Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 |
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Zelenskyy preparing to visit DC, after tour of war’s front
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is preparing to visit Washington on Wednesday in his first known trip outside the country since Russia’s invasion began in February. That’s according to three AP sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the highly sensitive nature of the trip. They say Zelenskyy’s visit could still be called off due to security concerns. The visit to Washington is set to include an address to Congress on Capitol Hill and a meeting with President Joe Biden. It comes as lawmakers are set to vote on a year-end spending package that includes about $45 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and as the U.S. prepares to send Patriot surface-to-air missiles to help stave off Russia’s invasion.
Lawmakers advance spending bill in race to avoid shutdown
The Senate on Tuesday advanced a sprawling spending package that would keep the government open through next fall after senior lawmakers from both parties reached a compromise. The roughly $1.7 trillion legislation would increase federal spending from the last fiscal year, providing $858 billion in military spending. Still, it was less than Democrats had wanted and more than several conservative Republicans said they could stomach. With Republican support needed for passage, Democrats agreed to forgo a larger increase that would have ensured health, education and other domestic programs that President Joe Biden and his party have prioritized received as much funding as the military budget.
Arctic blast and ‘bomb cyclone’ threaten weekend travel
In parts of Montana and the Dakotas, temperatures have already plunged into the minus 20s, leaving some residents unable to start their cars. In Washington state, on a major interstate highway pummeled by snow, cars and trucks have spun out of control, forcing the highway to close. And in Seattle, the ghastly weather has forced the cancellation or delay of hundreds of flights at the city’s major airport, leaving holiday plans upended. With less than five days to go until Christmas, forecasters are warning of a rapidly intensifying “bomb cyclone” storm that will tear across vast swaths of the country this week, likely disrupting major roadways and air travel.
Your mail truck is going electric
The U.S. Postal Service announced Tuesday that it planned to buy at least 66,000 electric vehicles by 2028, creating one of the largest battery-powered fleets in the nation and resolving a long-running dispute with the Biden administration over how quickly the agency should clean up its fleet of white, red and blue mail trucks. The post office said it would invest $9.6 billion over the next six years to refurbish its aging mail delivery fleet. That includes buying 60,000 delivery vehicles from Oshkosh Defense, a Wisconsin-based company that manufactures military vehicles, of which at least 45,000 will be electric battery-powered.
China’s abrupt COVID pivot leaves many without medicines
As COVID-19 rips through parts of China, millions of people are struggling to find treatment — from basic cold remedies to take at home to more powerful antivirals for patients in hospitals. The dearth of supplies highlights how swiftly, and haphazardly, China reversed course by abandoning its strict “zero-COVID” policies about two weeks ago. The whiplash of change has caught the nation’s hospitals, clinics and pharmacies off guard. Across many cities, pharmacies have sold out of the most common fever and cold medicines. Many health facilities were unprepared for the onslaught of demand from patients after they were given little to no notice about needing to stockpile drugs.
Taliban bar women from university education in Afghanistan
Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have banned female students from universities effective immediately. It is the latest edict cracking down on women’s rights and freedoms in the country. The decision was announced by a government spokesman after a government meeting. The move comes despite initially promising a more moderate rule and women’s and minority rights after their takeover last year. Tuesday’s decision is certain to hurt Taliban efforts to win recognition from potential international donors at a time when the country is mired in a worsening humanitarian crisis. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the decision, calling it another “broken promise” from the Taliban and a “very troubling” move.
By wire sources
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