At the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, the former president spoke about the war in Ukraine at an event focused on “free, fair, and secure elections.” After comparing Volodymyr Zelenskyy, whom he called a “cool little guy,” to Winston Churchill, Bush described Russian elections as “rigged.” “The result is an absence of checks and balances in Russia, and the decision of one man to launch a wholly unjustified and brutal invasion of Iraq,” he said. “I mean, of Ukraine. Iraq, too. Anyway …” Days earlier, after months of airstrikes, artillery bombardment, and tank fire, a small Ukrainian force at the Azovstal steel plant surrendered, allowing Russia to tighten control over the city of Mariupol, and Russia’s deputy prime minister for infrastructure announced plans to force Ukraine to pay for electricity from a power plant that Russia had seized. “We need action before long-term damage is done that can’t be repaired,” the president of the National Federation of Fish Friers said, warning that shortages caused by the war could force a third of British fish-and-chips shops to close. A Russian rock musician was charged with discrediting the army after declaring onstage that “the motherland, friends, is not the president’s ass that should be constantly caressed and kissed.” Italian police announced that they had thwarted efforts by a pro-Russia hacker group to disrupt voting in the Eurovision Song Contest, from which Russia was banned and Ukraine emerged victorious; the hacker group denied involvement, and then “declared war” on Ukraine and other countries, including the United States and Germany. A different pro-Russia hacker group continued its ransomware assault on Costa Rican government agencies, impeding tax collection and export systems. The town of Passadumkeag, Maine, has effectively shut down after its clerk, who earned $13,500 a year, resigned last month after being denied a vacation.
A supermarket worker who survived last week’s mass shooting in Buffalo said that a 911 operator hung up on her for whispering. New York governor Kathy Hochul announced plans to strengthen the state’s “red flag” laws, which failed to prevent the shooter from legally buying a gun despite previous threats he had made to commit murder-suicide; a report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives revealed that America’s annual gun production has nearly tripled since 2000; and footage from the attack, originally livestreamed by the shooter on Twitch, appeared in monetized videos on Facebook. In Atlanta, police confirmed that a shooting at a McDonald’s was unrelated to a shooting at a Taco Bell 200 yards away, which had taken place hours earlier. Taylor Swift, who received an honorary doctorate from New York University and spoke at the school’s commencement, said that while “hard things will happen to us,” we can get through them “as long as we are fortunate enough to be breathing.” Twenty judges from New York, which faced a backlog of more than 40,000 criminal cases this year, tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a retreat that included karaoke, and a Japanese man who was erroneously wired his town’s entire coronavirus stimulus budget lost it all through online gambling. Over 700,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, which former New York governor Andrew Cuomo ordered to be made by prison labor, continued to sit on a disused airport runway, awaiting disposal; much of it has already expired. A report confirmed that New York City, which reportedly has more Airbnb listings than long-term apartment rentals, is in a continued housing emergency. Mayor Eric Adams’s public engagement unit suggested that tenants send their landlords unsolicited emails asking them not to engage in housing discrimination.
“I don’t think I did anything wrong,” said a Texas woman who was fired from a law firm after jumping into a zoo’s spider monkey enclosure and feeding the animals Cheetos, and cases of the monkeypox virus have been detected in more than a dozen countries, including the United States. Thieves returned 16 idols to the 300-year-old Indian temple from which they were stolen. “We are fed up with the scary dreams,” they wrote in their confession. The Mars rover Perseverance began exploring the Jezero Crater delta for signs of ancient life, and a House subcommittee hearing on UFOs found that glowing green triangles in the sky were drones. The general manager of the Washington, D.C., metro retired early after it was shown that nearly half of the system’s rail operator certifications had lapsed, and a survey revealed that 62 percent of British drivers don’t know what the warning indicators in their cars mean. Scientists explained that scallops are attracted to disco lights and that various chemical processes lead octopuses to self-torture after mating; the Cambodian environmental ministry reportedly warned the public not to pluck the pitchers of the endangered Nepenthes plant, which have drawn attention on social media for their resemblance to penises; and North Carolina representative Madison Cawthorn lost his bid for reelection. Canadian cigarettes were recalled for posing fire hazards, and small business owners in Texas received exorbitant electric bills for months when winter storms caused prolonged blackouts. Three weeks after its launch, the Department of Homeland Security’s Disinformation Governance Board was shut down in response to severe criticism and harassment from right-wing pundits, which the Washington Post called a “disinformation campaign.” —Jon Edelman