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

(CNN) The world looks a little greener today as many people use this color to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. In the US and other countries, the holiday is mainly considered a celebration of Irish pride – but interestingly, St. Patrick wasn’t actually Irish.

Here’s what else you need to know Get up to speed 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 is another milestone in the two countries’ growing partnership, as Western officials continue to express concern that China may be considering providing lethal military aid to Russia. According to a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, the purpose of the visit is to “encourage peace and promote negotiations.” But China’s push to present itself as a neutral peace broker in Ukraine has been met with skepticism in Western capitals because of Beijing’s growing partnership with Moscow. China has both offered 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 members at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence have been called to testify about the former president’s handling of classified documents. The special counsel in the classified documents probe has called for testimony from several people close to Trump — from his own lawyers who represent him in the case to employees who work on the grounds of his Florida estate, including a housekeeper and restaurant servers, the sources said. That’s because the Justice Department has spent much of the past year investigating possible mishandling and potential obstruction of national security documents. FBI agents found more than 100 classified documents during a search of Mar-a-Lago last summer. Since then, Trump’s legal team has released more classified material.

3. Tax season

Unlike the previous two tax filing seasons, this year appears to be going relatively smoothly, tax preparers say. “After several years of pandemic-related updates, mid-tax season IRS guidance, last-minute tax law changes and more, the ‘quietness’ is a welcome change for many,” the National Association of Tax Preparers said in a statement. New statistics from the Tax Administration show that more returns are being processed and refunds are being issued than at the same time last year. This year, however, the average refund is expected to be lower — 11 percent 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 left: This year’s official return due date is Tuesday, April 18.

4. Covid-19

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

5. France

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


A cute girl with a cheeky smile is winning the internet

This toddler got a lesson in ‘how to smile’ after her adorable grimace became the centerpiece 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 announced four unreleased songs.

Former President Barack Obama shares March Madness

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

The best places in the world in 2023 according to TIME

Looking for travel inspo? Consider adding some of these amazing destinations to your bucket list.

Dunkin’ is ditching its fan-favorite drink

Say goodbye to Dunkaccino for now. The coffee chain has quietly withdrawn the popular drink from its menu and decided for more than two decades.


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

A. Peaches

B. Strawberries

C. Apples

D. Grapes

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


1 million+

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


“The government and our international partners are concerned about the way this information may be used.”

United Kingdom Notice, banning TikTok 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 its disappointment at the decision, saying in a statement that recent bans “have been based on fundamental misunderstandings and driven by broader geopolitics.”


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A virtual holiday to Dublin

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, watch this short video and experience the beauty of Dublin, Ireland. (Click here to view)

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