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Affirmative Action Case

The US Supreme Court began hearing arguments in two cases challenging the role of race in the college admissions process, a decision that may upend affirmative action policies in higher education.

The Students for Fair Admissions claims Harvard and the University of North Carolina hold Asian American (Harvard, UNC) and white applicants (UNC) to higher standards. The group contends the practice violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Harvard, UNC) and the 14th Amendment (UNC), guaranteeing racial neutrality. 

The universities argue race is one of many factors in determining admission, and affirmative action has leveled the playing field for Black and Hispanic students. Asian Americans comprise roughly 28% of the 2026 class at Harvard, and Black students comprise nearly 16%. Without affirmative action, school officials estimate the number of Black students could decrease by more than half, while Asian American enrollment could increase by nearly 30%.

A decision from the 6-3 conservative majority court is expected by summer.

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Ukraine Shelled

Russian forces launched a barrage of airstrikes targeting Ukraine yesterday, leaving much of the capital of Kyiv without power and water. Russia fired at least 50 missiles in total, though Ukrainian officials said they were able to intercept 44. Missiles and drones collectively hit 10 regions and damaged 18 infrastructure sites in Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have already been reeling from blackouts and depleted water supplies after a similar attack in early October.

Yesterday’s shelling is seen as further retaliation to what Russia claims was a Ukrainian attack on its warships in the Black Sea over the weekend. Ukraine has not said whether it was responsible for the attack. Meanwhile, 12 ships carrying grain left three Ukrainian ports, two days after Russia said it was withdrawing from a UN-brokered grain export deal that had been in effect since August. Global wheat prices rose 6% on the news of Russia pulling out from the deal.

See updates on the war here. 

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Election In Israel

Almost 7 million Israelis are eligible to vote today in the country’s fifth election in just four years, after its diverse, eight-party coalition fell apart in June. Polls indicate the faction allied with Benjamin Netanyahu—ousted just over a year ago—appears poised to receive the most votes. Analysts cautioned a clear majority is unlikely for any coalition, while a government may not be formed for weeks.

Netanyahu’s right-leaning Likud party will battle for a majority in the 120-seat Knesset against its centrist rival Yesh Atid, led by current caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid (see party breakdown). Netanyahu, currently on trial for corruption, opposes a two-state solution with Palestinians. 

A total of 39 parties are in the race, though Israeli law requires a party to earn a minimum of 3.25% of the vote to receive any seats. Unlike US elections, Israelis choose a party, not an individual legislator. Every party, then, receives a number of seats proportional to the vote. See an overview here.

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