Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 7, 2022

Ukraine braces for new Russian attacks in east, Biden signs order banning new Russia investment, and more

1

Ukraine braces for 'new bloody wave' of Russian attacks

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that Russia was preparing a "new bloody wave" of attacks in eastern Ukraine, and urged the West to increase pressure on Russia, including "a complete blockade" of Russian banks and oil. His government appealed to NATO for "weapons, weapons, weapons." The mayor of the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol said a month of Russian attacks had killed more than 5,000 civilians, including 210 children. Mayor Vadym Boichenko said bombing by Russian forces destroyed more than 90 percent of the city's infrastructure. Fifty people burned to death in a single bombed hospital. "This is the new Auschwitz," Boichenko said.

2

Biden bans new investment in Russia

President Biden on Wednesday condemned what he described as "major war crimes" by Russian forces in Ukraine, and announced an executive order banning new investment in Russia. The latest U.S. sanctions targeted two of Russia's biggest banks and two of Russian President Vladimir Putin's daughters. The European Union is considering tightening sanctions, including a ban on Russian coal imports, over allegations that Russian troops committed atrocities such as the murder and rape of civilians in Bucha and other towns they once controlled in northern Ukraine. The United Nations General Assembly is set to vote Thursday on a proposal to exclude Russia from the U.N. Human Rights Council.

3

China calls for investigation of deaths in Ukrainian town

China on Wednesday called for an investigation into images of civilian deaths in the Ukrainian town of Bucha after Russian troops withdrew, calling the scenes "deeply disturbing." The U.S. and its allies have worked to increase sanctions on Russia and aid to Ukraine in the wake of what they described as widespread civilian massacres by Russian troops. Russia says Ukraine faked the evidence. China declined to say who was to blame. "The truth and the cause of the incident must be verified," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said. "All parties should exercise restraint and avoid unfounded accusations before a conclusion of the investigation is drawn."

4

Prosecutors won't charge officers in Amir Locke killing

Prosecutors have declined to file charges against Minneapolis police officers in connection with the fatal shooting of Amir Locke during a February raid under a no-knock warrant, the county attorney and state attorney general said in a statement Wednesday. "There is insufficient admissible evidence to file criminal charges in this case," they said. An officer shot and killed Locke, a 22-year-old Black man, seconds after entering the apartment. Officers said Locke got up from a couch with a handgun and raised it toward an officer, which prosecutors said constituted a "specifically articulable threat" toward the officer, Mark Hanneman. An attorney for Locke's family said after the decision that it was a "disappointing day for the family."

5

House votes to hold Trump aides Navarro, Scavino in contempt

The House voted Wednesday to hold Peter Navarro and Dan Scavino, aides to former President Donald Trump, in contempt for defying subpoenas from the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. Navarro says executive privilege shields him from testifying. The committee's chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), said Scavino and Navarro "must be held accountable for the abuse of the public trust and defiance of the law," adding: "They are in contempt of Congress, which is a crime." Jan. 6 committee members Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) were the only Republicans to vote with Democrats to send the prosecution recommendation to the Justice Department. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) called the vote "vindictive" and un-American.

6

Israel coalition loses majority

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's governing coalition lost its majority on Wednesday when its chair, Idit Silman, resigned and called for the formation of a right-wing government to replace it. "I can no longer bear the damage to values that are our essence and right," she wrote in a letter to Bennett. Silman did not refer to specific policy differences in the letter, although she recently expressed objections to several policies, including plans to liberalize some prayer rules at Jerusalem's Western Wall. A Bennett spokesperson declined to comment. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Silman and urged other right-wing and religious lawmakers to "return to our home."

7

Big Oil tells lawmakers it's not responsible for high pump prices

Oil executives defended themselves in a House hearing on Wednesday, saying their companies were not responsible for high gasoline prices. Gas prices surged after Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent crude oil prices soaring. Since then, crude prices have dropped by 23 percent but pump prices have dropped just 4 percent from their March 11 record. Rep. Diana DeGette, the Democratic chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said gas prices are "constraining our constituents' budgets and patience. Chevron's chief executive, Mike Wirth, said companies have little control over the market dynamics that determine fuel prices, and it takes time for competition at gas stations to bring prices down.

8

Report: Instagram failed to act against misogynist abuse 

The nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate said in a study released Wednesday that Instagram had failed to act on an "epidemic of misogynist abuse" in the Instagram DMs of high-profile women. The group partnered with five high-profile women, including actress Amber Heard, and reviewed more than 8,000 direct messages they received on Instagram, according to The Washington Post. The researchers found that one in every 15 of those direct messages broke Instagram's rules against abuse and harassment, and criticized Instagram for its "failure to act on 89.5 percent of reports sent to its moderators." Instagram refuted the findings, saying it doesn't permit "gender-based hate."

9

Supreme Court reinstates Trump environmental rule

Five conservative Supreme Court justices reinstated a Trump-era environmental rule that made it harder for states to block projects that could pollute rivers and streams. Chief Justice John Roberts, a member of the six-justice conservative majority, joined the court's three liberals in calling the ruling an abuse of the court's emergency powers. The majority granted the request from Louisiana, other states, and the oil and gas industry without explaining its reasoning, which is common with such emergency requests. Justice Elena Kagan, dissenting along with Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, said the majority was turning the emergency or "shadow docket" into just another place to rule on cases, but "without full briefing and argument."

10

Man convicted of abusing daughter's college friends

A Manhattan jury on Wednesday found Lawrence Ray, 62, guilty of sex trafficking and extortion of his daughter's friends at Sarah Lawrence College by using threats, violence, and psychological manipulation. Ray moved into his daughter's dorm in 2010 after his release from prison for a securities fraud conviction. He was accused of charming his daughter's schoolmates, then using his influence over them to enrich himself. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Ray abused "a group of friends who had their whole lives ahead of them." Ray's lawyers declined to comment after the verdict was announced, and he was returned to custody. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 16, and could face up to life in prison.

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