Live: President Biden News Updates – The New York Times

A detainee in a communal cellblock at Guantánamo Bay in 2019. Lawyers for at least two prisoners there argued this week that the government’s legal basis for detaining their clients was evaporating.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden has declared that he intends to end the war in Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks this year. But it is less clear whether anything will change for detainees at the prison at Guantánamo Bay that the United States opened for that war.

Traditionally, when conflicts end, wartime detainees are sent home. But the U.S. government, under the administrations of both parties, has taken the position that the war Congress authorized after Sept. 11 is bigger than the conflict in Afghanistan. Moreover, Mr. Biden is not declaring defunct the broader war against Al Qaeda and its progeny, wherever they are.

Still, lawyers for at least two of the 40 remaining prisoners at Guantánamo told federal judges this week that whatever wartime legal authority the government had to detain their clients was evaporating. The motions were the first legal fallout from Mr. Biden’s announcement.

One of the detainees, Khalid Qassim, 44, is a Yemeni man who has been held without trial at Guantánamo for nearly 19 years; he was captured in late 2001 or early 2002 and is being held as a Qaeda trainee who “may have fought for the Taliban in or near Kabul and Bagram, Afghanistan, before fleeing to the Tora Bora mountains in late 2001.”

The other, an Afghan named Asadullah Haroon Gul, who is about 40, was captured in 2007 by Afghan forces and turned over to the United States military. A basis for holding him is his past affiliation with a militia that made peace with the Afghan government in 2017, essentially breaking with the Taliban.

The Justice Department has not yet responded to the filings. John F. Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an interview that Mr. Biden intended to close the prison, but argued that there was no direct link between its future and the coming end to what he called the “mission” in Afghanistan.

President Biden hopes the new targets convince other nations to do more to combat global warming.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden will announce Thursday that the United States intends to cut planet-warming emissions nearly in half by the end of the decade, a target that would require Americans to transform the way they drive, heat their homes and manufacture goods.

The target, confirmed by three people briefed on the plan, is timed to a closely watched global summit meeting that Mr. Biden is hosting Thursday and Friday, which is aimed at sending a message that the United States is rejoining international efforts to fight global warming after four years of climate denial from the Trump administration.

A White House spokesman declined to comment on the U.S. target, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

The leaders of China, India and nearly 40 other countries are expected to join Mr. Biden virtually, and the United States hopes that the announcement of its new emissions goal will galvanize other nations to step up their own targets by the time nations gather again under United Nations auspices in November in Glasgow.

The new American goal nearly doubles the pledge that the Obama administration made to cut emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, although the country would have five more years to achieve it, according to the people familiar with the target, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it. The 2030 target will be a range that will aim to cut emissions around 50 percent from 2005 levels. It will not include detailed modeling showing how the United States proposes to meet its pledge, one administration official said.

The goal is largely in line with what environmental groups and big businesses, including McDonalds, Target and Google, have wanted. They and others argue that cutting emissions at least 50 percent from 2005 levels by the end of the decade is the only way to put the United States on a path to eliminate fossil fuel pollution by the middle of the century.

On Tuesday, Gina McCarthy, Mr. Biden’s top climate change adviser, hinted that the United States would set that ambitious goal.

“I would argue that there’s opportunities for us to be able to be very aggressive, and we’re going to take that opportunity,” she said in an interview with NPR.

Meeting it, however, will be a steep challenge.

Nathan Hultman, director of the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland, and other energy experts said the 50 percent goal was attainable, but only with what Mr. Hultman described as “pretty significant action across all sectors of the American economy.”

Protesters in Minneapolis celebrate the guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin on Tuesday, at the memorial where Mr. Chauvin murdered George Floyd.
Credit…Victor J. Blue for The New York Times

Minutes after the jury delivered a guilty verdict in the murder trial of the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, President Biden called George Floyd’s family with a pledge: He would do everything in his power to usher an ambitious policing overhaul into law.

“We’re going to stay at it until we get it done,” the president said, referring to Democrats’ policing bill, which is named after Mr. Floyd and has languished in Congress.

Mr. Biden was not alone in his optimism. Lawmakers in both parties expressed hope on Wednesday that the conviction could open a rare window of opportunity to break the stalemate that kept Congress from passing even a single criminal justice bill last summer, as millions of protesters marched in the streets demanding action.

“We will not rest until the Senate passes strong legislation to end the systemic bias in law enforcement,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said on Wednesday.

But to do so, Democrats and Republicans would have to resolve the same stubborn ideological and political differences that thwarted past efforts. Democrats in Congress have pressed for aggressive action to rein in the excessive use of force and racial discrimination in policing, though they have stopped short of trying to defund police departments, as some of the most progressive lawmakers have advocated.

Republicans have pushed back on such tough measures, saying the federal government should not mandate how the police do their jobs, only offer incentives and training. And they have worked to portray Democrats as anti-law-enforcement extremists, a potent line of attack during last year’s election.

The most contentious issue in the legislative debate has been whether Congress should curtail the protections known as qualified immunity, as Democrats have proposed, removing a shield that protects officers in civil court cases.

Representative Karen Bass, Democrat of California and the lead author of her party’s bill, said late Tuesday that she was hopeful that the guilty verdict and the swell of relief that followed would soften the hardened political lines.

“I am interested in making a difference. I do not care about making a point,” she said in an interview, signaling flexibility from Democrats. “I can make a point and stand on a high horse, but that doesn’t get me anywhere.”

Ms. Bass; Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina; and a smattering of other interested lawmakers have engaged in informal talks about the bill for weeks, trying to find a way to break the impasse. Ms. Bass said on Tuesday that she would press House and Senate leaders to appoint a bipartisan negotiating committee of lawmakers to formalize the talks and try to put together a consensus bill in the coming weeks.

Mr. Scott, who wrote a narrower Republican alternative to Ms. Bass’s bill that Democrats thwarted in the Senate, said that he believed the group was “in a position now to move it forward,” and that he was “cautiously optimistic” that lawmakers could reach an agreement “sooner rather than later.”

Hopes that lawmakers would respond to the national outcry for reform were scuttled last summer after Senate Democrats blocked a Republican-led effort to pass the more modest package, which would have encouraged state and local police departments to change their practices, including penalizing departments that did not require the use of body cameras and limiting the use of chokeholds. Unlike the Democratic proposal, it would not have altered the qualified immunity doctrine that shields officers from lawsuits or placed new federal restrictions on the use of lethal force.

Democrats derided the Republican bill as an inadequate response to a systemic problem and said they would dismiss any legislation that did not comprehensively address the issue of bias in policing. Republicans, in turn, accused them of walking away from the negotiating table to score political points before the November elections.

A vaccination site in Los Angeles County this month.
Credit…Allison Zaucha for The New York Times

President Biden on Wednesday called on every employer in America to give employees paid time off to get vaccinated, the administration’s latest move to try to persuade the more than half of the nation’s adults who have yet to get a dose to do so.

“No working American should lose a single dollar from their paycheck because they chose to fill their patriotic duty to get vaccinated,” Mr. Biden said.

White House officials also said the administration would offer a paid leave tax credit to offset the cost for companies with fewer than 500 employees.

The announcement came during a presidential address to mark what Mr. Biden called a major milestone: 200 million shots in the arms of the American people, with a week to go before the president’s 100th day in office. As of Wednesday, more than 199 million doses had been administered across the country beginning Jan. 20, according to data as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s an incredible achievement for the nation,” Mr. Biden said, while also instructing Americans to continue wearing masks until everyone is vaccinated.

“We all need to mask up until the number of cases goes down, until everyone has a chance to get their shot,” he said.

But the distribution of those shots has been uneven: While New Hampshire has given at least one shot to 59 percent of its citizens (a percentage that includes children, most of whom are not yet eligible), Mississippi and Alabama are at 30 percent.

A senior administration official, who previewed the announcement on the condition of anonymity, described the initiative to involve the private sector as the next big opportunity and said employers would be especially effective in reaching out to the large percentage of working Americans who are still unvaccinated.

About 30 percent of unvaccinated employees said they were more likely to get a shot with an incentive like a gift card or paid time off, multiple officials who previewed the announcement said.

The seven-day average of vaccinations has declined slightly in recent days, to 3.02 million a day as of Wednesday, from a high point of 3.38 million last week, according to a New York Times analysis of C.D.C. data.

While many big companies have researched vaccine mandates, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has told employers that they can require vaccination to protect public health, most have found that to be counterproductive and have chosen to incentivize the vaccine instead.

But with Republicans arguing that mandates amount to an intrusion on personal liberty, the White House is steering clear of the discussion, saying the decision to require vaccination or proof of it will be left to individual employers. And with the economy gearing up, managers are reluctant to demand inoculation, fearing too many employees would seek work elsewhere.

State health officials, business leaders, policymakers and politicians are struggling to figure out how to tailor their messages, and their tactics, to persuade not only the vaccine hesitant but also the indifferent. The work will be labor intensive, and much of it may fall on private employers, but the risk is clear: If it takes too long to reach “herd immunity,” the point at which the spread of the virus slows, worrisome new variants could emerge that evade the vaccine.

People protested President Donald J. Trump’s travel ban outside the White House in 2017. New legislation would curb a president’s ability to enact similar orders.
Credit…Al Drago/The New York Times

The Democratic-led House is set on Wednesday to pass legislation that aims to prevent the White House from instituting expansive travel bans like the one former President Donald J. Trump imposed on predominantly Muslim countries, and would explicitly bar any such edict based on religion.

The No Ban Act would restrict the president’s wide-ranging power to control immigration by requiring that travel bans be temporary and subject to congressional oversight, among other limitations. It would prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion.

The House is also expected to approve a related measure that would require that certain immigrants be allowed access to a lawyer when they are detained at ports of entry.

Republicans are expected to oppose both bills, arguing that controls should be tightened, not relaxed, given the crush of migration through the southwest border. Their objections mean the legislation is likely to have a difficult path in the Senate, joining a backlog of House-passed bills on immigration and other topics that face steep obstacles.

The measures were inspired by the harsh and abrupt steps Mr. Trump took at the start of his presidency to clamp down on the entry of foreigners into the country, which led to chaos at U.S. airports and a rush of legal challenges. In January 2017, he denied entry to citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries. Amid court challenges, Mr. Trump later amended the ban, expanding it to include some non-Muslim majority countries, such as North Korea.

“Those bans were a stain on our national conscience and are inconsistent with our long history of welcoming people of all faiths,” White House officials said in a formal statement of support for the bill issued this week.

President Biden, who reversed Mr. Trump’s travel bans after taking office, is backing the legislation. But in the statement, his advisers said that the administration reserved the right to restrict travel from specific countries in the future if necessary.

“The administration stands ready to work with the Congress to adopt a solution that protects against unfair religious discrimination while also ensuring the executive branch has the flexibility necessary to respond to serious threats to security and public health, and emergent international crises,” the statement said.

Representative Mary Gay Scanlon, Democrat of Pennsylvania, said she could never forget the hardship inflicted on travelers by Mr. Trump’s bans, which she called “illegal and ill-conceived,” and discriminatory against Muslims.

“Families were separated,” she said. “Many were denied the right to counsel.”

Still, the legislation comes at a fraught political moment for Mr. Biden and Democrats on immigration.

In March, border agents encountered nearly 19,000 children at the border — the largest number recorded in a single month — most of them fleeing poverty and violence in Central America. And the flow of migrant children is expected to increase in the coming weeks.

Representative Guy Reschenthaler, Republican of Pennsylvania, argued on Tuesday that the No Ban Act would weaken national security, and said its requirement that travelers have access to counsel “complicates the job of Border Patrol agents” and would cost millions of dollars.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would cost $825 million to implement over five years.

“This bill does nothing to address the Biden border crisis,” Mr. Reschenthaler said, using the label Republicans have adopted for a situation that also existed under Mr. Trump.

Myanmar’s thriving timber and pearl industries are sources of funding for the military and its leadership.
Credit…Romeo Gacad/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

American officials announced new sanctions on Myanmar in the wake of the recent military coup, targeting two state-owned businesses with connections to the armed forces as part of an escalating international effort to jolt the country back onto a democratic path.

The move on Wednesday came two days after European Union officials expanded their own sanctions against Myanmar’s military leadership, targeting 10 officials who were involved in toppling Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government and a violent crackdown on protesters.

The Treasury Department identified Myanmar Timber Enterprise and Myanmar Pearl Enterprise, representing the country’s thriving timber and pearl industries, as sources of funding for the military and its leadership. The sanctions bar the companies from doing business in the United States or with American companies, and their assets were frozen under Wednesday’s order.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken accused the country’s military of killing more than 650 people — including many children — and detaining more than 3,200 others since February. He suggested the Biden administration would consider further action in the future.

“The Burmese military regime continues to ignore the will of the people of Burma to restore the country’s path to democracy,” Mr. Blinken said in a statement.

“Our action today reinforces our message to the military that the United States will continue to target specific funding channels and promote accountability for the coup and related violence,” he added.

The E.U. has also frozen assets and imposed visa bans on two other companies: Myanmar Economic Corporation and Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd, which trade in alcohol and other consumer goods.

Many opponents of the coup have resisted the military, at times taking to the streets with homemade weapons, including slingshots. On March 27, security forces killed dozens of people. It was the deadliest crackdown since the start of the coup, according to a human rights group tracking the killings.

John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, in Seoul on Sunday.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

John Kerry, President Biden’s global climate change envoy, said Wednesday that efforts by the United States to address global warming had been set back by a Trump administration that he said “lied to the American people” and refused to acknowledge the established science.

Speaking to Washington Post Live on the eve of a two-day summit that Mr. Biden will convene to galvanize other nations to set ambitious goals for cutting global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, Mr. Kerry said the United States should not be held back by the climate denial of the previous administration.

“This is the greatest moment of transformation of our economy in our lifetime, certainly, and we need to seize it,” Mr. Kerry said.

Mr. Kerry did not reveal how far the United States intended to reduce its own planet-warming emissions by 2030, something Mr. Biden is expected to announce at the opening of the virtual summit with 40 world leaders. A White House official and two others briefed on the plan, however, have said it will nearly double the pledge that President Barack Obama made to the Paris Climate Agreement of cutting emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Noting that United Nations scientists warned in 2019 that the world had about 12 years to get on track to cut emissions to relatively safe levels, Mr. Kerry criticized the Trump administration but said the United States was ready to move forward again.

“Two of those years were wasted with an administration that lied to the American people and never bought into the science,” he said. But he added about steep emissions cuts and a drastic global increase in renewable energy deployment, “This is doable.”




Attorney General Announces Investigation Into Minneapolis Police

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced on Wednesday a new civil investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department for misconduct, separate from the ongoing federal investigation into the death of George Floyd.

Like so many of you, I have closely watched the events in Minnesota. Although the state’s prosecution was successful, I know that nothing can fill the void that the loved ones of George Floyd have felt since his death. My heart goes out to them, and to all those who have experienced similar loss. I know such wounds have deep roots, and that too many communities have experienced those wounds firsthand. Yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues In Minneapolis. Today, I am announcing that the Justice Department has opened a civil investigation to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing. This effort will be staffed by experienced attorneys and other personnel from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota. The new civil investigation is separate from and independent of the federal criminal investigation into the death of George Floyd that the Justice Department has previously announced.

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Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced on Wednesday a new civil investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department for misconduct, separate from the ongoing federal investigation into the death of George Floyd.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Andrew Harnik

The Justice Department will investigate the policies and operations of the Minneapolis Police Department, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced on Wednesday, a day after the former officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd in a rare rebuke of police violence.

“The Justice Department has opened a civil investigation to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional or unlawful policing,” Mr. Garland said in brief remarks at the Justice Department.

Such investigations are often the precursors to court-approved deals between the Justice Department and local governments that create and enforce a road map for training and operational changes.

Mr. Garland’s announcement came a day after the conviction of Mr. Chauvin, who was fired by the Minneapolis Police Department last year after gruesome video of him kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes sparked protests across the nation.

The inquiry into the department is separate from the existing Justice Department investigation into whether Mr. Chauvin violated Mr. Floyd’s civil rights. It will be led by lawyers and staff in the Justice Department’s civil rights division and the U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota.

Investigators will seek to determine whether the Minneapolis Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests; whether it engages in discriminatory conduct; and whether its treatment of those with behavioral health disabilities is unlawful. They will also review the department’s policies, training, supervision and use-of-force investigations, and whether its current systems of accountability are effective at ensuring that police officers act lawfully.

If the investigators find that the police department has engaged in unlawful policing, Mr. Garland said the Justice Department would issue a public report. It also has the option to bring a civil suit against the department and enter into a settlement agreement, or consent decree, to ensure that prompt and effective action is taken to bring the department’s practices into compliance with the law.

On Friday, Mr. Garland restored the robust use of consent decrees, rescinding a Trump administration policy that largely curbed their use. The Obama administration had repeatedly used the tool to address police misconduct. The restoration of consent decrees was one of the Biden administration’s first significant moves to hold police forces accountable in cases where they are found to have violated federal laws.

“Most of our nation’s law enforcement officers do their difficult jobs honorably and lawfully,” Mr. Garland said. “I strongly believe that good officers do not want to work in systems that allow bad practices.”

The challenges that the nation faces in addressing systemic racial inequities “are deeply woven into our history,” Mr. Garland said, adding that it would take time and effort by all to build “trust between community and law enforcement.”

Kent Drotar, an employee at the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colo., checks in on one of the 39 tigers rescued in 2017 from Joe Exotic’s G.W. Exotic Animal Park.
Credit…Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

The former roadside zoo owner known as Joe Exotic, Joseph Maldonado-Passage, remains in prison. The animal rights activist he was convicted of trying to kill, Carole Baskin, was given control of his old zoo in Oklahoma.

But one year after the premiere of the Netflix series “Tiger King,” an unexpected quarantine binge hit that focused on their feud and the cutthroat world of roadside zoos, big cats remain unprotected from the exploitative practices the series helped reveal.

Now, a bipartisan group of United States senators has introduced the latest version of a bill designed to keep unlicensed individuals from owning tigers and other big cats and forbid zoo owners from letting the public pet the animals or hold cubs.

Two Republicans, Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Richard M. Burr of North Carolina, agreed to introduce the bill on Monday with two Democrats, Senators Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Tom Carper of Delaware.

“Big cats like lions, tigers and cheetahs belong in their natural habitats, not in the hands of private owners where they are too often subject to cruelty or improper care,” Ms. Collins said in a statement.

The bill is similar to legislation that Representative Mike Quigley, Democrat of Illinois, introduced in 2020.

The documentary’s footage of baby cubs being ripped from their mothers so they could be petted by the public shocked many viewers. Since then, some state legislators have introduced their own versions of bills that would ban such practices.

Mr. Blumenthal said the bill he introduced was meant to protect big cats from cruel and dangerous practices, not to hamstring responsible zoos and sanctuaries.

He said the bill had been referred to the Environment and Public Works Committee, which Mr. Carper leads.

“My focus is on preventing abuse and exploitation of the big cats and safeguarding the public,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “Those two goals are paramount.”

Representative Ken Buck of Colorado said last month that he would not accept money from the tech giants’ political action committees.
Credit…Joe Skipper/Reuters

A group of seven House Republicans said on Wednesday that they would no longer take donations from major tech companies or their top executives, a sign of the growing distance between some conservatives and big business.

The lawmakers said in a letter that the companies had limited the reach of conservative voices, citing bans on the chat app Parler after it was used by participants in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and had abused their market power.

“These monopolies have shown that personal liberty can be threatened by corporate tyranny just as much as by government tyranny,” they said in the letter. All but one of the lawmakers are members of the Judiciary Committee, which oversees the antitrust questions confronting the tech companies.

The pledge was led by Representative Ken Buck of Colorado, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee. Mr. Buck said last month that he would not accept money from the tech giants’ political action committees.

For years, lawmakers on the right have attacked Google, Twitter and Facebook, accusing the companies of unfairly removing content posted by conservatives. The lawmakers have also accused Amazon and Apple of stifling competition. In recent weeks, some conservatives have turned on other major businesses — traditionally their allies in efforts to deregulate the economy — that have opposed their positions on voting rights and other issues.

Five of the lawmakers received donations from the corporate political action committees of Google, Facebook and Amazon in the last election cycle. Representatives Chip Roy of Texas, Gregory Steube of Florida and Andy Biggs of Arizona received a combined $3,500 in donations. Representative Ralph Norman of South Carolina (not Oklahoma, as previously reported here) received $1,000 from Amazon’s political committee.

But it is also possible that some of the lawmakers who signed the pledge will not have to turn any donations down in the near future. Amazon and Google froze donations to lawmakers who voted against certifying the election results after the Jan. 6 attack. Facebook paused all of its political donations.

Mr. Steube and Mr. Norman, as well as Representatives Dan Bishop of North Carolina and Burgess Owens of Utah, objected to the results of the presidential election.

Mr. Bishop and Mr. Owens both signed the pledge even though they did not receive money from the firms’ political committees last election cycle.

Gina McCarthy, the former E.P.A. chief under Obama, returned to the White House as a climate coordinator and senior adviser to President Biden. 
Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

Gina McCarthy worked six or seven days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day, to produce America’s first real effort to combat climate change, a suite of Obama-era regulations that would cut pollution from the nation’s tailpipes and smokestacks and wean the world’s largest economy from fossil fuels.

Then the administration of Donald J. Trump shredded the work of President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency chief before any of it could take effect.

Now Ms. McCarthy is back as President Biden’s senior climate change adviser, and this time, she is determined to make it stick.

She is the most powerful climate change official in the country other than Mr. Biden himself, and her charge is not simply to reconstruct her Obama-era policies but to lead an entire government to tackle global warming, from the nation’s military to its diplomatic corps to its Treasury and Transportation Department. She will also lead negotiations with Congress for permanent new climate change laws that could withstand the next change of administration.

“I’ve got a small stronghold office, but I am an orchestra leader for a very large band,” Ms. McCarthy, 66, said in a speech in February.

Mr. Biden’s two-day global climate summit meeting, which begins Thursday, is his chance to proclaim America’s return to the international effort to stave off the most devastating impacts of a warming planet, but it is Ms. McCarthy’s re-emergence as well. Mr. Biden is expected to pledge that the United States will cut its planet-warming emissions by at least 50 percent below 2005 levels in the next decade.

The world has seen such promises before, with the Kyoto accords in the 1990s, then the Paris Agreement in the Obama era, only to see them discarded by subsequent Republican administrations. It will fall to Ms. McCarthy to prove the skeptics wrong.

The administration plans concurrent efforts to enact regulations to curb auto and power plant emissions, restrict fossil fuel development and conserve public lands while pressing Congress to pass the climate provisions in Mr. Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure bill, such as renewable power and electric vehicle programs.

Ms. McCarthy hopes to push the infrastructure bill further, possibly by mandating that power companies produce a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, such as wind and solar. That will be a tough sell to many Republicans — but if it passes Congress, it could stand as the Biden administration’s permanent climate legacy, even if other rules are swept away by future presidents.

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea during an interview at the Blue House in Seoul. He wants President Biden to negotiate denuclearization with North Korea.
Credit…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has a message for the United States: President Biden needs to engage now with North Korea.

In an interview with The New York Times, Mr. Moon pushed the American leader to kick start negotiations with the government of Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, after two years in which diplomatic progress stalled, even reversed. Denuclearization, the South Korean president said, was a “matter of survival” for his country.

He also urged the United States to cooperate with China on North Korea and other issues of global concern, including climate change. The deteriorating relations between the superpowers, he said, could undermine any negotiations over denuclearization.

It was part plea, part sales pitch from Mr. Moon, who sat down with The Times as the United States tries to rebuild its relationships in the region with an eye to countering China’s influence, and North Korea builds up its nuclear arsenal. Mr. Moon, who is set to meet with Mr. Biden next month in Washington, appeared ready to step once again into the role of mediator between the two sides.

In the interview, Mr. Moon ​was proud of his deft diplomatic maneuvering in 2018, when he steered the two unpredictable leaders of North Korea and the United States to meet in person. He was also pragmatic, tacitly acknowledging that ​his work to achieve denuclearization and ​peace on the Korean Peninsula has since unraveled.

President Donald J. Trump left office without removing a single North Korean nuclear warhead. Mr. Kim has resumed weapons tests. ​

“He beat around the bush and failed to pull it through,” Mr. Moon said of Mr. Trump’s efforts on North Korea.

Mr. Biden ​has started reversing many of his predecessor’s foreign policy decisions​. But Mr. Moon ​warned that it would be a mistake to kill the 2018 Singapore agreement between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim ​that set out broad goals for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. ​

“I believe that if we build on what President Trump has left, we will see this effort come to fruition under Biden’s leadership,” he said.

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia during his annual address to Parliament in Moscow on Wednesday.
Credit…Maxim Shipenkov/EPA, via Shutterstock

As he masses troops near Ukraine, puts down domestic dissent and engages in a fast-intensifying conflict with President Biden, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is on the verge of decisions that could define a new, even harder-line phase of his presidency.

But while Mr. Putin’s annual address to Parliament on Wednesday was replete with threats against the West, he stopped short of announcing new military or foreign policy moves.

Russia’s response will be “asymmetric, fast and tough” if it is forced to defend its interests, Mr. Putin said, pointing to what he asserted were Western efforts at regime change in neighboring Belarus as another threat to Russia’s security.

“The organizers of any provocations threatening the fundamental interests of our security will regret their deeds more than they have regretted anything in a long time,” Mr. Putin told a hall of governors and members of Parliament. “I hope no one gets the idea to cross the so-called red line with Russia — and we will be the ones to decide where it runs in every concrete case.”

Mr. Putin’s speech had been widely anticipated, with about 100,000 Russian troops gathered on Ukraine’s border and Ukraine’s president warning openly of the possibility of war. Some analysts had speculated that Mr. Putin might use his annual state of the nation address to announce a pretext for sending troops into Ukraine.

But that scenario did not come to pass. Mr. Putin also made no reference to the jailed opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, whose supporters planned to hold protests across the country on Wednesday. Instead, Mr. Putin spent most of his speech on domestic issues, acknowledging Russians’ discontent with the hardships of the pandemic.

The United States last week announced a raft of new sanctions against Russia, blaming it for a major hacking operation. Mr. Biden also called for a summit meeting with Mr. Putin, which looked to many Russians like a crude American attempt to negotiate from a position of strength.

Hours after Mr. Putin’s speech, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that discussions about a possible meeting between the two leaders were ongoing.

“We don’t take anything President Putin says personally,” Ms. Psaki said. “We have tough skin.”

Katie Rogers contributed reporting.

Federal regulators have found many shortcomings at a plant of Emergent BioSolutions in Baltimore.
Credit…Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Federal regulators on Wednesday issued highly critical findings from their inspection of a Baltimore plant that was forced to throw out up to 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine and ordered to temporarily stop all production.

The Food and Drug Administration cited a series of shortcomings at the massive plant, which is operated by Emergent BioSolutions. The inspection was triggered by reports that Emergent workers had contaminated a batch of Johnson & Johnson doses with the harmless virus that is used to deliver AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which is also manufactured at the plant.

The violations included failure to properly disinfect the factory and its equipment, as well as failure to institute and follow proper procedures designed to prevent contamination of doses and to ensure the strength and purity of the vaccine manufactured there. “There is no assurance that other batches have not been contaminated,” the inspectors wrote.

Their 12-page report cited nine violations, ranging from the design of the building to improperly trained employees. The inspection was finished on Tuesday.

In a statement, the F.D.A. noted that it has not authorized Emergent to distribute any doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and that no vaccine manufactured at the plant has been released for use in the United States.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine is not yet authorized for use in the United States, and all the Johnson & Johnson doses that have been administered in the country so far were manufactured overseas. At the agency’s request, all production at the factory has been halted.

“We will not allow the release of any product until we feel confident that it meets our expectations for quality,” the statement from Dr. Janet Woodcock, the F.D.A.’s acting commissioner, and Dr. Peter Marks, the agency’s top vaccine regulator, said.

The agency said it was working with Emergent to fix the problems.

Emergent is a longtime government contractor that has spent much of the last two decades cornering a lucrative market in federal spending on biodefense. The company’s Baltimore plant is one of two federally designated “Centers for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing” that were supposed to be at the ready in the event of a pandemic.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that the Trump administration awarded a $628 million contract to the company about ten months ago despite a history of performance problems. The contract mainly allowed the government to reserve manufacturing space in the plant for vaccine production. On Tuesday, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, announced that it will investigate that contract award and other issues involving Emergent, saying the firm had a track record of failing to meet contract requirements.

The inspectors castigated Emergent’s response to the discovery last month that Johnson & Johnson doses had been contaminated with the benign virus used to create AstraZeneca’s vaccine. The incident “has not been fully investigated,” they wrote.

They said Emergent did not thoroughly review whether the cross-contamination was caused by one or more workers who move between AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s manufacturing zones or whether it could be related to how raw materials used in the production of both vaccines are handled.

The inspectors found that workers frequently moved between the manufacturing zones without documenting that they had showered and changed their gowns as required. In one ten-day period in February, for instance, 13 employees moved from one zone to another on the same day, but only one documented having showered, they said. After the Johnson & Johnson doses were found to be contaminated, the report said, only routine cleaning was performed.

Workers also failed to properly handle manufacturing waste, creating risks of contamination in the warehouse where raw materials are stored, the inspectors found. They also cited peeling paint, crowded equipment and other issues with the building. Overall, it “is not maintained in a clean and sanitary condition,” they wrote.

Emergent said in a statement on Wednesday that “while we are never satisfied to see shortcomings in our manufacturing facilities or process, they are correctable and we will take swift action to remedy them.”

In its own statement, Johnson & Johnson said it had already stepped up its oversight of Emergent, its subcontractor, and that it would “ensure that all of F.D.A.’s observations are addressed promptly and comprehensively.”

One major change has already been made: AstraZeneca will no longer be manufactured at the plant, a move that federal officials insisted upon earlier this month to limit the chance of cross-contamination between two vaccines.

Dr. Jose Romero, the Arkansas health secretary and chairman of the expert panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the future of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, said in an interview that he was dismayed by the F.D.A.’s findings. The panel is meeting on Friday on whether to lift, modify or retain a pause in the administration of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine that was instituted last week for an entirely different issue: the discovery that eight U.S. residents developed a rare but dangerous blood clotting disorder after they got shots.

“I’m shocked” Dr. Romero said. “I can’t put it any other way. Inappropriate disinfection, the prevention of contamination — those are significant and serious violations, at least in my mind, and do of course need to be remedied.

“I would not have expected that, given the stringency that we have in this country for good manufacturing practices in these vaccine plants,” he said.

Credit…Pool photo by Saul Loeb

Lina Khan, a Democratic nominee to the Federal Trade Commission, outlined strong concerns over competition in the tech industry during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

Ms. Khan, a law professor and a former staffer at the F.T.C. who President Biden nominated to the agency in March, warned of the cascading power of tech companies that has allowed them to easily expand their reach across markets.

At the Senate Commerce committee hearing, Ms. Khan, 32, said she was “seeing whole range of potential risks. One that comes up across board is that the ability to dominate one market gives companies, in some instances, the ability to expand into adjacent markets.”

She also focused on the online advertising market and how the consumer data mining that fuels it poses potential harms for consumers. The business model, she said, incentivizes more and more data collection.

“In some cases, companies may think it’s worth the cost of doing business to risk violating privacy laws,” she said.

Ms. Khan is part of a progressive wing of the Democratic Party that has pushed for antitrust legal reform and the breakup of companies like Facebook and Google. In a 2017 Yale Law Journal article titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” she questioned the bias of antitrust experts toward consumer prices as the key metric for antitrust violation. Even though Amazon offers consumers lower prices in many cases, she argued the company could harm competition by squeezing out small-business rivals who rely on its marketplace.

President Biden’s nomination of Ms. Khan to one of three Democratic seats at the F.T.C. has been taken as a sign of how the White House plans to be tough on tech. Tim Wu, a progressive critic of Facebook and other big tech companies, was also recently named to a role in the White House.

Ms. Khan said in Wednesday’s hearing that approvals of tech mergers during the Obama administration were a “missed opportunity” to slow the growth of the companies.

Tech mergers approved during that time underestimated the particular economics of tech companies, she said. Regulators that approved the deals may have also assumed the dynamics of the tech market would allow for new entrants to go up against the bigger companies, she added.

“We need to be much more vigilant relating to these acquisitions,” she said.

Ms. Khan received little pushback from lawmakers from either party at the hearing. But Senator Mike Lee, a Republican of Utah and the ranking member of the antitrust subcommittee, asked if she would recuse herself from investigations into Facebook, Google and Amazon because of her past work investigating the tech giants for the House antitrust subcommittee. The House released a report in October that found the digital platforms were monopolies.

Ms. Khan said she would follow ethics rules that prohibit her involvement in investigations into companies where she has financial and personal ties. She said she did not have those ties to any tech giants.

Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, said climate-aligned investments continue to face obstacles from inconsistent disclosure requirements that make it difficult for investors to assess opportunities and risks.
Credit…Nicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Wednesday that the private sector will need to shoulder much of the cost of greening the United States economy over the next decade and that the Biden administration is working on a new financial reporting framework to make the climate sector more appealing to investors.

Ms. Yellen, speaking at an Institute of International Finance event, called climate change an “existential risk to our future economy and way of life,” and said that she is working on a “whole of economy” approach to addressing it. The comments come as President Biden prepares to convene a virtual summit this week to show that the United States is ready to reassert itself as a global leader in combating climate change.

Ms. Yellen said that investor demand for green bonds and sustainable assets is on the rise but that climate-aligned investments continue to face obstacles from inconsistent disclosure requirements that make it difficult for investors to assess opportunities and risks. She said the Treasury Department is working with the Securities and Exchange Commission to create new climate-related disclosure requirements.

The Biden administration’s infrastructure and jobs plan that it proposed recently provides tax credits to encourage and direct investments in reducing carbon emissions, overhauling the transportation sector and retrofitting buildings. But Ms. Yellen said that government cannot meet the nation’s climate goals alone. She pointed to an estimate that suggests the United States needs more than $2.5 trillion in climate investments over the next 10 years to meet its emissions goals.

“Private capital will need to fill most of that gap,” Ms. Yellen said.

This week, Ms. Yellen announced the creation of a climate “hub” within the Treasury Department and appointed a senior official, John E. Morton, to oversee its work.

In her speech on Wednesday, she noted that the United States is taking a dramatically different approach to climate change under Mr. Biden than it did under former President Donald J. Trump.

“After sitting on the sidelines for four years, the U.S. government is fully committed to rejoin the fight against climate change,” Ms. Yellen said.