5 things to know before March 17: Ukraine, classified documents, taxes, pandemic, France

(CNN) The world will look a little greener today as many people wear the color to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. In the US and other countries, the holiday is mostly seen as a celebration of Irish pride — but interestingly, St. Patrick wasn’t actually Irish.

Here’s what else you need to know Get started and get on with your day.

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1. Ukraine

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 marks another milestone in the countries’ growing partnership as Western officials continue to raise concerns that China is considering providing deadly military aid to Russia. A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said the visit was intended to “press peace and promote talks”. But China’s attempt to present itself as a neutral peace broker in Ukraine has been met with skepticism in Western capitals over the growing partnership between Beijing and Moscow. China has both provided diplomatic support to Moscow and refused to condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine – instead blaming NATO for provoking the conflict.

2. Classified Documents

Dozens of staff at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence have been subpoenaed to testify about the former president’s handling of classified documents. The special counsel in the classified documents investigation has sought testimony from a range of people close to Trump — from his own attorneys representing him in the case to staffers who work on the grounds of his Florida estate, including a housekeeper. and restaurant clerks, sources said. This is because the Justice Department has spent much of the past year investigating possible mishandling of national security data 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 IRS guidance, last-minute tax code changes and more, the ‘silence’ is a welcome change for many,” the National Association of Tax Preparers said in a statement. . More returns are being processed and more refunds are being made than at the same time last year, according to new statistics from the IRS. However, the average repayment this year is smaller, as expected – down 11% to $3,028 as pandemic support measures that boosted repayments have expired. If you haven’t filed your taxes, you have about a month left: The official due date for this year’s returns is Tuesday, April 18.

4. Covid-19

FDA advisers voted 16 to 1 on Thursday for full approval of Paxlovid, declaring the drug’s benefits outweigh its risks for treating mild-to-moderate Covid-19 in high-risk adults. More than 8 million people in the US have received Paxlovid since it became available for emergency use in 2021. Before Paxlovid is fully approved, the FDA – which generally follows the recommendations of its advisory committee – must conduct its own review. That is expected to be completed in May. Separately, questions remain about how the pandemic may have affected maternal mortality in the US. Experts say the maternal mortality crisis in the US was exacerbated by Covid-19, leading to a “dramatic” increase in deaths.

5. France

Protests are escalating in France today after the government recently announced it would impose a higher retirement age from 62 to 64. French President Emmanuel Macron will use special constitutional powers to pass the proposed pension reform law, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced in the National Assembly on Thursday. , who had not yet voted on the proposal. Labor leaders in France called for new demonstrations following the Borne announcement, with several thousand protesters congregating on Place de la Concorde in Paris and several other cities on Thursday night. Mass protests have been taking place regularly across France since mid-January, with millions of people expressing their opposition to the government’s plan.

BROWSING BREAKFAST

Cute girl with ‘snarly smile’ wins on the internet

This toddler got 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 kicks off this weekend

The pop star’s first tour in five years kicks off Saturday in Glendale, Arizona. Before the tour, Swift also revealed four previously unreleased tracks.

Former President Barack Obama shares his March Madness brackets

A devoted basketball fan, Obama posted his predictions for this year’s NCAA tournaments for men and women.

The World’s Best Places of 2023, According to TIME

Looking for some travel inspiration? Consider adding some of these beautiful destinations to your bucket list.

Dunkin’ retires a fan-favorite drink

Say goodbye to the Dunkaccino for now. The coffee chain has quietly taken the popular drink off its menu, ending a run of more than two decades.

TIME FOR A QUIZ

Which fruit tops the Dirty Dozen list of non-organic products with the most pesticides?

A. Peaches

B. Strawberries

C. Apples

D. Grapes

Take CNN’s weekly news quiz here to see if you’re right!

TODAY’S ISSUE

1 million+

That’s the number of plastic water bottles sold every minute around the world, according to a new report. However, the burgeoning bottle industry generates a huge amount of plastic waste, most of which is not recycled and ends up in landfills.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“The government, along with our international partners, is concerned about how this data may be used.”

A communication from the United Kingdom, which TikTok banned from official government devices on Thursday. The move follows similar restrictions imposed by the US and other countries on how the social media platform can access users’ personal data. TikTok expressed disappointment with the decision, saying in a statement that the recent bans are “based on fundamental misconceptions and are motivated by broader geopolitics.”

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local weather forecast here >>>

AND FINALLY

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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