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5 things to know for March 23: Ukraine, Supreme Court, Tornado damage, Covid, Disney

By Alexandra Meeks, CNN

Millions of workers in the US who earn less than $15 an hour are finding it impossible to stay afloat as prices for essentials like groceries and gas reach record highs. That’s why some advocates are now pleading with Congress to raise the federal minimum wage, which hasn’t seen a boost in almost 13 years.

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Ukraine

As Ukrainian forces aggressively fight to take back their territory, President Joe Biden will depart for Europe today on one of the highest-stakes presidential trips in recent memory to rally the West at a pivotal moment for Ukraine — and his presidency. At the emergency summits in Brussels, US and NATO allies will focus on ways to continue cracking down on Russia while providing support to Ukraine. For Biden, the talks are also a venue to demonstrate the foreign policy credentials he promised as a candidate, when he vowed to restore American leadership and repair broken alliances. While there, Biden is expected to announce additional sanctions on Russia, but so far, the measures seem to have done little to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia is now refusing to rule out the possibility of using nuclear weapons, and their troops have begun firing on the city of Mariupol from ships in the Sea of Azov, according to a senior US defense official.

2. Supreme Court

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a third day of confirmation hearings today for Biden’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Facing Republican skepticism, Jackson — who currently sits on DC’s federal appellate court — defended her judicial record yesterday as she answered questions from lawmakers and was grilled on some sentencing decisions. Jackson also outlined what she described as her “methodology” for approaching cases. As long as Senate Democrats keep their caucus unified behind Jackson, they will have the 50 votes they need for her confirmation. If confirmed, Jackson will fill Justice Stephen Breyer’s upcoming vacancy and become the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.

3. Tornado damage

The storm system that spawned deadly tornadoes across Texas and Louisiana earlier this week will continue to push east today, leaving a large swath of the country under the threat of more severe weather. Search and rescue teams were combing through debris and damaged neighborhoods in the New Orleans area overnight after a tornado slammed the region yesterday, killing at least one person. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said state and local agencies are working together to assess the damage. On Monday, the same storm system brought 25 tornadoes to Texas, including two that may have damaged about 1,000 homes. A tornado watch has been issued today for parts of Alabama and Florida, where quarter-size hail and gusts up to 70 mph are possible, officials said.

4. Coronavirus

Scientists are searching for a test to help people measure their current levels of immunity against Covid-19. This comes as millions of Americans — not just those with weakened immune systems — are wondering about their protection after enduring a winter of booster shots and Omicron infections. Some doctors currently use tests that measure antibodies as a way to check immune protection in people who are immunocompromised. But not all antibodies are created the same. Of all the antibodies that the body may make after infection or vaccination, only a fraction can actively prevent infection. About 95% of Americans 16 and older have antibodies against Covid-19 as of December, according to recent data from the CDC. Separately, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that she has tested positive for Covid-19 for a second time and is experiencing mild symptoms.

5. Disney

Disney employees staged a walkout yesterday in protest of the company’s response to Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education law, which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Several employees at Disney headquarters in Burbank, California, participated in the protest, but there did not appear to be a massive showing across the company. Earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke about the bill in a note to employees but refused to directly condemn it publicly. Instead, Chapek said Disney’s focus on continuing to tell “diverse stories” is a more appropriate response to the legislation, which prohibits teachers from discussing LGBTQ+ issues with children in third grade and below. Disney Parks posted an image of rainbow colored Mickey Mouse ears on Instagram yesterday and said they will “create experiences that support family values for every family, and will not stand for discrimination in any form.”

BREAKFAST BROWSE

One of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portraits could fetch a record $200 million at auction

This instantly recognizable work of art will soon go under the hammer! Christie’s says it is “the most significant 20th century painting to come to auction in a generation.”

This Chinese tea costs nearly $185,000 for a kilogram

Welcome to the exclusive, secretive, and luxurious world of Chinese tea. People with expensive taste (and super deep pockets) are raving about this high-end hot tea.

World No. 1 tennis player Ashleigh Barty announces retirement

Two months after winning the Australian Open women’s singles, the 25-year-old athlete said she wants “chase other dreams.”

Beyoncé and Billie Eilish are among this year’s Oscars performers

The show struggled with poor ratings last year, but with this level of star power, let’s see if viewership rebounds! Do you plan to tune in this weekend?

Want to see Yosemite in peak season?

Time to get in line. The reservation system for the busy US national park opens today.

TODAY’S NUMBER

9

That’s how many years Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been sentenced to serve in a maximum-security jail. A prominent critic of the Kremlin, Navalny has exposed corruption in the Russian government via social media. He was convicted on fraud charges over allegations that he stole from his Anti-Corruption Foundation. The latest guilty verdict handed to Navalny comes amid a growing crackdown on political dissent in Russia.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“There are consequences for those who break the rules!”

— Omar Alghabra, Canada’s minister of transport, announcing penalties up to $5,000 (about US $3,970) against some airline travelers for non-compliance with vaccination rules. The fines come after viral videos showed rowdy passengers on a flight from Canada to Mexico dancing, drinking and vaping maskless in the aisle of the aircraft.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

Limbo Roller-Skating

Check out the unbelievable strength of these limbo roller skaters. I’m quite surprised this is humanly possible… (Click here to view)

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