Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 11, 2022

Russia intensifies Ukraine attacks after cease-fire talks end without progress, Senate passes $1.5 trillion spending package, and more

1

Russia intensifies bombing in Ukraine after cease-fire talks end without progress 

Ukrainian civilians faced expanding bombardments by Russian forces on Thursday after high-level talks between Russia and Ukraine failed to yield progress toward a cease-fire. Russian military aircraft continued the bombing of the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine, where an airstrike on a maternity hospital on Wednesday killed three people. The city of Chernihiv, near the Belarus border, came under siege by Russian troops. Russian forces took control of Bucha, a town outside the capital city of Kyiv, and moved on to try surrounding the capital. As Russia's invasion of Ukraine entered its third week, the United Nations human rights office reported that 516 civilians had been killed, including 37 children. A senior U.S. military officer said as many as 4,000 Russian troops have died.

2

Senate approves $1.5 trillion spending package with aid for Ukraine

The Senate on Thursday night passed a $1.5 trillion spending bill that will keep the federal government funded through September and avert a partial shutdown ahead of a Friday deadline. The bill, which now goes to President Biden for his signature, includes $14 billion in humanitarian, military, and economic aid for Ukraine as it faces a Russian invasion. The package's final approval marked an end to a string of short-term fixes Congress has used to keep government agencies running since the new fiscal year started in October. Republicans touted the bill's 6 percent increase in defense spending. Democrats called it a win, noting that it included a 7 percent increase for health, education, and other non-defense spending, and reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act.

3

White House says North Korea testing new long-range missile

The White House said on Thursday that North Korea on Feb. 26 and March 4 tested parts of a new intercontinental ballistic missile in what one U.S. official said would be a "serious escalation," The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported. The system, if successfully developed, could hit the United States or its allies, U.S. officials said. American forces put their missile defense units in Asia on "enhanced readiness" ahead of another expected launch to demonstrate the new missile's full range. Pyongyang could attempt to disguise the coming test "as a space launch," the official told the Journal. A senior U.S. official told reporters in a Thursday briefing that Pyongyang tried to hide the nature of the recent tests, something it normally doesn't do.

4

Survey finds minority undercount increased in 2020 census

Black, Hispanic, and American Indian residents were overlooked in the 2020 census at higher rates than they were in the last census a decade earlier, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Black population had a net undercount of 3.3 percent, up from about 2 percent in the 2010 census. Hispanics and Native Americans were undercounted by about 5 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively, up from 1.5 percent and 4.9 percent in 2010. The non-Hispanic white population was overcounted by 1.6 percent in 2020, up from 0.8 percent in 2010. Civil rights leaders reacted with anger to news of the increased minority undercounts. "These numbers are devastating," National Urban League CEO Marc Morial said on a call with reporters. 

5

TSA extends mask mandate on planes and public transit

The Transportation Security Administration announced Thursday that it would extend the mask mandate for people in planes and public transportation through April 18. The policy had been scheduled to expire March 18. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended keeping the mandate in place for another month. The decision came two weeks after the CDC eased mask requirements in communities where hospitals are not being strained by COVID-19 cases, and as states ease their mask mandates due to falling infections with the highly infectious Omicron coronavirus variant. The CDC said all coronavirus guidance changes are made based on risk levels, coronavirus rates, and the latest science.

6

Twitter removes false tweets by Russian U.K. embassy 

Twitter on Thursday removed two tweets by Russia's embassy in the United Kingdom due to "the denial of violent events" during Russia's continuing invasion of Ukraine. One of the tweets said a photo of casualties in the bombing of a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol was staged, and that a pregnant woman shown in the image was actually a Ukrainian "beauty blogger." Ukrainian officials said a child and two adults were killed in the hospital bombing, and 17 others were wounded. Twitter told CNBC that it "took enforcement action" against the posts because "they were in violation of the Twitter Rules, specifically our Hateful Conduct and Abusive Behavior policies related to the denial of violent events."

7

MLB, players reach deal to end lockout

Major League Baseball reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement with the MLB Players Association after a 99-day lockout, ESPN reported Thursday, citing sources familiar with the situation. The end of the sport's second-longest work stoppage would make it possible to open spring training camps on Sunday, and hold a full 162-game season beginning April 7. The union's eight executive subcommittee members and the 30 player representatives approved the deal 26-12, ESPN reported. The deal came a day after MLB said it would postpone opening day until April 14. The five-year agreement includes increased minimum salaries and the introduction of a universal designated hitter. It also expands the postseason to 12 teams, making room in the playoffs for two additional markets.

8

Former 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett sentenced for staging hate crime

A judge on Thursday sentenced former Empire actor Jussie Smollett to five months in the Cook County, Illinois, jail for staging a hate crime against himself three years ago. Smollett could serve half that time with good behavior. He also got 30 months of probation and was ordered to pay a $25,000 fine and $120,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago. Smollett, who is Black and gay, told police three years ago that he had been attacked by two men shouting racist and homophobic slurs, but two of his acquaintances, brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, told investigators Smollett had paid them $3,500 to pretend to attack him. Smollett maintained his innocence at the sentencing hearing, and his lawyers said they would appeal.

9

Goldman Sachs becomes 1st major Wall Street bank to exit Russia

Goldman Sachs is shutting down its operations in Russia due to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, the company announced Thursday. Many large companies, including Starbucks and Coca-Cola, have suspended their operations in Russia, but Goldman Sachs is the first big Wall Street bank to pull out. "Goldman Sachs is winding down its business in Russia in compliance with regulatory and licensing requirements," a company spokesperson told NPR in a statement. "We are focused on supporting our clients across the globe in managing or closing out pre-existing obligations in the market and ensuring the wellbeing of our people." Goldman has an estimated $940 million in exposure in Russia, including $650 million in credit, CNBC reported, citing Bank of America analysts.

10

Emilio Delgado, Sesame Street's Luis for 45 years, has died at 81

Emilio Delgado, the actor and singer who played fix-it shop owner Luis Rodriguez on Sesame Street from 1971 to 2016, died Thursday from the blood cancer multiple myeloma, his wife, Carol Delgado, confirmed to The Associated Press. He was 81 and died at home in New York. Delgado joined Sesame Street in its third season, and for the next 45 years he "proudly laid claim to the 'record for the longest-running role for a Mexican-American in a TV series,'" Sesame Workshop said Thursday. After Sesame Street declined to renew Delgado's contract in a 2016 reshuffle, he starred in the Don Quixote offshoot Quixote Nuevo before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. Delgado also appeared in several TV shows, including Lou Grant and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

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