Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 12, 2022

Biden and Putin to speak by phone as invasion threat looms, police move in to clear Freedom Convoy protesters from Ontario’s Ambassador Bridge, and more

1

Biden and Putin to speak by phone as invasion threat looms

President Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak by phone Saturday in what could be a last-ditch attempt to avert a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Putin initially requested a call with Biden on Monday, but Biden asked that it take place as soon as possible. Over 100,000 Russian troops are massed on Ukraine's border, and U.S. intelligence sources warn the invasion could begin at any time. Before the call with Biden, Putin will speak with French President Emmanuel Macron, who met with Putin in Moscow earlier in the week.

2

Freedom Convoy: Police move in to clear protesters from Ontario’s Ambassador Bridge

A Canadian judge on Friday ordered an end to a five-day blockade of Ontario's Ambassador Bridge, which drivers have blocked with their vehicles to protest the country's COVID-19 restrictions. The order went into effect at 7:00 p.m. Friday, after which police were empowered to arrest and seize the vehicles of anyone who remained. Despite these threats, protesters refused to comply. Canadian police moved in to remove the demonstrators Saturday morning. Most vehicles left, but three large trucks and approximately 20 protestors still blocked the bridge. Ambassador Bridge connects Detroit, Michigan, with Windsor, Ontario.

3

Republican strategists shocked by Marjorie Taylor Greene's endorsement power

According to four veteran Republican operatives working on competitive GOP primaries nationwide, an endorsement from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) is highly sought after, second only to the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. "It's not that everyone is trying to get her endorsement, but … if you're running on 'Let's own the libs,' and 'Let's be culture warriors,' that's where you go," Republican strategist Doug Heye said. So far, at least seven Republican candidates have earned Greene's stamp of approval, including Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and J.D. Vance, who is running for U.S. Senate in Ohio.

4

National security official warns Americans to leave Ukraine ASAP

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan issued a direct message to the Americans still in Ukraine on Friday: Get out while you can. "Any American in Ukraine should leave as soon as possible and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours," Sullivan told reporters. "We obviously cannot predict the future. We don't know exactly what is going to happen, but the risk is now high enough, the threat is now immediate enough that this is what prudence demands." Sullivan also cautioned that the Russian invasion could, in fact, begin during the Beijing Games but that the U.S. still cannot say with 100 percent certainty whether Moscow has made up its mind to invade.

5

2022 Olympics: American snowboarders, ages 36 and 40, win gold

American snowboarders Lindsey Jacobellis, 36, and Nick Baumgartner, 40, won gold Saturday in the mixed-gender team snowboardcross, an event that debuted at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. The two, who are longtime friends, were the oldest pair in the medal round. "We're the 80s babies," said Jacobellis, who previously won Team U.S.A.'s first gold medal in Wednesday's women's snowboardcross. "We came in hot today, and we're really excited about it." Italy took silver in the event, and Canada won bronze. The U.S. is currently ranked third overall with five gold medals, five silvers, and one bronze.

6

Texas election officials can’t be charged for encouraging mail-in voting, judge rules

A federal judge issued an injunction Friday barring Texas counties from pursuing criminal charges against election officials who encourage voting by mail. According to a new election law, which Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed in September, local election officials "may make no attempt to solicit a person to complete an application for an early voting ballot by mail." The law also requires mail-in voters to provide a Texas ID number or the last four digits of a Social Security number twice: once when requesting the mail-in ballot and again when submitting it. Large numbers of ballots have been rejected ahead of the March 1 primary as voters struggle to adapt to the new requirements.

7

Pfizer postpones request with the FDA to approve COVID-19 vaccine for kids under 5

The approval of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5 in the United States has hit a snag. On Friday, Pfizer announced it's postponing its application with the Food and Drug Administration to approve its COVID-19 for children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years. The company said it will wait for data from a study evaluating administering a third dose in this age group two months after the second dose. "Given that the study is advancing at a rapid pace, the companies will wait for the three-dose data as Pfizer and BioNTech continue to believe it may provide a higher level of protection in this age group," Pfizer and BioNTech said.

8

2022 Olympics: U.S. men’s hockey beats Canada for first time in 12 years

The United States Olympic men's ice hockey team defeated Canada 4-2 in pool play Saturday. The National Hockey League did not send players to the Olympics, but four of the top five 2021 NHL draft picks played in the game. "I think the future of the game is in safe hands. I think if anything, the last few years have shown that age in terms of youth is irrelevant at this point. If you can play you can play," said 29-year-old Kenny Agostino, who scored the U.S. team's fourth and final goal. It was the United States' first Olympic men's ice hockey victory over Canada in 12 years. The U.S. defeated China 8-0 on Thursday and will face Germany on Sunday.

9

Jan. 6 investigation may be 'the most difficult challenge' to ever face the National Archives

The otherwise under-the-radar National Archives and Records Administration has been thrust into the spotlight as of late, amid the ongoing investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, as well as a newfound scandal involving mishandled White House records and former President Donald Trump. "I think it's the most difficult challenge the National Archives has ever had," said John Carlin, who worked as the eighth archivist of the United States. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the January 6 Committee, said NARA has "added about 20 employees" to help fulfill the committee's massive requests.

10

Americans are expected to bet $7.6 billion on the Super Bowl, up 78 percent from last year

A record 31.4 million Americans are expected to bet $7.6 billion on Sunday's Super Bowl game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams. The number of betters is up 35 percent over last year, and the total amount wagered is up 78 percent. Much of the increase is driven by aggressive marketing campaigns for online sports betting, which became legal in several states following a 2018 Supreme Court decision. Adam Chandler warned in The Atlantic that, with an ever greater number of Americans obsessively checking their bets, the Super Bowl may lose its "monocultural character," taking "one of the few communal spectacles we have left and turn[ing] it into something more individualistic."

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