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5 things to know for Feb. 15: Ukraine, Covid-19, Trump business, USPS, Afghanistan

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1. Ukraine

Russia said today some of its troops would return to base after completing recent drills, but stressed that other major military exercises would continue. For weeks, Moscow has steadily built up its forces around Ukraine, with everything from submarines and ships in the Black Sea, to ballistic missiles and tanks near the border — raising fears that an invasion is imminent. Videos of these movements, mostly from satellite imagery and social media, are putting global stock markets on edge. While there were some signs of a possible last-minute openness to a diplomatic de-escalation by the Kremlin yesterday, officials are worried by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s erratic moves as more than 130,000 troops remain near Ukraine’s border. Separately, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the US for sending his country $1 billion financial aid amid the ongoing crisis. He also thanked Canada for sending half a billion dollars in financial aid.

2. Pandemic protests

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is invoking the Emergencies Act for the first time to address the impact of continued protests across Canada over Covid-19 mitigation measures. The Emergencies Act can provide the use of the military, but may not necessarily lead to that. It can also temporarily suspend citizens’ rights to free movement or assembly. The Canadian government is going after those who financially support the groups by freezing personal and corporate accounts believed to be funding the protests. This comes after the Ambassador Bridge — North America’s busiest land border crossing — reopened after a blockade was cleared and Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, announced plans to loosen pandemic restrictions.

3. Trump business

Former President Donald Trump’s long-time accounting firm informed the Trump Organization last week that it should no longer rely on nearly 10 years’ worth of financial statements. The tax firm, Mazars, also announced they would no longer serve as the accountants to the Trumps, citing a conflict of interest. Mazars said the only work not completed was the filing of Trump and Melania Trump’s tax returns. A Trump Organization spokesperson responded to the firm cutting ties, expressing disappointment at the split and also suggested Mazars performed their work “in accordance with all applicable accounting standards and principles” without any discrepancies.

4. US Postal Service

The sweeping bill to overhaul the US Postal Service’s finances hit a snag yesterday in the Senate. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, objected to a unanimous consent request to make a technical fix to the bipartisan bill. The measure seeks to overhaul the Postal Service’s finances to help allow it to modernize its service. Scott, however, argued that the Senate should slow down and work to improve issues with the legislation. The Senate was not able vote to advance the bill yesterday, but despite the delay, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed the Senate will eventually pass it soon.

5. Afghanistan

The last several hundred Afghan evacuees who have been living on US military bases are expected to depart over the next week, signaling the end to a months long operation to resettle tens of thousands of Afghans. Last fall, more than 50,000 Afghan nationals arrived in the US and gradually moved to communities across the country after extensive vetting following the frenzied evacuation due to the Taliban resurgence. The effort — dubbed “Operation Allies Welcome” — has been a heavy lift for the Biden administration, which has pushed to increase its resettlement capacity across agencies.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Netflix releases ‘Bridgerton’ Season 2 teaser trailer

Oh, the suspense! The internet is raging about this spicy and regal drama.

A rocket is on course to slam into the moon in about 2 weeks

That doesn’t sound very good… scientists say the impact won’t be visible from Earth, but will certainly create a crater.

Rare notebook with handwritten lyrics by The Beatles to go on display

Music buffs! Check out some of the group’s legendary doodles, including Paul McCartney’s draft lyrics for the song “Hey Jude.” 

Jordan Peele has another horror movie that will give you a fright

‘Nope.’ Who else still gets antsy thinking about his 2017 film ‘Get Out?’

AirAsia flight gets rerouted after snake found on board plane

Nope… can you handle a real-life ‘Snakes on a Plane’ moment? I can’t!

TODAY’S NUMBER

300,000

That’s how many jobs have been affected by the US suspension of avocado imports from Mexico, according to an organization representing avocado farmers. The suspension was initiated over the weekend by US officials after one of its officers received a threatening call to his cell phone while completing inspection work. An investigation into the threat is currently underway.

OLYMPICS UPDATE

Russian teen Kamila Valieva is expected to skate today after being cleared to compete amid a doping controversy that’s cast a shadow over Russia’s involvement in the Winter Olympics. The 15-year-old blames her positive drug test on a mix-up with her grandfather’s medication, a top IOC official said.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Can we get a solid answer on the difference of (Valieva’s) situation and mines?”

— Sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, questioning why Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva was allowed to continue competing at the Beijing Olympic Games after testing positive for a banned substance, months after a positive test for cannabis derailed her own Olympic dreams.

TODAY’S WEATHER

AND FINALLY

Appreciate the outdoors!

Studies show that spending time in nature — or even just watching it on a screen — will significantly boost your happiness. (Click here to learn more)



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