Ukraine, Inflation, NFL Playoffs: Your Friday Night Briefing

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Good evening. Here is the latest at the end of Friday.

1. Russia has deployed enough troops for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, says the Pentagon.

Russia has mustered more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, officials said, enough to move around the country, well beyond an incursion into border regions. The forces include combined arms formations, artillery and rockets. “I think you’d have to go back far enough to the Cold War era to see something of this magnitude,” said Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The United States has put 8,500 American troops on alert for possible deployment to Eastern Europe, where most of them would join a NATO rapid-response team of 30,000 to 40,000 soldiers. If Russia invades, the Biden administration plans to hit Russian banks harder than ever.

2. Prices rose rapidly, wages rose and consumer spending fell at the end of 2021.

These latest indicators, released today, showed that despite falling unemployment and a strong rebound in growth, the economy has yet to break free from the grip of the pandemic.

The Personal Consumer Expenditure Index, the Fed’s favorite gauge of inflation, rose 5.8% in the year to December, from 5.7% the previous month. Overall compensation rose 4% in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, the data showed, and wages and salaries rose 4.5%.

On Wall Street, stocks rebounded after a turbulent day.

3. The East Coast is bracing for blizzard conditions.

A powerful northeast was expected to dump snow from North Carolina into New England over the weekend, prompting officials to prepare for hazardous travel conditions and possible massive power outages. The worst of the storm was expected to hit eastern Long Island and the New England coast, which could see up to two feet of snow. Follow here for live updates.

How much snow should we expect? Check your forecast. (This will be updated regularly.)

4. Ten billion Covid vaccines have been administered worldwide, but gaps remain about who gets the vaccine.

The milestone was not achieved evenly, even though 10 billion doses could theoretically have meant at least one vaccine for all of the planet’s 7.9 billion people. In the wealthiest countries, 77% of people have received at least one dose. In low-income countries, this figure is less than 10%.

In other virus news:

5. A bridge collapsed in Pittsburgh, injuring at least 10 people. President Biden visited the city today to speak about the importance of infrastructure.

The cause of the collapse, which occurred around 6:45 a.m., was not immediately clear. Only three or four cars and a bus were on the 52-year-old bridge at the time of the collapse, the Pittsburgh Fire Chief said. The bridge was last inspected in September. Previous reports from 2011 to 2017 said the bridge was in “poor” condition.

Biden traveled to Pittsburgh, often called the city of bridges, to speak about the infrastructure bill passed last fall. He stopped at the site of the bridge collapse this afternoon. According to one estimate, more than 45,000 bridges in the United States are “considered structurally deficient”.

6. A US-backed militia in Syria issued an ultimatum: surrender or die to dozens of Islamic State fighters locked in a prison a week after attacking it.

The militia, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, said Islamic State fighters would face an all-out assault if they did not surrender. On Wednesday, the SDF said it had regained control of the entire Hasaka prison complex after six days of fighting.

But an SDF spokesman said the militia later discovered about 60 Islamic State fighters hiding in a basement of one of the prison buildings. The prison attack was the most glaring evidence to date of a resurgence of Islamic State in parts of Syria and Iraq, nearly three years after the group lost its so- saying caliphate.

7. A federal judge canceled oil and gas leases of more than 80 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico, citing climate change.

The court ruled that the Biden administration failed to give sufficient consideration to climate change when auctioning the leases late last year. The move is a major victory for environmental groups who have criticized the Biden administration for staging the sale after promising to move the country away from fossil fuels. It was the largest lease sale in US history.

In other climate news, a new analysis of protected ancient forests in the Peruvian Amazon shows alarming levels of mercury. The discoveries, linked to gold mining, provide new evidence of how people are changing ecosystems in dangerous ways around the world.

8. Super Bowl LVI will be set by the end of the weekend.

First, the rising Cincinnati Bengals will try to keep the Kansas City Chiefs from advancing to their third consecutive Super Bowl. Next, the star-studded Los Angeles Rams will be tested by the San Francisco 49ers. Both games are on Sunday. Here are our picks for the conference championships.

9. This wintry weather is testing even the most enduring of us. We have comforting recipes.

Start your day with these tender pancakes. Geneviève Ko whips ricotta into batter and sauté stiff egg whites in an effortless recipe. This Scotch Chicken Soup from Melissa Clark is medicine in its own right.

And looking ahead, the Lunar New Year begins on Tuesday. In China and other countries that celebrate the holiday, such as Singapore, Vietnam and South Korea, the festivities can last for two weeks, and the dishes often symbolize promises of a better year. Here are eight recipes for the good times ahead.

10. And finally, a woman with a watch.

Lausanne, a picturesque Swiss city of steep cobbled streets, has had a night watchman in its cathedral since 1405. But it had never appointed a woman to the position in those 600 years – until now. In August, Cassandre Berdoz, 28, landed the job that was her “childhood dream”.

Part of the work, telling the time, is no longer necessary in a country famous for its watches, nor protecting the inhabitants against fires and other nighttime disasters as it was centuries ago. But Berdoz still maintains the timing element of his old job. She shouts every hour, just after the sound of the big bell of the cathedral.

“I’m keeping an incredible tradition alive,” Berdoz said. “But I can also shout on behalf of women, which is my contribution to feminism.”

Spend a weekend without barriers.

Yeong-Ung Yang compiled photos for this briefing.

Your evening briefing is posted at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

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