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‘I know how much it hurts’: Biden to release US oil in bid to lower gas prices – as it happened – The Guardian

White House director of communications Kate Bedingfield is briefing the media now and said that there will be further sanctions on Russia as a result of its invasion of Ukraine just over a month ago – and also that the US has evidence the war is not going well from Moscow’s perspective.

“We have seen incontrovertible evidence that this has been a strategic disaster for Russia,” Bedingfield said a little earlier, as reported by journalists in the White House briefing room, including the Guardian’s Washington bureau chief, David Smith.

David Smith (@SmithInAmerica)

Bedingfield on Ukraine invasion: “We have seen incontrovertible evidence that this has been a strategic disaster for Russia.”

March 31, 2022

Bedingfield also reiterated that the US needs to see tangible de-escalation of the war by Russia before it will consider any direct talks between Joe Biden and his counterpart, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and there are no plans for them to speak at this point.

Meanwhile, the US commerce department will impose further sanctions on Moscow in the coming days, targeting Russia’s defense, aerospace and maritime sectors, adding 120 entities from Russia and Belarus to its entity list, Bedingfield said.

That will bring the number of Russian and Belarusian parties added to the list to more than 200 since the invasion of Ukraine began, Reuters reports.

The White House believes sanctions are biting.

David Smith (@SmithInAmerica)

Bedingfield: “Putin himself has said these sanctions have imposed unprecedented costs on the Russian economy, And our role is to continue to strengthen Ukraine on the battlefield.”

March 31, 2022

As social media companies promise to crack down on Russian disinformation about the war in Ukraine, studies show they continue to fall short, allowing disproven narratives to reach millions.

Facebook failed to label 80% of articles on its platform promoting a fast-spreading conspiracy theory that the US is funding the use of bioweapons in Ukraine, according to a study released Friday by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH).

The nonprofit disinformation research group studied a sample of posts from between 24 February and 14 March sharing external articles containing baseless claims about bioweapons. It found Facebook in 80% of cases failed to label posts as either “missing context”, containing “partly false information” or “false information” outright.

“If our researchers can identify false information about Ukraine openly circulating on its platform, it is within Meta’s capability to do the same,” said the CCDH chief executive, Imran Ahmed. “But we found that in the vast majority of cases, conspiracy theories are given a free pass.”

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The North Carolina congressman Madison Cawthorn will not face immediate disciplinary action over his claim to have been invited to orgies and to have seen Washington figures using cocaine.

Madison Cawthorn.
Madison Cawthorn. Photograph: Octavio Jones/Reuters

After meeting Cawthorn on Wednesday, the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, told reporters the comments were “unacceptable”.

“There’s a lot of different things that can happen,” McCarthy added, regarding possible consequences.

“I just told him he’s lost my trust, he’s gonna have to earn it back, and I laid out everything I find is unbecoming. And you can’t just say, ‘You can’t do this again.’ I mean, he’s got a lot of members very upset.”

Full story:

The Guardian’s voting rights expert Sam Levine has taken a look at the US supreme court’s interest in Wisconsin’s electoral maps, and how its intervention reflects the panel’s hostility to equal voting rights nationally:

Even for experts who closely follow the US supreme court, there was something stunning about an emergency decision from the justices on Wednesday.

In an unexpected move, the court decided to throw out new districts for the state legislature in Wisconsin that had been picked by the state supreme court. But what was even more surprising was that the court’s conservative majority seemed to go out of its way to attack the Voting Rights Act, one of the most important civil rights laws designed to prevent discrimination in US elections. “Extra headspinning,” was how Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, described it. “Bizarre,” observed Richard Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine. David Wasserman, a redistricting expert at the non-partisan Cook Political Report, tweeted that the supreme court had entered “uncharted territory”.

The court’s decision in the Wisconsin case was the latest in a series of rulings that have left little pretense of how aggressively it is trying to weaken section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), the most powerful provision of the law, which outlaws racially discriminatory voting practices. The court is not hiding its skepticism of the use of race in redistricting, even when it’s used to protect minority voters, and is making it harder for litigants to justify considering race when district lines are redrawn.

Read more here: