On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Russia targets Ukrainian hospitals
At least 3 people were killed at a maternity hospital. Plus, White House reporter Matthew Brown explains what the Biden administration is doing in regards to cryptocurrency, the Labor Department issues its latest report on inflation, national correspondent Deborah Barfield-Berry reports on how many young people of color aren’t getting a COVID-19 booster and golf’s Players Championship begins.
Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.
Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Thursday, the 10th of March 2022. Today, Russian attacks on Ukrainian hospitals. Plus the Biden administration tackles crypto, and more.
Here are some of the top headlines:
- Texas has lost an appeal of an order preventing child welfare officials from investigating the parents of a transgender teen over gender-affirming care. Republican Governor Greg Abbott previously ordered that officials look into reports of such treatments as abuse.
- Jussie Smollet will be sentenced today after he was convicted of staging what he called a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago in 2019. His felony disorderly conduct conviction could get him up to three years in prison though experts predict he’ll likely get off with probation.
- And Puerto Rico is dropping its main COVID-19 related entry requirements today. Visitors from the U.S to the island territory will no longer need to show proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test to enter.
The World Health Organization says it’s confirmed 18 attacks on medical facilities since the Russian invasion began two weeks ago in Ukraine. The latest, an airstrike on a hospital in Mariupol hit a maternity ward injuring women waiting to give birth. It killed at least three people including a child, according to the city council. And at least 17 people were injured. A warning, the following is graphic.
[Sounds of the hospital in Mariupol being shelled, glass shattering, car alarms blaring and a mother crying out.]
The world has been left horrified by the attack while Ukrainian officials and others call it a war crime. Volodymir Nikulin, a top regional police official, did not mince words.
Taylor Wilson translating for Volodymir Nikulin:
“Today, Russian invaders committed a grave crime. It is a war crime without any justification.”
Elsewhere, in Zhytomyr, a city to the west of Kyiv, bombs fell on two hospitals including a children’s hospital, though no injuries were reported there. In his nightly video address, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy switched to speaking Russian at one point to express horror at the strikes. He said, “What kind of country is this, the Russian Federation, which is afraid of hospitals, afraid of maternity hospitals and destroys them?”
Two weeks into its invasion Russia’s military has struggled more than some expected, but President Vladimir Putin’s invading force of more than 150,000 troops holds major firepower advantages as it focuses on eastern cities. American military officials are reporting few changes on the ground over the past 24 hours, but Russia has made progress against the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, and went further west than many of Russia’s previous advances.
Some evacuation corridors continue to open. Three of them operated yesterday from Sumy in the northeast, from suburban Kyiv and from Enerhodar, the southern town where Russia took over a large nuclear plant. Scenes in the Kyiv suburb of Irpin were particularly intense as people crossed a makeshift wooden bridge, after Ukrainians blew up the concrete one leading to Kyiv to slow the Russian advance. In all, the corridors led to about 35,000 evacuations yesterday and more are expected today. Residents in Mariupol are hoping to be among those given safe passage.
Ukrainian officials have said 1,200 people have died in that port city of less than half a million. Nationwide thousands are believed to have been killed and the UN estimates that more than 2,000,000 people have fled the country in the biggest exodus of refugees in Europe since the end of World War II.
The Biden administration is tackling cryptocurrency with a new executive order. It’s meant to promote future innovation in the industry while minimizing the financial risks to Americans and the global financial system. White House reporter Matthew Brown explains.
So on Wednesday, President Biden signed an executive order on cryptocurrency that is really the first time that we’re seeing a whole of government approach to tackling this issue that has become a massive part of the American financial landscape in the past couple years. This is President Biden’s first attempt to really say that the administration is going to extend a bit of a olive branch to cryptocurrency communities, industry leaders, and basically say that they’re interested in being partners in helping to really spur innovation in this space, but also make sure that the financial volatility of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets like non-fungible tokens, aren’t going to pose a danger basically to the American economy or individual Americans who are putting in sometimes a lot of their individual wealth into the assets that they’re seeing online.
So the executive order encourages the Department of Commerce to look at digital assets like cryptocurrencies and basically ensure that no matter what financial innovation happens in payment systems in the future or in currency around the world, that the U.S dollar remains an integral part of global transactions, global trade and global finance.
They’re also directing the Federal Reserve to take a look at potentially researching and even developing its own digital dollar which would be very similar to a cryptocurrency in that it would likely employ blockchain technology, but not necessarily the same thing given that it would obviously be produced and centralized within the Federal Reserve.
One of the biggest concerns about cryptocurrency at the moment is basically that they are oftentimes seen as very, very volatile. The value of Bitcoin, we’ve seen can go up incredibly quickly, faster than the stock market. And then crash down incredibly quickly in the same day. That’s something that the Biden administration is basically saying that they want to help work with different cryptocurrencies in the entire broader ecosystem to make sure that type of thing doesn’t happen as much or isn’t as disruptive to the general financial markets, to the crypto markets and to the individual people who are putting their wealth into this.
One more thing that I would say on this, is that a lot of people have been saying that they were expecting this executive order for a very long time. And it’s something that I think a lot of people have been pleasantly surprised by how friendly and conciliatory the Biden administration has been on this subject when it comes to cryptocurrency. They’re not coming in like a lot of other countries have done and say that they want to curtail innovation here or really crack down on this. They’re saying that the American approach to this should be to spur innovation in this space and say that it’s really good that we have had for many, many years, a lot of different archaic financial systems or systems that aren’t necessarily as responsive to a lot of people.
That’s the exact reason why people are turning to cryptocurrency in the first place. And the administration seems to be receptive to hearing that and why they’re putting innovation and equity at the center of this because they want to say, yes, we love new ideas. We love new technologies. We want to hear that. But they’re also really nervous about the prospect that if everyone is investing in these volatile assets that might not actually have any value behind them or any tradability behind them at the end of the day, that could really ruin a lot of people and lead to a financial crisis or localized financial dire straits for individual Americans. And they want to be able to curtail that and make sure there’s equity and stability at the same time that we can get prosperity and innovation.
You can find more of Matt’s work on Twitter @mrbrownsir.
The Labor Department will issue its latest report on inflation today. Economists expect it’ll show that prices for U.S consumers jumped 7.9% last month compared with a year ago. That would be the biggest gain in four decades. Prices previously jumped 7.5% in January from a year earlier. A number of factors have accelerated inflation over the past year. They include supply and worker shortages, low interest rates, strong consumer spending, and lots of federal aid. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said last week in congressional hearings that it was not yet clear what impact Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would have on the U.S economy. It’s already pushed record high gas prices around the country. Powell said the Fed had planned before the war to initiate a series of rate hikes next week, and for now would carefully follow that plan.
The White House last week released its latest plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes efforts to tackle inequity concerns about access to vaccines and treatments. And officials said that one major effort centers around closing the gap between vaccinated white, young adults and young adults of color, especially when it comes to getting a booster shot. National Correspondent Deborah Barfield Berry reports.
Deborah Barfield Berry:
In terms of the young adults, particularly that 18 to 49 year old group, there’s about a 20% difference between that same age group with white young adults. And they compare that in particular to seniors of 65 and older where the gap is much closer. So there maybe five, at the most, percent difference between that age group. They’re really concerned about why it is that the younger people aren’t doing it and what it is they can do to target them. So they’re turning to churches, they’re turning to more of the community based groups. They’re turning to healthcare professionals of color in those communities, hoping that they could convince them, if you will, or at least offer them information that will make them more willing to at least consider it, because they say there’s a lot of reasons and some rightfully so that they’re hesitant to come on board.
When I interviewed or talked to Dr. Cameron Webb, who’s one of the advisors for the White House COVID Equity Project, he said there are several factors, one of them being convenience, or the lack of confidence, meaning that some of them are not very trustworthy or not going to trust the system and, or question the effectiveness of it. And the other is complacency. So he said those three factors make it a little more challenging for young adults. So part of that challenge of course is to number one, reach out to them through social media and other means that they use and try to offer them other information and other incentives to at least consider it. He argues that it would make a difference in protecting not only themselves, but their community.
So one of the things that the White House did through the pandemic, and plans to actually ramp up again, is to turn to a lot of faith-based groups and community groups, particularly ones on the ground in those communities of color, to turn to them as they call them, “trusted messengers.” People in the community that folks trust, so that they can deliver the message, that they can set up the vaccine sites, that they can offer the boosters, that they can offer these things that people will probably go to as opposed to hearing the federal government come at them. That’s what they’re trying to do again. And a lot of the faith-based groups have raised their hands, but both in the past and even more so now, because they feel like it’s important for them to do that and important for their community to respond.
You can find a link to Deborah’s full story in today’s episode description.
Golf’s Players Championship begins today. 47 of the world’s top 50 golfers are in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, for the tournament at the TPC Sawgrass course. That includes Jon Rahm, the Spaniard and current number one ranked player in the world, plus American, Justin Thomas, last year’s winner and Australian, Adam Scott, who has not won The Players since 2004, but has three top 10 finishes in his last five worldwide starts. $3,600,000 is at stake for the winner. The weather forecast doesn’t look great though, with thunderstorms possible through Saturday. You can tune in on NBC, Golf Channel and ESPN+.
And you can find 5 Things wherever you’re listening right now. If you’re on Apple podcast, we ask that you take a second and drop us a five star rating and review, or you can find us on whatever your favorite podcast app is. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show. And I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.