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Biden’s new COVID plan: Preparing for new variants and avoiding shutdowns
The White House unveiled its long-awaited new coronavirus response strategy Wednesday, aimed at turning the corner on the worst public health crisis in a century while also preparing for the next threat. The plan, meant to help the United States transition to what some are calling a “new normal,” has four main goals: protecting against and treating COVID-19; preparing for new variants; avoiding shutdowns; and fighting the virus abroad. But there is a big hitch: Much of the plan requires funding from Congress. The administration recently told congressional officials that it could need as much as $30 billion to sustain the pandemic response.
Jackson begins making her own case for High Court seat
The confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson will begin March 21, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee announced Wednesday, as the Supreme Court nominee began meetings with senators in a quest for bipartisan support from the polarized Senate. The chair, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., revealed the timetable and joined Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the majority leader, in urging Republicans to consider voting for Jackson even though nearly all of them voted against her confirmation last year for an appeals court post. “She deserves support from the other side of the aisle,” said Schumer, who repeatedly called the nominee “amazing” following a private session with her.
Officer in Breonna Taylor raid says he mistook police gunfire for a suspect’s
The former detective who is facing charges of recklessly endangering Breonna Taylor’s neighbors during the fatal police raid on her apartment testified at his trial Wednesday, saying that he wrongly interpreted the sound of his fellow officers spraying bullets into Taylor’s apartment as that of a suspect firing a rifle at police. The testimony marked the first time that the detective, Brett Hankison, has spoken publicly since the botched March 2020 raid in Louisville, Kentucky, that left Taylor dead, and he described a chaotic scene and a series of errors. Hankison, 45, whose bullets did not strike anyone, is on trial for three counts of wanton endangerment.
Biden rehires National Security staff member pushed out under Trump
A career National Security Council staff member under President Donald Trump, who was pushed out of her position after she refused to go along with an effort to use the powers of the federal government to silence one of Trump’s chief critics, has been rehired for the post by President Joe Biden, two people briefed on the matter said Wednesday. The staff member, Ellen Knight, told a federal judge in 2020 that senior White House lawyers had pressured her to falsely claim that a book by Trump’s former national security adviser, John Bolton, contained classified information to keep its contents from becoming public.
EU expected to grant blanket protection to Ukrainian refugees
The European Union is expected to grant temporary protection to all Ukrainians, as record numbers of refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion move into the bloc. According to the U.N. refugee agency, more than 870,000 people have fled Ukraine since the Russian incursion began Thursday, with an overwhelming majority reaching bordering EU countries, including Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. The agency has warned that the dislocation of so many people could become Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century. Four million Ukrainians are expected to leave their country as a consequence of the conflict, according to the European Commission.
The world is awash in plastic. Nations plan a treaty to fix that.
With the bang of a gavel made of recycled plastic, representatives of 175 nations agreed Wednesday to begin writing a global treaty that would restrict the explosive growth of plastic pollution. The agreement commits nations to work on a broad and legally binding treaty that would not only aim to improve recycling and clean up the world’s plastic waste, but would encompass curbs on plastics production itself. Negotiators are set to meet this year for the first of many rounds of talks to hammer out the details of a treaty, with a target of sealing a deal by 2024.
New Zealand police move to end protest
For more than three weeks, protesters have disabled the center of New Zealand’s capital city, occupying the area in front of Parliament and issuing increasingly violent threats to politicians and other public figures in an ostensible battle against the country’s vaccine mandates. On Wednesday, police began an aggressive clampdown, descending on the site in Wellington at 6 a.m., dismantling tents, toilets, a kitchen and other camp infrastructure, and urging the demonstrators to leave. By dusk Wednesday, police had cleared most of the protest site, prompting some remaining demonstrators to flee rather than face them.
By wire sources
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