12:30 Report

The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Signs of de-escalation in Ukraine

Associated Press/Efrem Lukatsky

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–> A midday take on what’s happening in politics and how to have a sense of humor about it.* 

*Ha. Haha. Hahah. Sniff. Haha. Sniff. Ha–breaks down crying hysterically.

 

IN UKRAINE

This situation is more delicate than walking through the fine China department with a toddler:

 

 

^ I channeled my inner Ted Lasso with that metaphor.  

Russia is reportedly pulling back some of its troops from the Ukraine border, a small but hopeful sign of de-escalation in the region.  

Oh and: Russian President Vladimir Putin said he is ready to negotiate with the U.S. and NATO.   

Specifically what Putin wants to discuss with the U.S. and NATO: “Putin said Russia is ready to engage in talks on limiting the deployment of intermediate range missiles in Europe, transparency of drills and other confidence-building measures. But emphasized the need for the West to heed Russia’s main demands.”   

What we know, from The Associated Press’s Dasha Litvinova and Yuras Karmanau: https://bit.ly/3oPyCXG

DOES THIS MEAN AN INVASION PROBABLY WON’T HAPPEN?:

This is the biggest sign of de-escalation that we’ve seen, but the threat of Russian invasion in Ukraine is still very high.  

HOW THE HEAD OF NATO DESCRIBES THE CURRENT SITUATION:

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters: “There are signs from Moscow that diplomacy should continue. There are grounds for cautious optimism. So far, we have not seen any sign of de-escalation on the ground.” More context from The Washington Post: https://wapo.st/3JlqDcS

MR. BIDEN, SIR. IF YOU LOOK TO YOUR LEFT, YOU’LL SEE, WELL, A BAD OPTION. BUT IF YOU LOOK TO YOUR RIGHT, YEP, THAT’S ANOTHER BAD OPTION:

 

 

The Hill’s Niall Stanage examines President Biden’s options — and the military and political realities boxing him in: https://bit.ly/3Bp4ck0 

It’s Tuesday and the halfway point of February! I’m Cate Martel with a quick recap of the morning and what’s coming up. Send comments, story ideas and events for our radar to cmartel@thehill.com — and follow along on Twitter @CateMartel and Facebook.

Did someone forward this to you? Want your own copy? Sign up here to receive The Hill’s 12:30 Report in your inbox daily: http://bit.ly/2UoupvN 

IN BEIJING

Russia is hogging all the headlines today, huh?:

Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, 15, is allowed to skate in the remaining Olympic events despite having recently failed a doping test. https://bit.ly/3Bl0UP0     

Has she been cleared?: No, there will still be a full investigation.  

Then why can she skate?: “The court gave her a favorable decision in part because she is a minor, known in Olympic jargon as a ‘protected person,’ and is subject to different rules from an adult athlete.”  

What happens if she finishes in the top three?: “Whatever happens on the ice, Valieva will not get a medal ceremony moment in Beijing. Nor will any skater who finishes in the top three with her.”   

Why are we just hearing about this now?: She took the drug test on Dec. 25, but the results weren’t finalized until last week (?) when she had already won gold.   

More on the decision to let her skate, via The Associated Press’s James Ellingworth and Graham Dunbar: https://bit.ly/3Bl0UP0

HOW TEAM VALIEVA IS RESPONDING TO THE ALLEGATIONS:

Valieva argues it was a mix-up with her grandfather’s heart medication, according to Reuters. https://reut.rs/3oPsD5a

HOW THE SKATING WORLD IS REACTING TO THE DECISION TO LET HER SKATE:

Not well.  

Former Olympic skater Adam Rippon told The New York Times: “It’s all just so unfair. And now it’s also so unfair to all of these ladies because their whole Olympic experience is now wrapped up in the controversy because a country doesn’t want to play by the damn rules.”  

More on the frustration and anger in the skating world from the decision: https://nyti.ms/3rRly6j 

FOR CONTEXT — WATCH NBC’S SKATING ANALYSTS JOHNNY WEIR AND TARA LIPINSKI REACT TO THE SITUATION:

Hint: Neither agree with the decision. Watch: https://bit.ly/3LuKLv3 

^ Speak of the devil — Kamila Valieva competed this morning:

 

 

I don’t want to give any spoilers, so if you want to know how it went, click here: https://bit.ly/3JoK30g

NEWS THIS MORNING

Wholesale prices rose more than expected:

Via The Hill’s Sylvan Lane, “Prices charged by producers rose 1 percent in January, according to data released Tuesday by the Labor Department, twice the jump projected by economists.” https://bit.ly/33lx8gi

‘FEARS OF AVOCADO SHORTAGE RISE AFTER IMPORT BAN’:

Via The Hill’s Jenna Romaine: https://bit.ly/3Jz7bJP 

Announced this morning — Yay, Simone!:

Gymnastics star Simone Biles and Houston Texans’ player Jonathan Owens are engaged! Biles’s Instagram post and photos from the engagement: https://bit.ly/3rSLkai 

LATEST WITH THE CORONAVIRUS

News you can use — here’s what to do if you’ve lost your vaccine card:

 

 

CNN’s Megan Marples walks through the options of how to recover your COVID-19 vaccination card: https://cnn.it/3LxubKW 

CASE NUMBERS:

Coronavirus cases in the U.S.: 77,944,886

U.S. death toll: 922,854

Breakdown of the numbers: https://cnn.it/2UAgW3y 

VACCINATION NUMBERS:

Total number of vaccinations administered in the U.S.: 547 million shots have been given.  

Seven-day average of doses administered: An average of 237,689 doses 

For context: The U.S. population is roughly 331 million.  

Breakdown of the numbers: https://bloom.bg/3iVTPLH 

IN OTHER NEWS

Novak Djokovic — or ‘no jok’ — for short:

 

 

Tennis star Novak Djokovic told BBC’s Amol Rajan that he would rather not compete in tournaments, such as the French Open and Wimbledon, if they require the COVID-19 vaccine. https://bbc.in/3sKTVe8  

Keep in mind: Djokovic was recently deported from Australia and was not allowed to play in the country’s Grand Slam tournament over the COVID-19 vaccine.  

Djokovic told BBC: ” ‘I was never against vaccination,’ he told the BBC, confirming that he’d had vaccines as a child, ‘but I’ve always supported the freedom to choose what you put in your body.’ ”   

More from Djokovic’s interview: https://bbc.in/3sKTVe8

NOTABLE TWEETS:

This is not wrong:

Twitter user @ShadowTodd tweeted, “The ‘I only watch it for the ads’ attitude towards the Super Bowl is an artifact of twenty years ago when Super Bowl ads were very funny. Now it’s more like ‘we reunited the cast of The Office so Jim and Pam can sell you Doritos’ ” https://bit.ly/3rPfXgA

Remember when Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) fist-pumped the protesters on Jan. 6?:

Yes, well he’s now selling that photo on a mug, The New York Times’s Shane Goldmacher pointed out. Screenshot of his post selling the mug: https://bit.ly/34BpL5f 

ON TAP:

The Senate is in. The House is out. President Biden is in Washington, D.C.  

9:50 a.m. EST: President Biden received the President’s Daily Brief.  

Noon: A confirmation vote in the Senate. The Senate’s full agenda today: https://bit.ly/350o4hy  

12:30 p.m. EST: Senators meet for weekly caucus meetings.  

2 p.m. EST Wednesday: The Hill is hosting a virtual “Food Security Summit” to discuss how food prices, supply chains, inflation and labor costs are affecting access to food. Featured speakers: Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) Details and how to RSVP: https://bit.ly/3BkpFuE 

WHAT TO WATCH:

1 p.m. EST: The Hill is hosting a virtual event, “Race & Justice Imperative.” Details and RSVPs: https://bit.ly/3GQznWL Livestream: https://bit.ly/3GLN1KB  

2 p.m. EST: President Biden addresses the National Association of Counties 2022 Legislative Conference at the Washington Hilton. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3BmXEm1  

2 p.m. EST: Immigrant doctors testify on working in the U.S. health care system. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3Jxgvho 

3 p.m. EST: White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing. Livestream: https://bit.ly/3GQWU9S 

IN LIGHTER NEWS:

Today is National Chewing Gum Day

You’ve got that right! — *flexes*:

 

 

Bloomberg Businessweek tweeted the headline, “Here’s one thing Covid can never take away from us: snacking” https://bit.ly/3GPIvek  

Here’s the full article: It involves an interview with the maker of Oreos: https://bloom.bg/3JvWDuM

And because you read to the end, here’s a clever way to find a stud in the wall: https://bit.ly/3LBCB3V  

^ Make sure you have your sound on for this one.

Tags 12:30 Report Biden conflict Jackie Walorski Jen Psaki Jens Stoltenberg Joe Biden Josh Hawley Kamila Valieva NATO Niall Stanage Russia Tennis troop buildup Ukraine Vladimir Putin

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