10 things you need to know today: March 7, 2022
Russia strikes Ukrainian cities ahead of third round of talks, Russian police arrest at least 4,300 more anti-war protesters, and more
Russia strikes Ukrainian cities ahead of 3rd round of talks
Russian forces shelled a bridge being used by civilians trying to reach the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on Sunday, killing eight civilians from the town of Irpin, the local mayor, Oleksandr Markushyn, said, according to The Wall Street Journal. Civilian deaths are mounting as Russian forces strike residential areas in cities around Ukraine, and as efforts to establish ceasefires around evacuation corridors fail. Russia's military says it is not targeting civilians, and claimed without evidence that Ukrainian "nationalists" are firing at their own people. The attacks in Irpin came ahead of a third round of ceasefire talks scheduled to take place on Monday. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky criticized world leaders for their "silence" after Russia's Defense Ministry announced a new offensive.
Russian police arrest 4,300 anti-war protesters
Police in Russia detained at least 4,300 people at anti-war protests across the country on Sunday, Reuters reported, citing an independent monitoring group OVD-Info. About 1,700 were arrested in Moscow alone. Videos posted on social media showed thousands of protesters in different cities expressing anger about President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Demonstrators chanted "No to war!" and "Shame on you!" One of the dozens of protesters arrested in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg was shown being beaten by riot police. "The screws are being fully tightened — essentially we are witnessing military censorship," said OVD-Info spokesperson Maria Kuznetsova. "We are seeing rather big protests today, even in Siberian cities where we only rarely saw such numbers of arrests."
Moscow offers 'humanitarian corridors' leading to Russia, Belarus
Russia announced that it would establish new "humanitarian corridors" on Monday to give Ukrainians ways to escape its attacks on major cities. The corridors would lead to Russia itself or to Belarus, its ally. A spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the move a "completely immoral" stunt by Moscow to "use people's suffering to create a television picture" as propaganda. Russia's announcement came after two days over the weekend in which ceasefires failed to hold long enough to allow the escape of some of the hundreds of thousands of people trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol without food or water. The United Nations refugee agency said 1.5 million people had fled Ukraine since Russia invaded 10 days ago.
Truck convoy slows traffic on Washington, D.C., beltway
A convoy of dozens of trucks, along with minivans and other vehicles, encircled Washington, D.C., on Sunday and disrupted traffic flow to protest government coronavirus pandemic policies. The organizers of the convoy, which was inspired by a protest that blocked streets in Ottawa, Canada, for three weeks, planned to have participants stay close together to slow down traffic as they did two laps on the 64-mile Capital Beltway before returning to a Maryland staging area, but by the second lap the vehicles were spread far apart, reducing their effectiveness, The New York Times reported. The main trucker caravan in the so-called People's Convoy left for the nation's capital from Adelanto, California, more than a week ago.
U.S. gas prices rise to highest level since 2008
U.S. gasoline prices surged over the last week to their highest level since 2008 as sanctions imposed against Russia for its Ukraine invasion hampered its ability to export crude oil, automobile club AAA said Sunday. The average U.S. price for a gallon of regular gasoline rose to $4.009 per gallon on Sunday, an 11 percent increase from a week ago, when the price stood at $3.604. The new average marked a 45 percent increase from a year ago. The highest price was in California, where the average was $5.288 per gallon, AAA said. Gasoline price provider GasBuddy said the average price increase of nearly 41 cents per gallon was the second biggest ever, after the 49-cent-per-gallon jump that occurred in the week after Hurricane Katrina.
Ex-N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes 1st public appearance since resignation
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Sunday made his first public appearance since resigning six months ago as he faced multiple sexual harassment allegations. "God isn't finished with me yet," Cuomo said at God's Battalion of Prayer, a Brooklyn church run by a close ally. Cuomo delivered a speech condemning government corruption, the Democratic Party, and "cancel culture." He also referred to his father, the late former Gov. Mario Cuomo, and his younger brother, Chris Cuomo, who was ousted from his job as a CNN host after revelations about his efforts to help his older brother fight the harassment allegations. "The press roasted me, my colleagues were ridiculed, my brother was fired. It was ugly. It was probably the toughest time of my life," Cuomo said.
U.S. officials meet with Venezuelan counterparts to discuss oil imports
The Biden administration held rare in-person meetings with Venezuelan officials in Caracas over the weekend to discuss letting Venezuela start selling crude oil on the open market again as part of an effort to address a surge in oil prices since Russia invaded Ukraine. Pressure is mounting for the U.S. to ban imports of Russian oil, and Reinaldo Quintero, president of the association representing Venezuelan oil companies, said that the South American nation could ramp up production to eventually replace the crude the U.S. currently gets from Russia. The U.S. once got much of its imported oil from Venezuela, until the Trump administration cut it off as it attempted to drive out the authoritarian government of President Nicolás Maduro. Russian energy companies and banks helped Venezuela continue exporting oil.
Harris marks Bloody Sunday with call for federal voting rights legislation
Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday marked the 57th anniversary of Bloody Sunday by walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, and urging Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation. Harris said the legislation is necessary to counter "un-American" voter-restriction laws approved in Republican-led states. Bloody Sunday was the day in 1965 when 600 people started a peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest discrimination in voter registration, and were attacked by state and local lawmen with billy clubs and tear gas. Seventeen people were hospitalized after the clash, which marked a key moment in the civil rights movement.
7 killed in Iowa tornadoes over the weekend
Seven people were killed in tornadoes that hit central Iowa over the weekend, authorities in the state said Sunday. Six people were killed Saturday when a twister touched down near the town of Winterset, southwest of Des Moines. The dead included two children under age 5, and four adults. Another person died in an RV at a campground in Lucas County about 54 miles southeast of Des Moines, the state Department of Natural Resources said. Thunderstorms fueled by warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico created the tornadoes, and caused damage in Norwalk, a Des Moines suburb, and in other areas. Numerous homes were damaged or destroyed, and many roads were blocked by downed tree branches and power lines.
Armed intruder arrested at Joint Base Andrews
Shortly after Vice President Kamala Harris and several members of President Biden's Cabinet arrived at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Sunday night, a vehicle drove through a security checkpoint at the base, according to Joint Base Andrews and NPR's Scott Detrow, who was traveling with Harris. When guards deployed barriers, two individuals got out and one of them, armed with a weapon, was arrested. The other escaped. "The incident appeared to be one of the most serious breaches of security in memory at Andrews, which is a few miles outside Washington," The Washington Post reported. Harris and the Cabinet members were returning after visiting Selma, Alabama, to commemorate the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police attacked peaceful civil rights protesters in 1965.