Wednesday Briefing: Senate Votes on Ukraine Aid

The Senate is on track to pass the $95 billion package of foreign aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. A final vote is expected in the next few hours, and President Biden plans to sign it.

The bill would be a major boost for Ukraine, where troops are fighting Russia with dwindling stores of munitions. It was stalled for months by Republican lawmakers, which had prompted a wave of concern in Kyiv and across Europe that the U.S. would turn its back on Ukraine.

“What this aid means, in the most simple terms, is guns and bullets,” my colleague Marc Santora, who has been reporting from Ukraine since the beginning of the war, told us.

He said it would also provide “a much-needed boost for the morale of both Ukrainian soldiers on the front and civilians living under the threat of near-nightly Russian drone and missile bombardments.”

The breakthrough in Congress is also a boost for Biden, who has spent months pledging support for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The bill gives him a push at a time when his credibility and U.S. leadership have been questioned on the world stage.

What’s next: The first significant U.S. military aid for Ukraine in 16 months could arrive quickly. “Most military analysts think that it will take a month or two before we see it really change the dynamic on the front,” Marc said.

High tech warfare: For the U.S. military, the war has been a testing ground for new A.I. tools and other rapidly evolving technologies. The question remains whether the high tech will be enough to help turn the tide of the war as the Russians appear to have regained momentum.

Donald Trump sat through a bruising session in court yesterday. The judge questioned his lawyer’s credibility and a key witness pulled back the curtain on what prosecutors said was a conspiracy to influence the 2016 election.

“To me, he’s looked far angrier yesterday and today than he did during all of last week, during jury selection,” said my colleague Jonah Bromwich, who is reporting from the courtroom.

In the pivotal stretch of testimony, David Pecker, the former publisher of The National Enquirer, described a 2015 meeting with Trump and his fixer, Michael Cohen. He said the men had asked him what he and his magazines could do “to help the campaign.” That statement supports the prosecution’s argument that they were aiding Trump’s campaign, not just protecting his reputation.

The passage of a contentious bill by Britain’s Parliament on Monday put the country closer to sending asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The legislation overrides a ruling by the Supreme Court that deemed the plan unlawful. The law describes Rwanda as “a safe country” for refugees, after judges ruled that is not. The government says the policy will be a deterrent, especially to people who try to cross the English Channel on flimsy boats. Yesterday, at least five people died while trying to cross the Channel.

Rishi Sunak, Britain’s prime minister, said the first flights to deport asylum seekers would not depart until June or July. Legal experts say the plan is deeply flawed, and rights groups have vowed to fight any attempts to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Community canteens in China cater to seniors, offering huge plates for just a dollar or two. But in these tough economic times, they have grown popular among penny-pinching young professionals.

The portions are often so generous that they can be stretched out over several meals, and diners can often be seen packing away dishes they haven’t finished.

For a glimpse of where artificial intelligence is headed in election campaigns, look to India, the world’s largest democracy, where voters are casting ballots until June 1.

Some campaigns have deployed A.I. avatars of candidates. An A.I.-generated version of Prime Minister Narendra Modi shows him addressing voters directly, by name. Workers in Modi’s party send out video messages to voters that can be automatically generated in any of India’s dozens of languages.

As the technology races onto the political scene, there are few guardrails to prevent its misuse. Some experts worry that voters will have a difficult time distinguishing between real and synthetic messages.

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