Amid growing concerns over Moscow’s military buildup along the border with Ukraine, President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak by phone Sunday with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. The two leaders plan to review preparations for the upcoming diplomatic engagements, according to the White House. The conversation comes days after Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin the United States and its allies “will respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement released after the roughly 50-minute call Thursday between the two leaders. A senior official said Biden told Putin he has two options: diplomacy leading to de-escalation or further aggression leading to “serious costs and consequences.” The possible consequences include economic sanctions, adjustments of NATO forces in allied nations and additional assistance to Ukraine to defend its territory, said the official. The White House has repeatedly warned Russia against invading its neighbor.
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As 2022 approaches, many set out to make New Year’s resolutions. While the new year can be an opportunity to assess areas you want to improve, experts suggest approaching goals in a less-pressured way. Jenny Koning, a therapist with virtual primary care and mental health platform PlushCare, says that if we don’t end up meeting or keeping up with that resolution we placed at the start of the year, more pressure can set in. Not only can resolutions contribute to this pressure, but they can also make people feel like failures by trying to reach unattainable goals. Instead, Koning suggests shifting your mindset from resolutions to setting intentions, which “offers us a more enjoyable approach to creating lasting change regardless of the time of year.”
Twenty-one states and 35 cities and counties are set to raise their minimum wage on or about New Year’s Day, according to a report provided exclusively to USA TODAY by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a worker advocacy group. For instance, base hourly pay will climb from $11 to $12 in Illinois; from $9.25 to $10.50 in Delaware; from $9.50 to $11 in Virginia; from $12 to $13 for most workers in New Jersey; and from $10.50 to $11.50 in New Mexico. Moreover, four of the localities lifting their pay floors Jan. 1 will hit the $15 threshold for the first time: Denver, which is leaping from $14.77 to $15.87, and the California cities of San Diego, Oakland and West Hollywood. Since some governments will act later in the year, a total of 25 states and 56 localities will lift their pay floors sometime in 2022, according to NELP.
For many college football fans, New Year’s Day still resonates as a day of celebration. While the bowl season is more spread out now, watching your team participate in a Jan. 1 or New Year’s Eve bowl remains special. Saturday will feature five bowl games, including three of the New Year’s Six matchups. First, No. 5 Notre Dame and No. 9 Oklahoma State will face off in the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona (ESPN, 1 p.m. ET). Later, No. 7 Ohio State will take on No. 11 Utah in the “Granddaddy of Them All,” the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California (ESPN, 5 p.m. ET). Finally, in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, No. 6 Baylor will match up with No. 8 Mississippi (ESPN, 8:45 p.m. ET). Saturday’s action comes on the heels of the two College Football Playoff bowls played Friday. No. 1 Alabama ran over No. 4 Cincinnati and No. 3 Georgia blew out No. 2 Michigan. The Crimson Tide will play the Bulldogs for the national title on Jan. 10 in a rematch of the SEC Championship game.
More than 20 years after the first “Harry Potter” movie was released in theaters, the film’s cast will reunite for a special premiering on HBO Max Saturday. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Tom Felton and more of the Hogwarts gang will travel back to the magical school with filmmaker Chris Columbus for an HBO Max special to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the franchise’s first film “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” The special will feature in-depth interviews and cast conversations and give a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the franchise. The Gryffindor trio and Felton will be joined by memorable cast members like Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, He Who Must Not Be Named (Ralph Fiennes) and others.
Contributing: The Associated Press
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort