Biden’s on those sky-high gas prices: Blame Putin
As the president announced his ban on Russian oil imports, he also spoke with candor about the effects of the crisis in Ukraine here at home.
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FIRST THINGS FIRST
ICYMI — The House last night passed a resolution by a 418-0 vote condemning recent bomb threats against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and reaffirming support for the institutions and their students.
In a statement first provided first to Supercreator, Democratic Rep. Alma Adams of North Carolina, who sponsored the resolution and chairs the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus called on Congress to honor the resolution by approving legislation that would in part invest in campus safety. Read the full story
BIDEN’S HONEST APPROACH ON OIL — “They’re going to go up, President Joe Biden said of gas prices on Tuesday to reporters as he landed in Texas for a series of events focused on veterans health care.
Earlier that morning, he announced his administration would ban all Russian oil, gas and energy imports, a move he said would target “the main artery of Russia’s economy.”
It seemed inevitable that the president would ultimately arrive at the decision.
As lawmakers on Capitol Hill increased calls for the ban last week and began drafting legislation to enact the ban if the White House didn’t, Biden started to look out of step with Congress.
The administration rejects this characterization and said it welcomed Congress’s leadership on the issue and is in no way pressured the president into authorizing the ban.
Biden spoke with candor about the effects of the crisis in Ukraine on gas prices here at home, a strategy the administration believes endears the president to Americans and contrasts his predecessor, who by The Washington Post’s count made 30,573 false or misleading claims in four years.
The strategy also casts Russian President Vladimir Putin as the foil for those sky-high gas prices folks are experiencing at the pump.
“I’m going to do everything I can to minimize Putin’s price hike here at home,” Biden said.
But later in comments to reporters, Biden said he can’t do much about the cost of gas when asked how he would lower prices at the pump.
“Russia is responsible,” he added.
A senior administration official said the ban blocks any new purchases of Russian crude oil and certain petroleum products and winds down the deliveries of existing purchases that have already been contracted for.
It also bans new US investment in Russia’s energy sector and prohibits Americans from participating in foreign investments that flow into Russia’s energy sector.
“The only way to eliminate Putin’s and every other producing country’s ability to use oil as an economic weapon is to reduce our dependency on oil,” the official said.
The official added that the US is able to take this action because we produce more domestic oil than any of our allies.
Russian oil was just under 10 percent of our overall imports of oil but a third of Europe’s in 2021.
Europe imports six times more oil from Russia than we do and the US produced more oil and gas in the first year of President Biden’s term than in his predecessor’s first year.
The administration is also warning US oil companies to avoid collecting excessive profits from the global economic instability they say the war has caused.
“It’s really up to the oil companies [as well as Wall Street] to determine whether they are going to reinvest these war profits from high prices back into the economy, raise production and lower prices to American consumers,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a Q&A with reporters on the way to Texas on Tuesday. “And that pressure should be on them.”
TREVOR REED UPDATE — In addition to WNBA star Brittney Griner, two other Americans are being detained by Russia, including Trevor Reed — a former US Marine from Texas who was sentenced last year to nine years in prison over a drunken 2019 he says he doesn’t remember.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas called on President Biden to visit with Joey and Paula Reed, parents of Trevor, during the president’s visit to the state on Tuesday.
A White House official said that Biden called the Reeds after his event in Fort Worth to reiterate his commitment to doing everything he can to bring their son home. The president also pledged to stay in close touch with the family through his national security team and find a time to meet in person.
WH SEEKS MORE $$$ FOR GENDER EQUALITY — President Biden on Tuesday marked International Women’s Day with an announcement that he would request $2.6 billion in his next budget for foreign assistance programs that promotes gender equality.
The figure represents more than double the amount requested for gender programs last year.
First Lady Jill Biden commemorated IWD in Tuscon, Arizona where she spoke of the bravery of the women in Ukraine fighting to keep their country safe and protect their children.
“We’ve all seen the pictures and I’m sure you are, just like I am — you’re mothers and you can see what they’re going through, and your hearts go out to each and every one of them,” the first lady said. “And I’m thinking of the brave women of Russia who have risked their safety to speak out against the invasion.”
TODAY IN POLITICS
— President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing. Then he and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will meet with business leaders and governors to discuss the need for Congress to pass competitiveness legislation. This evening, Biden will speak at the Democratic Senators Issues Conference at Howard University.
— Vice President Harris will depart DC to Warsaw, Poland. During her two-day trip, which also includes a visit to Romania, Harris will demonstrate the US’s support for NATO’s eastern flank allies and focus on how the US can further support Ukraine’s neighbors as they welcome and care for refugees fleeing violence.
— The first lady will travel from Tucson to Reno, Nevada this morning to visit a community college where she’ll hear from students about job training programs and give a speech. Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor Angela Hanks will join her. On her way back to DC, Biden will stop at Fort Campbell, Kentucky to meet with families of soldiers, some of whom are deployed in Europe in support of our NATO allies. She’ll also speak at this event.
— The House is in and will continue to work on a comprehensive government funding package.
Speaker Pelosi will host an annual Women’s History Month event honoring Billie Jean King and women athletes in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or other education program that receives funding from the federal government.
— The Senate is out.
Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah will meet with Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.
IN THE KNOW
— Venezuela released two imprisoned Americans after talks with the US in what’s viewed as an act of good faith by a country looking to resume oil trade with America. “Tonight — two Americans who were wrongfully detained in Venezuela will be able to hug their families once more,” President Biden said in a statement. [Anatoly Kurmanaev, Natalie Kitroeff and Kenneth P. Vogel / NYT]
— Hawaii will lift its indoor mask mandate at the end of the month, becoming the final US state to drop the pandemic restriction. No states will require masks indoors after 11:59 p.m. on March 25. [Jennifer Sinco Kelleher / AP News]
— Six suspects were arrested for their alleged involvement in a drive-by shooting outside an Iowa high school that killed one student and critically injured another two. “Enough. Our young people should be safe in and around school, in their neighborhoods, and in their homes,” President Biden said. “Every American should be able to visit a house of worship, a grocery store, a night club, or any other place without fear of being gunned down. That too many cannot is a stain on our national character and an urgent call to action.” [Andrea May Sahouri / Des Moines Register]
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Will Leitch on Brittney Griner:
She is the apex of her sport. She is the best of the best. She is a legend.
And for more than a month now, she has been in the custody of the Russian government. Yet until Russian officials released a statement over the weekend saying they had detained Griner after finding hashish oil in her airport bag, it seemed that nobody had noticed. And the reaction since the arrest has been stunningly quiet. One of the greatest athletes in American sports — a gold-medal winner, a superstar, a champion — was arrested in a dangerous and volatile country that has suddenly become a pariah on the world stage. Making equivalences between sports only takes you so far here, but seriously: Imagine if Tom Brady were being held by Russian officials right now.
— Ed Yong on why America became numb to COVID deaths:
After many of the biggest disasters in American memory, including 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, “it felt like the world stopped,” Lori Peek, a sociologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder who studies disasters, told me. “On some level, we owned our failures, and there were real changes.” Crossing 1 million deaths could offer a similar opportunity to take stock, but “900,000 deaths felt like a big threshold to me, and we didn’t pause,” Peek said. Why is that? Why were so many publications and politicians focused on reopenings in January and February—the fourth- and fifth-deadliest months of the pandemic? Why did the CDC issue new guidelines that allowed most Americans to dispense with indoor masking when at least 1,000 people had been dying of COVID every day for almost six straight months? If the U.S. faced half a year of daily hurricanes that each took 1,000 lives, it is hard to imagine that the nation would decide to, quite literally, throw caution to the wind. Why, then, is COVID different?
— Khari Johnson on how wrongful deaths based on artificial intelligence derailed three men’s lives:
Law enforcement in nearly every US state now has access to facial recognition software. The Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology says images of one in two US adults are in facial recognition databases used to identify criminal suspects. Critics say police rely too heavily on the technology, particularly since research has shown it misidentifies women and people of color more often than white men. Yet in most of the US, neither police nor prosecutors are required to tell people accused of crimes if facial recognition has played a role in an investigation.
— Dan Winters on the lucrative evolution of Nerf guns:
Second Amendment types like to joke that the AR15 is a gun guy’s equivalent of a Barbie doll: There are lots of exciting accessories to buy. The same could be said of toy weapons’ platforms. In the decade after the Longshot’s release — a period in which some 113,000 American students experienced gun violence at school, according to a database maintained by the Washington Post — its sales helped Nerf revenue grow tenfold, to $400 million.
— Cathy Horyn on the ethics of express trauma on the fashion runway:
Watching the models through the glass, I had a mixture of emotions. On the one hand, the sight of their mostly black-clad figures was beautiful, like something out of a movie. Indeed, in terms of fashion, the show wasn’t a significant departure from Demna’s previous styles, which might be a fault in itself. It really wasn’t about clothing. But, on the other hand, as the show progressed, I grew increasingly uncomfortable. I put down my cell phone. I thought, Why am I making videos of people suffering? For that is what I was doing — and at a time when the news is filled with horrific images. I thought of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s brilliant 2015 essay, “The Vanishing Point,” in which he considers the very modern phenomenon of images and the news and what happens when “two levels of reality converge and become one.” At which point, he said, you understand that the image is of a real person.
— Brittany Wong on Rihanna’s maternity style and the double standard for “regular women”:
Given Rihanna’s fashion darling status, it’s little surprise that these revealing looks have received major praise from stylists, fashion writers and Twitter users. But what’s celebrated at Paris Fashion Week or on a celebrity’s Instagram page isn’t necessarily going to fly at your local Target or a baby shower.
When noncelebrity women swap out conventional maternity clothing in favor of more revealing looks, judgment and side-eyes almost always follow. (Even Rihanna has gotten some criticism on Twitter from whose who believe pregnancy is supposed to be a “wholesome period of a woman’s life,” and others who think it’s just obnoxious to continue wearing outfits that highlight the stomach: “We get it, you’re pregnant.”)
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