5 things to know for April 1: Ukraine, Oil and gas, LGBTQ rights, Covid, North Korea
(CNN) — Last month saw the most tornadoes ever recorded in March in the US, and it was the second record-breaking March in a row. In general, scientists are seeing more severe weather earlier in the year, and yes, climate change is likely a factor.
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About 100,000 people remain trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol in Ukraine, and local leaders say Russian forces are not allowing aid supplies inside. A Ukrainian official said some evacuation buses heading to Mariupol were held at a Russian checkpoint and 14 tons of humanitarian aid bound for the city were confiscated by Russian troops. In addition to suspicions that Russia is regrouping its forces in neighboring Belarus, British intelligence suggests Russian troops are also being redeployed from the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Negotiations between Ukraine and Russia resume today, but Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, says he has a “very, very small portion of optimism” after apparently fruitless talks earlier this week in Istanbul.
2. Oil and gas
The International Energy Agency is planning to hold an emergency meeting today to discuss ways to stabilize oil markets — possibly following suit with President Joe Biden’s decision to release millions of barrels of oil from emergency reserves. Oil prices dropped sharply after Biden’s announcement yesterday, but even the release of a million barrels a day would only cover about a third of lost production from Russia. Industry experts warn that gas prices could still hit new highs in the US this spring and summer. Biden also announced plans yesterday to ramp up domestic production of minerals needed to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles and long-term energy storage. The hope is that by doing so, the US can lessen its dependence on fossil fuels — and be less vulnerable to wild swings in oil prices during international conflicts.
3. LGBTQ rights
Florida’s controversial law, which is dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, is already inviting feuds and fallout. After the bill was signed into law, the Walt Disney Company wrote in a statement that its “goal” was to get the law repealed or defeated in the courts. Disney is Florida’s largest private employer, and had come under pressure to speak out about the measure. Now, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signaled support for a Republican-led effort to repeal a 55-year-old provision that allows the entertainment company to operate as an independent government around its Orlando-area theme park. Former Disney CEO Bob Iger joined voices condemning the law, telling Chris Wallace on CNN+ that it’s not political, “it’s about right and wrong.” Two LGBTQ rights advocacy groups, joined by students, parents and a teacher, have already filed the first federal lawsuit challenging the new rule.
Republicans have struck an “agreement in principle” with Democrats on a $10 billion package to provide further pandemic relief, according to GOP Sen. Mitt Romney. The White House has been appealing to Congress to pass more funding, saying the administration doesn’t have the money to purchase monoclonal antibody therapies, vaccines, and more tests — as well as reimburse providers and provide personal protection equipment. The $10 billion price tag is about half of what the White House was seeking. Some Democrats say the deal is a little farther afield than Romney has suggested. Meanwhile, another bipartisan group of senators is trying to extend pandemic school meal waivers that gave federal funds and flexibilities to provide free food to more kids and to cope with supply chain and labor issues.
5. North Korea
The US and its allies are growing concerned that North Korea may be making preparations for an underground nuclear test for the first time since 2017. North Korea has recently resumed digging tunnels and other construction activities at its underground nuclear test site, officials say. The US intelligence community estimates North Korea could be ready to conduct a nuclear test this year, a concern heightened by the country’s recent demonstration of a missile that could potentially reach the US. The Defense Department is currently considering military responses to that missile test, which could include flying bombers or sailing warships in the region, or beefing up exercises and training in concert with regional allies like Japan and South Korea.
NFL changes playoff overtime rule after Kansas City Chiefs vs Buffalo Bills thriller
AT LAST, a deep sports injustice has been righted.
Skippy is recalling 161,692 pounds of peanut butter
That amounts to a “limited number” of about 9,000 cases, which serves as a reminder that peanut butter is very heavy. (Still though, check your pantry.)
Ikea will pay you to get its old furniture back
You will have to pry this Kallax from my cold, dead hands.
‘Game of Thrones’ prequel ‘House of the Dragon’ will premiere this summer
Are we ready to be hurt again, GOT fans? Yes, yes we are.
A Japanese ‘killing stone,’ said to contain an evil 9-tailed fox spirit, has split in two
Will Smith and Chris Rock made headlines when Smith struck Rock during the Academy Awards ceremony Sunday. Smith later won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role. What movie did he star in to win the award?
A. “King Richard”
B. “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
D. “The Power of the Dog”
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French fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier, who was best known as Princess Diana’s personal photographer and for his iconic images of some of the 20th century’s most glamorous women, died yesterday at the age of 78, according to a statement posted to his official Instagram account. No cause of death was specified. In a statement to CNN, New York’s Staley-Wise Gallery, which represents Demarchelier’s work, described him as “a brilliant photographer who had an extraordinary sense of classic and elegant style — certainly the best of his generation.”
“There is no room for employers who do not secure the freedom and safety of World Cup workers. No room for leaders that cannot host the women’s game. No room for hosts that cannot legally guarantee the safety and respect of LGBTQ+ people coming to this theater of dreams. FIFA must set the tone and lead.”
Norway’s FA President Lise Klaveness, who delivered a speech at FIFA’s 72nd annual Congress criticizing the decision to allow Qatar to host the World Cup despite various controversies.
Weekend craft, anyone?
My toxic trait is thinking I could make stained glass just like these artists, who use centuries-old techniques to reproduce a masterpiece. (Click here to view)
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