5 things to know Wednesday


Biden aims to reset presidency, condemns Russian invasion of Ukraine in first State of the Union address

Many Americans Wednesday are analyzing key takeaways from President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address directed to a nation eager to move on from the deadly coronavirus pandemic but worrying over inflation and conflict with Russia. The president kicked off his speech strongly condemning Russia for its “unprovoked” invasion of Ukraine, including closing off U.S. airspace to Russian planes. Domestically, he hailed a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, urging Americans to see the virus, and not each other, as the enemy. And he also addressed inflation, with price jumps hitting 40-year highs recently pressuring American families. Biden asked Republicans to stop using the coronavirus pandemic as a “partisan dividing line” – and called for bringing COVID-19-related shutdowns of schools and businesses to an end.

Russia escalates attacks on Ukrainian civilian areas, hundreds of thousands flee

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have fled the country as Russian military forces escalated attacks on civilian areas of Ukraine’s largest cities Tuesday. It sets the stage for “Europe’s largest refugee crisis this century,” said Shabia Mantoo, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, whose agency estimates 675,000 people have fled to neighboring countries since the Russian invasion began last week. Russian troops have killed hundreds of civilians, including more than a dozen children, in their assault on Ukraine, realities that qualify Russian President Vladimir Putin as a war criminal, observers say. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said of an attack Tuesday on the main square of the country’s second-largest city: “Nobody will forgive. Nobody will forget. This attack on Kharkiv is a war crime.” The U.N. General Assembly will vote Wednesday on a resolution demanding that Russia immediately stop using force against Ukraine and withdraw its military from the country, and condemning Moscow’s decision “to increase the readiness of its nuclear forces.”

MLB owners, players union leave Florida with Opening Day canceled 

Major League Baseball and the players union will leave Jupiter, Florida, Wednesday after the two sides could not come to a labor agreement. Without a collective bargaining agreement, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Tuesday announced he has canceled Opening Day and the first two series of the 2022 season for each team, covering March 31-April 6. If the cancellations hold, it could result in the first regular season games lost to a labor dispute since 1995. The MLBPA said in a statement that Manfred’s “defensive lockout” was “a culmination of a decades-long attempt by owners to break our player fraternity. As in the past, this effort will fail.” Manfred has said the earliest possible time for negotiations to reopen would be Thursday. 

Fed Chair testifies before Congress, potentially offering clues on inflation curbs

Investors may get clues into what lies ahead as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies before Congress Wednesday. Powell’s appearance before the House financial services committee comes as the stock market tumbles amid the prospect of higher interest rates and an escalating war between Russia and Ukraine. In January, Powell signaled that a rate hike this month was all but certain as the Fed tries to contain the nation’s worst bout of inflation in 40 years. Since then, however, Russia has attacked Ukraine, driving up oil and gasoline prices and worsening supply chain bottlenecks, which could mean even higher inflation. At the same time, the invasion raises the specter of slower economic growth if soaring prices and supply snarls curtail spending, and falling stocks dampen the confidence of consumers and businesses.

Ash Wednesday: Christians mark start of Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, which for Christians marks the start of the 40-day penitential season of Lent. On Ash Wednesday, a priest or minister places ashes on a worshipper’s forehead in the shape of a cross, signifying a person’s acknowledgement of their sins — the same sins Christians believe Jesus Christ gave his life for when he died on the cross. The six-week Lenten period culminates with Easter, when Christians believe Jesus died and was resurrected. Christians show repentance for their sins during Lent with fasting, prayer and by giving up luxuries or doing good works.





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