Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 16, 2022

President Biden says Russia still might invade Ukraine despite pullback, Remington agrees to $73 million Sandy Hook settlement, and more

1

Biden says Russia still might invade Ukraine but diplomacy continues

President Biden said Tuesday that Russia still might invade Ukraine despite Moscow's unverified claim that it had pulled some of its estimated 150,000 troops back from the smaller neighbor's borders. Biden said the United States and its allies would "give the diplomacy every chance" to deescalate the crisis, without bowing to Russian demands that include barring Ukraine from one day joining NATO. Biden said he would not send U.S. forces to fight in Ukraine, but vowed that the U.S. would "defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of American power." Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country was willing to continue talks provided its demands, including rolling back NATO's expansion in Eastern Europe, were a priority in the conversation.

2

Remington agrees to $73 million settlement with Sandy Hook families

Remington Arms has agreed to pay families of five adults and four children killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School $73 million to settle their liability claims, according to a Tuesday court filing. Remington made the semiautomatic Bushmaster XM15-E25 rifle that Adam Lanza, 20, used to kill 20 first-graders and six staff members at the Newtown, Connecticut, school. The settlement marked the first time a gun maker has been held liable for a U.S. mass shooting. "Marketing weapons of war directly to young people known to have a strong fascination with firearms is reckless and, as too many families know, deadly conduct," Nicole Hockley, whose son, Dylan, was killed in the shooting, said in a statement.

3

Prince Andrew settles Virginia Giuffre's sexual abuse lawsuit 

Britain's Prince Andrew has agreed to a settlement in a lawsuit accusing him of sexually assaulting an underage girl controlled by the late Jeffrey Epstein, who died in prison awaiting sex trafficking charges, according to a letter from the accuser's lawyer asking the Manhattan judge to dismiss the case. Under the deal, Andrew will pay the accuser, Virginia Giuffre, an undisclosed amount and make "a substantial donation to Ms. Giuffre's charity in support of victims' rights," according to the Tuesday court filing. The prince "regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms. Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others," according to a related document. Andrew has denied abusing Giuffre.

4

Jury rejects Palin's libel suit against Times

A jury on Tuesday ruled against Sarah Palin in her libel suit against The New York Times. The jury found that Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate and former Alaska governor, failed to prove that the newspaper exhibited "actual malice" when it erroneously linked a map that Palin's political action committee had posted to the deadly 2011 mass shooting that left then-Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) severely wounded. The verdict came a day after Judge Jed Rakoff said he would dismiss the case if the jury found in favor of Palin because she had fallen short of standards necessary for a public figure to win a defamation case. Palin is expected to appeal.

5

Rice becomes 30th House Democrat declining to seek re-election

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) announced Tuesday that she would not seek re-election this year. She is the 30th House Democrat to bow out ahead of the November mid-term elections, as the party tries to prevent Republicans from reclaiming the majority in the narrowly divided chamber. Rice, a former prosecutor, has represented New York's 4th Congressional District since 2015 and was re-elected in 2020 with 56 percent of the vote. She did not immediately reveal what she planned to do next, saying only that she would continue to focus on "protecting our democracy and serving my constituents" for the rest of her current term. Twenty-nine other Democrats and 13 Republicans have announced they are retiring or seeking other offices in November.

6

Producer prices rose 1 percent in January

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that producer prices rose by a seasonally adjusted 1 percent in January, up from a 0.4 percent increase in December. The increase, the biggest jump since May 2021, came as a coronavirus surge driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant extended supply-chain disruptions as consumer demand remained strong, according to economists. Producer prices increased by 9.7 percent over the preceding year, about the same increase as the government reported the previous month. "Overall, producer prices remain elevated and close to historic highs," said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. The new data added support for the Federal Reserve to roll back its efforts to boost the recovery to keep the economy from overheating.

7

Ottawa police chief resigns after criticism over Freedom Convoy response

Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly resigned Tuesday after complaints that the police responded weakly to the so-called Freedom Convoy trucker protests against coronavirus restrictions. News of Sloly's departure came a day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would invoke emergency powers to end the demonstrations, which have clogged the Canadian capital's downtown for two weeks, and spread to disrupt U.S.-Canada border crossings that are crucial trade routes. When the Ottawa protest started two weeks ago, police failed to put up barriers in time to prevent semi-trucks from clogging downtown streets.

8

Family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins sues Alec Baldwin over 'Rust' shooting

A lawyer for the family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on Tuesday announced the filing of a wrongful death lawsuit against actor Alec Baldwin and others over Hutchins' death on the New Mexico set of the film Rust in October. Baldwin was rehearsing a scene when the prop gun he was holding discharged with a live round that hit Hutchins, fatally wounding her. Director Joel Souza was injured but recovered. Baldwin said he didn't know the pistol had a live round in it, and denied that he pulled the trigger. Attorneys for Hutchins' family accused Baldwin and others responsible for safety on the set of disregarding industry standards to cut costs, leading to the tragedy.

9

San Francisco voters recall 3 school board members over coronavirus response

San Francisco residents on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to recall three school board members in a display of anger over the district's handling of the coronavirus crisis. According to initial results, more than 70 percent of voters supported ousting board President Gabriela López and members Alison Collins and Faauuga Moliga. Parents were angry at the board for spending time last year renaming a third of the district's schools instead of focusing solely on reopening classrooms faster after pandemic shutdowns. Ten days after the Board of Supervisors officially accepts the election results, Mayor London Breed will appoint replacements for the outgoing board members.

10

Libertarian and humorist P.J. O'Rourke dies at 74

Right-libertarian author, journalist, and humorist P.J. O'Rourke has died from complications of lung cancer. He was 74. After earning a master's degree in English from Johns Hopkins University in 1970, O'Rourke was hired in 1973 at the humor magazine National Lampoon, where he wrote a famous piece of gonzo journalism entitled "How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed and Not Spill Your Drink." He would rise to be the magazine's editor-in-chief. His later jobs included serving as a foreign correspondent for Rolling Stone and an election reporter for Real Time with Bill Maher. O'Rourke also published 20 books, including Parliament of Whores and Give War a Chance.

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