Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 3, 2022

Russia's invasion of Ukraine enters its 100th day, Biden calls on Congress to ban assault weapons, and more


Russo-Ukrainian war enters its 100th day

Friday marks 100 days since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. Speaking on Thursday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia now controls 20 percent of his country following recent gains made in the eastern Donbas region. In Russia, however, the 100-day milestone highlights Moscow's unanticipated difficulty in seizing the country; state media outlets have reportedly been banned from "focusing on dates related to the war" that underscore its military failures, an anonymous source told Insider. Meanwhile, Russia is beginning military drills in the Pacific with over 40 warships and support vessels, as well as 20 planes and helicopters, TASS reports, with a focus on searching for the "submarines of a mock enemy" and "working out the organization of air defense for tactical groups of ships [to] perform combat training exercises on surface and air targets."


Biden calls on Congress to ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines

President Biden spoke to the nation about gun violence on Thursday night, pleading for Congress to take action and enact common-sense gun laws that could prevent future mass shootings. "There are too many schools, too many other everyday places that have become killing fields, battlefields, here in America," Biden said from the White House. In the last few weeks, Biden met with families who lost their loved ones in the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings, and they had "one message for all of us: Do something," Biden said. "Just do something, for God's sake, do something." He called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, "and if we can't ban assault weapons, then we should raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21." Finally, lawmakers must repeal the immunity that protects gun manufacturers from liability and address the country's mental health crisis. "This is not about taking away anyone's guns," Biden said. "It's not about vilifying gun owners. … Let's meet the moment. Let us finally do something."


Police: Tulsa shooting suspect targeted doctor who performed his back surgery

The suspected gunman who killed four in a shooting at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, medical center Wednesday night specifically targeted and subsequently killed the doctor who performed his back surgery last month, police said Thursday. The gunman also shot and killed another doctor, a receptionist, and a patient before dying from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The shooter, identified by Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin as 45-year-old Michael Louis, had called the clinic repeatedly to complain of back pain, for which he blamed his surgeon, Dr. Preston Phillips. Franklin said Louis was carrying a letter showing he both intended to target Phillips and believed him responsible for his continued discomfort post-surgery. Authorities also said Louis had recently purchased the guns used in the shooting, including the AR-15-style rifle he bought just hours before.


Buffalo supermarket shooting suspect pleads not guilty

Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old suspect in the Buffalo supermarket shooting that killed 10 people in a predominately Black neighborhood, pleaded not guilty on Thursday to the 25 charges he faces, including 10 counts of first-degree murder, 10 counts of second-degree murder as a hate crime, and one count of domestic terrorism motivated by hate. "There is overwhelming proof of the defendant's guilt," Assistant District Attorney John Fereleto said, alluding to Gendron's writings, his live-streaming of the event, as well as the fact that the "defendant was caught at the scene of the crime with the weapon in his hands." Authorities also say Gendron traveled 200 miles from his home in Conklin, New York, specifically to target a Black neighborhood, having posted documents detailing his plans and white supremacist views online. "When you hear the phase 'throw the book at' someone, well, in this case right here, the defendant just got War and Peace," District Attorney John Flynn said.


Uvalde 911 calls reportedly weren't relayed to campus law enforcement chief

Desperate 911 calls made by students during last week's shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, were not relayed to the campus law enforcement chief, state Sen. Roland Gutierrez said Thursday. "My question specifically was: Was the [school district] police officer ... on duty [told] about the calls?" Gutierrez told the press. "I was specifically told no." The 911 calls have come under intense scrutiny after the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District's police chief, Pete Arredondo, decided against breaching the classrooms where the gunman ultimately killed 19 children and two teachers, treating it instead as a barricade situation even as children were still calling for help. Gutierrez insisted he wasn't "covering" for Arredondo, but rather "last week we were told the 911 calls were going through the incident commander. That simply is not the case." Critics, including School Safety Advocacy Council president Sean Burke, say the new information "does not make his decision any less wrong."


EU formally approves Russian oil embargo

On Friday, the European Union formally agreed to a partial embargo on crude oil imports of Russian oil. Crude oil will be phased out over six months, and other refined petroleum products will be phased out over eight months — totaling about 90 percent of Russian crude by the end of the year — with "a temporary exception" made for oil delivered by the Druzhba pipeline to the landlocked countries of Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Russia will likely look for other importers, and "whether those barrels find homes in India, China, and Turkey could hinge on whether the EU ultimately opts to target shipping and insurance services and whether the U.S. chooses to impose Iran-style secondary sanctions," Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, wrote. The EU's sixth round of sanctions additionally cut off Russia's biggest bank, Sberbank, from the SWIFT system, though they did not ultimately include a blacklist of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, a close Putin ally, due to Hungary's opposition.


Harvey Weinstein fails to get sexual assault convictions overturned

An appeals court on Thursday upheld movie producer Harvey Weinstein's sex crimes convictions more than two years after he was found guilty of criminal sexual act in the first degree and rape in the third degree. His 23-year sentence was also upheld. Weinstein's attorneys argued that the additional women who accused him of sexual assault, but whose allegations he wasn't charged with, shouldn't have been allowed to testify during the trial. The appeals court said testimony from the other women aimed to show that Weinstein's "goal at all times was to position the women in such a way that he could have sex with them." Weinstein's attorney told The New York Times he will now ask the New York Court of Appeals to review the case. Harvey is also facing an upcoming second rape trial in Los Angeles, where he was extradited last year.


Queen Elizabeth to sit out major Jubilee event, citing 'discomfort'

Queen Elizabeth plans to skip one of her major appearances in the ongoing Platinum Jubilee celebrations, citing "some discomfort." The 96-year-old monarch — who appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony on Thursday during the Trooping of Colour as well as at a beacon lighting event at Windsor Castle — will not appear at the national service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral in London on Friday as planned. "Decisions on the Queen's attendance at" the four-day-long Jubilee events celebrating her 70 years on the throne "have been made last-minute, due to her episodic mobility issues which she is understood to have experienced throughout Thursday," The Guardian explains. However, "it had been hoped that the service of thanksgiving would be one event she would be most likely to attend."


Airline cancellations increase worries about summer travel

More than 1,370 U.S. flights were canceled Thursday after American Airlines canceled 13 percent of its flights, United Airlines canceled 5 percent, and Southwest canceled 3 percent, USA Today reports. The travel woes were primarily linked to storms in Dallas, though more disruptions are expected through the weekend due to inclement weather on the East Coast. More than 2,800 flights were canceled over Memorial Day weekend and more than 20,000 were delayed — and the problems are not expected to ease up this summer. Delta has already announced plans to cut 100 daily flights in the coming months "to mitigate the impact of factors outside their control, like weather" and employee COVID-related absences, while JetBlue is likewise planning to reduce its schedule to better handle the anticipated crush of summer travel.


LeBron James is a billionaire

LeBron James has become the first active NBA player to become a billionaire, according to Forbes. The Los Angeles Lakers star reached the milestone "after another monster year of earnings" — $121.2 million last year — and "[maximizing] his business." Forbes cited specifically his "more than $385 million in salary from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers" as well as his "upwards of $900 million in income from endorsements and other business ventures" as putting him over the line. James has previously described wanting to become a billionaire as being his "biggest milestone." Michael Jordan, the only other NBA player to reach billionaire status, only hit 10 figures in 2014, after being retired for more than a decade.


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