Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 31, 2022

Rafael Nadal comes back to win the Australian Open, North Korea test-launches a missile capable of reaching Guam, and more


Rafael Nadal wins record 21st Grand Slam at Australian Open

Tennis star Rafael Nadal of Spain came back after losing the first two sets to beat Russia's Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4, 7-5, and win the Australian Open. The victory in the nearly five-and-a-half-hour match gave Nadal a record 21st Grand Slam title. The marathon win came after a six-month layoff recovery from surgery for a chronic foot injury that raised speculation about whether Nadal would return to tournament play. Nadal, 35, also had to stay in bed after contracting COVID-19 in December, limiting the time he had to prepare for the trip to Melbourne. He was seeded sixth, so he once appeared unlikely to break his tie of 20 Grand Slam titles with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who couldn't play because Australia kicked him out due to his failure to comply with the country's coronavirus vaccination rules.


North Korea confirms test of missile that could reach Guam

North Korea on Monday confirmed that it test-launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile, the most powerful one it has tested in five years. South Korea and Japan said the missile flew 497 miles and landed in the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. But the Hwasong-12 missile has a maximum range of 2,800 miles, enough to reach the U.S. territory of Guam, where the U.S. has military bases with advanced warplanes it has sent to the Korean Peninsula in past shows of force. Nuclear talks are stalled between the United States and North Korea, and some experts believe North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is using a recent series of missile launches to get President Biden's attention, with the hope he will ease sanctions.


Senators close to deal on sanctions on Russia over Ukraine crisis

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are close to reaching a deal on legislation that would impose sanctions on Russia for its buildup of forces near Ukraine's border. Some of the measures would hit Moscow before any possible invasion. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the committee's Democratic chair, said Sunday on CNN's State of the Union that there is broad bipartisan support for punishing Russia if it invades Ukraine. Both Menendez and Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), the committee's ranking Republican, said they hoped to introduce the bill this week. "I would describe it as that we are on the one-yard line," Menendez said. Russia has been massing troops for months, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has criticized the West for not imposing harsh sanctions sooner.


Spotify, Joe Rogan respond to Neil Young's allegation of COVID misinformation

Spotify responded for the first time Sunday to protests accusing podcaster Joe Rogan of spreading COVID-19 misinformation, as Joni Mitchell and other artists joined folk-rock singer Neil Young by pulling their music off the streaming service. "We know we have a critical role to play in supporting creator expression while balancing it with the safety of our users," CEO Daniel Ek wrote in a blog post Sunday. Rogan also responded to the controversy, saying in a video posted on Instagram that his show had gotten "out of control" and promising to be more balanced and better informed. Spotify last week removed Young's music after he wrote in a letter posted on his website that Spotify could "have Rogan or Young. Not both." 


Canadian truckers block Ottawa streets for 2nd day to protest vaccine mandates

Truckers and other protesters blocked much of downtown Ottawa for a second day on Sunday to protest Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Trucks parked on streets near parliament in the Canadian capital ahead of lawmakers' scheduled Monday return from a holiday break. Some of the truckers vowed to stay until the mandates are lifted. Former U.S. President Donald Trump praised the Canadian protesters during a Saturday rally in Texas, saying they were "resisting bravely these lawless mandates." Ottawa police tweeted that several alleged incidents during the protests were under investigation, including "desecration of the National War Memorial" and "threatening/illegal/intimidating behavior to police/city workers and other individuals."


Lindsey Graham says Trump call for Jan. 6 pardons 'inappropriate'

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday that it was "inappropriate" for former President Trump to suggest that if elected again he might pardon people convicted for participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. "If I run and I win, we will treat those people from Jan. 6 fairly," Trump said at a Saturday rally in Texas. "We will treat them fairly, and if it requires pardons, we will give them pardons because they are being treated so unfairly." Graham said on CBS' Face the Nation that he doesn't "want to send any signal that it was okay to defile the Capitol." He suggested that Vice President Kamala Harris also made violence more likely by raising money to "bail out the rioters who hit cops in the head and burned down stores" during demonstrations in summer 2020.


Trump says reform proposal shows Pence could have overturned election

A bipartisan group of senators is working on a bill clarifying that the vice president cannot just set aside slates of presidential electors and effectively overturn a presidential election. On Sunday evening, former President Donald Trump issued a statement claiming that this legislative push shows that "Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn't exercise that power, he could have overturned the election!" One thing the House Jan. 6 committee is examining is whether Trump was involved in an effort to overturn President Biden's election. Committee member Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) called Trump's statement "an admission" as well as "a massively un-American statement."


Winter storm brings historic snowfall, cold to East Coast

Boston got 23.6 inches of snow in the brutal nor'easter that hit the Northeast over the weekend, tying the city's record, the National Weather Service said Sunday. Some parts of the region were buried in up to 30 inches of snow. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said 100 percent of New England got at least some snow, with an average of 12.4 inches, and some parts of New York City got a foot, too. Tens of thousands of people lost power in Massachusetts. The storm affected the East Coast from Maine to the Carolinas, with areas farther south getting historically cold temperatures. Sunday's low at the Florida Keys Marathon International Airport hit 46, breaking a 65-year-old record for the date.


Bengals, Rams advance to the Super Bowl

The Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams prevailed in close NFL conference championship games on Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl, which will be played Feb. 13. After five straight national football championship games featuring either Tom Brady or Patrick Mahomes, this year's Super Bowl will pit Cincinnati's Joe Burrow against the Rams' Matthew Stafford, marking only the second time that two quarterbacks who were No. 1 draft picks will face each other in the Super Bowl. Burrow led the Bengals to the championship game in just his second NFL season as a starter, after the team went 31 years without a playoff win. Stafford led the Rams to a comeback win over San Francisco in the NFC championship game in his first year in L.A. after going 74-90-1 in 12 years with Detroit.


WKRP in Cincinnati's Howard Hesseman dies at 81

Actor Howard Hesseman, who played the radio disc jockey Johnny Fever on the sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, died over the weekend due to complications from colon surgery, his manager Robbie Kass said Sunday. He was 81. Hesseman got his start with the San Francisco improv group The Committee in the 1960s, a period when he also moonlighted as the disc jockey for the San Francisco rock-and-roll station KMPX. He had started his acting career with parts on The Andy Griffith Show and Sanford and Son, but got his big break on WKRP. He won two Emmys for his work on the show, which ran from 1978 to 1982. He later starred as Charlie Moore on Head of the Class and had recurring roles on That 70s Show and Boston Legal.


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