Daily briefing

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

Biden vows in State of the Union address to stop Russia and fight inflation, Russia steps up shelling of Ukraine cities, and more

1

Biden vows in State of the Union to counter inflation, Russia's Ukraine invasion

President Biden vowed Tuesday in his first State of the Union address to contain inflation, continue fighting the coronavirus pandemic, and push back against Russia's invasion of Ukraine. He said Russian President Vladimir Putin misjudged the resolve of the United States and its allies, and that the U.S. would rise to the moment and "save democracy." Biden also announced the U.S. would close its airspace to Russian flights. Facing sinking polling numbers, Biden used the address to highlight the accomplishments of his first year in office despite "deep challenges." Biden, his economic agenda stalled in an evenly divided Congress, called for a new "unity agenda" with legislation both parties can support, like fighting cancer and the opioid epidemic.

2

Russia escalates shelling of Ukrainian cities

Russian forces escalated their shelling of Ukrainian cities on Tuesday, including reported strikes in civilian areas. A 40-mile convoy of hundreds of Russian tanks and other military vehicles appeared to stall as it headed toward Kyiv, raising fears that President Vladimir Putin and his military leaders planned to encircle the Ukrainian capital and seize it to install a Moscow-friendly government. The most intense Russian attack targeted Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city. "Nobody will forgive. Nobody will forget," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Russian forces also attacked other cities, including the strategic ports of Odessa and Mariupol.

3

Reynolds says in GOP State of the Union response that Biden is taking U.S. backwards

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivered the Republican response to President Biden's State of the Union address on Tuesday, accusing Biden of taking Americans "back in time to the late '70s and early '80s when runaway inflation was hammering families, a violent crime wave was crashing on our cities, and the Soviet army was trying to redraw the world map." Reynolds said the GOP was leading a "pro-parent, pro-family revolution" against mask mandates and remote learning that became widespread during the pandemic, previewing themes GOP candidates are expected to hammer in the November midterm elections. "We are tired of politicians who tell parents they should sit down, be silent, and let government control their kids' education and future," she said.

4

U.S. among nations planning to release oil reserves 

The United States and other world powers plan to release 60 million barrels of oil reserves to help bring down gasoline prices, which have risen in recent weeks as the Russia-Ukraine crisis escalated, the International Energy Agency's governing board said in a statement Tuesday. Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine added pressure to already strained oil markets, pushing oil prices to more than $100 per barrel with some analysts warning prices could hit $130 per barrel. Sanctions imposed on Russia so far haven't hit its oil and gas sectors, although the war could disrupt supply routes. Releasing oil from reserves will "send a unified and strong message to global oil markets that there will be no shortfall in supplies as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine," the IEA said.

5

African nations protest treatment of students fleeing Ukraine

Representatives from Kenya, Ghana, and Gabon — the three African nations currently on the United Nations Security Council — on Tuesday condemned alleged discrimination and abuse African citizens trying to leave Ukraine were facing at the border. "In the unfolding emergency, there have been disturbing reports about the racist treatment of Africans and people of African descent seeking to flee Ukraine to safety. The media is covering these appalling incidents and several states have confirmed that their citizens are suffering such treatment," Kenyan Ambassador to the U.N. Martin Kimani said Monday. "The mistreatment of African peoples on Europe's borders needs to cease immediately." The African Union said it was "disturbed" by the "shockingly racist" mistreatment.

6

House Jan. 6 committee subpoenas 6 Trump allies who pushed election claims

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack said Tuesday it had issued subpoenas to six people who pushed former President Donald Trump's baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. The subpoenas went to members of Trump's legal team, including lawyer Cleta Mitchell and Christina Bobb, a reporter for the far-right One America News Network who worked part-time with Trump's lawyers. Trump campaign attorney Kenneth Chesebro was among the other Trump allies the committee called to testify. "The Select Committee is seeking information about attempts to disrupt or delay the certification of electoral votes and any efforts to corruptly change the outcome of the 2020 election," Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee's Democratic chair, said in a statement.

7

ACLU sues to prevent Texas from investigating parents supporting trans teens 

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Texas, and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to block Texas officials from conducting child-abuse investigations against parents and doctors for providing certain treatments to transgender adolescents. The lawsuit said the state has already launched investigations after the state's Republican governor, Greg Abbott, last week ordered the state's Department of Family and Protective Services to look at certain medical treatments for transgender youths as possible crimes. The order came after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a non-binding opinion saying that parents who get their transgender teenagers puberty-suppressing drugs or other medically accepted treatments could be committing child abuse.

8

Russia announces measures to keep investors from pulling out over Ukraine

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced Tuesday that Moscow would temporarily limit foreigners' ability to dump Russian assets as the country's stocks plummeted due to fallout from its invasion of Ukraine. The ruble has fallen to a record low, and the London-listed iShares MSCI Russia ETF fell 50 percent to a fresh record low as countries around the world imposed devastating sanctions against Russia and investors fled. Moscow's restrictions on capital removal could freeze billions of dollars' worth of foreign-held Russian securities. "It has been a hell of a rollercoaster," said a London-based hedge fund manager invested in European financial firms.

9

Abbott, O'Rourke win Texas gubernatorial primaries

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and former congressman, former Senate candidate, and former presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke (D) won their gubernatorial primaries on Tuesday. They will face each other in the November general election. Abbott received 68.8 percent of the vote in the GOP primary, with challengers Allen West and Don Huffines at 11 percent each, according to The New York Times. O'Rourke won his primary by an even higher margin, netting almost 92 percent of the vote. The Real Clear Politics polling average shows Abbott, who is seeking a third term, leading O'Rourke by almost nine points. The Cook Political Report rates the Texas gubernatorial race as "Likely R."

10

MLB pushes back start of 2022 baseball season

Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that it would delay the start of the 2022 season after the MLB Players' Association voted not to accept the league's latest offer for a new collective bargaining agreement. MLB said it was pushing back Opening Day, which had been scheduled for March 31, and scrapping at least the first two series. It will be the first time the league has lost regular-season games since a strike canceled the 1994 World Series and part of the 1995 season. The two sides met intermittently from mid-January to late February. It was not immediately clear what their next steps would be as the owners' lockout reached 90 days.

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