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Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.


  • Russia has already expressed support for five-year extension — a simple process that only requires an exchange of diplomatic notes.
  • Biden has long supported an extension, but his administration hadn't previously committed to the five-year timeframe.

The other side: The Trump administration was skeptical of New START, arguing that it had allowed Russia to build up advanced nuclear systems that aren't constrained by the treaty.

  • Trump's arms control envoy, Marshall Billingslea, had also insisted that China be brought into the arms control process.
  • Billingslea attempted to negotiate a shorter-term extension of New START, paired with a freeze on all nuclear warheads and a commitment to broaden future talks to include other nuclear powers. That deal never came together.

The big picture: The Biden administration arguesthat the U.S. is better off pursuing discussions on the future of arms control — and confrontation with Russia on other issues — with the New START guardrails in place.

  • Officials told the Post that Biden is ruling out a "reset" with Russia, which the Obama administration had initially opted for, in light of the Kremlin's "reckless and aggressive actions" in recent years.
  • The officials said Biden will ask newly confirmed Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to provide him with full intelligence assessments on Russia's alleged interference in the 2020 election, poisoning of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, bounties on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and hacking of federal agencies.

Trump received COVID vaccine at White House in January

Former President Trump and former first lady Melania Trump were both vaccinated at the White House in January, a Trump adviser tells Axios.

Why it matters: Trump declared at CPAC on Sunday that "everybody" should get the coronavirus vaccine — the first time he's encouraged his supporters, who have been more skeptical of getting vaccinated, to do so.

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Biden administration seeks to allow separated migrant families to reunite in the U.S.

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced Monday that the Biden administration will explore "lawful pathways" to allow migrant families separated under the Trump administration to reunite in the U.S.

Why it matters: Biden has pledged to reunite the hundreds of families still separated as a result of the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy, and signed an executive order last month creating a family separation task force chaired by Mayorkas.

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CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions, citing stalled progress

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky warned states on Monday that "now is not the time" to lift public health restrictions, as the recent dramatic declines in coronavirus cases and deaths "appear to be stalling."

Why it matters: While the average of 70,000 new infections and 2,000 daily deaths is nowhere near the extremely high levels recorded at the start of 2021, the figures are still a poor baseline to "stop a potential fourth surge" — especially with the threat posed by more contagious new variants, Walensky warned.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduces "ultra-millionaire" wealth tax bill

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Monday introduced a bill in the Senate that would impose a new tax on the assets of America's wealthiest individuals.

Why it matters: The plan, which Warren introduced along with Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) is similar to a proposal that was the centerpiece of Warren's campaign for the presidency in 2020.

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Private equity firms dodge cost-cutting and aim for revenue growth

Private equity is mimicking venture capital, banking on revenue growth instead of cost-cutting.

Why it matters: PE firms may struggle to maintain historical returns, particularly if the bull market slows its rampage and they're stuck with overpriced and overleveraged portfolios.

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Former French President Sarkozy sentenced to jail for corruption

A court in Paris on Monday sentenced former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence, after he was found guilty of trying to bribe a magistrate, the AP reports.

Driving the news: Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, is the first president in France’s modern history to have gone on trial for corruption, per AP. He was charged with corruption and influence-peddling.

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Canceled NFL Scouting Combine puts 40-yard dashes on the backburner

Top NFL prospects would normally be gathering in Indianapolis this week for the annual Scouting Combine. But due to the pandemic, this year's event has been canceled.

What they're saying: No combine means no 40-yard dash times making headlines. Former scout and current NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah thinks that could be a glimpse of the future:

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J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goal of 100 million doses by June

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said Monday that he is "absolutely" confident that the company will be able to meet its distribution goals, which include 100 million doses by June and up to a billion by the end of 2021.

Driving the news: J&J is already in the process of shipping 3.9 million doses this week, just days after the FDA issued an emergency use authorization for the one-shot vaccine. Gorsky said he expects vaccines to be administered to Americans "literally within the next 24 to 48 hours."

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