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Your Monday Evening Briefing – The New York Times

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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Monday.

1. President Biden said he was expressing personal outrage and not a change of policy when he said that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, should not remain in office.

Biden’s remarks came two days after he declared during a speech in Warsaw: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” an ad-libbed comment at the end of his three-day trip to Europe.

“I was expressing the moral outrage I felt toward this man,” Biden said today.

Fighting raged across Ukraine, in the war’s fifth week. Ukrainian forces appeared to make gains in the northeast, and Russia continued its assault on the southern port city of Mariupol. Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, said his country was “ready” to discuss adopting neutral status, as diplomats from the two countries were scheduled to arrive in Turkey today for talks.

2. Biden proposed a $5.8 trillion budget, including additional military spending and higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

The request reframes his domestic agenda on center-leaning issues that are worrying voters, like affordable housing, anti-gun violence initiatives and investments to combat inflation. Biden proposed that households worth more than $100 million pay a rate of at least 20 percent on their income as well as on unrealized gains in the value of their liquid assets.

The budget also seeks additional funding to help combat the international crisis created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden’s request includes $813.3 billion in national security spending, an increase of $31 billion from 2022.

3. Israel, the U.S. and four Arab nations concluded a groundbreaking summit.

The first Arab-Israeli summit held on Israeli soil reflected a rapid reorganization of diplomatic ties. Representatives discussed the war in Ukraine, Washington’s importance in the Middle East and the possibility of a sovereign Palestinian state.

The diplomats seemed united on one topic: security threats from Iran or its proxies. For Israel, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and the U.A.E., the summit was a chance to express concerns about a U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement that appeared close.

The meetings were a disappointment for many Palestinians, who saw them as a betrayal by parts of the Arab world.

4. Donald Trump most likely committed felonies in trying to overturn the 2020 election, a federal judge ruled.

“The illegality of the plan was obvious,” wrote Judge David O. Carter of the Central District of California. The comments are a significant breakthrough for the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, which had laid out in a civil filing the crimes it believed the former president might have committed as it weighs making a criminal referral to the Justice Department.

The law, often called “Don’t Say Gay” by its critics, allows parents to opt out of mental health services for their children and to sue school districts for perceived violations. It has drawn national condemnation from L.G.B.T.Q. organizations that fear it will have a chilling effect. DeSantis, a Republican, argued that “woke” critics are willfully misconstruing its provisions, though some are vague and subject to interpretation.

Widespread opposition has only made DeSantis, who clearly harbors presidential ambitions, more of a warrior figure to his base. After DeSantis signed the bill, Disney released a statement saying that its “goal as a company is for this law to be repealed by the legislature or struck down by the courts.”

6. Senator Joe Manchin’s ties to a West Virginia coal plant made him wealthy. His actions in public office made sure it kept running.

Manchin, a Democrat who has served as one of West Virginia’s senators since 2010, has supplied a low-grade coal mixed with rock and clay (known as “gob”) to a plant in Grant Town, W.Va., for 20 years. While gob’s lack of efficiency has cost the state’s residents millions of dollars, it has turned Manchin into a millionaire many times over.

A Times investigation shows that at every level of Manchin’s political career his official actions have benefited his financial interest in the plant. Now, as a pivotal vote in the Senate, Manchin has blocked legislation that would speed the country’s transition to renewable energy and away from fossil fuels.

7. When the police can’t afford to solve cold cases, the “GoFundMe generation” can.

Authorities around the country have sought to test out the relatively new technique of combing through consumer genetic databases to triangulate a suspect’s identity. But the method is often too expensive.

To fill the gap, a growing cohort of amateur DNA detectives have donated at least a million dollars to companies that process the genetic material. Fueled by the popularity of true crime podcasts and a proliferation of genealogical databases, these donors could usher in a world in which few crimes go unsolved — but only if society is willing to accept, and fund, DNA dragnets.

Critics are concerned about the constitutional privacy issues raised by the searches, particularly for those people who haven’t taken DNA tests, and that private funding of DNA searches will unfairly favor some cases over others.

8. The slap heard around the world.

At the Academy Awards ceremony last night, where “CODA” from Apple TV+ won the Oscar for best picture — a first for a streaming service — an unscripted onstage altercation between Will Smith and Chris Rock stole the show.

After Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Smith strode onstage and slapped him. Reactions to the incident continued to be the talk of Hollywood today. Shortly after, Smith won the best actor Oscar for his performance in “King Richard” as the coach and father of the tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams.

Jessica Chastain won best actress for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” her first Oscar. And in an otherwise rough night for Netflix, Jane Campion won for directing the streaming service’s “The Power of the Dog” — the first time best director has gone to a woman in back-to-back years.

In the other crucial part of the event, a new generation changed the red-carpet rules.

9. Two women’s Final Four spots remain. They will be decided tonight.

UConn will play North Carolina State at 7 p.m. Eastern time, in a matchup between one of basketball’s biggest powerhouse programs and a No. 1 seed that has been working to return to the Final Four for decades. No. 3 Michigan will then face off against No. 1 Louisville. Both sides are looking to prove that they belong.

On the men’s side, Kansas and Villanova punched their tickets to the Final Four with wins over the weekend. North Carolina defeated No. 15 St. Peter’s, and will now play its archrival Duke for the first time in tournament history.

In other sports news, the Buffalo Bills reached a deal with New York State to help the team build a new $1.4 billion stadium adjacent to its current home, using $850 million in taxpayer funds.

10. And finally, some Wisconsin front yards are for the bees.

As spring begins to warm the Midwest, many households in Appleton, Wis., will not be taking out their lawn mowers. Instead they will take part in the city’s third annual No Mow May, when they will allow plants typically identified as weeds to flower in their lawns.

The goal is to help save bees, which are facing catastrophic declines across much of North America, partly because of habitat loss.

Over the last two years, advocates have helped spread the idea across Wisconsin. The efforts may be paying off: A rusty patched bumble bee, an endangered species, was spotted for the first time at an Appleton home last year.

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