Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 16, 2022

Ukraine allies show support as Russian attacks escalate, Raskin withdraws as Fed nominee, and more


Russia escalates Kyiv attacks after prime ministers show support for Ukraine

Russian forces launched fresh attacks on Kyiv on Wednesday following a visit by the prime ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia to the Ukrainian capital to show support for the country as it battles a Russian invasion. The three leaders traveled to Kyiv by train despite concerns about the escalating attacks. "It is here, that freedom fights against the world of tyranny," Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Twitter. The leaders met with President Volodymyr Zelensky, who indicated that peace talks with Russia were starting to show real hope. He said Ukraine was prepared to accept security guarantees short of its goal of NATO membership. President Biden plans to travel to Europe next week to discuss Ukraine with European allies.


Raskin withdraws as Fed nominee

Sarah Bloom Raskin has withdrawn from consideration as one of President Biden's nominees for the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors. Biden nominated Raskin, a former Fed governor and deputy Treasury secretary during the Obama administration, in January to be vice chair of supervision at the Fed, which would have made her a top banking regulator. But Republicans boycotted Senate committee hearings on her confirmation over her support for stronger Fed action against climate change. This week, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), a moderate Democrat from the nation's second-biggest coal-producing state, and moderate Republican Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said they wouldn't support Raskin, effectively blocking her confirmation. The stalemate over Raskin has delayed four other Fed nominations.


Fox News cameraman, Ukrainian consultant killed outside Kyiv

Veteran Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski and Oleksandra "Sasha" Kuvshynova, a 24-year-old Ukrainian journalist who was working with Fox News, were killed in Ukraine in the same Monday attack that left correspondent Benjamin Hall injured, Fox News Media chief executive Suzanne Scott said Tuesday. The vehicle the journalists were traveling in came under fire in an area outside Kyiv. Hall is being treated in a Ukrainian hospital. "Today is a heartbreaking day for Fox News Media and for all journalists risking their lives to deliver the news," Scott said in a staff memo. On Sunday, documentary filmmaker Brent Renaud died when Russian forces fired on his vehicle in Irpin, which is also outside of the Ukrainian capital.


Russia targets Biden, Blinken with sanctions

Russia on Tuesday imposed sanctions on President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and several other U.S. officials in response to U.S. sanctions against Russian targets over the invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions are mostly symbolic but indicate that tensions are intensifying between Moscow and Washington. The sanctions, which also target Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley, CIA Director William Burns, and other high-ranking officials, would bar the targeted list from travel and seize any assets held in Russia. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Biden's son, Hunter Biden, were also on the list, although neither serves in the Biden administration.


Pfizer, BioNTech request authorization of 4th vaccine shot for seniors

Pfizer and BioNTech on Tuesday requested authorization for a fourth dose of their COVID-19 vaccine for people over age 65. The companies said an analysis of data from Israel found that among 1.1 million Israeli seniors, infections were twice as low and rates of severe illness were four times lower for patients who received two booster shots instead of one. The United States currently encourages everyone age 12 or older to get the two initial doses followed by a booster shot months later. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control would have to approve Pfizer's request. Authorities say vaccinations still provide strong protection against severe COVID-19, but are considerably less effective against infection and minor illness from the highly infectious Omicron variant.


Police arrest suspect in attacks on homeless men in D.C., NYC

Washington, D.C., police said Tuesday that they had arrested a man who could be linked to the shootings of five homeless men in Washington, D.C., and New York City since March 3. Two of the victims died. The suspect, identified by a senior law enforcement official as 30-year-old Gerald Brevard III, was detained early Tuesday. It was not immediately clear how investigators tracked him down or what he was charged with. Brevard, 30, reportedly has a criminal history dating back to 2009, including charges for assault, attempted robbery with a deadly weapon, and burglary. "He is currently being interviewed at our Homicide Branch," the police department said in a tweet. "Additional information will be forthcoming. Thanks to the community for all your tips."


Oil prices fall as China COVID lockdown threatens energy demand

Oil prices dropped below $100 a barrel on Tuesday as China imposed a broad lockdown to fight a new COVID-19 outbreak, raising the prospect of reduced demand for energy. The sudden decline, after crude surged to nearly $130 per barrel earlier in March, sent stocks climbing. Tens of millions of Chinese residents live in cities covered under the lockdown, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, which was imposed to curb the spread of the Omicron variant. The measures could worsen global supply chain problems. Numerous factories, including iPhone supplier Foxconn, have had to suspend operations due to the lockdown.


White House warns more money needed for COVID response

The White House on Tuesday warned lawmakers that without new funding it would have to severely cut back the U.S. COVID-19 response. Unless Congress approves more money, state allocations of monoclonal antibody treatments to states will be reduced by 30 percent starting next week and might run out in May. The government also will lack the money necessary to offer all Americans a fourth shot if another booster or a modified vaccine is needed to fight another coronavirus variant, officials said. There also will be less government money for research on future vaccine versions. The Biden administration spelled out all the looming cutbacks in a letter to Congress on Tuesday. Republicans say any new COVID-19 funds must be fully paid for.


Survey: 52 percent doubt Biden will run for re-election

Fifty-two percent of Americans don't think President Biden will run for re-election in 2024, according to a Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday. Twenty-nine percent said they expected him to run, while 19 percent were unsure. Biden and the White House have said he plans to seek a second term. If Biden runs and wins, he will be 82 years old when he is sworn in. Ronald Reagan was 69 years old when he took office and 73 when he started his second term in 1985. Former President Donald Trump was the oldest president to take office until Biden succeeded him. Trump was 70 when he was sworn in.


Senators back proposal to make daylight saving time permanent

The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill seeking to make daylight saving time permanent starting in 2023, ending the practice of moving clocks forward an hour in the spring and back an hour in the fall. The Senate approved the Sunshine Protection Act by a unanimous voice vote. The House has held a committee meeting on the proposal but must pass it before it can be sent to President Biden for his signature. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has not taken a position on the bill, and the White House has not said whether Biden backs it. Proponents in the Senate said the change would result in brighter evenings, encourage increased economic activity, and reduce seasonal depression. "If we can get this passed, we don't have to do this stupidity anymore," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of the bill's sponsors.


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