OnPolitics: Why should Americans care about the Ukraine conflict?




  • In Business
  • 2022-01-26 18:10:29Z
  • By USA TODAY
A serviceman carries his machine-gun into a shelter on the territory controlled by pro-Russian militants at frontline with Ukrainian government forces in Slavyanoserbsk, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Jan.
A serviceman carries his machine-gun into a shelter on the territory controlled by pro-Russian militants at frontline with Ukrainian government forces in Slavyanoserbsk, Luhansk region, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Jan.  

Hello, OnPolitics readers!

We begin today's newsletter with a presidential hot mic scandal.

President Joe Biden was heard calling Peter Doocy, White House correspondent for Fox News Channel, a "stupid son of a b----" Monday.

During a press conference, Doocy asked the president if he thought historic inflation would be a "political liability" ahead of the midterm elections in November.

"That's a great asset, more inflation," Biden replied. "What a stupid son of a b----."

The comment is preserved in an official White House briefing transcript.

Doocy said the president called him within the hour to apologize.

"He called my cell phone and he said, 'it's nothing personal, pal,'" Doocy told Fox News' Sean Hannity Monday night. "He cleared the air and I appreciate it. We had a nice call."

It's Amy and Chelsey with today's top stories out of Washington.

Here's why Americans should care about Russia's threat against Ukraine

Invading Ukraine would be "the most consequential thing that's happened in the world, in terms of war and peace, since World War II," according to Biden.

Eager to reestablish widespread influence over the region, Russian President Vladimir Putin has positioned over 100,000 troops at the Ukrainian border. Meanwhile, the U.S. has a vested interest in strengthening Ukraine, which has become closely aligned with the West.

The U.S. sent more than $400 million in military aid to Ukraine last year and has invested about $2.5 billion in assistance to the country since 2014. Biden has said the U.S. will not send troops to help defend Ukraine, but send more aid if Russia invades.

U.S. troops might also be deployed to neighboring countries such as Poland and Romania to fend off the Russian threat.

"If the Russians succeed in reestablishing a sphere of influence or of dominating Ukraine, they won't stop there. They will continue," William Taylor, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said. "The Poles and the Romanians, the Czechs will be very concerned as they see Russian tanks coming west from Russia into Ukraine toward them, and they will ask for reinforcements from the United States."

When will we hear more? The Pentagon announced Monday it is putting more than 8,500 troops on "heightened alert" to prepare to mobilize within 10 days for possible deployment to Eastern Europe.

Real Quick: stories you'll want to read

  • Georgia grand jury to probe Trump over 2020 election interference: Judges granted a Georgia prosecutor's request to seat a special grand jury to help criminally investigate former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the state's 2020 election results.

  • Illinois Rep. Newman investigated for political bribe: The House Ethics Committee announced it has decided to extend an investigation into claims Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill., promised a political rival a job so he wouldn't run against her in the 2020 primary election, a potential violation of federal law.

  • Biden withdraws vaccine-or-testing requirement for businesses: The Biden administration is officially withdrawing its requirement that most workers be vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID-19 - the controversial rule the Supreme Court blocked from enforcement earlier this month.

  • Fact check on Voter ID laws: The claim that Americans need to show "papers to eat in a restaurant, but not to vote" is missing context. Here's what you need to know.

Want this news roundup in your inbox every night? Sign up for OnPolitics newsletter here.

Infrastructure law aims to reconnect Black, Latino neighborhoods

More than 60 years ago, Black and Latino neighborhoods across the U.S. were destroyed to make way for the interstate highway system. Businesses were shuttered, places of worship closed and 1 million people were displaced, according to an estimate by former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

President Joe Biden's $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes $1 billion to reconnect minority neighborhoods. The money will be distributed to states through block grants, and communities will lead the way on how to use the money, according to the Biden administration.

Some historical background: Interstate highways expanded during the mid-1950s and 1960s after the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 was signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower. The 41,000-mile system helped connect the country but it also had devastating consequences.

The displacement of Black and Latino communities, scholars noted, occurred around the same time the court system was dismantling segregation in the housing sector and integration of suburban neighborhoods was becoming a reality. The creation of the interstate highway system furthered racial politics by destroying Black neighborhoods and maintaining segregation.

No catch-all fix for the problem: Experts and advocates told USA TODAY each disrupted community will need its own set of remedies to move forward. For some neighborhoods, there is no realistic solution to reconnect or rebuild what was lost. Among the options for restoring communities: forming grassroots coalitions, investing in public transit, building walkways and land bridges, or conversely tearing down highways.

Did you know? On this day 50 years ago, Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, announced her bid for president. She became the first woman to be a major party candidate for U.S. president. - Amy and Chelsey

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Here's why Americans should care about the Russia, Ukraine conflict

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