Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 30, 2022

Russia and Ukraine make progress in peace talks, Trump phone logs show 7-hour gap on Jan. 6, and more

1

Russia, Ukraine signal progress in peace talks

A Russian official on Tuesday said the country's forces would radically "reduce military activity" around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and the northern city of Chernihiv. Russian strikes continued overnight in these areas, however. Ukrainian representatives detailed potential concessions on territory Ukraine appeared to have lost to invading Russian forces. Russia said it was prepared to schedule a meeting between President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, once the two sides reach a draft peace deal. Ukraine said the two presidents could discuss control over the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, which has been claimed by pro-Russia separatists and which Moscow no longer considers part of Ukraine. Ukraine also proposed a 15-year negotiation process on Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula Russia annexed in 2014.

2

Report: Trump's White House phone logs show 7 1/2-hour gap on Jan. 6

White House phone logs show a seven-and-a-half-hour gap in then-President Donald Trump's calls on Jan. 6, 2021, which includes the period when a mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol, hoping to overturn his election loss to President Biden, The Washington Post and CBS News reported Tuesday, citing documents they obtained. The lack of notations from 11:17 a.m. to 6:54 p.m. leaves the House committee investigating the insurrection with no record of Trump's phone activity during the period when lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence were forced to seek shelter as Capitol police battled rioters. Despite the gap, there have been extensive reports about conversations Trump had with allies during the attack. 

3

FDA, CDC approve 4th vaccine shot for people 50 and older

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday authorized a fourth shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for people 50 years of age and older. Anyone in that age group who has had the initial two shots and a booster will be eligible for the fourth dose four months after their last shot. Health officials are expected to stop short of recommending the second booster. The authorization came after preliminary data from Israel showed that the fourth shot increased protection from death during the country's Omicron wave. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention promptly signed off on offering the second boosters, making people who had received a single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and a booster eligible, too.

4

Poland blocks Russian coal imports

Poland plans to block imports of Russian coal as part of its effort to reduce its energy dependence in response to Russia's Ukraine invasion, government spokesperson Piotr Mueller said Tuesday. Poland, which gets about 13 percent of its coal from Russia, will impose fines on companies that bring Russian coal into the country. Mueller said Poland decided to take the action on its own after waiting for the entire European Union to do it. The E.U., the United States, and other nations have hit Russia with a variety of sanctions since it sent troops into Ukraine just over a month ago, but Europe's dependence on Russian energy has complicated discussions on cutting purchases of Russian fuel.

5

21 states file lawsuit over Biden administration mask mandate for travelers

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in Tampa, Florida, challenging the Biden administration's mask mandate for people in airports and on planes, trains, and buses. Moody, joined by attorneys general from 20 other states, argued that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overstepped its legal authority by imposing the mandate. The attorneys general said that due to the "outright disdain for the limits" on the federal government's power, they were asking the court to ban enforcement of the mask requirement. It was the latest attempt by Republican leaders in Florida and other states to challenge President Biden's COVID-19 policies. The Transportation Safety Administration, which has extended the mandate through April 18, said it wouldn't comment on pending litigation.

6

Poll: Anxiety about inflation highest since 1985

Americans' level of concern about inflation is at its highest point since 1985, a Gallup poll released Tuesday found. Seventeen percent of respondents said "high cost of living/inflation" was the most important problem currently facing the United States, up from eight percent in January. An additional 15 percent said the biggest problem was either "fuel/oil prices" or the "economy in general." Fifty-nine percent said they worry "a great deal" about inflation, including 79 percent of Republicans, 25 percent of Democrats, and 63 percent of independents. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that consumer prices increased by 7.9 percent between Feb. 2021 and Feb. 2022, the biggest one-year jump since 1982.

7

Biden signs bill designating lynching as a federal hate crime

President Biden on Tuesday signed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act into law, making lynching a federal hate crime. "Racial acts of terror still occur in our nation," Vice President Kamala Harris said in the signing ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. "And when they do, we must all have the courage to name them and hold the perpetrators to account." Lawmakers had failed nearly 200 times in the last 120 years to pass antilynching laws before Congress approved this legislation in March. It is named after a Black 14-year-old who was abducted, tortured, and murdered in 1955 after being accused of whistling at and grabbing a white woman in Mississippi. Biden thanked supporters of the law for "never ever giving up."

8

Palestinian gunman kills 5 in Israel

A gunman on a motorcycle fatally shot four people at two locations in Bnei Brak, a crowded ultra-Orthodox city in central Israel just east of Tel Aviv. Police killed the suspected attacker. It was the second mass shooting this week and appeared to be the latest in a series of attacks by Arab militants ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the anniversary of the 2021 Gaza war. Israel arrested five Palestinians in connection with the shooting spree, and identified the attacker as Diaa Hamarsheh, 27, a Palestinian from the West Bank. Two previous attacks were attributed to Arab citizens of Israel who were influenced by the Islamic State. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett called an emergency security meeting and vowed to fight "a wave of murderous Arab terrorism" with "perseverance, stubbornness, and an iron fist."

9

James says 'significant' evidence suggests Trump misstated asset values 

The New York attorney general's office said in a Tuesday court filing that it had "uncovered significant evidence" that President Trump's property company, the Trump Organization, used misleading real estate valuations to "secure economic benefits," including loans and tax deductions. Attorney General Letitia James made the claims in response to an appeal by Trump and his company of a Manhattan state court's February order for Trump and two of his children, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, to submit to interviews by James' investigators. The filing said James subpoenaed the Trumps "to help reach a final determination about whether there has been civil fraud" connected to the asset valuations, and, if so, "who may be responsible."

10

Queen Elizabeth makes 1st public appearance in months at Prince Philip memorial service

Queen Elizabeth joined other members of the royal family and dignitaries for a memorial service honoring her husband Prince Philip, who died last year. It was the queen's first public appearance in five months. The 95-year-old British monarch has been forced to cut back on her duties since an unspecified illness in October, followed by a coronavirus infection last month. She entered the service at the historic Westminster Abbey in central London escorted by son Prince Andrew, who was making his first public appearance since settling a sexual assault suit linked to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Due to pandemic restrictions, only 30 people were allowed inside for Philip's funeral last April, but 1,800 guests were invited to Tuesday's service.

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