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5 things to know for March 29: Ukraine, Biden Budget, LBGTQ rights, Jan. 6, Wildfires

By AJ Willingham, CNN

Something new is here, and we think you’ll love it! CNN+ launches today, and that includes a brand new daily 5 Things show hosted by CNN’s Kate Bolduan. You’ll get the stories you need to know — with the customary 5 Things flair, of course — streaming every weekday morning at 7 a.m. ET. Now that’s something worth waking up for! Click here to learn more about the show and other great CNN+ content.

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

(You can get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Ukraine

A new round of peace talks between Russia and Ukraine is underway in Istanbul today. Turkey is one of several nations — including Israel, China and India — that have shown interest in mediating a resolution to the invasion. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he expects “solid outcomes” from the talks, and wants an immediate ceasefire. Russian forces have largely stalled on the ground in parts of Ukraine, but evacuations are underway in the port city of Mariupol, where the mayor says Russia controls most of the points of exit. More than 3.8 million people have fled Ukraine since the war began, according to the United Nations — and half of them are children. On the nuclear question, a Kremlin spokesperson has ruled out Russia using nuclear weapons in Ukraine, saying Moscow would only use them if there was a threat to the country’s existence.

2. Budget proposal

President Joe Biden has rolled out his budget proposal for fiscal year 2023. The proposal includes almost $7 billion to counter Russian aggression, as well as an increase in military spending and more than $33 billion to support law enforcement and crime prevention. The plan also includes $26 billion for NASA — the largest request for science in the space agency’s history — setting the stage for human exploration on Mars. Overall, the proposal would cut the federal budget by $1.3 trillion. In order to reach such a massive cut and cover areas of increased funding, the proposal also calls for a new “minimum tax on billionaires.” The new tax plan applies to anyone worth more than $100 million — the very wealthiest 0.01 percent of American households. How would such a plan work? Here’s an in-depth explanation. In short, making sure the ultra-wealthy pay more taxes could bring in $360 billion over the next decade.

3. LGBTQ rights

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed the controversial piece of state legislation, dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill by critics, that bans certain instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. The new law will go into effect in July, and states that “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” Proponents say it will help parents regulate what students learn and discuss in school, but critics say it is another in a long line of measures to further silence and marginalize LGBTQ individuals. DeSantis has a history of supporting anti-LGBTQ legislation, including an anti-trans sports ban last year.

4. Capitol riot

A lot is happening in the January 6 investigation right now. The committee will seek an interview with conservative activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, after it was reported the committee has text messages showing Thomas pleading with then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to continue the fight to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is expected to appear before the House select committee this week. The committee also unanimously voted yesterday to bring contempt charges against Trump White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino and Trump’s onetime trade adviser, Peter Navarro. Meanwhile, A federal judge said Trump and right wing attorney John Eastman may have been planning a crime when they sought to obstruct the congressional certification process — a startling acknowledgment from a federal court that Trump’s interest in overturning the election could be considered criminal.

5. Wildfires

Another major wildfire is raging in Texas a week after state authorities warned of persistently dangerous fire weather. The Crittenburg Complex fire has scorched about 33,175 acres near Fort Hood, which is in between Austin and Dallas. Authorities say the blaze likely started with munitions fired in a Fort Hood training area. Extremely dry conditions in the area have created a veritable wildfire powder keg. This month, 726 wildfires — 121 in the past seven days — have burned through 164,257 acres across the state. In Colorado, residents are returning to the Boulder area after about 19,000 people were told to flee a wildfire that threatened the region over the weekend.


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That was the temperature at Concordia Research station on the Antarctic Plateau on March 18. The location is typically known as the coldest place on Earth, and the normal high temperature for the day is around minus-56 Fahrenheit. That puts the March 18 reading at close to 70 degrees warmer, which scientists say could be an ominous record.


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