Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 29, 2022

Snowstorms blanketing U.S. East Coast are expected to worsen, Ottawa braces for trucker convoy protesting COVID restrictions, and more


Snowstorms blanketing U.S. East Coast are expected to worsen

A winter storm blanketed the northeastern United States in up to six inches of snow Friday night, an amount that could quadruple by the end of the weekend. Airlines canceled more than 3,000 flights, and Amtrak service along the Boston-to-Washington corridor was suspended or limited. The National Weather Service in Boston warned that travel "should be restricted to emergencies only" and that anyone who must travel should prepare for the possibility of becoming stranded.


Ottawa braces for trucker convoy protesting COVID restrictions

A "Freedom Convoy" of some 2,700 trucks is expected enter the Canadian capital city of Ottawa Saturday to protest Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's COVID-19 policies. The convoy began as a protest against a vaccine mandate for Canadian truckers crossing into the United States. "These demonstrations are national in scope, they're massive in scale," Ottawa police chief Peter Sloly said Friday, expressing concern about the possibility of violent "lone wolf" individuals carrying out violent attacks. B.J. Dicher, an organizer of the convoy, urged the demonstrators to remain peaceful. "We cannot achieve our goals if there are threats or acts of violence," he said.


Global vaccine administration total surpasses 10 billion doses

Over ten billion vaccine doses have now been administered globally, representing a new milestone in the fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In wealthy countries, 77 percent of people have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, versus less than 10 percent in low-income countries. Even as the U.S. and parts of Europe build out their booster campaigns to fight the Omicron variant, more than one-third of the world's population is still waiting for a first jab.


Macron and Putin talk Ukraine

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday in an attempt at persuading Moscow to de-escalate or pull back from the situation in Ukraine. It seems Macron was unsuccessful in securing any tangible concessions from Putin. Rather, Putin is said to have used the call to accuse the U.S. and NATO of ignoring Russia's "fundamental concerns" as they relate to the conflict at hand. Per a Kremlin readout of the conversation, the Russian leader argued Western allies weren't responding to his core demands — such as "lasting, legally binding security guarantees" that NATO will halt its expansion, among other things. Putin also claimed he has "no offensive plans."


Trump praises Pennsylvania ruling against mail-in voting

A Pennsylvania state law allowing any voter to cast their ballot by mail was struck down on Friday. "Big news out of Pennsylvania, great patriotic spirit is developing at a level that nobody thought possible," former President Donald Trump, who has been critical of widespread mail-in voting, wrote online after the news broke. The law, known as Act 77 and passed by state Gov. Tom Wolf (D) in 2019, allowed for no-excuse absentee voting, among other things. In its 3-2 decision on Friday, the Republican-leaning state court ruled the legislature overstepped and would need a constitutional amendment to change voting laws so drastically. The decision will almost certainly be appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.


Ukraine wants the U.S. to tone down the invasion rhetoric

Ukraine would like foreign assistance from the United States and its allies in its standoff with Russia; but outside of providing defense weaponry, the country would prefer the U.S. just stay quiet. "When they start saying that tomorrow, you're going to have war, just take into consideration that the first thing we do not need in our country is panic," said Oleksii Danilov, leader of Ukraine's security council. "Why? Because panic is the sister of failure." He added, "That's why we are saying to our partners, 'Don't shout so much.' Do you see a threat? Give us 10 jets every day. Not one, 10. And the threat will disappear."


Biden visits Pittsburgh following bridge collapse

Ten people were injured after a snow-covered bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Friday morning. Three people were taken to the hospital, and no fatalities have been reported. The bridge that collapsed is known as the Fern Hollow Bridge and is located in the city's Point Breeze neighborhood. A driver and two passengers were on a bus that was on the bridge when it gave way. President Biden made a scheduled visit to Pittsburgh only hours after the collapse. "The idea that we have been so far behind on infrastructure, for so many years — it's just mind-boggling," Biden said.


Jan. 6 committee subpoenas 14 'alternate' Trump electors

The Jan. 6 Select Committee issued subpoenas Friday for 14 Republicans who had been chosen to serve as alternate electors from seven states President Biden won. The 14 people subpoenaed attempted to cast electoral votes for then-President Donald Trump in a move that, if then-Vice President Mike Pence had refused to certify the election results, could have propelled Trump to claiming victory in the 2020 election. "The Select Committee is seeking information about attempts in multiple states to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including the planning and coordination of efforts to send false slates of electors," said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the committee.


Reluctant incumbent emerges as frontrunner in Italian presidential election

Italy's 80-year-old president Sergio Mattarella, who specifically asked not to be considered for a second term and has already rented an apartment to which he plans to retire when his term expires in February, has emerged as the frontrunner in the country's ongoing presidential election. The Italian president, who wields significant power, is elected by a group of 1,009 parliamentarians and regional representatives. After the candidates proposed by Italy's various political blocs failed to garner the 505 votes needed to win, increasing number of lawmakers defected and began casting votes for Mattarella. Prime Minister Mario Draghi asked Mattarella on Saturday to stay in office "for the good and stability of the country."


Ashleigh Barty wins Australian Open women’s title

Australian tennis player Ashleigh Barty defeated American Danielle Collins to win the Australian Open women's title Saturday. Barty defeated Collins in three straight sets, winning the first set six games to three, and the second and third 7-6. Barty is the first Australian player to win the Australian Open since 1978. She won the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon last year, and has been the No. 1 ranked female player in the world for over 100 weeks.


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