National News Beat: Supreme Court shake-up, winter storm mayhem and rising tension between Russia and Ukraine 

President Joe Biden speaks about the retirement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, left, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. Photo by Andrew Harnik/AP Photo.

Last Wednesday, Justice Stephen Breyer announced his planned retirement from the Supreme Court. Breyer was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a lifetime appointment and has served on the high court since 1994. The announcement will give President Biden an opportunity to fulfill his campaign promise to nominate a Black female Supreme Court Justice, who would be sworn in as Breyer’s successor. President Biden and the Democrat controlled Senate could confirm this new justice before the midterm elections in the fall of this year.  

Last Thursday, Biden held a joint press conference with Justice Breyer to formally announce his plans to retire. Biden thanked Breyer for his decades of service and officially announced that he would be nominating the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. 

“While I’ve been studying candidates’ backgrounds and writings, I’ve made no decisions except one: The person I will nominate will be someone with extraordinary qualifications, character, experience and integrity, and that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court,” Biden said. “It’s long overdue, in my view.  I made that commitment during the campaign for president, and I will keep that commitment.” 

President Biden also announced he would be meeting with senators from both parties before choosing his nominee and his decision will be announced before the end of February.  

Snow continues to fall in Near Southside Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas. More than 200,000 homes and businesses lost power across the U.S. on Thursday as freezing rain and snow weighed down tree limbs and encrusted power lines, part of a winter storm that caused an apparent tornado in Alabama, dumped more than a foot of snow in parts of the Midwest and brought rare measurable snowfall to parts of Texas. Photo by Yffy Yossifor/Star-Telegram via AP.

In other news, a devastating winter storm swept across the Midwest and Texas, leaving more 200,000 without power. According to the AP, airlines canceled more than 6,000 flights due to the storm. The bad weather is projected to move through the country on Friday, bringing 12-18 inches of snowfall to upstate New York and New England.  

As of now, the brunt of the storm has primarily affected Texas, Ohio, Tennessee, and Arkansas, with ice crushing power lines and making travel nearly impossible. Other states like Michigan and Illinois have recorded more than a foot of snow. On the southern end of the storm, tornadoes and thunderstorms have swept across the deep south, hitting regions of Alabama and Mississippi. 

As the storm passes, temperatures will precipitously drop and the affected regions will go into a deep freeze according to the AP.  

Finally, there is growing tension in eastern Europe as fear of war between Russia and Ukraine grows. President Erdoğan of Turkey and President Macron of France have both offered to mediate between the two nations to find a diplomatic solution. The United States has acquired intelligence suggesting Russia has plans to stage a Ukrainian false flag attack to justify pretext for war. Reportedly, the false flag attack would be a propagandized video produced with actors and staged explosions.  

Meanwhile, President Putin of Russia has recently met with President Alberto Fernandez of Argentina in Moscow and traveled to Beijing on Thursday night to meet with President Xi Jinping of China.   

According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Russia has positioned more troops and artillery outside of Ukraine, primarily on its borders with Russia and Belarus, than any other time in the last 30 years. Russian forces in the region are estimated to be around 115,000 and are likely to rise. The United States and France have begun moving troops to Romania to bolster Ukraine’s defense and sovereignty according to the AP

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