5 things to know for February 18: Ukraine, Covid-19, Winter storm, Trump, Immigration

Here is what you need to know for today
Originally Published: 18 FEB 22 06:43 ET
Updated: 18 FEB 22 06:51 ET

(CNN) — Let’s check in on your New Year’s resolutions. Behavioral scientists say most of these goals lose steam and fail by mid-March, so it may be time for a reboot! On Monday, we’re celebrating President’s Day — and resetting too — so we’ll see you again on Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Ukraine

As the world awaits Russia’s next move along the border of Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Moscow is laying the groundwork to justify starting a war, and is preparing to launch an attack in the coming days. During a tense United Nations Security Council meeting yesterday, Blinken said US intelligence shows that Russia is “moving towards an imminent invasion” and is not withdrawing troops, despite Moscow’s claims. Blinken’s comments followed President Joe Biden’s blunt warning that he believed an attack would happen “within the next several days.” Russia has repeatedly dismissed the notion that it is preparing to attack Ukraine as “baseless accusations.” The crisis in Ukraine rattled investors in the US yesterday, sending the Dow down 622 points — the worst loss of the year for the index.

2. Coronavirus

A subvariant of Omicron known as BA.2 is spreading fast and may cause severe disease, research from Japan suggests. New lab experiments show BA.2 is capable of thwarting some of the key weapons we have against Covid-19, including being able to escape the immunity created by vaccines. It also appears to be resistant to some monoclonal antibody treatments currently being used to fight Omicron. BA.2 is highly mutated when compared with the original virus that emerged in Wuhan, China. It has been detected in 74 countries and 47 US states, and about 4% of Americans with Covid-19 now have infections caused by BA.2, according to data from the CDC.

3. Winter storm

A winter storm is moving through the Northeast US today as more than 90 million people remain under high wind advisories. Heavy snow and rain are wreaking havoc across a span of at least 1,000 miles stretching from Alabama to Maine, creating dangerous conditions for ground and air travel. Areas from the Great Lakes to northern New England can expect even more snow and a treacherous icy wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain today, the National Weather Service says. Alabama has already seen damage, where the rooftop of a BP gas station appeared to have been blown over. Gusty winds and reduced visibility have also created a traffic nightmare in some areas, including Illinois, where a 100-vehicle pileup shut down a 30-mile stretch of snowy highway.

4. Trump business

Former President Donald Trump, as well as his children Ivanka and Donald Jr., must sit for depositions in the New York attorney general’s investigation into their business practices, New York Supreme Court Judge Arthur Engoron ruled yesterday. The judge also rejected an attempt to freeze the work of Attorney General Letitia James, who is investigating whether Trump misled lenders, insurers or others in his family business’ financial statements. Trump argues that sitting for testimony in the civil investigation would undermine his family’s constitutional rights, but the judge expressed skepticism towards those claims. That argument “completely misses the mark,” Engoron said, noting that the Trumps have the right to refuse to answer specific questions in the civil probe, as Eric Trump did when he sat for a previous deposition.

5. Immigration

The Biden administration plans to roll out a new rule that aims to eliminate hurdles for immigrants using public benefits and for those seeking legal status. The Trump administration had previously modified the decades-old “public charge” rule in a way that made it more difficult for individuals to obtain legal status. Under the new proposed rule, the Department of Homeland Security would consider benefits, like cash assistance for income maintenance and some other services, a government expense, according to a notice sent to Congress. Separately, more than 100 congressional Democrats have urged President Joe Biden to review the “disparate treatment of Black migrants” throughout the immigration system and end the public health order that allows authorities to turn away migrants at the US southern border.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

A new update will let you unlock your iPhone while wearing a mask

I’m siri-ously excited about this one. The geniuses at Apple are also working on full incognito mode where you can keep your mask and sunglasses on.

Victoria’s Secret campaign features first model with Down syndrome

Puerto Rican model Sofia Jirau appeared alongside 17 other women in the company’s latest diversity campaign. Congrats to all the trailblazing models!

More than 7% of American adults identify as LGBTQ

Progress for the Pride movement. The stigma surrounding LGBTQ identities is on the decline and more US adults are self-identifying now than at any time in the past decade, according to a new poll.

Giant strawberry sets Guinness World Record

Let’s get ready to rumble! In the heavyweight division, weighing in at 10 ounces and an impressive 7 inches long is… the world’s heaviest strawberry!

Austin Butler transforms into Elvis Presley in a new biopic

Prepare to be “all shook up” by this rockin’ movie trailer.

HAPPENING LATER

Former police officer Kim Potter is due back in court later today to be sentenced in the death of Daunte Wright. Prosecutors are seeking more than seven years in prison for Potter, who said she mistakenly drew her gun instead of her Taser when she fatally shot Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop in April 2021. She was convicted in December of first- and second-degree manslaughter.

QUIZ TIME

Instead of our regular weekly news quiz, we have a special Presidents’ Day quiz ahead of Monday’s holiday! How well do you know your presidential trivia? Let’s find out!

Question: Which state has produced the most US presidents?

A. Illinois

B. Texas

C. New York

D. Virginia

Take CNN’s Presidents’ Day quiz to see if you’re correct!

OLYMPICS UPDATE

China’s freeski sensation Eileen Gu won her second gold medal of the Beijing Winter Olympics today, becoming the first freestyle skier to bag three medals at a single Games.

Follow the latest news and highlights from the Winter Olympics here.

TODAY’S NUMBER

22

That’s how many crew members were forced to abandon a cargo ship loaded with luxury cars after it caught fire in the middle of the Atlantic this week. The ship, which is carrying Porsches and Volkswagens, was headed from Germany to Rhode Island. While the entire crew was safely rescued, the future of the cars remains highly uncertain. The ship’s owners have arranged for a tow as it continues to burn, and customers awaiting their new vehicles are being contacted by their dealerships.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“This isn’t a partisan issue — it’s about keeping critical government agencies that millions of people rely on up and running.”

— Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, tweeting about the passage of a stopgap bill that averted a government shutdown ahead of today’s deadline when government funding was set to expire. Shaheen and other senators said they were pleased with the passage of the bill, but urged passage of a full-year spending bill as soon as possible. Government funding is now extended through March 11.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

Happy Friday! Time to wine down for the weekend.

Today is National Drink Wine Day! Consider pouring a glass of your favorite red or white later (if you’re of legal age.) In the meantime, enjoy this video about where wine corks come from. (Click here to view)

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