Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 6, 2022

Russian diplomat mocks American 'scaremongering' over Ukraine, Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 70 years on the throne, and more

1

Russian diplomat mocks American 'madness' and 'scaremongering' over Ukraine

A Russian invasion of Ukraine could cause 50,000 civilian casualties and capture the capital city of Kyiv within days, Biden administration officials told lawmakers at briefings that became public Saturday. The officials said they could not confirm whether Russian President Vladimir Putin had made up his mind to order the invasion, but said they believe approximately 70 percent of the forces needed for an invasion are already in place. Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, dismissed the American intelligence assessment as "madness" and "scaremongering." He tweeted Sunday, "[W]hat if we would say that US could seize London in a week and cause 300K civilian deaths?"

2

Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 70 years on the throne

Queen Elizabeth II began her reign 70 years ago when her father, King George VI, died on Feb. 6, 1952. She is now the fourth-longest-reigning monarch in world history, behind Louis XIV of France, Johann II of Lichtenstein, and Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. On Saturday, the queen hosted a small reception for her Platinum Jubilee at her country estate, Sandringham. She also announced in an address that she wants Duchess Camilla of Cornwall — the wife of her son and heir, Prince Charles — to have the title of queen consort when Charles becomes king. The queen has met 13 American presidents and been served by 14 prime ministers.

3

Republicans say they’ll probe GoFundMe over Freedom Convoy donations

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and multiple Republican state attorneys general have announced plans to investigate whether GoFundMe violated state laws by refusing to distribute funds raised to support the "Freedom Convoy," a group of truckers and other demonstrators protesting Canada's COVID-19 policies. GoFundMe said it deleted the fundraiser after concluding  "that the previously peaceful demonstration has become an occupation." The company initially said donors would have to apply for refunds and that remaining funds would go to charities approved by GoFundMe, but later reversed course and made refunds automatic. The Republican attorneys general of Missouri, West Virginia, Ohio, and Louisiana all said they plan to investigate GoFundMe on behalf of donors from their states.

4

Joe Rogan apologizes for N-word use

Podcast host Joe Rogan posted an apology video, his second in less than a week, to Instagram early Saturday morning, addressing a viral compilation video that showed him repeatedly using the N-word on his show. Rogan clarified that he only used the word in quotations or when discussing its sociolinguistic significance. "I haven't said it in years. But for a long time, when I would bring that word up, if it would come up in conversations, instead of saying 'the N-word,' I would just say the word," Rogan said. He offered his "sincere, deepest apologies" and said watching the compilation made him feel "sick."

5

Runoff likely as Costa Ricans choose among 25 presidential candidates

Costa Ricans go to the polls Sunday to choose their country's next president, but the day's voting is unlikely to produce a victor. If no candidate wins more than 40 percent of the vote, the top two will advance to a runoff election to be held in April. 25 candidates are seeking the presidency, and none of them is polling anywhere near 40 percent. Centrist former President Jose Maria Figueres, who governed from 1994 to 1998, leads in the polls with around 17 percent of the vote, while center-right candidate Lineth Saborio, a former vice president, is polling in second place at around 13 percent. Costa Ricans will also elect a new National Assembly.

6

Host nation China wins its first gold medal of the Beijing Olympics

Host nation China won its first gold medal of the Beijing Winter Olympics on Saturday when the Chinese team claimed victory in the short track speedskating mixed team relay. The mixed team relay, a new event at the 2022 Winter Olympics, features teams made up of both men and women. China's gold-winning team includes male skaters Wu Dajing and Ren Ziwei and female skaters Qu Chunyu and Fan Kexin. Italy won silver, while Hungary took bronze.

7

Populist Pierre Poilievre seeks leadership of Canada’s Conservative Party

Canadian Member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre announced Saturday that he is running to become the leader of Canada's Conservative Party and to replace Justin Trudeau as prime minister. "Governments have … caused inflation by borrowing and printing a half trillion dollars, which has ballooned the assets of the billionaires, the debts of our children, and the cost of living of the working class," Poilievre said in his announcement video. He also accused Trudeau's government of "[u]sing COVID as a political opportunity." Poilievre, a right-wing populist and supporter of the ongoing trucker convoy protest, has been working for months to position himself as the natural successor to Erin O'Toole, who was ousted from party leadership Wednesday.

8

NFL commissioner says league has fallen short on diversity commitments

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a memo to all NFL teams Saturday saying that the continued lack of diversity among the league's coaches and coordinators is "unacceptable." Only one of the 32 teams that make up the NFL has a Black head coach. Goodell wrote in the memo that "and any form of discrimination is contrary to the NFL's values." The memo was prompted by a lawsuit former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who is Black, filed earlier this week. Goodell promised to "re-evaluate and examine all policies, guidelines, and initiatives relating to diversity, equity and inclusions."

9

Prince Andrew's deposition set for March 10

News broke Saturday that Prince Andrew is set to give evidence under oath in London on March 10. The Duke of York is being sued in a United States district court by Virginia Giuffre. Giuffre alleges that Jeffrey Epstein trafficked her and forced her to have sex with Andrew while she was still a minor. Andrew has denied all allegations. The prince's lawyers argued last month that, under the terms of a recently unsealed 2009 settlement between Giuffre and Epstein, the lawsuit against Andrew ought to be dismissed. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan disagreed and allowed the case to move forward.

10

Norway, Sweden, and Russia lead Olympic medal count

Since the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics opened Friday, Norway has taken the lead with two gold medals — in the mixed relay biathlon and women's cross-country skiing — and a bronze in men's speed skating. In second place is Sweden, which has taken gold in men's moguls freestyle skiing and men's speed skating. Russia — competing as the Russian Olympic Committee or ROC due to a four-year ban the World Anti-Doping Agency handed down in 2019 — has won one gold, two silver, and two bronze medals.

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