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In our news wrap Tuesday, President Biden held the first bilateral meeting of his administration with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Biden's pick for U.N. ambassador was confirmed by the Senate, former Sen. David Perdue will not run for his old seat next year, U.N. nuclear inspectors confirmed Iran is enriching Uranium to 20% purity and Facebook agreed to lift a ban on Australian users.
In the day's other news: More world leaders appealed for fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said wealthier countries are getting the lion's share. He called for the United Nations to intervene.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (through translator):
Out of 80 countries that have the vaccine, 10 are hoarding 80 percent of it. And the 70 remaining, which is where we and many others are, have 20 percent of the vaccines. But there are more than 100 countries that don't have a single dose.
Meanwhile, vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna said they expect to ship 220 million doses for U.S. use by the end of March. We will return to vaccine issues after the news summary.
The pandemic forced President Biden and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet by video link this afternoon.
It was the new American president's first meeting with a foreign leader. The agenda included COVID-19, climate change and economic recovery.
U.N. nuclear inspectors now say that Iran is enriching uranium to 20 percent purity. That's a big step closer to weapons-grade. It is Iran's latest violation of the 2015 nuclear accord, which the U.S. left in 2018. Tehran has also begun restricting U.N. inspections at its nuclear sites.
The U.S. Senate today easily confirmed Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be ambassador to the United States. And Tom Vilsack won confirmation for a second stint as secretary of agriculture. The interior secretary nominee, New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland, had her confirmation hearing. She addressed Republican criticism of her opposition to oil and gas drilling.
Rep. Deb Haaland:
There is no question that fossil energy does and will continue to play a major role in America for years to come. But we must also recognize that the energy industry is innovating, and our climate challenge must be addressed.
At a separate hearing, California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra made his case to be secretary of Health and Human Services. He vowed to rebuild trust in public health institutions.
Science must come first. We must ensure that people trust what we say. We have a ways to go to regain the trust of the American people, but, if we let the experts, as we said, the scientists, lead, I believe, soon, people will see the results.
A number of Senate Republicans have argued that Becerra is unqualified and overly partisan.
A grand jury in Rochester, New York, has voted not to file criminal charges against police in the death of Daniel Prude. Prude, who is Black, was held down, naked and handcuffed last March, until he stopped breathing. It touched off nightly protests.
The state attorney general said today that she was extremely disappointed in the grand jury decision.
Golfing great Tiger Woods is hospitalized in Los Angeles tonight, after he crashed his car and needed surgery for multiple leg injuries. Authorities say crews had to pull Woods out through the windshield of the mangled wreck. He was taken away in serious condition.
Late today, authorities said there was no evidence of impairment on his part at the crash scene.
In economic news, the chair of the Federal Reserve gave a guarded outlook at a Senate hearing today. Jerome Powell told that recovery from the pandemic still has far to go. He also played down concerns that new stimulus spending could ignite inflation.
Inflation dynamics do change over time, but they don't change on a dime. And so we don't really think how — see how a burst of fiscal support or spending that is not — that doesn't last for many years would actually change those inflation dynamics.
Powell said that the Fed will continue policies aimed at boosting economic growth and hiring.
Four leaders of the power grid operator for Texas are resigning in the fallout from last week's winter storm. All of them live outside the state. More than four million customers in Texas lost power for days during frigid weather. Others face astronomical charges for electricity.
And on Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 15 points to close at 31537. The Nasdaq fell 67 points, and the S&P 500 added four.
And poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, patron of the Beat movement, has died at his home in San Francisco. He had lung cancer. His City Lights bookstore was a Beat haven in the 1950s, and he published books by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and others. His own works sold more than one million copies. Lawrence Ferlinghetti was 101 years old.
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