Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 2, 2022

Russia accuses Ukraine of daring airstrikes on Russian soil, U.S. to lift COVID-era border policy restricting asylum, and more

1

Russia accuses Ukraine of daring airstrikes on fuel depot in Belgorod, Russia

Officials in Belgorod, a Russian city near Kharkiv, Ukraine, say Ukrainian military helicopters were responsible for explosions and subsequent fires at a fuel depot early Friday. "The fire at the oil depot occurred as a result of an airstrike coming from two helicopters of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, which entered the territory of the Russian Federation flying at a low altitude," Belgorod regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov wrote on Telegram. "There are no victims," though two workers were injured. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the explosions. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the strikes on the fuel depot can't "be perceived as creating conditions comfortable for the continuation of negotiations."

2

U.S. to lift COVID-era border policy restricting asylum

The Biden administration announced Friday it would be lifting a COVID-era border policy originally enacted under former President Donald Trump on May 23. The measure, known as Title 42, has allowed the U.S. to expeditiously expel migrants at the southern border without permitting them to seek asylum for reasons of public health. The CDC has governed both the measure and how long it's remained in place. Though critics of the policy have welcomed its rollback, others are worried about a resulting influx of migrants at the border. In some scenarios, officials have estimated 12,000 to 18,000 migrants entering U.S. custody daily.

3

Defense Department announces $300 million in military aid to Ukraine

The U.S. will send Ukraine up to $300 million worth of military supplies, including armed drones, laser-guided rocket systems, machine guns, armored off-road vehicles, night vision and thermal imaging devices, and more, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby announced late Friday. "This decision underscores the United States' unwavering commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in support of its heroic efforts to repel Russia's war of choice," Kirby said in a statement. Since the beginning of the Biden administration, the U.S. has provided over $2.3 billion in military aid to Ukraine, and a spending bill signed last month includes an additional $13.6 billion in military and humanitarian aid for the embattled country.

4

Staten Island Amazon workers vote to unionize

In a historic and stunning win for workers (and a first for Amazon), employees at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island on Friday voted 2,654 to 2,131 to unionize. Employees will be represented by Amazon Labor Union, which won the tally by roughly 10 percentage points. Over 8,300 workers at the fulfillment center were eligible to vote. Organizers' demands include longer breaks, paid sick leave, paid time off for injuries sustained at work, and higher wages. When the results of the vote were official, workers and organizers celebrated on the streets of downtown Brooklyn by screaming, jumping, hugging, and even popping champagne.

5

Red Cross to attempt Mariupol evacuation after failed attempt Friday

A team from the International Committee of the Red Cross will launch a new effort on Saturday to lead a convoy of civilians out of Russian-encircled Mariupol after failing to do so on Friday due to "impossible" conditions, the group said. Another Red Cross attempt to evacuate civilians from Mariupol failed in early March. Mariupol, which had over 400,000 inhabitants before the war began in late February, is strategically located on a "land bridge" that would connect the Donbas, which is controlled by Russian-backed separatists, with Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. After failing to quickly capture major cities, Russia has made taking Mariupol a major focus of its "special military operation" against Ukraine.

6

Jen Psaki reportedly to leave the White House and join MSNBC

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki plans to leave the White House around May for a job at MSNBC. The report published Friday says a deal hasn't been closed but is nearly final. Psaki would reportedly appear on various MSNBC shows and host a show on NBCUniversal's streaming service, Peacock. She would not be replacing host Rachel Maddow, as some initially speculated. Psaki would be the latest White House press secretary to get a cable news gig after ​Kayleigh McEnany, who was hired by Fox News as a commentator. Symone Sanders, Vice President Kamala Harris' former spokesperson, was also recently tapped to host her own show on MSNBC and Peacock.

7

U.S. economy adds 431,000 jobs as unemployment rate declines to 3.6 percent

The U.S. economy added a solid 431,000 jobs in March as the unemployment rate dipped, the Labor Department said Friday. The number of job gains came in a bit below expectations, as economists forecasted 490,000 additions. The unemployment rate also declined to 3.6 percent. This comes after a strong report last month showed the economy added 678,000 jobs in February, although Friday's report revised this number up to 750,000. Glassdoor Senior Economist Daniel Zhao said the "healthy" March report showed the "job market is still red hot," adding, "If 2022's pace of jobs growth continues, we would reach the pre-pandemic jobs benchmark as early as June."

8

DeSantis wants to strip Disney of 'special privileges' over 'Don't Say Gay' opposition

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has expressed his support for stripping Disney of its "special privileges in the law" following the company's opposition to the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill DeSantis signed Monday. "Disney has alienated a lot of people now," DeSantis said. "And so the political influence they're used to wielding, I think has dissipated. And so the question is, why would you want to have special privileges in the law at all? And I don't think that we should." Some Republican legislators in Florida have discussed repealing a 1967 law establishing the Reedy Creek Improvement District, allowing Disney to operate as its own government around Walt Disney World.

9

World Cup drawing pits U.S. against England and Iran

The United States is officially set for a clash against England and Iran in this year's World Cup. The drawing for the 2022 World Cup was held on Friday, and the U.S. was placed into Group B along with England and Iran, as well as either Scotland, Wales, or Ukraine, depending on the result of a playoff game. This will mark a return to the World Cup for the U.S. men's national soccer team, which failed to make the cut in 2018. The United States secured a spot in the 2022 World Cup after a match with Costa Rica on Wednesday.

10

Will Smith resigns from Academy over Oscars slap

Actor Will Smith announced Friday he's stepping down from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group that hands out the Oscars, after he slapped comedian Chris Rock at Sunday's ceremony. "My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable," Smith said. Smith slapped Rock at the Academy Awards after the comedian made a joke about his wife. Later in the ceremony, Smith won the Oscar for Best Actor. The Academy's board of governors on Wednesday initiated disciplinary proceedings against Smith and said it would consider taking action against him, including suspending or expelling him from the organization. 

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