Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 2, 2022

Dozens of Ukrainian civilians evacuate Mariupol, Birx says U.S. should prepare for summer COVID surge, and more

1

Dozens of civilians evacuate Mariupol

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that another 100 civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal steel factory in the besieged port city of Mariupol. The civilians had sheltered in tunnels under the plant along with hundreds of other civilians and Ukrainian fighters still defending the city against Russian forces. Zelensky said the freed civilians would be taken to a "controlled area" as the United Nations and other international groups try to get more people out. A couple dozen civilians were evacuated on Saturday. Meanwhile, Russia intensified attacks on Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city. Russian forces were close enough to pound Kharkiv with artillery fire, but Ukrainian fighters battled to retake surrounding villages that had fallen under Russian control.

2

Birx says U.S. should prepare for possible summer COVID surge

Former Trump administration coronavirus task force leader Deborah Birx warned Sunday that the United States should prepare for another potential COVID-19 surge this summer. She noted that cases have ticked higher in South Africa. "That tells me that natural immunity wanes enough in the general population after four to six months that a significant surge is going to occur again," Birx said on CBS's Face the Nation. In South Africa, new daily cases reached about 5,700 on Saturday, far below the country's winter peak but well above the roughly 1,400 daily cases it reported in early April. U.S. cases have risen recently, with a slight increase in hospitalizations.

3

Manchin endorses W.V. GOP representative over Trump-backed rival

Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat, backed Republican Rep. David McKinley of West Virginia in an ad for his campaign against a challenger in the GOP primary, Rep. Alex Mooney, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Manchin said McKinley has opposed "reckless spending because it doesn't make sense for West Virginia." The ad accuses Mooney of misleading voters about McKinley's vote for President Biden's $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, which Mooney voted against. The two GOP congressmen were forced into a race against each other when West Virginia lost a House seat. Mooney has cited Manchin's support as evidence that McKinley is a RINO, or "Republican in Name Only."

4

Biden's approval ratings edge up from February low

President Biden's approval ratings rebounded slightly from his low point two months ago, with 42 percent of respondents in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll saying they approve of the way he is handling his job as president. That's up from 37 percent in February. Fifty-two percent expressed disapproval in the new poll, down from 55 percent in February. Fifty-one percent said they approved of Biden's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while just 28 percent gave him positive ratings on the economy. Forty-four percent said they were "upset" about inflation, which reached a 40-year high in recent months. More than 90 percent said they were at least concerned about inflation.

5

Mexico moves lucrative trade link due to Abbott's border inspections

Mexico is moving a long-planned cross-border trade railway from Texas to New Mexico in response to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) 10-day-long "enhanced" safety inspections of commercial trucks crossing the border, The Dallas Morning News reported Sunday. Abbott issued an order on April 6 requiring state troopers to inspect commercial trucks entering Texas from Mexico. He argued the move would deter human and drug smugglers. Mexico said Abbott was using the inspections as a "political tool." It has rerouted many trucks through a crossing in New Mexico, just over the Texas state line. The Waco, Texas–based Perryman Group has estimated that delays at border crossings during Abbott's inspections cost the Texas economy $4.2 billion.

6

Thousands evacuate historic N.M. town as wildfire spreads

Thousands of residents were told Sunday to be prepared to evacuate the historic Old West town of Las Vegas, New Mexico, as powerful winds and drought-parched forests fuel an explosive wildfire that has already burned 104,000 acres and remained just 30 percent contained. Fire crews used bulldozers in a rush to carve firebreaks to protect the city of 14,000, as well as ranches, rural homes, and the castle-like campus of the United World College in the nearby village of Montezuma. The Calf Canyon fire, which has merged with the Hermit's Peak fire, is the biggest of about a dozen wildfires active in the Southwest before the normal start of peak fire season in June, as experts warn climate change makes wildfires worse.

7

Alabama search continues for corrections officer and murder suspect

Alabama authorities on Sunday extended their search for a state corrections officer, Vicky White, and capital murder suspect Casey Cole White after they disappeared from a prison more than two days earlier. The U.S. Marshals Service is offering up to $10,000 for information leading to their capture. The pair left Lauderdale County jail on Friday morning. Vicky White, who is not related to the inmate, had told jail employees to prepare Casey White for transport to the county courthouse for a mental health evaluation, although he was not really scheduled for one, Sheriff Rick Singleton said. Casey White was awaiting trial on murder-for-hire charges stemming from the 2015 killing of Connie Jane Ridgeway.

8

Italy, Greece ease travel restrictions

Italy and Greece announced Sunday that they are relaxing some COVID-19 restrictions on international visitors ahead of the crucial summer tourist season. Greece's civil aviation authority lifted COVID-19 rules for international and domestic flights, except for a mask mandate on flights and at airports. The country previously required travelers to show proof of vaccination, a negative COVID test, or a recovery from a recent infection. Italy said it would no longer require people arriving in the country to complete the European Union passenger locator form, which had caused check-in bottlenecks. "It's much better," said Andrea Bichler, a domestic tourist visiting Rome. "Let's say it's a return to life, a free life."

9

Russia hit with barrage of cyberattacks

Russia has been hit by a wave of cyberattacks since it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, The Washington Post reported Sunday. The unprecedented attacks have targeted Russians' financial data, defaced websites, and compromised government emails dating back decades. One survey found that more passwords and user data from Russia had been exposed online in March than from any other country. The surge marks a sharp turnaround for Russia, where hackers, including members of criminal gangs, have targeted U.S. politicians and organizations, and international companies, for years. In the last year and a half, Russian hackers have shut down hospitals already overwhelmed by the pandemic, and disrupted the crucial Colonial pipeline.

10

Ray Charles, The Judds inducted into Country Music Hall of Fame

Ray Charles and The Judds were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday night, a day after the death of Naomi Judd. Judd and her daughter, Wynonna Judd, were one of the most popular duos of the 1980s. Their mother-daughter act piled up 14 No. 1 hits over nearly three decades. Wynonna Judd attended the event despite her mother's unexpected death in Nashville. "It's a strange dynamic to be this broken and this blessed," Wyonna Judd said as she and her sister, actress Ashley Judd, accepted the award. Charles, a genre-crossing singer and piano player who died in 2004, did a version of "I Can't Stop Loving You" that topped the Billboard 100 for five weeks.

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