By Alexandra Meeks, CNN
America, the “land of the free,” is getting quite costly. Prices for gas, food and housing — which are all necessary expenses — are spiking across the country. Gas prices have risen 38% over the past year, and rising prices in pandemic-related sectors, such as travel and dining, are also expected as the US recovers from the Omicron wave of Covid-19. Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
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Major cities in Ukraine were attacked by Russian forces today as evacuations continue in several parts of the country. More than 100,000 people have been evacuated in the past two days as the threat of Russian bomb strikes remains an ongoing concern for Ukrainians. Russia has been using its neighbor Belarus as a springboard for many of its air operations in Ukraine, but the Russian army appears to be facing difficulties on the ground, “particularly in the logistical field and in the field of intelligence,” a French military spokesman said. In the US, patience is running thin on Capitol Hill, with Republicans — and even some Democrats — challenging the Biden administration to go further to help Ukraine. Sources say President Joe Biden plans to announce today that the US, along with the G7 and European Union, will call for revoking “most favored nation” status for Russia — a retraction of permanent normal trade relations.
Want to help? Learn how to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine here. CNN’s audience has contributed more than $4.1 million to the humanitarian relief work according to Public Good, the online donation platform partnering with CNN.
Today marks two years since the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic. Since then, official reports through the end of 2021 show that 6 million people worldwide have died directly because of Covid-19. But researchers estimate in a new study that the global pandemic death toll is actually three times higher than that figure. Some of this excess mortality may have been missed in official counts due to the lack of diagnostic or reporting resources, the study says. As for masking, most counties across the US have rolled back requirements or lifted mandates in some form. Only 2% of Americans — about 7 million people — live in a county where the CDC still recommends universal indoor masking.
The lockout is over. Major League Baseball and the players union yesterday reached a deal on a new collective bargaining agreement, ending the first league work stoppage since the players went on strike in 1994. With spring training camps set to open Sunday, the deal ends a nearly 100-day lockout. At issue were disagreements over how to distribute an estimated $11 billion in annual revenue. Owners have said they have been battered by shrinking attendance, and players — particularly those who are not among the stars of the league — have seen salaries decline in recent years. Some of the key components of the new agreement include significant increases to minimum salaries and an expanded postseason, according to the players’ union. In light of the deal, MLB tweeted a video with the words, “Let the fun begin!” Opening Day is April 7.
4. North Korea
North Korea’s ongoing weapons tests — two of which recently involved intercontinental ballistic missiles — is a “serious escalation” by Pyongyang and its leader Kim Jong Un, US officials say. The two ballistic missile tests conducted on February 26 and March 4 were not intended to demonstrate the range or capability of these high power weapons, but were “likely to evaluate this new system before conducting a test at full range in the future, potentially disguised as a space launch,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement yesterday. In response, Japanese and South Korean leaders today agreed to boost ties with the US to tackle North Korea.
In a temporary change to hate speech policies on Facebook and Instagram, both platforms are allowing users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion, according to internal emails seen by Reuters. Meta, the parent company of both platforms, said “temporary allowances” are being made “for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.'” Meta is also allowing some posts that call for death to Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in countries including Russia, Ukraine and Poland, according to the internal emails. But the platforms won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians, a Meta spokesperson told CNN.
Manhattan rents rise to an all-time high
We all know The Big Apple has a big price tag. But now, “pandemic deals” have been replaced by bidding wars.
Rare wolverine sighting in Yellowstone was captured on video
Yes, they’re dangerous predators… so thankfully, this one kept its distance.
Alicia Keys shares the inspiration behind her new graphic novel
She’s a Grammy-winning musician, talented actress, busy mom, and now — budding novelist. We love a multifaceted queen.
Amanda Bynes speaks out as she seeks to end her conservatorship
Four months after a judge ended Britney Spears’ 13-year conservatorship, the former “All That” actress is hoping for the same outcome.
Over 2.5 million students were current users of tobacco products in 2021
A new survey details the alarming popularity of flavored tobacco products and disposable vapes among high schoolers and pre-teens.
What global holiday was celebrated this week?
A. International Pizza Day
B. International Flag Day
C. International Women’s Day
D. International Climate Day
Take CNN’s weekly news quiz see if you’re correct!
Emilio Delgado, who spent more than 40 years entertaining generations of children playing the Fix-It Shop owner Luis on “Sesame Street,” has died. He was 81. Delgado was “a beloved member of the Sesame family” and “proudly laid claim to the ‘record for the longest-running role for a Mexican-American in a TV series,'” Sesame Workshop told CNN.
That’s approximately the percentage of the continental US currently in drought, according to the US Drought Monitor. In the last month alone, the figure jumped from 55% to more than 61%, an increase of nearly 170,000 square miles, an area larger than the size of California.
“This is a bill in search of a problem that we don’t have. This is politically driven. This is designed to create division.”
–Florida Democratic state Sen. Audrey Gibson, on a Republican-backed bill that would ban public schools and private businesses in Florida from instructing that someone “must feel guilt or anguish” for their race or sex. The measure would also prohibit instruction that says certain races or sexes are privileged or oppressed. The crackdown on certain teachings about race in Florida is part of a national effort by Republicans to remove critical race theory from school curricula, even where it doesn’t exist. The legislation passed the GOP-controlled state Senate and now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, where he is expected to sign it.
Cruise into the weekend
Happy Friday! It’s almost time to put your foot on the brakes after this busy week! Check out the world record-holder for the longest car in the world. (Click here to view)
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