Senate votes to make Daylight Savings Time permanent. Fed raises interest rates to head off inflation. Biden calls Putin a ‘war criminal’ after Zelensky addresses Congress.
Senate passes bill to make Daylight Savings Time permanent
The Senate has unanimously passed a bill, dubbed the Sunshine Protection Act, which would make Daylight Savings Time permanent. If it passes, Americans will no long have to switch their clocks back and forth every year. It will also mean more daylight hours in the afternoon year-round.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said of the bill, “No more switching clocks, more daylight hours to spend outside after school and after work, and more smiles – that is what we get with permanent daylight saving time”. Senators of both parties extolled the benefits of the bill. Since Americans will be able to wait until later in the day to turn on electric lights, the switch to permanent daylight savings could even save on power consumption.
The bill now heads to the House for a vote. More than a dozen states have already switched permanently to daylight savings time and so will not be affected by this bill if it becomes law.
Fed raises interest rates to curb inflation
At the start of the pandemic, the Federal Reserve set interest rates at historic lows to stave off a possible recession. Since then, interest rates have been at near-zero, which has been a boon to borrowers. Now, however, the US has faced several straight months of inflation reaching 40-year highs. Some economists have been calling for the Fed to raise interest rates for months. They hoped that doing so would cool consumer demand somewhat and perhaps stabilize or even reduce prices.
Analysts have predicted that inflation could continue to grow due to the conflict in Ukraine and its effect on some key drivers of inflation. Sanctions on Russian oil have spurred a hike in gas prices. Also, supply chain interruptions both from the sanctions and the conflict itself may cause global food prices to rise. The price of fertilizer has already risen considerably since Russia is a major global supplier of key ingredients, including potash.
To try to head off what many predict will be a further spike in inflation, the Federal Reserve announced today that it would be raising short-term interest rates by a quarter-point. The Fed wants to move slowly, creeping up to a full-point rise by the end of the year. Chairman Jerome Powell hopes that raising the rates gradually will avoid an overcorrection that could make the US economy fall into recession.
Biden calls Putin a ‘war criminal’ after Zelensky addresses Congress
Today, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed members of Congress via video link. He asked the US and the West in general to do more to protect his country, just has he has done when speaking to other parliamentary bodies across the world. Recently, Zelensky has been calling forcefully for a no-fly zone to be enforced over Ukraine. Today, his tone softened on that somewhat, apparently acknowledging President Biden’s determination not to directly engage the US militarily with Russia. Instead, Zelensky asked for more weapons, including war planes. At the end of his address, Zelensky received a standing ovation from members of Congress.
A few hours after Zelensky’s call-in, President Biden announced that the US would be sending Ukraine another $800 million worth of military aid. This will include anti-aircraft systems, anti-armor systems, ammunition and drones to help Ukrainian forces fight off the Russian advance.
Biden also said of Putin, “I think he’s a war criminal”. It’s unclear if this was an off-the-cuff remark that will have to be walked back later. Recently, Vice President Harris caused a bit of a stir by saying that Putin should be tried for war crimes. Press Secretary Jen Psaki had to soft-pedal that comment, referring to an internal legal process around the question of war crimes within the White House.
The Kremlin characterized Biden’s comment as “unforgivable rhetoric”.
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