7 things to know for Thursday, April 21

1

Ukraine is still holding its last foot in Mariupol.

  • The latest news from the key port city: Fighters and civilians entrenched in a steelworks refused to surrender to Russian forces. Russia said today it would not attack the facility but would prevent anyone from escaping.
  • What else to know: Russia expands its campaign in eastern Ukraine, capturing several small towns.

2

The Biden administration will fight to restore the transit mask mandate.

  • The last: The Justice Department said yesterday it would appeal a ruling that abruptly ended the warrant on planes and other transportation this week.
  • Does this change anything? Not immediately. The battle could eventually end in the Supreme Court, which has been skeptical of federal pandemic restrictions.
  • In other transit news: The FAA has made permanent its “zero tolerance” policy for unruly airline passengers, a growing pandemic problem.

3

Republicans continue to suggest that gay rights advocates care for children.

  • What is happening? In recent weeks, politicians have escalated baseless attacks on the LGBTQ community. In a fundraising email, a state senator accused a Democrat of wanting to “sexualize kindergarteners.”
  • Why? They are trying to piss off voters ahead of November’s midterm elections.
  • Larger image: It’s part of a larger movement, which has included a nationwide wave of anti-LGBTQ bills.

4

Thousands of student loans could have already been forgiven.

  • Numbers: About 7,700 federal loans may have been eligible for cancellation since September 1, 2020, according to a new report. Only 157 had been pardoned last June.
  • The problem: The Department of Education has not accurately tracked some income-driven repayment plans that offer cancellation after 20 or 25 years, according to the report.
  • And now? The Biden administration on Tuesday announced a new student loan forgiveness waiver to address those failures.

5

Supply chain issues aren’t the only reason food prices are rising.

  • A huge factor: The war in Ukraine. This drives up the prices of corn, fertilizer and meat.
  • How? It’s complex. But one factor is the US decision last week to allow the sale of high-ethanol gasoline this summer. This means that more corn will be used for fuel rather than animal feed.
  • What else? The California drought, bird flu and more mean prices are rising at rates not seen since the 1980s.

6

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 96th birthday today.

Rudy Giuliani appeared on “The Masked Singer” last night.

About Marco C. Nichols

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