Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 19, 2023

Zelensky pleads for more weapons in Davos address, Ardern announces she's stepping down as New Zealand prime minister, and more

1

Ukraine's Zelensky pleads for more weapons in address to Davos forum

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a video appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, appealing to world leaders and business executives for more help fighting Russia's invasion. "The supplying of Ukraine with air defense systems must outpace Russia's next missile attacks," Zelensky said. "The supplies of Western tanks must outpace the next invasion of Russian tanks." Zelensky started his address with a call for a minute of silence to honor Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky and more than a dozen other people killed when a helicopter crashed near Kyiv. "Tragedies are outpacing life. The tyranny is outpacing democracy," he said. "The time the free world uses to think is used by the terrorist state to kill."

2

Jacinda Ardern stepping down as New Zealand prime minister

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unexpectedly announced Thursday that she will step down on Feb. 7. Ardern became the world's youngest female head of government when she was elected, at age 37, in 2017. The next year she became only the second world leader to give birth while in office, after Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto. She earned global praise for leading New Zealand through a series of crises, including the deadly Christchurch mosque shooting and its aftermath, and the COVID-19 pandemic. "I know what this job takes, and I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice," said Ardern, now 42. Her center-left Labour Party caucus will vote for a new leader Sunday.

3

U.S. expected to unveil new military package for Ukraine

The Biden administration is expected to announce Friday that it will provide Ukraine with a new military package worth about $2.5 billion that will include artillery, ammunition, and dozens of Bradley and Stryker armored vehicles, Politico and The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. The package will not include American M1 Abrams tanks, the U.S. Army's 60-ton main battle tank — because of maintenance and logistical issues, not because providing them would escalate the war, according to Politico. Bradleys and Strykers are expected to boost Ukrainian troops' firepower and ability to "move quickly around the battlefield," the Post said.

4

Microsoft to lay off 10,000 in latest tech sector cuts

Microsoft announced Wednesday it will lay off another 10,000 employees, adding to a wave of job cuts at major technology companies bracing for a possible recession. The tech sector has already seen tens of thousands of layoffs in recent months as companies that experienced strong growth earlier in the pandemic — as people shifted work, study, and play online — have found themselves with too many workers as workplaces and schools returned to something close to pre-COVID normal. CEO Satya Nadella said the cuts would affect less than 5 percent of the software giant's workers, and would be completed by late March.

5

Church of England rejects same-sex weddings in churches

The Church of England said Wednesday it will allow blessings for same-sex civil marriages for the first time, but still won't let same-sex couples get married in its churches, The Associated Press reported. The decisions came after five years of discussions. Proposals on the church's policies on sexuality are expected to be delivered in a report to the church's General Synod, a broad assembly, in London next month. While the Church of England would maintain its view of the sacrament of matrimony as a union between a man and a woman, it would allow same-sex couples to have a service with prayers of dedication, or a blessing after a civil ceremony. England and Wales legalized same-sex marriage in 2013.

6

Israel high court says Netanyahu minister unfit to serve

Israel's Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that politician Aryeh Deri, who has been convicted of tax fraud, was not fit to serve as a senior government minister and should be removed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new right-wing coalition. Ten of the 11 Supreme Court judges agreed that Deri, who leads the ultra-Orthodox Shas party and serves as Netanyahu's interior and health minister, was ineligible for public office due to his "backlog of criminal convictions." The ruling was considered likely to intensify a showdown between the government and Israel's high court, The New York Times said. Netanyahu, who is on trial on corruption allegations, is trying to gain more influence over the judicial system through such changes as the appointment of judges.

7

French workers protest nationwide against pension reform

French workers, including train drivers, teachers, and refinery employees, joined nationwide strikes and protests on Thursday in an expression of anger over a government proposal to raise the retirement age to 64 from 62. French President Emmanuel Macron says his reform plan, in a country where everyone receives a government pension, is necessary to keep the system from going broke. Unions argue that the proposed reform threatens workers' hard-earned rights, and that a tax on the wealthy or contributions from employers could keep the pension system afloat. "We need a lot of people to join the protests," Laurent Berger, head of France's largest union, CFDT, told BFM TV. "People are against this reform ... we need to show it (in the streets)."

8

Treasury starts 'extraordinary' measures as government hits debt ceiling

The Treasury Department on Thursday plans to start taking special measures to allow the government to continue paying its bills as it runs up against the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling Congress set in 2021. The so-called extraordinary measures include accounting maneuvers like suspending investments for some government accounts. They will enable the Treasury Department to cover obligations, such as bond payments and Social Security checks, until at least early June as a divided Congress and the White House work on passing a debt-limit increase or suspension. The new Republican House majority opposes raising the debt ceiling without deep spending cuts, while Democrats, who control the Senate, say they won't let the GOP use the deadline to slash federal programs.

9

Ice cores show sharp rise in Greenland temperatures

New ice core data shows that Greenland is now 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than its 20th century average temperature, after a sharp spike in Greenland temperatures since 1995, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. Greenland is now the warmest it has been in more than 1,000 years. The giant northern island previously showed few clear impacts of global warming on its remotest north-central region, but that was partly because the ice cores hadn't been updated since 1995, according to The Associated Press. "We keep on (seeing) rising temperatures between 1990s and 2011," said study lead author Maria Hoerhold, a glaciologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany. "We have now a clear signature of global warming."

10

Actor Julian Sands missing in storm-lashed California mountains

British actor Julian Sands, who starred in A Room With A View (1985), Naked Lunch (1991), Boxing Helena (1993), and Leaving Las Vegas (1995), among other movies, has been missing for five days in the Mt. Baldy area of Southern California's San Gabriel Mountains, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said Wednesday. Search and rescue crews suspended their search for Sands, 65, on Saturday due to poor trail conditions and avalanche risks from recent heavy rains. The search is continuing with helicopters and drones until it's safe for more ground searches, San Bernardino Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Gloria Huerta said. A second hiker, Bob Gregory, has been missing in the Crystal Lake area of the San Gabriel Mountains since Monday.

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