Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 5, 2022

Biden calls for war-crime charges against Putin, the Senate breaks a deadlock on Ketanji Brown Jackson's confirmation, and more

1

Biden doubles down on Putin war-crime allegation

President Biden on Monday called for putting Russian President Vladimir Putin on trial for war crimes over Ukraine's report that it found mass graves and streets littered with dead civilians in areas where Russian troops had just withdrawn. "He is a war criminal," Biden said of Putin. "But we have to gather information, we have to continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to continue to fight." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky toured the town of Bucha, where dead civilians were found face down in the streets, and urged the media to "show the world what happened here." European leaders called for tougher sanctions against Russia. Moscow denied targeting civilians and accused Ukraine of "stage-managed anti-Russian provocation." 

2

Senate breaks deadlock on Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation

The Senate voted Monday night to break a deadlock and bring Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate. Three Republicans — Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Mitt Romney (Utah) — joined Democrats in the 53-47 vote, clearing Jackson to be confirmed later in the week as the first Black woman to serve on the high court. She also will be the first justice to have served as a public defender. Collins last week became the first Republican to say she would support Jackson's confirmation. Murkowski and Romney said Monday they would support her, too. Romney said in a statement that he had "concluded that she is a well-qualified jurist and a person of honor."

3

Lawmakers agree to deal on COVID funding

Congressional negotiators reached a deal Monday on providing $10 billion in additional funding for the U.S. COVID-19 response, The Washington Post reported, citing four people familiar with the deal. A clash over global aid threatened to block an agreement, so it was excluded. The White House, which originally requested $22.5 billion, has warned that it needs lawmakers to approve more funding to protect Americans from new variants that could emerge anywhere in the world. Democrats had proposed $10 billion in U.S. funding and $5 billion for the global coronavirus response. The deal Democrats worked out with Republican Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) would use repurposed money allocated in previous stimulus packages.

4

Report: 'It's now or never' to meet climate goals

Keeping global heating to the critical level of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will require preventing greenhouse gas emissions from increasing after 2025 at the latest, according to a report released Monday by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "It's now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C," IPCC Working Group III co-chair Jim Skea said in a statement accompanying the report. "Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible." The 1.5-degree goal set in the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change marks the point at which climate experts say the world will reach a tipping point where even small additional changes could trigger dramatic shifts in ecosystems.

5

Colorado governor signs law guaranteeing abortion rights

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) on Monday signed a bill affirming abortion rights in the state. "Colorado has been, is, and will be a pro-choice state," he said. Colorado's Reproductive Health Equity Act guarantees access to reproductive health care before and after pregnancy; declares that fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses have no independent rights; and prohibits local governments from enacting their own abortion restrictions, The Associated Press reported. The state approved the law as several Republican-run states were tightening abortion restrictions, setting up a challenge of abortion rights at the Supreme Court. "No matter what the Supreme Court does in the future," Polis said, "people in Colorado will be able to choose when and if they have children."

6

3 GOP states sue Biden administration over ending pandemic border policy

Missouri, Arizona, and Louisiana filed a lawsuit Monday against the Biden administration over its decision to end the Title 42 policy that lets the government promptly expel migrants at the southern border in the name of fighting the spread of COVID-19. The three Republican-led states argued that lifting the policy, which was imposed by former President Donald Trump and continued by President Biden, would "create an unprecedented surge at the border" that will overwhelm immigration officials. The Department of Homeland Security has repeatedly emphasized that Title 42 was always intended as a public health measure, not part of U.S. immigration policy.

7

China expands Shanghai COVID lockdown

China on Tuesday extended Shanghai's coronavirus lockdown to cover the financial hub's entire population of 26 million after city-wide testing found daily new cases surging to more than 13,000. The broadening restrictions came as residents of China's largest city were already expressing anger over the lockdown. Outside experts warned the campaign's economic cost would be huge. China has brought in at least 38,000 personnel from other regions in what state media called the country's biggest medical operation since the Wuhan shutdown in early 2020. Thousands of Shanghai residents who have tested positive have been confined to "central quarantine" facilities whether they are symptomatic or not, with children sometimes separated from their parents.

8

Jury selection begins in Parkland school shooting sentencing trial

Jury selection began Monday in the death-penalty trial of Nikolas Cruz, who is accused of killing 17 students and staff members at a Parkland, Florida, high school in 2018. Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October, so the jury will only determine whether he should receive the death penalty or life in prison without parole. Eighteen people in the first pool of 60 prospective jurors remained after they were asked whether they could serve in a trial expected to last from June to September. Two more groups also were set to be screened. The prospective jurors still under consideration will return in several weeks for questioning about their views on capital punishment, and whether they could judge Cruz fairly.

9

U.S. seizes Putin ally's superyacht

The U.S. government on Monday seized a 254-foot superyacht owned by billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Members of Spain's Civil Guard and U.S. federal agents took over the $120 million vessel in a marina in the port of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Spain's Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Vekselberg heads the Moscow-based Renova Group, a conglomerate that handles metals, mining, tech, and other assets. The Justice Department got the warrant to take the yacht from a federal judge in Washington, arguing that it should be forfeited for bank fraud, money laundering, and sanctions violations. All of the Ukrainian-born Vekselberg's assets in the U.S. have been frozen.

10

Kansas beats North Carolina in NCAA title game comeback

The Kansas Jayhawks beat the North Carolina Tar Heels 72-69 to win the NCAA men's basketball national championship on Monday, storming back after trailing by 15 points at halftime in the biggest comeback in title game history. The Jayhawks took a 56-50 lead midway through the second half thanks to a 36-10 rally, but the Tar Heels never gave up. A tip-in by Brady Manek gave North Carolina a 69-68 lead with 1:41 left. Kansas big man David McCormack put his team ahead 70-69 with a put-back with a minute remaining, then scored again with 20 seconds left. Kansas got the ball back but turned it over with four seconds remaining, but Carolina's Caleb Love missed a final three-pointer.

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