speaking to CNN, pediatricians like Dr. Tanya Altmann provided tips on how the formula shortage can be handled, with one of the most important being that homemade formula should not be attempted.

Altmann went into detail, explaining that because of the detailed and complicated process of creating the right ratios of nutrition for children in formula — from fat to minerals and protein — the needed balances would be very difficult to make within your own kitchen.

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Stretching your formula supply by adding in more food sources or water is not recommended, either. Extra water dilutes the nutrients, while solids are still not a natural substitute for formula at around four to six months old. It could also lead to potential health issues and improper development, risks that are just too great for a parent to take.

According to Altmann, toddler formula or cow’s milk could be a possibility depending on pediatrician recommendations and how old the infant is. Buying international formulas online is also an option, though she stressed it’s important to buy from a reputable source. However, international formulas are not reviewed by the FDA, and the administration discourages that method because of potential counterfeits.

“Not all international formulas are created equally so you may want to make sure you know what you are getting and that it’s a high-quality product.”

The best course of action is to try and be more flexible when it comes to formula brands. Instead of looking for a specific brand, switching to one that’s available would be better than holding out. Though it might take the infant a few days of adjust to the new formula, it’s safe – and the baby gets the needed nutrition.

Supreme Court Abortion Roe v Wade

Following Unprecedented Supreme Court Abortion Leak, Investigation Set To Unfold

On Monday, Politico published a leak of the Supreme Court’s initial draft majority opinion — written by Justice Samuel Alito — that shows the plan of overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion ruling that has stood for 49 years.

Should the Supreme Court go ahead with their ruling, it could lead to abortion bans in more than half of all states and have massive impacts on this year’s midterm elections.

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The decision isn’t set in stone. Politico noted justice deliberations on major issues like Roe V. Wade have been fluid in the past, and that opinions can change during the drafting stage. The court’s ruling will not be final until it’s published sometime within the next two months.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Alito stated in the draft. “It’s reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey [Planned Parenthood v. Casey] have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

The draft leak, which is comprised of 98 pages and dated to February, is an unprecedented situation, as few leaks of any kind regarding SCOTUS are extremely rare. The report had instant repercussions across the country, with pro-choice protests occuring in cities like Washington, D.C., New York City, and Los Angeles.

Given the Supreme Court’s structure, a planned ruling like this doesn’t come as a surprise. Thanks to former President Donald Trump’s swearing in of three justices — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett— during his tenure, SCOTUS now holds a conservative majority of 6-3.

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The fierce mixed reactions to the planned ruling have also put Politico at risk for their leaking. According to the Associated Press, the publication has told staff members to be “extra vigilant” amidst tightened office restrictions.

Politico stated the copy of the draft was received from a source who was “familiar with the court’s proceedings.” The document’s authenticity has been confirmed by Supreme Court Chief John Roberts, who also announced an investigation into the leaking.

“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the Court was intended to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed. The work of the Court will not be affected in any way.”

Roberts said the court routinely shares drafts of opinions internally long before the rulings are ever officially published, noting that procedure is an “essential” part of the court’s work. Roberts also stressed that court employees — from justices to law clerks — are intensely loyal to the rule of law and upholding trust to the court,  and that the leak was a “egregious breach of that trust.”

Like the leak, the investigation set to come down upon the court is uncharted territory. Many GOP members have called for FBI and federal prosecutor involvement, while Roberts has yet to even appoint a person to conduct the investigation.

According to Politico, many legal experts explained the disclosure is unlikely to result in a criminal charge unless certain circumstances — such as an exchanging of payment — can be proved. Instead, the whistleblower is likely to face punishments that would essentially result in a professional career blow, from firing to disbarment.

Russia Releases U.S. Marine Veteran As Part Of Prisoner Exchange

In the midst of the bloody Russian invasion of Ukraine — which has resulted in at least 46,000 deaths — the Kremlin and U.S. have announced a surprising deal that will see jailed U.S. marine veteran Trevor Reed released in exchange for a convicted Russian drug trafficker who had been serving a long-term prison sentence.

Reed, 30, was detained by the country during a trip in 2019 after he was accused of attacking a Moscow police officer. In 2020, he was sentenced to nine years in prison. According to NPR, Reed doesn’t remember the events the night of the attack due to his drunken state, while Reed’s family has accused Russia of fabricating the details and charge.

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During Reed’s time in prison, he went on two hunger strikes to protest his treatment by Russian authorities, saying he wasn’t being properly treated for TB while being placed in solitary confinement. Back in the U.S., Reed’s parents staged a protest outside of the White House and had an in-person meeting with President Joe Biden.

It’s the first major release of Biden’s administration, and it comes after the family described officials as being cool to the idea of an exchange. “I heard in the voices of Trevor’s parents how much they’ve worried about his health and missed his presence. And I was delighted to be able to share with them the good news about Trevor’s freedom,” Biden said in a statement.

While he didn’t expand on details, Biden’s statement hinted the process of acquiring Reed was not simple in the least. “The negotiations that allowed us to bring Trevor home required difficult decisions that I do not take lightly,” he said.

On the other side of the deal is pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was arrested in 2010 in Liberia and rendered to the U.S. a part of a joint smuggling operation bust. Despite the clear intentions, attorneys of Yaroshenko argued that he had been entrapped by the DEA, while the U.S. government had violated a number of international laws.

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Those disputes didn’t hold up in court the following year, as Yaroshenko was convicted of conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States, Liberia, and Ghana. He was promptly sentenced to 20 years in prison. Russia’s foreign ministry called the events “essentially a kidnapping” shortly after Yaroshenko’s arrest.

Reed’s father, Joey Reed, told CNN that the swap was conducted in Turkey. “The American plane pulled up next to the Russian plane and they walked both prisoners across at the same time, like you see in the movies,” he said.

While the swap is certainly a major development regarding the two countries’ tensions — which are at their lowest point in decades —  it doesn’t seem likely to have any impacts on peace talks regarding the Ukraine conflict. According to a senior Biden administration official, the talks only focused on “discrete sets of prisoner issues,” and is in no way a changing of the U.S.’ views or actions on the invasion.

The prisoner exchange has also drawn attention to a number of other Americans being unjustly held by Russia, which include Paul Whelan, who was arrested on espionage charges in 2018, and WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was detained two months ago after she reportedly possessed vape cartridges at a Moscow airport. “We won’t stop until Paul Whelan and others join Trevor in the loving arms of family and friends,” Biden said.

Young College Student

Biden Administration To Erase Student Debt For 40,000 Borrowers

In an attempt to make good on the promises of federal student debt relief, the Biden Administration — announced by the Department of Education on Tuesday — has made changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) that would see 40,000 borrowers become eligible to have their debt immediately discharged.

7,000 borrowers with older loans will also see forgiveness under income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. On top of that, 3.6 million more will move closer towards forgiveness by receiving at least three years of additional credit.

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The department, which cited that this move addresses “historic failures” in regards to IDR plans, also aims to take more care of accurately tracking monthly payments for borrowers on IDR, which are typically smaller amounts.

“Student loans were never meant to be a life sentence, but it’s certainly felt that way for borrowers locked out of debt relief they’re eligible for,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “These actions once again demonstrate the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to delivering meaningful debt relief and ensuring federal student loan programs are administered fairly and effectively.”

The Biden administration had previously extended the payment pause on student loans  — which was set to end on May 1 — through the end of August. Interest on loans has been paused since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic back in March of 2020.

Since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, around 725,000 of the 43 million federal student debt borrowers have seen their debt discharged, which totals to over $17 billion in relief. Still, total outstanding student loan debt remains at $1.7 trillion.

IDR plans have had a troubled past. An NPR investigation revealed that the plans — which promise loan forgiveness after 20 to 25 years and manageable monthly payments as low as $0 — had been “badly mismanaged” by the department and loan servicers.

Department documents dating back to 2016 acquired by NPR showed that despite 4.4 million borrowers having repaid for over 20 years, only 32 had their loans canceled under IDR. Meanwhile, some servicers weren’t tracking payments, and didn’t know when borrowers qualified for cancellation unless they were asked by the borrowers to do an intensive records review.

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The department, along with Federal Student Aid (FSA) noted it will address “forbearance steering” by conducting a one-time account adjustment in order to count certain long-term forbearances, which the department considers to be more than 12 consecutive months or 36 cumulative months. Borrowers will then be given credits based on their length of forbearance.

Throughout his election campaign, Biden promised to forgive each borrower $10,000 in loans, which would end up totaling to about $400 billion. However, that claim has yet to flourish, as Biden stated he didn’t have the executive authority to cancel up to $50,000 debt per borrower. White House press secretary Jen Psaki later said the President would be “happy to sign” legislation canceling student debt if Congress passes it.

Along with pausing student debt (and expanding the coverage of the pause) Biden has worked to give relief by targeting smaller groups. One such case includes those who were defrauded by their school, which ended up totaling $2 billion in loan cancellation.

U.S. Targets Putin’s Daughters, Russian Banks In New Round Of Sanctions

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine now in its sixth week, the White House has continued to remain on the financial offensive by announcing additional sanctions that will target Vladimir Putin’s two adult daughters, 36-year-old Mariya Putina and 35-year-old Katerina Tikhonova, and toughen penalties against Russian banks.

In addition to Putina and Tikhonova, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s wife and daughters, along with members of Russia’s Security Council — which include current prime minister Mikhail Mishustin and former president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev — will be targeted.

“These individuals have enriched themselves at the expense of the Russian people. Some of them are responsible for providing the support necessary to underpin Putin’s war on Ukraine.”

The sanction will cut the group of people listed off from the U.S. financial system, along with freezing their assets they hold in the U.S. If this is the first time you’re learning that Putin has multiple daughters, that shouldn’t come as a surprise given how he operates.

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As Business Insider notes, the 69-year-old president has never acknowledged his children publicly, and much about the family affairs continue to remain a mystery. Putin had both daughters with his ex-wife, former flight attendant Lyudmila Shkrebneva, who he was married to for three decades.

Meanwhile, full-blocking sanctions will be placed against Sberbank, Russia’s largest financial institution, and Alfa Bank, Russia’s largest private bank. The sanction will freeze any of the banks’ assets that touch the U.S. financial system, and prohibit any American citizen from doing business with the institutions.

As the press release states, Sberbank holds around one-third of the overall Russian banking sector’s assets — making it a critical component to the now-floundering economy — while Alfa Bank is the fourth-largest bank in Russia overall.

The ruble’s value currently sits at 0.012 USD (experiencing the worst fall of any major currency in the first quarter of 2022) while the Institute of International Finance stated the crisis will wipe out 15 years of economic development. Gross domestic product is projected to shrink 9.6% this year and 1.5% in 2023, interrupting what was looking like the start of significant progress in 2021.

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Biden is also expected to sign a new executive order that will include a prohibition on new investment in Russia by Americans no matter where they’re located, while sanctions on major Russian state-owned enterprises will be in effect too. The U.S. won’t be alone in furthering penalties, with European allies expected to announce their own sanctions.

President Joe Biden has been vocal about intensifying sanctions following his statement that Putin has committed war crimes and should be put on trial, with hundreds of Ukrainian civilians being tortured and killed by Russian troops in Bucha last weekend. “I made clear that Russia would pay a severe and immediate price for its atrocities in Bucha,” Biden said on Twitter.

Russia has continued to call its invasion of Ukraine a “special operation” and denied that any civilians have been harmed. Overall civilian death tolls have been both hard to find and unreliable, though U.N. and Ukrainian sources have numbers anywhere between over 1,000 to 7,000.

Still, despite Biden’s verbal attacks against Putin and the new enforcements, the U.S. continues to reject the proposition of instituting a no-fly zone over Ukraine, while any military personnel involvement remains out of the question.

U.S. Opens Second COVID-19 Boosters For Americans 50 And Up

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized an extra dosage of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for Americans 50 and up — plus certain younger age groups that are higher risk for COVID-19 — given that it’s been four months their last vaccination.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s director Dr. Rochelle Walensky discussed the additional booster, stating how anyone who was boosted during the recent Omicron surge — which saw a peak of over 1.1 million new cases in a single day in January — was much less likely to either be hospitalized or die.

“During the recent Omicron surge, those who were boosted were 21-times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who were unvaccinated, and 7-times less likely to be hospitalized.”

Walensky added that the new dosage is “especially important” for those 65 and up. Still, while the Center has assured the second booster will give extra protection to those more susceptible to the virus, it didn’t go so far as to say the new shot is a necessary precaution that should be taken as soon as possible.

The FDA’s vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks explained that regulators set the age at 50 because that’s when chronic conditions that increase COVID-19 risks begin to appear. People between the ages of 50 to 64 have accounted for around 18% (182,663) of all COVID-19 related deaths since 2020.

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Prior to this authorization, the FDA only allowed a fourth dosage for immune-compromised as young as 12. Those who have already received a fourth shot will also be eligible for a fifth, though it has to be a Pfizer shot for those ages 12 to 17. Only adults 18 and older can receive a Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccination.

Meanwhile, anyone who received J&J’s vaccination — which only requires one initial dosage instead of two — and a booster can receive either a Pfizer or Modern shot, which are preferred in most situations by the CDC. While a J&J user can get their first booster only two months after the vaccination (instead of the standard five), they must wait four months for their third like their two counterparts.

Currently, 77.5% (255 million) of the U.S. population has received at least one vaccination dosage, while 66% (217 million) are fully vaccinated. 29.6% (97 million) have received a booster through the first seven months of it being administered.

The second booster comes at an uncertain and critical time in a pandemic that’s now entering its 25th month. Hope certainly abounds: cases in the U.S. are significantly down after the Omicron surgance, with Mar. 29 seeing just 25,628 new cases (29,351 seven-day average), while daily cases haven’t reached over 100,000 in over a month.

Still, time may play a factor in where trends go from here. Original vaccinations are becoming less and less effective against new variants — which continue to pop up and threaten another spike — giving boosters that much more value.

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Most concerning is the Omicron “stealth” subvariant BA.2, which the CDC said is now dominant in the U.S. after it accounted for 55% of COVID-19 cases that have undergone genetic sequencing. The subvariant made up just 1% of sequenced cases back in early February.

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci previously said that though Americans could see an uptick in cases due to BA.2, he doesn’t expect another surge. Other countries haven’t been so fortunate, with BA.2 causing outbreaks in the U.K. (which saw daily counts double in the last two weeks, along with a 11.5% rise in hospitalizations over the last seven days), Germany, and China.

Another potential issue is the funding behind the fourth dosage, should it become necessary, with the federal government having run out of money to pay for the testing and treatment of uninsured Americans. Moderna previously applied for a second booster for the general population earlier this month, though it did so to provide the CDC “flexibility” when recommending what groups should be eligible.

First Woman Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, Passes Away At 84

Madeleine Albright, the first woman in the U.S. to serve as secretary of state, has passed away at the age of 84 due to cancer, her family announced on Wednesday. “She was surrounded by family and friends,” the statement read, calling her a “tireless champion of democracy and human rights.” “We have lost a loving mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend.”

Born in Prague as Marie Jana Korbelova, Albright came over to the United States as a refugee in 1948 following a coup. Albright would eventually attend Wesley College and Columbia University, earning a PhD at the latter.

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Working on the National Security Council during the Carter administration underneath Zbigniew Brzezinski, Albright would continue to climb the political heights in the administration of Bill Clinton by first serving as a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, becoming only the second woman to hold the position.

Albright would reach the accolade of the first woman secretary of state — and 64th overall — during Clinton’s second term in 1997. With a vote of 99-0, Albright became the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government at the time.

In a statement, Clinton called Albright a “passionate force for freedom, democracy, and human rights” while noting few leaders have been such suited for the times they served. “Because she saw firsthand that America’s policy decisions had the power to make a difference in people’s lives around the world, she saw her jobs as both an obligation and an opportunity,” Clinton said.

“She made the most of them in advancing peace, security, and shared prosperity [by] ending ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo, supporting the expansion of NATO into Central Europe, [and] fighting the proliferation of nuclear weapons.”

Indeed, Albright managed to accomplish all those goals — with Time Magazine calling the targeting of Muslim ethnic cleansing in Kosovo “Madeleine’s War” — all while making the State Department more inclusive of religions.

One of Albright’s many tactics included using jewelry and brooches as a way to send messages of undetterance and subtle shots. “I wore a bee when I was talking to [Palestinian president] Yasser Arafat, because bees sting and I needed to deliver a sharp message,” Albright said in an interview with InStyle Magazine, noting the pins helped her to inject humor and personality during dire situations. “I must admit, I had a lot of fun with it.”

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Of course, like most politicians, Albright did have some controversial bumps in the road, which includes the lack of action made by the U.S. and U.N. during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, where between 500,000 to 800,000 Tutsi  — along with over 1 million total — deaths occurred in an ethnic cleansing. Following the tragedy, Albright wasn’t afraid to voice how the event remained a haunting thought to her.

“It sits as the greatest regret that I have from the time I was U.N. ambassador and maybe even as secretary of state, because it is a huge tragedy, and something that sits very heavy on all our souls, I think,” Albright said in a 2004 PBS interview, wishing that it had been possible for them to do more.

Albright’s time in office would also see the 1998 Al-Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. However, Albright rejected complaints that stronger action against the terrorist group could’ve helped to prevent 9/11. “It would have been very hard, pre-9/11, to have persuaded anybody that an invasion of Afghanistan was appropriate,” she said in 2004.

In 2012, Albright was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Barack Obama. At her death, Albright had been a professor at Georgetown University while also serving as the chair of the Albright Stone Group, a business strategy firm she founded.

Zelenskyy Pleads To Congress For More Aid In Address As Biden Issues $800 Million Package

For Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, attire is no longer a concern. His people are, and he’s doing everything he can to gain additional support from the West. Sitting in his frequent simple army green T-shirt, Zelenskyy pleaded with the U.S. Congress on Wednesday for more measures to help stop Russia’s invasion.

Among the requests communicated over livestream include the urging of a no-fly zone over Ukraine, an action that the U.S. and NATO have strongly opposed due to its potential to escalate the conflict onto a greater, worldwide scale.

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“This is a terror that Europe has not seen for 80 years and we are looking for a reply, for an answer, to this terror, from the whole world. Is this a lot to ask for? To create a no-fly zone over Ukraine to save people, is that too much to ask?” Zelenskyy posed.

Zelenskyy proposed an alternative action that would see fighter jets defending Ukrainian air from Russian attacks, but the Biden administration has also previously ruled out military intervention or the transferring of MiG fighters from Poland for the same reasons as a no-fly zone.

“Aircraft, powerful, strong aviation to protect our people, our freedom, our land. Aircraft that can help Ukraine. You know that they exist, that you have them, but they are on the Earth, not in the Ukrainian sky. They do not defend our people.”

An installation would push boundaries never broken before. As The Conversation notes, it would be the first time the U.S. has ever imposed a no-fly zone during an international conflict, and the first time a world power like Russia has ever been subjected to one.

While governments may feel no-fly zones wouldn’t be worth the risk, citizens disagree. According to a Reuters poll conducted with 831 respondents, 74% of Americans — including majorities of Democrats and Republicans — said the U.S. and NATO should install no-fly zones. Meanwhile, 80% said the U.S. should stop buying Russian oil, and 81% said the U.S. should impose additional sanctions.

Following Zelenskyy’s address, President Biden announced an additional $800 million in military assistance, which includes 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 1,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles, a combined 6,900 arms including 100 grenade launchers, 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition, grenade launchers, and mortar rounds, and 25,000 in gear along with an unspecified amount of drones.

This brings the total amount of aid sent to Kyiv since Biden took office to $2 billion, and $1 billion in the past week. Despite this, U.S. lawmakers have become more and more frustrated with the country’s inability to properly assist Ukraine.

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Last week, Biden signed into law a massive spending bill that would see $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine. That amount includes $6.5 billion for the costs of sending troops and equipment to Eastern Europe, and $6.8 billion to care for refugees — which is now over three million — and to aid allies economically.

Meanwhile, the U.S. and its allies’ sanctions on Russia have proven to be effective. The ruble’s value is now down to 0.010 USD (though up from the past couple weeks), while the Institute of International Finance expects Russia’s economic output to fall by a third in 2022. Russia’s stock market hasn’t seen action in three weeks.

Zelenskyy thanked the U.S. for its care package. In order to relay the devastation Ukraine’s neighbor has caused, a slideshow of pictures showing exploding buildings, civilian casualties, and mass graves was presented. “Russia has attacked not just us, not just our land, not just our cities — it went on a brutal offensive against our values, basic human values,” Zelenskyy said.

Controversial ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Passes In Florida Senate

On Tuesday, the Florida Senate passed a bill that would disallow any kind of instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in the state’s kindergarten through third grade, while being criticized for its potential to marginalize the LGBTQ+ community.

The legislation is titled the Parental Rights in Education bill, but has become known by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. With the 22-17 vote in hand, it now heads to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is in favor and expected to sign.

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“Don’t Say Gay” passed through the Florida House last month. The bill also “prohibits school district personnel from discouraging or prohibiting parental notification & involvement in critical decisions affecting student’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being.” Parents would be able to sue school districts in the event of violations of “Don’t Say Gay.”

The bill would not prohibit classroom discussions about students’ families that are LGBTQ or LGTBQ history. However, it doesn’t actively promote what can be discussed, while further confusion  — and lawsuits — could occur should parents decide what kind of gender identity and LGBTQ talk violates the bill thanks to vague legislative language.

Backlash has been swift, with some students in the state organizing walkouts as a form of protest. “This bill, from its introduction, has been used as vehicle to marginalize and attack LGBTQ people,” Democratic Rep. Carlos G. Smith said — noting it sends a terrible message to children — while President Joe Biden had previously called the legislation “hateful.”

On the other side of the political spectrum, supporters of the bill like Republican Sen. Danny Burgess feel it will help to give parents more control over what their children do (and don’t) learn from the education system. “This bill says parents, your right to raise your children does not end when they walk into a classroom,” Burgess said ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

“This bill recognizes that parents are not the enemy. The bill simply says that there should be an age limit on certain discussions, it’s not a new concept, nor is it radical.”

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The bill has also attracted the attention of an entertainment giant. Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced he will be meeting with DeSantis — along with LGBTQ+ members of their senior team in Florida — to discuss the bill.

According to Chapek, Disney — which has made numerous efforts in various media and attractions to become more diverse and inclusive — was opposed to the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation from the beginning, but opted not to take a public stance and instead work behind the scenes, “engaging directly with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.” “Ultimately, we were unsuccessful,” Chapek said.

In addition to the meeting, Disney will be donating $5 million to LGBTQ activist groups while signing the Human Rights Campaign’s statement that opposes similar legislations. “I understand our original approach, no matter how well-intended, didn’t quite get the job done. We are committed to support the community going forward,” Chapek stated. Disney currently employs over 62,000 workers in Florida.

Legislations that target LGBTQ+ communities have been enacted at a record-setting pace, with 2021 seeing 17 laws passed, the most since 2015’s 15. Florida possesses 12 bills currently being considered that Freedom For All Americans terms “anti-LGBT.” Should DeSantis sign the bill, it would go into effect on July 1.