Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 18, 2022

Russian missiles hit Lviv, top COVID adviser says Americans over 60 should get 2nd COVID booster, and more

1

Russian missiles hit Ukrainian cities

Russian missiles struck Lviv, the largest city in western Ukraine, on Monday, killing at least six people as Russia continued to expand its attacks on major cities across the country. Strikes in Kharkiv injured four workers for the humanitarian group World Central Kitchen. Ukrainian forces braced for an all-out assault in the east. Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, vowed that the last several thousand Ukrainian fighters holding out in a steel plant in the port city of Mariupol would "fight absolutely to the end" after rejecting Russia's call to surrender or be "exterminated." The fall of Mariupol, which is largely in ruins after a brutal siege, would give Russia its biggest victory since invading on Feb. 24.

2

COVID adviser: Those over 60 should get 2nd booster

People over age 60 should get a second COVID-19 booster shot, Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the new White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said Sunday. Jha said on Fox News Sunday that there was "pretty compelling" new data from Israel indicating that getting a fourth dose of a coronavirus vaccine significantly reduces the risk of infection and death in older people. The Food and Drug Administration in late March authorized second boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines for Americans 50 and up. The FDA said the authorization was meant to help older people restore waning immunity as the highly contagious BA.2 Omicron subvariant spreads rapidly in some parts of the United States.

3

Many churches hold 1st in-person Easter services since 2019

Many U.S. Christian congregations worshipped together on Easter Sunday for the first time since 2019, after in-person celebrations of one of the holiest days of the year were canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. "We hadn't seen a crowd like this for two years," said John Faison, senior pastor at Watson Grove Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee. The pandemic reached the United States in March 2020, just before Easter. Many churches shifted to online or televised services to help reduce the risk of infection. This year's return came after most local, state, and national COVID-19 restrictions were lifted as infections dropped from peaks hit during the Omicron-variant wave.

4

3 mass shootings leave 2 dead, dozens injured

Three separate mass shootings — one in Pennsylvania and two in South Carolina — left two dead and more than 30 injured over Easter weekend. Two young men were killed and at least nine other people were injured in Pittsburgh early Sunday in a shooting during a party at an Airbnb short-term rental property. In South Carolina, nine people were injured in a shooting at a Hampton County nightclub. Fourteen were hurt — nine by gunfire and five in a stampede of shoppers seeking safety — in a shooting at a busy Columbia, South Carolina, mall. A judge on Sunday ordered suspect Jewayne Price, to be placed under house arrest. Police said at least two people fired shots in the mall.

5

China economic reports show cost of outbreak

China reported Monday that its economy expanded 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2022. The figure was slightly better than expected, but most of the growth came in January and February before the country's worst COVID-19 outbreak yet forced mass quarantines and lockdowns that have shut down key industrial centers. Retail sales fell 3.5 percent in March compared to a year earlier, China's National Bureau of Statistics reported Monday. Factory output expanded by 5 percent in March, slower than the rate in the first two months of the year, adding to evidence of the impact of China's zero-COVID policy on the world's second-largest economy.

6

Report: Saudi Arabia pushed out Yemen's president

Saudi Arabia pressured Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi into stepping down recently and has kept him mostly incommunicado in his home since then, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing Saudi and Yemeni officials. Hadi handed power to a council representing various Yemeni groups on April 7, the Journal reported. The moves were part of a Saudi effort to end Yemen's seven-year war with Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The fighting has caused a dire humanitarian crisis and stoked tensions between Saudi Arabia, which is leading a coalition battling the rebels, and the United States. Saudi Arabia's day-to-day leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, told Hadi that Yemeni leaders had agreed he should delegate his powers to the council.

7

Dozens remain missing in South Africa floods

Dozens of people remained missing in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province on Sunday after heavy rains caused floods and mudslides in recent days. The death toll in the disaster has risen to more than 440 people. Thousands of people have been left homeless after the flooding destroyed buildings and disrupted power and water services. As weather forecasters warned of more rain, residents awaited news of missing loved ones. "We haven't lost hope. Although we are constantly worried as [the] days continue," said Sbongile Mjoka, whose 8-year-old nephew has been missing for days.

8

Tax Day is here and millions are still rushing to file

Tax Day arrived Monday, with millions of Americans still struggling to get their income tax returns filed. As of April 8, the Internal Revenue Service had received more than 103 million returns and issued refunds totaling $204 billion to more than 63 million taxpayers. Last year, more than 169 million people filed returns, meaning that at that point 40 percent or so still had yet to file. Those rushing to meet the deadline are "better off filing an extension," said Nina Tross at the National Society of Tax Professionals. It has "zero effect" as long as you don't owe the IRS any money. The IRS is under pressure, too, as it contends with its biggest backlog in history.

9

3 injured in Sweden in protests against planned Koran burning

Riots broke out in several Swedish towns over Easter weekend in response to plans by a Danish far-right, anti-Islam group to burn Korans in Sweden. Three people were injured in the city of Norrköping. Police said the injured "seem to have been hit by ricochets" after officers fired warning shots to disperse a crowd of about 150 people. Police said protesters threw stones at officers and police vehicles. Protesters and counterprotesters clashed Friday in the city of Örebro, and Saturday in the southwestern city of Malmö, where protesters threw stones and Molotov cocktails in what Swedish police described as a "messy night" that included "fire and attacks on the police."

10

'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore' has weakest opening of Harry Potter franchise

Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore brought in $43 million at the domestic box office in its opening weekend, the lowest debut for a movie in the franchise. The previous low point for the franchise was The Secrets of Dumbledore's predecessor, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, which opened with $62 million in 2018. That film also had the worst reviews yet for a movie set in the Wizarding World created by author J.K. Rowling. Since then, Fantastic Beasts has faced a string of controversies: Johnny Depp was asked to step down over allegations of domestic abuse; series star Ezra Miller was arrested for disorderly conduct shortly before The Secrets of Dumbledore's premiere; and, Rowling has faced criticism over her tweets about transgender people.

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