10 things you need to know today: February 24, 2022
Putin announces launch of military assault on Ukraine, the U.S. and its allies vow to hit Russia with unprecedented sanctions, and more
Putin announces start of military operation in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced the start of a military assault against Ukraine. Putin said the aim of the "special military operation" was the "demilitarization" of Ukraine, but claimed he did not plan to occupy the smaller neighbor. President Biden condemned what he called an "unjustified" and "premeditated" war, and said the U.S. and its allies would respond in a "united and decisive way." There were reports of explosions in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, and Kharkiv, the country's second-largest city. Ukraine's Interior Ministry said Russian forces were crossing the border and had landed in the Black Sea port city of Odessa, beginning a long-expected invasion. Putin said Russia was responding to a plea for help from Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
U.S., allies vow to hit Russia with unprecedented sanctions
World leaders strongly condemned Russia's assault on Ukraine and vowed to respond with unprecedented sanctions. President Biden said the United States would impose "severe sanctions" against Russia on Thursday. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said such a "barbaric attack" against an independent nation threatened "the stability in Europe and the whole of the international peace order." The EU scheduled an emergency summit in Brussels and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell promised "the strongest package, the harshest package of sanctions we have ever implemented." Von der Leyen said she would propose "massive" penalties targeting "strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking the access to technologies and markets that are key for Russia."
U.S. imposes sanctions on company building Nord Stream 2 pipeline
The Biden administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on the company behind the Nord Stream 2 pipeline being built to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany, strengthening economic penalties for Russia's escalation of the Ukraine crisis. Nord Stream 2 has not started operating, and Germany on Tuesday halted the certification of the project in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to send Russian forces into Ukraine. The sanctions target the Nord Stream 2 AG company, which is a subsidiary of the Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom, and its CEO, Matthias Warnig. The U.S. and the European Union have long expressed concerns that Nord Stream 2, which would double gas flow capacity from Russia to Germany, will increase Europe's dependence on Russia for energy.
Jury deliberations start in ex-cops' George Floyd civil rights trial
A Minnesota jury on Wednesday started deliberating in the trial of three former Minneapolis police officers accused of violating George Floyd's civil rights in 2020 by failing to intervene while a fellow officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nine minutes, killing him. Former officers Tou Thao, 36, J. Alexander Kueng, 28, and Thomas Lane, 38, helped Chauvin restrain Floyd, who was suspected of using a counterfeit bill to buy cigarettes, even after Floyd stopped moving. "They chose not to aid Mr. Floyd," Assistant U.S. Attorney Manda Sertich said in closing arguments. "This is a crime." Defense lawyers said the defendants were inexperienced and deferred to Chauvin's seniority.
Trudeau revokes emergency powers after Freedom Convoy ends
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday that he was revoking emergency powers that police used to end the so-called Freedom Convoy started by truckers protesting COVID-19 vaccine mandates. The first protesters, who parked semi-trucks to paralyze downtown Ottawa, were later joined by other demonstrators opposed to other restrictions the government ordered to fight coronavirus infections. Trudeau, who argued Monday for briefly extending the emergency powers, said Wednesday they were no longer necessary. "The situation is no longer an emergency, therefore the federal government will be ending the use of the Emergencies Act," Trudeau said. The Emergencies Act let authorities impose no-go zones, freeze truckers' assets, and make towing companies haul away vehicles.
2 top Manhattan prosecutors in Trump fraud inquiry resign
The two lead prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney's investigation into former President Donald Trump's business practices resigned Wednesday. The prosecutors, Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, abruptly left after the new Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, expressed doubts about continuing the investigation, The New York Times reported, citing people with knowledge of the situation. The developments left the future of the inquiry in question just as it appeared to be picking up steam. Bragg took over at the start of 2022 from his retired predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., and since then prosecutors have postponed plans to question at least one witness before the grand jury.
Trial starts for ex-officer charged in raid that killed Breonna Taylor
The trial of former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison, the only person criminally charged in connection with the raid that killed Breonna Taylor, started Wednesday with opening arguments. Hankison is charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for firing shots that went into a neighbor's apartment. The neighbor, Cody Etherton, was the first witness. He said he, his pregnant partner Chelsey Napper, and their 5-year-old son were awakened to a loud boom and "gunfire coming through my wall and nearly killing me." Taylor was sleeping in her apartment when the officers burst in without knocking then opened fire after her boyfriend, thinking the officers were intruders, fired one shot from his handgun, hitting an officer in the leg. Nobody has been charged over the death of Taylor, a Black medical worker.
Spokesperson: Ivanka Trump in talks to cooperate with Jan. 6 committee
Ivanka Trump, the eldest daughter and former White House aide of former President Donald Trump, is in talks with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to appear for an interview, her spokesperson told CBS News on Wednesday. In January, the chair of the House committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), sent a letter to Ivanka Trump asking her to appear before the panel. Thompson said the committee believes that on Jan. 6, Ivanka Trump was in the Oval Office during a phone call between her father and former Vice President Mike Pence, and they want to know if she heard or participated in conversations about her father's plan "to obstruct or impede the counting of electoral votes."
USPS confirms plan to buy gas-powered trucks despite EPA objection
The U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday finalized its plan to buy up to 148,000 gasoline-powered mail delivery trucks, despite calls from the Biden administration to add more electric vehicles to help fight climate change. The White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency this month urged the USPS to reconsider its $11.3 billion plan to replace its fleet. The Postal Service plans for 90 percent of the delivery trucks in its new fleet to be gas-powered, and 10 percent electric, resulting in a 0.4 mile-per-gallon improvement over the current fleet's fuel economy. Vicki Arroyo, EPA's associate administrator for policy, said the Postal Service's decision to stick with the plan instead of buying more electric vehicles is a "crucial lost opportunity."
Late comedy icon Jerry Lewis accused of sexual harassment, assault
The late comedian Jerry Lewis has been accused by former co-stars of sexual harassment and assault. In a new Vanity Fair article and documentary called "The Dark Side of a Hollywood Icon," actresses who worked with Lewis told Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, the filmmaking team behind the Woody Allen documentary Allen v. Farrow, about their experiences with Lewis, the star of classic comedies like The Nutty Professor. Karen Sharpe, who starred with Lewis in 1964's The Disorderly Orderly, alleged that the comedian, who died in 2017, once "grabbed me" and "began to fondle me." She recounted that when he "unzipped his pants," she said, "Wait a minute. I don't know if this is a requirement for your leading ladies, but this is something I don't do."