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Luisa Vieira

The Graphic Truth: What do Americans pay for in a gallon of gas?

US gas prices are hitting record levels due to a combination of Russia's war in Ukraine, supply chain snarls linked to China’s zero-COVID policy, and high demand coupled with low supply. Americans are not amused, and some are directing their anger at President Joe Biden, who's pulling every trick in the book to try to bring down oil prices. The thing is, crude is not the only thing you pay for at the pump. We take a look at the breakdown.

People participate in the March for Our Lives on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

What We're Watching: US gun-control deal, Indian protests, Macron's majority, Biden goes to Saudi

US Senate reaches compromise on guns

On Sunday, a group of 20 US senators announced a bipartisan framework on new gun control legislation in response to the recent wave of mass shootings. The proposal includes more background checks, funding for states to implement "red-flag" laws so they can confiscate guns from dangerous people, and provisions to prevent gun sales to domestic violence offenders. While the deal is much less ambitious than the sweeping ban on assault weapons and universal background checks President Joe Biden called for after the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, it's a rare bipartisan effort in a deeply divided Washington that seeks to make at least some progress on gun safety, an issue on which Congress has been deadlocked for decades. Biden said these are "steps in the right direction" and endorsed the Senate deal but admitted he wants a lot more. The announcement came a day after thousands of Americans held rallies on the National Mall in the capital and across the country to demand tougher gun laws. Will the senators be able to turn the framework into actual legislation before the momentum passes?

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Annie Gugliotta

What do the Americas want from America?

On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden travels to Los Angeles to host the sixth Summit of the Americas, a gathering of leaders from, well, the Americas. But so far the event has gotten more chatter about who isn’t showing up, the light agenda, and doubts over whether it’ll accomplish anything after decades of US neglect and mutual mistrust.

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A man holds a bicycle while standing near a building destroyed in Rubizhne, a town in Ukraine's Luhansk region.

REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

What’s Ukraine’s “strongest position” 100 days into the war?

On Friday, Russia’s war in Ukraine — or at least the latest, most egregious phase of it — will be 100 days old. If Vladimir Putin thought that the invasion would be, as the old Russian saying goes, “a short, victorious war,” he was spectacularly wrong.

But as the war enters its fourth month, debates are stirring again in Europe and the US about what the proper extent and aims of support for Ukraine really should be. The New York Times editorial board last week urged the White House to be more specific. A few days later, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger kicked up a hornet’s nest of criticism by calling at Davos for immediate negotiations on returning to the “status quo ante.” Meanwhile, European leaders have been working the phones — without success — to try to open a way for Ukraine-Russia talks as well.

One reason these debates are so frothy is this: deciding how to help Ukraine achieve victory will require defining what that even looks like.

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Paige Fusco

Dysfunction and direction in American politics

America’s political season is now in full swing. Thirteen states have already held primary elections, and every new controversy is weighed for its possible impact on November’s midterms. Media coverage has focused mainly on sagging confidence in President Joe Biden, the impact of Donald Trump’s endorsement on statewide races, and the battle for control of Congress over the next two years.

But there’s a bigger picture here. We’ve entered a historic moment of transition in American politics in which both parties are headed for crucial turning points. The Democrats are now led by a 79-year-old incumbent president who has a composite approval rating south of 41% and no heir apparent. Vice President Kamala Harris’s approval number is even lower than Biden’s.

The Republican Party is led by the twice-impeached, 75-year-old former President Trump, who left office in defeat with an approval rating of 34%. But there’s not yet a viable understudy here either. There are many plausible candidates for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination, but none is polling anywhere close to Trump in head-to-head matchups. And even if Trump’s brand of politics outlives the man himself, we can’t yet predict how combative political rhetoric might translate into policy.

In short, we enter this election year with no clear idea of where either party is headed.

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Ukrainian fighters from the Azov Regiment searched and guarded by Russian troops in Mariupol.

EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: Putin’s propaganda, new Iran-Israel feud, Title 42 tussle

Putin’s new (propaganda) weapon

Since Russia’s invasion on February 24, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky, not Russia’s Vladimir Putin, has waged a winning “information war.” Zelensky’s video speeches to foreign governments, the UN, and on Monday to the World Economic Forum at Davos have brought his country substantial military, economic, and political support. Stories like Monday’s anti-war resignation of a senior Russian diplomat and the highly publicized conviction of a Russian soldier for a war crime further boost Ukraine’s momentum. But last week’s surrender of hundreds of Ukrainian fighters from a Mariupol steel plant gives Russia a new propaganda weapon Putin could use for weeks or months to come. Many of the captured fighters belong to the Azov Regiment, a group with a history of ultra-nationalist, white-supremacist politics. While Ukraine’s government says it wants to recover these soldiers in exchange for captured Russians, a leader of pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists said Monday that all these prisoners should be tried for war crimes in Donetsk. A highly publicized trial of Ukrainians as right-wing war criminals won’t change many minds on either side about the war itself, but it could provide Putin a powerful distraction from a season of bad news for Russia.

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Joe Biden speaks during a joint news conference with South Korean President Yoon Suk-youl in Seoul.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

In Asia to fix imbalance, Biden talks both guns and butter

In his first presidential trip to Asia, where he is visiting South Korea and Japan as well as huddling with Quad partners, Joe Biden isn’t expected to sign any major trade deals or defense agreements. But America’s commander-in-chief is going to be in China’s neighborhood, shoring up new and old alliances in the region, reminding Beijing that checking the PRC is very much on Washington’s agenda, despite the administration’s attention being taken up by domestic politics and the war in Ukraine.

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US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meets Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv.

EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

What We're Watching: Pelosi in Kyiv, Indian scorcher, Modi tours Europe

Pelosi visits Ukraine — will Biden go next?

Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the highest-level US official to visit Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion. Pelosi met with President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday amid growing pressure from Kyiv for President Joe Biden to travel to the country, which Zelensky feels would be a symbolic show of US support for Ukraine. Biden has so far been non-committal, but Pelosi's trip is arguably more significant at this time, given that Biden wants the US Congress to approve $33 billion in additional aid for Ukraine. Meanwhile, a long-awaited operation was underway to evacuate 100,000 people trapped in a steel plant in Mariupol, the only part of the besieged Ukrainian port city not yet occupied by the Russians. The UN is coordinating safe passage with the Red Cross for the evacuees to reach Zaporizhzhia.

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