On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Putin warns dissenters
Russia’s president is making new threats against those in Russia who go against him. Plus, economics reporter Paul Davidson explains how the latest jobs report brought good news for Americans without a high school diploma, nine people are dead after a van crash involving college golfers, the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is here and USA TODAY Sports’ Tom Schad reports on fan violence.
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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 Thursday, the 17th of March 2022. Today Putin’s threat to dissenters in Russia, plus what to do about a rise in abusive fan behavior, and more.
Here are some of the top headlines:
- Two British citizens who had been jailed in Iran for more than five years returned home earlier today. Charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and retired civil engineer Anousheh Ashouri were freed. And a third detainee, Morad Tahbaz, who has US, British and Iranian citizenship, was released from prison on furlough in the same deal. A number of countries have been working to free dual nationals from Iran, which does not recognize their right to hold citizenship in another country.
- Jussie Smollett was released from jail yesterday as his lawyers work on his appeal. He was convicted of lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack.
- And Freddie Freeman has agreed to a six year $162 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Freeman, a long time Atlanta Brave, debuted with the franchise as a 20 year old in 2010. He helped them win their first World Series since 1995 last year.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to US Congress yesterday. He pleaded with lawmakers for more help as his country continues to be bombarded by a Russian invasion. And he also called on President Joe Biden to be a leader of peace.
See no sense in life if it cannot stop the deaths. And this is my main issue at the leader of my people, brave Ukrainians. And as the leader of my nation, I am addressing the President Biden. You are the leader of the nation, of your great nation. I wish you to be the leader of the world. Being the leader of the world means to be the leader of peace.
Zelenskyy worked lawmakers emotions, showing scenes of sunny Ukrainian life before the invasion with footage of shellings, children weeping, and refugees fleeing after.
[Clip from the film]
Zelenskyy made his case for a no fly zone over Ukraine. That’s something Western leaders continue to be against. But, President Biden did announce more funding and military aid for Ukraine. Hours after Zelenskyy’s speech, he said the US is sending another $800 million in military aid, bringing that total this week to a billion dollars.
Meanwhile, the situation in Mariupol, Ukraine is not getting better. And yesterday a Russian airstrike hit a theater where hundreds of people have been living in a makeshift shelter. Pavement around the theater was marked in huge white letters, spelling out the word children in Russian. It’s not yet clear how many people were killed or injured.
Halfway across the country in the capital of Kyiv, another massive apartment building caught fire after it was hit by remnants of a downed Russian rocket. At least one person was killed and firefighters evacuated 30 people from the top floors of the 16 story building.
In Russia, President Vladimir Putin went on television to go after Russians who don’t support him.
Taylor Wilson translating for Vladimir Putin:
“People, even more so the Russian people, will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and will simply spit them out like a gnat that accidentally flew into their mouths. I’m convinced that such a natural and necessary self-purification of society will only strengthen our country.”
The comments were the latest warning that Putin’s authoritarian rule, which had already grown tighter since invading Ukraine, could get even more repressive. A new law threatens 15 year prison sentences for posting what’s found to be so-called fake news about the war in Ukraine. Among those charged in the first criminal cases under the law is Veronica Belotserkovskaya, a Russian language cookbook author and blogger living abroad. Both Russia and Ukraine, though, have expressed optimism after talks this week. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said a neutral military status for Ukraine was being seriously discussed. And President Zelenskyy said that Russia’s demands for ending the war were becoming more realistic.
The February jobs report brought good news for US workers with 678,000 jobs added last month. And it was especially encouraging for Americans without a high school diploma. Economics reporter, Paul Davidson, has more.
The unemployment rate for people without a high school diploma fell really sharply from 6.3% in January to 4.3% in February. That’s a very large decline. We need to keep in mind that some of this data is volatile. This is a survey. And so sometimes you get blips that are too high, too low. It doesn’t necessarily reflect exactly what’s going on, but that was a very large increase. And so economists think at least a good part of that is probably reflecting reality and the unemployment rate for that group has been generally trending down pretty well. That’s a really good thing because everything we’ve heard in recent decade or two is you have to have, forget a high school diploma, you have to have a college degree to move up in your career and in the labor market. So people without degrees, certainly without high school degrees, have really struggled in recent years. More so than if you go back 30, 40, 50 years ago.
Some of that is lots of jobs are being created and we’re in sort of this home centered economy where a lot of people are stuck at home because of COVID or caring for children. People are working at home. So a lot of people have been ordering a lot of goods, TVs, rugs, appliances, food. So all these kind of jobs – warehouse worker, manufacturing worker, courier, delivery driver – these jobs have really been increasing sharply. And sometimes those jobs don’t necessarily require a high school degree or a college degree. So that’s one thing. You have lots of jobs in that category.
But then you also have this big worker shortage that’s been going on for many months. When you do have a job come up where before they used to require a high school degree, now they’re easing those requirements and they’ll train you or they’ll ask you to take a test. Some of it is just they’re easing requirements because they have to. There just aren’t enough workers out there and when you come upon one who looks like might be able to do the job, you don’t necessarily have to be that rigid and say you have to have a high school diploma. When there’s plenty of people out there in the labor pool, you’ll do that.
You can find more of Paul’s work on Twitter @PDavidsonusat.
Nine people are dead after a van carrying members of a New Mexico university’s golf teams collided with a pickup truck on Tuesday night. Among those killed are six students and their golf coach. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, students from the University of the Southwest women’s and men’s golf teams were returning home from a tournament when a pickup crossed the center line of a two-lane road in West Texas and hit their van head on. The department said both vehicles then caught fire. Head coach Tyler James was killed in the crash as were the driver and a 13 year old passenger of the pickup. The university said that two of the van’s passengers survived, but are in critical condition. The National Transportation Safety Board’s Eric Weiss said the department is sending a number of teams to investigate what happened.
We have a investigator for human performance, an investigator for vehicle factors, an investigator for motor carrier operations, an investigator for survival factors, a reconstruction expert and a project manager, as well as other support folks. It’s for a team of 12.
The University of the Southwest has organized a donation page for victims and their families. You can find a link in today’s show description.
After the men’s play-in games in the First Four this week, the road to the college basketball Final Four gets going in earnest today with a round of 64. Beginning at 12:15 PM Eastern this afternoon, 16 games are on tap today before another 16 tomorrow. That can all be pretty overwhelming. So USA TODAY Sports’ Scott Gleeson linked with McKenzie Salmon on Sports Seriously to make sense of day one.
So one matchup I’m really excited to see is San Francisco versus Murray State. You got two mid majors here that absolutely have Cinderella potential. When you look at Murray State, they got a seven seed and the committee really valued the fact that they’re really not playing like a big major at all. This is the best Murray State team we’ve seen since Ja Morant himself was balling. But Murray State has the potential to not only beat San Francisco, but they could beat Kentucky in the next round.
Wish team is on upset alert with their match up?
So the team that’s on upset alert right now is Providence. We’re looking at this, they’re going up against a South Dakota State Jackrabbit’s team that is so dangerous and has the potential to put on a glass slipper and be a big time Cinderella in this tournament. The reason for that is they’re lethal offensively. They shoot the three exceptionally well and they’re second in offense only to Gonzaga in the country. They have a lot of veterans on this team and they play so well together when you think about the team chemistry. So South Dakota State is really dangerous here. Putting Providence, a great team in the Big East, but just a tough matchup, they’re going to be an upset lock.
So what guarantees do you have for Thursday’s matchups?
So my guarantee for Thursday’s matchup is also an upset when you’re looking at the mid-major line and Yukon has had a great year in the big east as well, but we’re seeing an upset there with New Mexico State. The Aggies, we see the 12 seed over a five seed all the time take out a power confidence team, and this year it’s going to be New Mexico State. This is a team that have just coached so well and really just does a lot of things well. And you’re looking at Teddy Allen, this is a player who can put the team on his back and carry it upset. So Yukon had a great year, but ultimately we’re looking at a guarantee here that New Mexico State advances to the second around.
You can watch games on CBS, truTV, T&T and TBS, along with NCAA.com and lots of other places to stream online. And find full coverage of both men’s and women’s March Madness at USA TODAY Sports.
March Madness may be in the air, but from high school to the pros, there are nearly daily incidents of abusive behavior in the stands. So what’s behind that? USA TODAY Sports’ Tom Schad talks about the issue and what could be done to tone things down.
It’s becoming a pretty significant issue. It’s something that’s kind of been simmering in the background for decades really. There have been isolated incidents at sporting events of violence, of fights between fans, of fans throwing things at athletes for decades. But people at all levels of sports are starting to notice that these incidents are becoming more common. And we saw a string of them in the NBA last summer when fans started coming back from COVID-19. And then they’re seeing them even at the high school level. We’re seeing brawls between parents. We’re seeing racist slurs hurled that at kids on the court in basketball, for example. So there’s no way to really track the prevalence or the number of incidents and look at it empirically, but there’s a growing sense in the sports world that these incidents are becoming more common.
So what are schools or teams doing about this to try to tone things down in the stands or is there anything they realistically can do to try to eliminate it?
It’s tough. I think in international soccer, for example, you’re seeing teams being sanctioned for the behavior of their fans, kind of trying to put pressure on teams, security staffs or venue security staffs to do more. There are more sophisticated efforts in terms of security, making sure that you have the right number of ushers, for example, in a particular section, just that you have more people who are watchful of stuff like this. But when you think of attending a sporting event, it’s hard if you see somebody two rows down from you or whatever yell something at a player. A lot of times that stuff just isn’t going to go noticed. It might go noticed by the player, but it’s hard for venues and for teams to really monitor all of that to the point where it’s completely eradicated.
There have been talks of maybe increasing penalties. And we’ve seen, especially for some of those fans in the NBA last year, lifetime bans for specific fans. But part of that process is identifying the fan and catching the fan when they do something like that. And so, yeah, there are teams that are trying to do a better job of monitoring it, but it’s a tough task. And then especially at lower levels, youth sports and high school sports, it gets even tougher to enforce. You just don’t have the resources, you don’t have the staff to enforce a lifetime ban on a parent, not to mention all the politics involved with stuff like that. So it’s a really tricky thing to regulate.
Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find more episodes of 5 Things wherever you get your audio. And thanks as always to James Brown and PJ Elliott for their great work on the show. 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