5 things to know for March 12: Stimulus, Covid-19, state laws, Myanmar, George Floyd

Here's what you need to know to get up to speed and on with your day
5 Things You Need To Know

1. Stimulus

President Biden signed into law the sweeping $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package yesterday, putting to rest months of Congressional rancor and debate. Americans could start seeing those much-awaited $1,400 stimulus payments as early as this weekend. In addition to direct payments, the package’s key measures are predicted to slash the poverty rate by about a third through enhanced food stamp benefits, housing and unemployment assistance, and reliable streams of income for struggling families and workers. The bill passed with no Republican support, and now Congressional Democrats are settling in for a period of internal clashes as they take on the next big items on Biden’s agenda, from shoring up infrastructure to tackling the climate crisis and immigration issues.

2. Coronavirus

Things may be looking up in the Covid-19 fight, but experts warn that tens of thousands more people in the US will die before we get to a recovery phase — perhaps reaching a pandemic total of 598,000 by July 1, according to one prominent model. The figure has risen from previous forecasts due to declining mask use and more contagious variants. Biden took the stage for his first prime-time speech to the nation yesterday, asking Americans to do their part to keep coronavirus dangers at bay. He also directed all states to open vaccination opportunities to all adults by May 1. If all goes well, he said, the nation could start to be back to normal by the July 4 holiday. Even then, one vaccine expert predicts that if we don’t reach a high rate of herd immunity, we could risk another outbreak in the winter.

3. State laws

Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has signed the first statewide anti-trans law of 2021. The law bans transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports in the state’s public schools and colleges. Similar bills are percolating in other statehouses, with one now on the desk of South Dakota’s GOP governor. The bans are considered discriminatory by LGBTQ activists, who have likened them to the so-called “bathroom bills” of a few years ago. In Arizona, another type of controversial legislation is gaining steam in the form of a handful of bills that would restrict voting access in the state. More than 250 similar bills are in circulation nationwide, spurred on by Republican legislators in response to false claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election.

4. Myanmar

More people are dying in Myanmar every day as the military junta in control there tries to crack down on peaceful protests. In the small town of Myaing, police shot into a crowd, killing at least eight and leaving the streets streaked with blood. A top UN official has said the situation is “likely meeting the legal threshold for crimes against humanity.” The UN special rapporteur for human rights in Myanmar called on UN member states to stop the flow of revenue and weapons to the junta, saying multilateral sanctions should be imposed on parties responsible for the coup and ensuing violence. More than 2,000 people have been arbitrarily detained since the coup, according to one advocacy group, and the whereabouts of many of them are unknown.

5. George Floyd

Ex-Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin now faces an additional murder charge in the death of George Floyd after a state judge reinstated a count of third-degree murder. Sometimes called “depraved mind” or “depraved heart” murder, third-degree murder generally applies to a case in which a person does something eminently dangerous to others without regard for human life. The added charge provides another potential pathway to conviction in the high-profile case. Chauvin is already facing charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty to all three charges. Chauvin was the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck during an attempted arrest in Minneapolis last spring. Jury selection began this week in his trial. Three other officers also face charges in connection with Floyd’s death.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Netflix may start cracking down on password sharing 

Take away password sharing, and you’ll find out pretty quickly who your real friends are.

Canoo unveils what might be the world’s cutest electric pickup

Beep beep, it’s got places to go and things to haul!

‘Bridgerton’ fans can watch Regé-Jean Page read a bedtime story

FOR CHILDREN. The bedtime story is for children. (OK, and parents.)

The Ikea catalog is now a podcast, with a narrator reading out products and descriptions

Genuinely thrilled to find out how “Djungelskog” and “Poäng” are properly pronounced.

Stolen 400-pound playground slide found in a child’s bedroom

Just one question … how?!?! 

TODAY’S NUMBER

$69,346,250

That’s how much the first virtual Non-Fungible Token (NFT) artwork just sold for at auction. The sale of “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” a collection of photos, has brought more attention to NFT works, including digital art, GIFs and even tweets, which have sold for millions of dollars.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“All people are saying is just, ‘Throw them back into the building.’ Well, I would love for your child to come back. I just don’t want to die coming home to do it.”

Pam Gaddy, who as a teacher and a parent feels the tug and pull of the debate over reopening schools a year into the Covid-19 pandemic. CNN also unpacks the emotional issue in a special report, “Back to School: Kids, Covid and the Fight to Reopen,” with Jake Tapper tonight at 9 ET.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

The manatees are just as excited as you are 

Glide into the weekend on a clear kayak, complete with some very adorable spectators. (Click here to view.)