5 Things to know for March 17: Ukraine, Classified docs, Taxes, Pandemic, France
By Alexandra Meeks, CNN
The world will look a bit greener today as many people wear the color to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. In the US and other countries, the holiday is mainly thought of as a celebration of Irish pride -- but, interestingly, St. Patrick wasn't actually Irish.
Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
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Chinese leader Xi Jinping will visit Moscow next week for the first time since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Beijing and the Kremlin confirmed today. The trip will mark a new milestone in the countries' growing partnership, as Western officials continue to express concerns that China may be considering providing Russia with lethal military assistance. According to a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, the visit is to "urge peace and promote talks." But China's effort to present itself as a neutral peace broker on Ukraine has been met with skepticism in Western capitals due to Beijing's growing partnership with Moscow. China has both provided diplomatic support for Moscow and refused to condemn Russia's attack on Ukraine -- instead blaming NATO for provoking the conflict.
2. Classified documents
Dozens of staff members at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence have been subpoenaed to testify on the former president's handling of classified documents. The special counsel in the classified documents probe has sought testimony from a range of people close to Trump -- from his own attorneys who represent him in the matter to staffers who work on the grounds of his Florida estate, including a housekeeper and restaurant servers, sources said. This comes as the Justice Department has spent much of the past year investigating the potential mishandling of national security records and possible obstruction. FBI agents recovered more than 100 classified documents during a search of Mar-a-Lago last summer. Since then, Trump's legal team has turned over additional classified material.
3. Tax season
Unlike the past two tax-filing seasons, this year appears to be going relatively smoothly, tax preparers say. "After a few years of pandemic-related updates, mid-tax season IRS guidance, last-minute tax law changes and more, the 'quiet' is a welcome change to many," the National Association of Tax Preparers said in a statement. More returns are being processed and more refunds are being issued than at the same point last year, new statistics from the IRS indicate. However, the average refund this year, as expected, is smaller -- down 11% to $3,028 because pandemic-relief measures that boosted refunds have expired. If you haven't filed your taxes, you still have about a month: This year's official due date for returns is Tuesday, April 18.
Advisers to the FDA voted 16-1 on Thursday for full approval of Paxlovid, stating that the drug's benefits outweigh any risks for treatment of mild to moderate Covid-19 in high-risk adults. More than 8 million people in the US have received Paxlovid since it became available under emergency use authorization in 2021. Before Paxlovid is fully approved, the FDA -- which typically follows the recommendations of its advisory committee -- must conduct its own review. That is expected to wrap up in May. Separately, questions remain about how the pandemic may have affected maternal mortality in the US. Experts say the US' maternal mortality crisis was compounded by Covid-19, which led to a "dramatic" increase in deaths.
Protests are escalating in France today after the government recently announced it would force a higher retirement age from 62 to 64. French President Emmanuel Macron will trigger special constitutional powers to enact the proposed pension reform bill, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced Thursday in the National Assembly, which had not yet voted on the proposal. Labor leaders in France called for new demonstrations following Borne's announcement, with several thousand protesters converging at Paris' Place de la Concorde and in several other cities Thursday evening. Massive protests have been held regularly throughout France since mid-January, with millions turning out to voice their opposition to the government's plan.
Cute girl with 'snarly smile' wins over the internet
This toddler received a lesson on "how to smile" after her adorable grimace became the focus of her family photos. Watch the video here.
Taylor Swift's Eras Tour begins this weekend
The pop star's first tour in five years kicks off Saturday in Glendale, Arizona. In advance of the tour, Swift also unveiled four unreleased songs.
Former President Barack Obama shares his March Madness brackets
Obama, a devoted basketball fan, posted his predictions for this year's men's and women's NCAA tournaments.
The world's greatest places of 2023, according to TIME
Looking for some travel inspo? Consider adding some of these stunning destinations to your bucket list.
Dunkin' is retiring a fan-favorite drink
Say goodbye to the Dunkaccino, for now. The coffee chain has quietly pulled the popular drink from its menus, ending a more than two-decade run.
Which fruit holds the top spot on the Dirty Dozen list of nonorganic produce with the most pesticides?
Take CNN's weekly news quiz here to see if you're correct!
That's how many plastic water bottles are sold every minute around the world, according to a new report. The fast-growing bottle industry, however, is creating a gargantuan amount of plastic waste -- most of which is not recycled and ends up in landfills.
"The government, along with our international partners, is concerned about the way in which this data may be used."
-- An announcement from the United Kingdom, banning TikTok from official government devices on Thursday. The move follows similar restrictions imposed by the US and other countries over how the social media platform could access users' personal data. TikTok expressed disappointment at the decision, saying in a statement that the recent bans "have been based on fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics."
A virtual vacation to Dublin
In honor of St, Patrick's Day, watch this short video to experience the beauty of Dublin, Ireland. (Click here to view)
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