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US 5 things to know for February 22: Covid-19, Texas, White House, United, Iran

14:02  22 february  2021
14:02  22 february  2021 Source:   cnn.com

Detained Americans Fast Facts

  Detained Americans Fast Facts Read CNN's Fast Facts about recent cases of foreign governments detaining US citizens. For information about missing Americans, see Robert Levinson Fast Facts or POW/MIA in Iraq and Afghanistan Fast Facts. © CNN Kenneth Bae spoke to CNN's Will Ripley on September 1, 2014. Currently Detained AmericansChina Kai Li September 2016 - Kai Li, a naturalised US citizen born in China, is detained while visiting relatives in Shanghai.July 2018 - He is sentenced to ten years in prison for espionage following a secret trial held in August 2017.

Israel is facing one of its most severe ecological disasters ever after a suspected oil spill washed up blobs of sticky tar along its coast. But experts still don't know the source.

Max Robinson, Josh Gibson, Alvin Ailey, Constance Baker Motley, Amelia Boynton Robinson, Marsha P. Johnson, Bayard Rustin, Garrett Morgan, Daisy Bates, Gerald Wilson, Albert Murray, Gordon Parks, Marshall Taylor, Dorothy Height posing for a photo © Alberto Mier/CNN

Here's what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Coronavirus

The US is on the dark precipice of 500,000 coronavirus deaths. Words can't describe the magnitude of such a loss. But officials say we may be at the beginning of the end. Cases and hospitalization rates are dropping in some states, and the Biden administration says 2 million more vaccine doses have been delivered following weather delays. Still, the next few months will bring tens of thousands more deaths, experts say, and Dr. Anthony Fauci says basic precautions like masks could be our reality all the way into 2022. Australia started its mass vaccination program today, and across Europe, leaders are working on plans to ease lockdown restrictions soon.

Biden is squandering the leverage on Iran that Trump stockpiled

  Biden is squandering the leverage on Iran that Trump stockpiled The administration’s strategy for getting Iran to play ball clearly involves making upfront concessions to Tehran for nothing in return.Twice since then, rockets have been fired at positions affiliated with the U.S. presence in Iraq: a military base on Saturday and at the area around the U.S. Embassy complex in Baghdad on Monday. These strikes are not new. Since May 2019, Iran-backed militias have been behind at least 83 such strikes on U.S. positions, a damning pattern consistent with almost two decades of Iran-linked attacks against the U.S. in Iraq.

a group of people sitting in a chair in a room: APPLE VALLEY, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 04: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Emergency medical technician Chasity Birge and ER technician Jessica Rodriguez (L) remove patient beds from an overflow patient care tent as it is taken down amid a decrease in COVID-19 patients at Providence St. Mary Medical Center on February 4, 2021 in Apple Valley, California. The hospital was treating over 170 COVID-19 patients at the peak of the surge but has seen a recent decline and is currently caring for 87 confirmed or suspected coronavirus patients. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) © Mario Tama/Getty Images APPLE VALLEY, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 04: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Emergency medical technician Chasity Birge and ER technician Jessica Rodriguez (L) remove patient beds from an overflow patient care tent as it is taken down amid a decrease in COVID-19 patients at Providence St. Mary Medical Center on February 4, 2021 in Apple Valley, California. The hospital was treating over 170 COVID-19 patients at the peak of the surge but has seen a recent decline and is currently caring for 87 confirmed or suspected coronavirus patients. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

2. Texas

About a third of Texans are still having issues with their water supply as the state reels from last week's deadly winter storms and subsequent utility outages. President Biden approved a major disaster declaration for Texas, unlocking more federal resources. Texas Rep. Michael McCaul says part of that relief will also go toward helping residents pay the exorbitant energy bills they received as a result of the storm. Some local officials, however, want the state to assume the cost instead of putting the onus on unsuspecting citizens. One Democratic senator has called for a probe into natural gas price hikes in Texas and other areas hit abnormally hard by winter weather.

Iran poses early test for Biden's diplomacy-first approach

  Iran poses early test for Biden's diplomacy-first approach President Biden's decision to open the door to negotiations with Iran and other nations underscores a sharp turn away from his predecessor and back to the diplomacy-first foreign policy championed during the Obama years.The Biden administration said Thursday that it would accept an invitation from the European Union to talk with Iran and the five other signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal that former President Trump withdrew from in 2018.TheThe Biden administration said Thursday that it would accept an invitation from the European Union to talk with Iran and the five other signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal that former President Trump withdrew from in 2018.

3. White House

The House's stimulus bill is expected to move through the Budget Committee and to a floor vote this week, and the biggest obstacle to its passage is the inclusion of a $15 minimum wage increase championed by progressive Democrats. Some in the party don't think the issue will pass reconciliation, a budget process that requires each provision to adhere to a strict set of rules. Meanwhile, the White House has indicated it's open to studying the merits of a financial transaction tax following the GameStop stock frenzy. Supporters say a tax on trading could boost investor protection and market integrity and raise badly needed revenue. The notion is despised by Wall Street.

4. United

United Flight 328 suffered catastrophic engine failure on Saturday, forcing the Boeing 777 bound for Honolulu to return to its origin in Denver. Debris from the plane rained down on Denver neighborhoods, and passenger video from the ordeal looks straight out of a nightmare. Now, Boeing is recommending the suspension of all 777 model planes with the same engine as the one involved in the incident. United Airlines has already removed all 24 of its planes with that engine from service. Both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating, and initial findings revealed fractured and damaged fan blades in the plane's engine.

Israel's Politicians Are Divided—But Not on Iran | Opinion

  Israel's Politicians Are Divided—But Not on Iran | Opinion Although Israel is in the midst of an election campaign, Netanyahu's challengers are toeing his line on the nuclear deal.Whatever the reason, one item discussed on the call has become urgent: what to do about Iran's nuclear program, and whether or not the U.S. should rejoin the current agreement. The imperativeness of the conversation between the two leaders is underscored by Iran's announcement that as of February 23rd it would stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol that allowed for snap inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities.

5. Iran

The Biden administration has begun to communicate with Iran over American hostages in the region, says national security adviser Jake Sullivan. There are currently at least 43 publicly known hostage or detainee cases in 11 countries including Iran, according to a foundation that tracks the cases. Secretary of State Antony Blinken set the groundwork for this priority earlier this month when he talked with the loved ones of American hostages. Sullivan also said yesterday that Tehran has not responded to the European Union's proposed meeting to discuss Iran's nuclear program, adding that the ball is in their court. The White House said last week that the US is willing to sit down for talks with Tehran and other signatories to the Iran nuclear deal.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Your favorite fast food restaurants want to sell you clothes

A Dunkin' robe? Why it's couture, darling.

Ohio police rushed to defuse a suspected bomb outside of a church, but it was actually a bag of squirmy kittens

Those deputies have a story to tell for the rest of their lives.

Iran says talks with IAEA chief 'fruitful' as deadline looms

  Iran says talks with IAEA chief 'fruitful' as deadline looms Iran said Sunday it had held "fruitful discussions" with UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi in Tehran, ahead of a deadline when it is set to restrict the agency's inspections unless the United States lifts painful sanctions. Tehran has repeatedly said it is ready to return to its nuclear commitments, on the condition that Washington makes the first move by lifting the sanctions that have heaped economic pain on Iran. Zarif said that, from Iran's point of view, "nothing has changed" as the Biden administration had so far followed the same Iran policy as his predecessor.

An atmospheric river event known as the Pineapple Express will bring rain and potential avalanches to the Northwest

Such a chill name for an un-chill weather phenomenon.

Customs agents in Cincinnati seized 44 pounds of corn flakes covered in cocaine instead of sugar

Alexa, show me the WORST way to start the day.

A website is offering to pay you $2,000 to sleep for research

Free. We'll do it for free. Where do we sign?

HAPPENING LATER

Garland's AG confirmation hearing is on

Merrick Garland, Biden's attorney general pick, will begin his two-day confirmation hearing later today. If he's confirmed, Garland will head the Justice Department and take on a number of thorny issues, including the continued fallout from January's Capitol riot.

PROFILES IN PERSEVERANCE

February is Black History Month, and every day we're highlighting Black pioneers in American history. Learn more here.

Ella Baker, activist, 1903-1986

Known as the "mother of the civil rights movement," Baker played a major role in three of the biggest civil rights groups and served as a mentor to several of their most prominent leaders. She also taught volunteers that the movement couldn't depend solely on charismatic leaders and empowered them to become activists in their own community. Baker risked her life rallying support in rural Southern towns and fought back against the sexism that sometimes tainted the civil rights movement.

Overnight Defense: Rockets land in Iraq's Green Zone in third attack in week | US 'outraged' at attacks but won't 'lash out'

  Overnight Defense: Rockets land in Iraq's Green Zone in third attack in week | US 'outraged' at attacks but won't 'lash out' Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.THE TOPLINE: A rocket attack in Iraq landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Monday, the third rocket strike near U.S. interests in Iraq in a week.Two rockets landed in the Green Zone, the heavily guarded area of Baghdad that houses government buildings and foreign embassies. Iraqi security officials told The Associated Press the target was the U.S. Embassy.

TODAY'S NUMBER

$304 million

That's how much money people lost to romance scams in 2020, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Scammers lurking on dating apps and social media con people out of money, and it's no surprise their ill-gotten gains reached record numbers in a lonely and isolated year.

TODAY'S QUOTE

"Protesters are now inciting the people, especially emotional teenagers and youths, to a confrontation path where they will suffer the loss of life."

A warning in a statement from Myanmar's military junta after a deadly weekend of protests in the country. At least two people died when police opened fire on demonstrators in Mandalay. Unrest has been roiling for weeks after a military coup early this month.

TODAY'S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

I love my tiny siblings

I don't know about you, but I'm trying to stress less. Watching a capybara look contentedly out of place among guinea pigs helps. (Click here to view.)

Iran ready to enrich 60% uranium if necessary, says Ali Khamenei .
IRAN-NUCLEAR: Iran ready to enrich 60% uranium if necessary, says Ali Khamenei © Reuters / Reuters Photographer IRAN READY TO ENRICH URANIUM TO 60% IF NECESSARY, SAYS ALI KHAMENEI by Parisa Hafezi DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran could produce 60% enriched uranium to meet its needs and will never give in to pressure from the United States regarding its nuclear activities, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday, as quoted by state television.

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