* David Filipov and Louisa Loveluck report that World War III is closer than you thought:
Russia on Monday angrily condemned the downing of a Syrian aircraft by a U.S. fighter as a “flagrant violation of international law,” and said its forces will treat U.S.-led coalition aircraft and drones as targets if they are operating in Syrian airspace west of the Euphrates while Russian aviation is on combat missions.
The Russian Defense Ministry also said it is suspending an agreement to minimize the risk of in-flight incidents between Russian and U.S.-led coalition aircraft operating over Syria.
Russia, which has provided military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since 2015, was reacting to U.S. military confirmation that a U.S. F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 fighter-bomber Sunday. The Syrian jet had just dropped bombs near members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, a militia aligned with the U.S. military in the campaign against the Islamic State.
I’m sure that in the case of a confrontation between the Russian and American militaries, our commander in chief will be cool-headed and careful, so no worries.
* Robert Barnes reports on a landmark case coming to the Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court declared Monday that it will consider whether gerrymandered election maps favoring one political party over another violate the Constitution, a potentially fundamental change in the way American elections are conducted.
The justices regularly are called to invalidate state electoral maps that have been illegally drawn to reduce the influence of racial minorities by depressing the impact of their votes.
But the Supreme Court has never found a plan unconstitutional because of partisan gerrymandering. If it does, it would have a revolutionary impact on the reapportionment that comes after the 2020 election and could come at the expense of Republicans, who control the process in the majority of states.
The court accepted a case from Wisconsin, where a divided panel of three federal judges last year ruled last year that the state’s Republican leadership in 2011 pushed through a plan so partisan that it violated the Constitution’s First Amendment and equal rights protections.
Call me cynical, but I have trouble believing that the five conservative justices are going to rule against partisan gerrymandering when it so clearly benefits Republicans.
* Dylan Scott reports that the health care industry is sitting on the sidelines even though they know the Republican health care bill is a disaster, because they don’t want to jeopardize the rest of the Republican agenda and they’re afraid of White House retaliation.
* Brian Beutler goes even further and argues that the GOP health care secrecy is an affront to Enlightenment and democratic values.
* Cristina Cabrera reports that Energy Secretary Rick Perry says that the rise in global temperature is a result not of greenhouse gas emissions, but of “the ocean waters and this environment that we live in.”
* And Dell Cameron and Kate Conger report that a GOP data firm used by the RNC accidentally left personal information on 198 million Americans exposed on a publicly accessible Amazon server. Oops!