5 things to know for April 20: Ukraine, Covid, Immigration, Student debt, Johnny Depp

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Originally Published: 20 APR 22 06:36 ET
Updated: 20 APR 22 06:40 ET

(CNN) — The early stages of the pandemic took a massive toll on jobs, but luckily, the latest employment numbers are now offering a glimmer of hope about America’s economic recovery. Some of the most dramatic and sustained job gains in the US are occurring in the Rocky Mountain states of Utah, Idaho and Montana. The South is also emerging as another region for strong employment growth.

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1. Ukraine

Ukrainian forces have repelled numerous Russian attempted advances in the crucial Donbas region amid Moscow’s increased shelling and attacks in the area, UK defense intelligence says. Ukrainian troops are also resisting Russian attacks in the southeastern port city of Mariupol, where hundreds of civilians are sheltering in the basements of a massive steel plant. With Mariupol under heavy bombardment, officials reached an agreement with Russia today to establish a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of women, children and the elderly from the besieged city. Pressure is mounting for the US and NATO countries to provide additional military assistance, and according to senior Biden administration officials, the US is prepping another $800 million military assistance package for Ukraine. The latest package would come a week after the Biden administration authorized a separate $800 million security package.

2. Coronavirus

The Justice Department says it will appeal a court ruling that struck down the federal mask mandate for travelers — but only if the CDC determines the mandate is still necessary to protect public health. Before the ruling on Monday, the Biden administration had extended the mandate — which required masks to be worn aboard public transit, on planes, on trains and inside airports — through May 3. If there is an appeal, that would mean that the administration would head to a higher court to extend the mandate — despite the fact that many airlines and public transit systems have already decided to make masks optional following the court ruling. If you are concerned about an upcoming trip, here are some tips on how to stay safe on planes now that masks are no longer required.

3. Immigration

The Department of Homeland Security is actively preparing for an increase in migrants next month when a Trump-era pandemic restriction lifts on the US-Mexico border, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN yesterday. Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed fierce criticism about the Biden administration’s decision and are questioning how authorities plan to handle the surge in migrant crossings when the order is lifted. “We have to be very mindful of the fact that we are addressing enemies, and those enemies are the cartels and the smugglers, and I will not provide our plans to them,” Mayorkas said. Known as Title 42, the pandemic-era order allowed US border officials to turn migrants back to Mexico or their home countries immediately, citing a public health crisis.

4. Student loan debt

The Biden administration announced new actions yesterday that will help bring millions of student loan borrowers closer to receiving debt forgiveness. The latest changes will push 3.6 million borrowers at least three years closer to receiving loan forgiveness through what’s known as the income-driven repayment program, or IDR. The program also promises loan forgiveness after 20-25 years of payments are made. Thousands of borrowers will immediately see forgiveness through the IDR program after yesterday’s actions are fully implemented, according to the Department of Education. By the end of March, more than 700,000 of the 43 million federal student loan borrowers had seen their outstanding debt discharged under President Biden, totaling more than $17 billion in relief.

5. Johnny Depp

Actor Johnny Depp took the stand yesterday in his defamation case against his ex-wife Amber Heard. In his roughly three-hour testimony, which will continue later today, the Oscar-nominated star said he has never “struck any woman” in his life. He also spoke in detail about Heard’s allegations of domestic abuse and his history with substance abuse. Depp, known for his work in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, is suing Heard for $50 million in a Fairfax County, Virginia, court over a 2018 Washington Post op-ed in which she wrote about her experience with domestic abuse. Heard did not name Depp in the story, but Depp still claims the piece led to severe financial losses for him, including being dropped from future “Pirates of the Caribbean” films after he led the franchise for 15 years.


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That’s how many years in prison a 30-year-old man was sentenced to yesterday for the 2021 murder of Jacqueline Avant, a philanthropist and the wife of music icon Clarence Avant, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office announced. Aariel Maynor, who will spend the rest of his life in prison, pleaded guilty to the murder and other charges last month after breaking into Avant’s Beverly Hills home on December 1, 2021, and fatally shooting the 81-year-old. He also shot at her security guard, but the guard was not injured.


“The public have made up their mind; they don’t believe a word the prime minister says. They know what he is.”

— UK Labour leader Keir Starmer, on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s apology yesterday in which he said he didn’t know his lockdown-busting party was illegal after being fined by police. Johnson offered members of Parliament what he called a “whole-hearted apology” yesterday, as he attempted to stem the rule-dodging scandal that has derailed his premiership.


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