Today’s edition of quick hits.
* A big political shakeup in New Zealand: “Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Thursday that she will step down, saying she no longer had ‘enough in the tank’ after a premiership defined by her response to a series of crises. Ardern, 42, has become a global progressive icon since her election in 2017 and won praise for her handling of the nation’s worst mass shooting and the beginning of the pandemic.”
* In Ukraine: “The United States plans to send Ukraine nearly 100 Stryker combat vehicles as part of a roughly $2.5 billion shipment of arms and equipment that is expected to be announced at a meeting of allies in Germany on Friday, two U.S. officials said on Thursday.”
* On a related note: “Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III met with his new German counterpart, Boris Pistorius, in Berlin on Thursday as their nations were struggling to reach an agreement over sending battle tanks to Ukraine.”
* Secretary of State Antony Blinken didn’t mention Turkey by name, but I think we all know to whom his message was directed: “The Biden administration said Thursday it’s time for Turkey to ratify Finland and Sweden’s applications to join NATO, bluntly saying that holdout members of the alliance should quickly approve their memberships.”
* Speaking of international diplomacy: “The Biden administration’s big push to engage more with Africa is underway as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen begins a 10-day visit aimed at promoting all the economic possibilities that lie between the U.S. and the world’s second-largest continent.”
* His denials are perfectly credible, right? “Embattled Republican Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., said claims that he performed as a drag queen are ‘categorically false.’ His denial comes shortly after a Brazilian drag performer shared on social media an image of herself and another person in drag, whom she identified as the newly elected congressman.”
* All is not well in Florida: "Without a detailed explanation, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has rejected a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies for high school students, broadly claiming it violates state law and that it 'lacks educational value.'"
* A discouraging drop: “Union membership hit an all-time low in 2022 despite a surge in organizing efforts that emerged during the pandemic. The percentage of U.S. workers who belong to a union dropped from 10.3 percent to 10.1 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday, as the job market added non-unionized workers at a faster rate than unionized workers. That’s the lowest the figure has been since the agency first started tracking comparable data nearly four decades ago.”
* Best wishes for a speedy recovery: “Florida Rep. Greg Steube spent the night in the intensive care unit after falling about 25 feet from a tall ladder. The Republican is in good spirits, though ‘several serious injuries are still under assessment,’ according to a tweet from his official account. The injuries are ‘not life threatening at this time,’ the tweet added. Steube fell from the ladder while cutting tree branches at his Sarasota property on Wednesday afternoon and was taken to an area hospital.”
See you tomorrow.