Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 24, 2022

Zelensky calls for "maximum" Russia sanctions in Davos address, House ethics panel investigates Cawthorn, and more

1

Zelensky calls for 'maximum' Russia sanctions in Davos address

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday delivered a virtual speech to world leaders attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, urging them to impose "maximum" sanctions on Russia for invading his country. Zelensky said more nations should embargo Russian oil and block its banks, and foreign companies should pull out of Russia. He added that Ukraine needs at least $5 billion per month in aid. "We need to rebuild entire cities and industries," Zelensky said. He added that if other nations had provided all the weapons and other aid Ukraine needed in February, when Russia invaded, "the result would be tens of thousands of lives saved."

2

House ethics panel investigates Madison Cawthorn

The House Ethics Committee announced Monday that it's starting an investigation into alleged financial and personal impropriety by Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), a controversial first-term congressman who lost his reelection bid in the primaries last week. The committee said it will investigate whether Cawthorn "improperly promoted a cryptocurrency in which he may have had an undisclosed financial interest, and engaged in an improper relationship with an individual employed on his congressional staff." Cawthorn's chief of staff, Blake Harp, welcomed "the opportunity to prove that Congressman Cawthorn committed no wrongdoing and that he was falsely accused by partisan adversaries for political gain."

3

Biden tells Indo-Pacific leaders Ukraine war is a shared challenge

President Biden on Tuesday told fellow Indo-Pacific leaders in Tokyo that they are all "navigating a dark hour in our shared history" as they respond to Russia's "brutal and unprovoked" invasion of Ukraine. "This is more than just a European issue. It's a global issue," Biden said at a summit of the "Quad" countries — the United States, Japan, Australia, and India. Biden's remarks "appeared to be pointed, at least in part, at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi," leader of the only Quad country that "has not imposed sanctions or even condemned Russia, its biggest supplier of military hardware," The Associated Press reports. In his comments, Modi mentioned several trade programs but didn't bring up the war in Ukraine.

4

DOJ revises use-of-force policy

The Justice Department has revised its policy on the use of force by requiring federal law-enforcement agents to intervene if they see someone using excessive violence. Attorney General Merrick Garland detailed the change in a memo circulated on Friday and posted on the department's website Monday, two days before the second anniversary of George Floyd's death. Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died when a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee onto his neck for nine minutes as other officers helped or looked on without intervening. The case fueled protests over police killings. "It is the policy of the Department of Justice to value and preserve human life," Garland wrote. State and local police are not required to follow the federal standard.

5

Trump-backed challenger faces Pence's pick in Georgia GOP primary

Former Vice President Mike Pence headlined a Monday night rally in Georgia for Republican Gov. Brian Kemp's reelection campaign, in a sharp break with former President Donald Trump, who has endorsed former Sen. David Perdue in Tuesday's Republican primary. Pence did not directly respond to his former running mate's attacks on Kemp for not trying to overturn Trump's 2020 election loss in the state, but he argued that Kemp was the best candidate to beat Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams. Perdue accused Abrams, who is Black, of "demeaning her own race" by urging people to seek renewable energy jobs rather than going into farming or hospitality. Abrams declined to comment on Perdue's racially tinged remarks, saying she has yet to hear either Republican "articulate a plan for the future of Georgia."

6

Russian diplomat resigns over Ukraine war

Russian diplomat Boris Bondarev resigned Monday from his post in the United Nations office in Geneva to protest the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine. "Never have I been so ashamed of my country as on Feb. 24 of this year," Bondarev wrote in his resignation message, which was also posted on LinkedIn. He called Russian President Vladimir Putin's "aggressive war" a crime against both the Ukrainian and the Russian people. Bondarev's "scathing letter is one of the most high-profile critiques of the war" from within the Russian government, The Washington Post reports. The Kremlin didn't immediately comment, but Putin previously dismissed people expressing dissent as "scum and traitors."

7

Pfizer says COVID booster effective in kids under 5

A booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine produces a strong immune response in children under 5, Pfizer said Monday. The company said a trial examining a third dose of its vaccine in young kids found its efficacy to be 80.3 percent in children between six months and under 5 years old. Children in the trial received a third shot, a smaller dose than adults receive, two months after the second dose. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the company hopes to soon ask regulators to approve the booster for young children. BioNTech founder Ugur Sahin said the booster appears to provide "high level of protection against the recent COVID-19 strains."

8

Report: Climate change made India, Pakistan heat wave more likely

Human-caused climate change made the record heat wave India and Pakistan suffered through in March and April at least 30 times more likely, according to a study released Monday. The researchers found that climate change raised temperatures by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in India's highest March temperatures in 122 years. Pakistan and northwestern and central India had their hottest April, too. "What was particularly exceptional and particularly unusual was how early it started," co-author Friederike Otto said in a Monday news conference. Such a heat blast would be "highly, highly unlikely" without climate change, said co-author Arpita Mondal of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. The heat was tied to at least 90 deaths, and reduced crop yields by up to 35 percent.

9

Anaheim mayor resigns under federal corruption investigation 

Anaheim, California, Mayor Harry Sidhu resigned Monday amid a federal public corruption investigation connected to the $320 million sale of Angel Stadium. Six City Council members had called on him to step down. Sidhu's attorney, Paul Meyer, said the mayor denied wrongdoing and was stepping aside to let the city "move forward without distraction." In an affidavit filed earlier this month, the FBI said Sidhu gave the Angels confidential information at least twice during the city's talks with the team on selling the stadium. He allegedly hoped the team would make a million-dollar donation to his campaign. The affidavit also accused Sidhu of obstructing an Orange County grand jury investigation. He hasn't been charged.

10

Starbucks announces it's leaving Russia

Starbucks announced Monday that it is leaving Russia after operating in the country for 15 years. The coffee giant joins a rising number of companies from the United States and other countries that have decided to exit the Russian market over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. McDonald's, Exxon Mobil, and British American Tobacco have already announced they are ending operations in Russia. Starbucks said it would pay its nearly 2,000 Russian employees for another six months and help them find other jobs. Starbucks had already suspended its Russia business activities on March 8, closing cafes and halting shipments of Starbucks products.

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