5 things to know for March 14: Ukraine, Covid-19, LGBTQ rights, Gas prices, Instagram

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1. Ukraine

More than 2.5 million Ukrainians have fled their country since Russia launched its invasion, according to the latest data from the UN. Intense shelling hit heavily populated areas and critical infrastructure yesterday, including a military base near the city of Lviv, which is close to the Polish border, killing 35 people and leaving more than 130 in the hospital. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was only a matter of time before Russia’s military assault expands to members of NATO unless the alliance installs a no-fly zone over his country. NATO, however, said a no-fly zone over Ukraine is not an option because it will escalate the conflict even further. Separately, Russia has asked China for military assistance, including drones, a senior US official said yesterday. The official described the development as “concerning” and warned there will “absolutely be consequences” for Beijing if it gives the Kremlin a workaround to US sanctions. China has denied receiving the request from Russia. Additional Ukrainian-Russian talks are set to resume today via video. Follow CNN’s full coverage of Russia’s attack on Ukraine here.

2. Covid-19

People will need a fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine to help fend off another wave of the pandemic, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said yesterday. Protection after three doses is “not that good against infections” and “does not last very long” when faced with a variant like Omicron, Bourla said. Some immunocompromised people who’ve had three doses of the Pfizer or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines can already get a fourth dose, according to the CDC. But it’s not clear if or when the FDA might authorize the fourth Covid-19 dose for healthy teens and adults. Currently, only 2% of the US population – about 7 million people – lives in a county with “high” Covid-19 community levels. The rest are at “low” or “medium” community levels, areas where there’s no recommendation for masking for most people.

3. LGBTQ rights

Sixty-five companies, including tech giants Apple and Google, signed an open letter calling on the governor of Texas to abandon anti-LGBTQ + initiatives. The letter included a scathing critique of Gov. Greg Abbott’s order to investigate gender-affirming surgical procedures and treatments in children. In February, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared such procedures and treatments, including prescribing drugs that affect puberty, to be considered “child abuse.” The companies fired back at Texas officials Friday, calling the move unaligned with their company values. Separately in Florida, a bill that would ban certain instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom is awaiting the signature of Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

4. Gas prices

A gallon of gas costs more than it ever has – and experts say the price increases won’t be stopping any time soon. The average price for a gallon of gas is $ 4.33, which is higher than it was in 2008 when it was $ 4.11. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is still a big factor in the gas-price spike – among other reasons – even though the US barely uses Russian oil. The problem at hand is that Russia is one of the world’s biggest oil suppliers and lower supply affects global prices. In response, the Biden administration is quietly eyeing Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to offset surging oil prices. For that to happen, US officials will have to address severely strained relationships between the Biden administration and both countries.

5. Instagram

Instagram users in Russia could no longer access the social media platform as of midnight yesterday after its owner Meta Platforms said last week it would allow users in Ukraine to post messages such as “Death to the Russian invaders.” The company said it would be wrong to prevent Ukrainians from “expressing their resistance and fury at the invading military forces.” The decision was met by outrage in Russia, where authorities have opened a criminal investigation against Meta and prosecutors asked a court to designate the US tech giant as an “extremist organization.” The head of Instagram has said the block will affect 80 million users. Russia has already banned Facebook in the country in response to what it said were restrictions on access to Russian media on the platform.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Tom Brady announces his NFL comeback

Brady is back! The legendary quarterback is on the hunt for another Super Bowl ring after spending 40 days in retirement.

Critics Choice Awards 2022

Lee Jung-jae, no. 456 in “Squid Game,” was deemed No. 1 last night, winning best actor in a drama series. Check out more Critics Choice winners here.

British Academy Film Awards 2022

It was a star-studded evening across the pond too. Here are celebs that won at the BAFTAs yesterday.

Climbers hold the world’s highest tea party on Mount Everest

For safe-TEA reasons, that is not the best place to have a party. Just saying.

Rare Pokémon card sells for $ 336,000

This is your sign to check your garage for those old Pokémon cards from the ’90s. They’ve made a comeback and have sparked a sales frenzy.

IN MEMORIAM

William Hurt, Oscar winner and star of “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “The Big Chill” and “Broadcast News” has died. He was 71. Hurt died “peacefully, among family, of natural causes,” his family said in a statement obtained by Variety. Along with three additional Oscar nominations, Hurt was nominated for two Emmys and six Golden Globes throughout his career.

TODAY’S NUMBER

40

That’s about how many pounds of powdered dye were used to turn the Chicago River bright green on Saturday in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. The tradition started in 1962 with a dye plumbers used to test for leaks in pipes. Now, the city uses a more environmentally friendly powder made from vegetables.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“I’ve had a scratchy throat for a couple days, but am feeling fine otherwise.”

– Former President Barack Obama, announcing yesterday that he has tested positive for Covid-19. Obama also said that his wife, former lady Michelle Obama, has tested negative. Both Obamas are vaccinated and boosted, the former President said in a statement.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here >>>

AND FINALLY

Meet the “Mother of Sharks”

This professional diver has spent years in the Bahamas gaining the trust of sharks. Watch them swim right up to her as she pets them like they’re dogs! (Click here to view)

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