On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Biden could meet with Putin amid Russia-Ukraine tensions
The meeting would only happen if Russia has not invaded Ukraine. Plus, the CDC announces new guidelines for the cruise industry, closing arguments are scheduled in the hate crimes trial of Ahmaud Arbery’s murderers, tech editor Brett Molina has some hidden apps on your smartphone you may not know about and we look at the history of Presidents Day.
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Hit play on the player above to hear the podcast and follow along with the transcript below. This transcript was automatically generated, and then edited for clarity in its current form. There may be some differences between the audio and the text.
Good morning, I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know, Monday the 21st of February, 2022. Today, Biden may soon meet with Putin. Plus new CDC guidelines for cruises and more.
Here are some of the top headlines:
- The search continues today inside a burning ferry off the Greek island of Corfu. At least one person is dead while 10 remain missing.
- Queen Elizabeth II has tested positive for COVID 19. Britain’s longest reigning 95 year old monarch is experiencing mild symptoms.
- And Austin Cindric edged out Bubba Wallace by a nose at yesterday’s Daytona 500. It was the NASCAR rookie’s first Cup win.
President Joe Biden has agreed in principle to a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin if an invasion of Ukraine has not happened. The meeting could come after secretary of state Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov meet on Thursday this week. Blinken and other officials have been making the diplomatic rounds in recent weeks as Russia continues to sit an estimated 150,000 troops on Ukraine’s border. Many leaders in the West, including president Joe Biden, have said they expect an invasion soon. Over the weekend, Blinken met with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian at the Munich Security Conference.
For us able to compare notes on many different issues. The first of which of course is the situation in and around Ukraine and Russia’s aggression, but also many other issues of shared concern going all the way from the Sahel to the Middle East and beyond.
France appears to be at the heart of brokering a meeting between Putin and Biden and president Emmanuel Macron made a series of phone calls yesterday. World leaders are trying to stop war in Eastern Europe. Russia has demanded promises from the West that NATO not add Ukraine or other former Soviet countries to join as members. Russia has not formally said it has any plans to invade Ukraine, but Russia and its ally Belarus announced yesterday that they are extending military drills in Belarus, which borders Ukraine.
In Ukraine, shelling has spiked between Ukrainian forces and Russian backed separatist rebels in the Eastern part of the country. More than 14,000 people have been killed in that region since conflict broke out in 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. More recently, separatists say that at least four civilians were killed by Ukrainian shelling over the past 24 hours with others injured. Ukraine’s military said one of its soldiers was killed and accused separatists of using civilians as shields. For his part, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy was also at the Munich Security Conference over the weekend. Politics reporter Ledyard King tells us that he promised to protect his country from potential Russian invasion and more.
Well Zelenskyy is still trying to push a peaceful settlement. He came to the Munich Security Conference this weekend to talk about how Ukraine needs more than just military equipment and helmets and bullets and words. What they need is a full embrace by the European community to get into NATO, to get into the European Union, and to be more than just this frontline against Russian aggression. With all these soldiers massing on the border, Zelenskyy made Ukraine’s best case for why there needs to be support for the former Soviet country. And he came to Munich against the wishes of President Joe Biden, who wanted him to stay in Ukraine encase there was an attack. He came to Munich to make this point, that Ukraine is still independent, is still strong, and will fight to protect its borders as hard as it can.
So Vice President Kamala Harris was at the Munich Security Conference and met with Zelenskyy and reaffirmed the US’s support, staunch support, for Ukraine. Saying that if there is an invasion that economic and other types of sanctions would kick in and penalize, not just Russia, but Putin himself. There’s been a big debate about when sanctions should happen. Zelenskyy wants them done yesterday. But the Biden administration has been careful not to move too quickly with them because the way they’re constructed, they would also hurt European countries who do business with Russia. So it’s been kind of a wait and see, but Zelenskyy wants something done yesterday. Harris did not give him that assurance at this point, but she did say in a show of unity, as she met with him in front of reporters, that Ukraine is clearly on their minds and clearly a country that they will support as much as they can, short of sending troops.
Check out Ledyard’s piece with a link in today’s episode description and stay up on all our Russia Ukraine coverage at USATODAY.com.
The CDC has announced new guidance for the cruise industry. Travel reporter Bailey Schulz has an update and the industry’s response.
So basically we are seeing the CDC loosen up its guidance for cruise ship travel. So before we saw the agency had warned all travelers to avoid cruise ships due to COVID risk. But right now they’ve kind of changed their tunes. They’re saying only travelers who are not up to date with their vaccines, which includes any eligible boosters or those who are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID, should avoid cruise travel. And with this kind of loosening of guidance, we’re also seeing that the CDC has released a new COVID 19 program. And so this is a voluntary program that cruise lines can opt into and kind of lays out pandemic related guidelines for ships. And this originally came out a couple weeks ago, but we saw some updates last week. So what we’re seeing now as far as what guidance CDC is giving cruises is that travelers who are up to date with their vaccines, which like I said, includes boosters possibly if people are eligible, they can end quarantine after five days instead of 10 without additional testing. We’re also seeing that the CDC is now allowing these cruise ship operators to drop their indoor mask requirements for ships so long as 95% of people are either fully vaccinated or up to date with their booster shots. Another big change that we’re seeing that do impact passengers is that those who are up to date with their vaccines can take their pre embarkation test three days prior to boarding instead of two.
I think when these guidelines originally came out, the cruise ships and cruise travel was still listed as a level four travel health notice. So, CDC was still saying, hey, avoid cruises. And cruise line industry leaders were not happy with them pointing out that all the testing and vaccination requirements that are on cruises, they felt that this is a very safe way to travel. And so I think now that we’re seeing that cruise lines are down to this level three – with the CDC loosening its guidance on cruise travel and saying, okay, only avoid if you’re not up to date with your vaccines, or if you’re at increased risk and with the CDC now loosening up guidance around isolation and quarantine and masking – I think this is something that the cruise industry’s happy with. So what the cruise lines said was that these update instructions, quote, “Move closer to recognizing the cruise industry’s leadership in effectively mitigating COVID 19.”
You can find more of Bailey’s work in the Travel section on USATODAY.com.
Closing arguments are set for today in the federal hate crimes trial of the three men who murdered 25 year old Black man Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia in 2020. Jurors have seen days of testimony, including racist text messages and social media posts, along with graphic crime scene images. Several witnesses said Travis McMichael, who pulled the trigger and killed Arbery had used racial slurs in the past. His father Gregory McMichael, who also chased Arbery down, once made derogatory comments about a Black tenant behind on her rent according to one witness. And Roddie Bryan who filmed the chase and murder was said to have also used racial slurs in the past. The defendants were convicted of murder last fall and sentenced to life in prison. But state prosecutors did not present evidence that the murder was racially motivated. Something key to federal prosecutors’ case. All three men have pleaded not guilty.
You might think you know your smart phone like the back of your hand, but there are a ton of lurking features you maybe had no clue existed. Tech Editor Brett Molina has some tips.
After reading a column from my colleague, Kim Komando, that’s on tech.USAtoday.com, she discusses secret treasures, hidden apps on your smartphone and how to find them.
I read this and I found one that I didn’t know about either. It’s great. Again, it’s one of the great things about having a smartphone is there’s stuff in there that you never realize existed, and now you can use and it’s fun. So, I’m going to go through a couple for iPhone right now. Let’s start with Magnifier.
It is a super cool, pretty straightforward app, but what it does is lets you use your phone as a magnifying glass. So, if you’re ever dealing something with fine print and maybe you don’t have glasses or for whatever reason you need to magnify it, all you have to do is bring up your phone, you type in Magnifier in the search function.
What I’ve done is if I’m on the home screen, I’ll swipe down, from the middle of the screen down and you’ll pull up a search option with some recommended apps, type in Magnifier there and then you get the magnifier. Then you can just drag the slider, and you adjust the magnification to see how close, how far away you want to get, and it’s right there.
The other one, and this is the app I didn’t know existed is the Code Scanner. This is for scanning QR codes. You’ve seen those, the square black and white boxes that you’ve seen around and you hold up your camera and it points you to a website and you can go to the website. You can do this straightforward with your camera. If you ever have your camera up, you can bring it up that way, but another way to do it too is this Code Scanner. Again, as Kim points out, you search for it the same way. You swipe on the home screen, you search and you can pull it up.
If you find that you’re scanning QR codes often, you can add it to your control center as well. To get to there, you go to settings, you’ll go to control center and it’ll give you a list of the apps that are already you there, along with a list of apps at the bottom that you can add. You’ll see Code Scanner there, you can add it, you can add Magnifier there as well. That way if you ever see a QR code and you want to scan it really quick, you just go pull down control center from the top corner, hit that and then scan your QR code. It’s really easy, really simple.
The last feature that I’ll mention here, I use this a lot, because I found it to be just so much easier, controlling your printer from your phone or tablet. I do this a lot from my iPhone. As long as your printer supports AirPrint or any kind of Wi-Fi-based printing, you’re in good shape. Basically the way it works is your printer and your phone are both connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Then if say there’s a document you want to print, you want to do it from your phone, instead of having to turn on your laptop or something like that, you go right to your phone, you hit print. You’ll look for that same printer that’s on the same Wi-Fi network, you select it, hit print, done. Super easy, great feature. Again, I use it all the time, it is super, super helpful.
You can find more from the world of technology with the daily Talking Tech podcast.
Today is Presidents’ Day. It originally celebrated George Washington’s birthday, which is February 22nd. And the day then became a federal holiday in 1879. Later in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved several federal holidays to Mondays. Washington’s birthday then moved to the third Monday in February. Federal employees have today off, but the law never officially changed the third Monday of the month to President’s Day. So it officially remains Washington’s birthday. Though there was initially a push to change the name to also recognize Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, which is February 12th. In the years since the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, advertisers have used President’s Day as another opportunity for sales and promotions. For some of the best sales today, you can check out our friends at review.com. Or if the history of President’s Day is more up your alley, you can find a link in today’s episode description.
And you can find new episodes of 5 Things seven mornings a week, wherever you get your audio. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show and I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism