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5 things to know for May 20: Ukraine, Abortion, Covid-19, January 6, Saudi Arabia

<i>Andoni Lubaki/Sipa USA/AP</i><br/>
Sipa USA via AP
Andoni Lubaki/Sipa USA/AP

By Alexandra Meeks, CNN

If you’re planning to enjoy the outdoors this weekend, meteorologists say proceed with caution. An unrelenting, early season heat wave will reach the eastern and southern tiers of the US over the next few days — and nearly 60% of Americans are expected see temperatures at or above 90 degrees.

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

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky yesterday said Donbas is “completely destroyed” as a result of Russia’s constant strikes. Donbas is a heartland region that blankets much of eastern Ukraine and has been at the front of the country’s conflict with Russia since 2014. “The bombing and shelling of other cities, the air and missile strikes of the Russian army — all this is not just fighting during the war,” Zelensky said. “This is a deliberate and criminal attempt to kill as many Ukrainians as possible,” he added. In the eastern Luhansk region, Ukrainian military officials said 12 civilians were killed and 60 properties were destroyed yesterday by Russian bombardments. Separately, the US Senate approved a $40 billion emergency aid package for Ukraine. The bill will be flown to South Korea, where President Joe Biden will sign it during his first trip to Asia.

2. Abortion

Oklahoma’s legislature has passed one of nation’s strictest abortion bills that would ban the procedure from the stage of “fertilization.” The legislation also allows private citizens to sue abortion providers who “knowingly” perform or induce an abortion “on a pregnant woman.” Exceptions will be made for medical emergencies or if the pregnancy was a result of rape, sexual assault or incest and reported to law enforcement, the bill states. The measure now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has previously pledged to sign every piece of legislation limiting abortion that comes his way. However, abortion rights advocates are vowing to mount a legal challenge should it be signed into law. The bill’s passage comes as Republican-led states have been pushing strict abortion measures in anticipation of the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade next month.

3. Coronavirus

The CDC has signed off on Covid-19 booster shots for 5- to 11-year-olds. The decision came yesterday after the CDC’s vaccine advisers voted to support recommending a single Pfizer/BioNTech booster dose, which the FDA authorized earlier this week. Studies show the Omicron variant has been particularly tough on kids — and the effectiveness of two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for children ages 5 to 12 fell from 68% to about 12% against infection during the Omicron surge. While not at the same levels as during the Omicron wave, Covid-19 cases among children have been increasing. According to the latest report from the CDC, 1,547 children have died of Covid-19 in the US and 364 of them were were between 5 and 11.

4. January 6

Former Attorney General William Barr has “tentatively agreed to give sworn testimony behind closed doors” to the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection, according to two sources familiar with the negotiations. Barr has talked informally with the committee, but this formal request would add to several sworn testimonies the committee has sought from other Republican lawmakers as part of its probe into circumstances leading up to the storming of the US Capitol. Separately, the committee yesterday announced it has evidence that Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk led a tour of the US Capitol complex the day before pro-Trump rioters stormed the building. The committee is now looking for more information from Loudermilk about the purpose of the tour and its participants.

5. Saudi Arabia

The White House is working towards a first presidential meeting with Saudi Arabia. President Biden and Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, could meet for the first time as soon as next month, multiple sources told CNN. A meeting between American and Saudi leaders would have once been considered routine, but now marks a significant shift due to the recent strain in the relationship. It would also likely spark some controversy at home for Biden, who has been highly critical of the Saudis’ record on human rights, its war in Yemen, and the role its government played in the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Biden administration’s effort to return to better relations with Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of crude oil, comes as gasoline prices hit record highs in the US.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Hello mama Rihanna

The superstar singer and her artist partner A$AP Rocky have welcomed their first child!

Mercedes just sold the world’s most expensive car for $142 million

Yes, you read that right… a whopping $142 million for a car. The floor mats probably cost more than an average house. Insane.

Coke’s new bottle cap doesn’t come off

No cap gets left behind. Here’s why Coke is tethering caps to bottles.

Court weighing whether an elephant at the Bronx Zoo has human rights

If it can think like a human, should it be treated with human rights? This is an interesting case.

Flight attendant delivers passenger’s baby on board Frontier flight

The newborn’s middle name is Sky. Perfectly on theme. We love it!

QUIZ TIME

After a long fight, which US sport agreed to a landmark equal pay deal for women?

A. Basketball

B. Soccer

C. Volleyball

D. Tennis

Take CNN’s weekly news quiz to see if you’re correct!

IN MEMORIAM

John Aylward, a veteran film and television actor known for roles in the popular shows “ER” and “West Wing,” has died of natural causes, his longtime agent and friend confirmed to CNN. He was 75.

Marnie Schulenburg, a soap opera actress who documented her journey from becoming a new mother to a cancer patient, died Tuesday after battling stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, according to her manager. Schulenburg starred in “As the World Turns” and the “One Life to Live” reboot. She was 37.

TODAY’S NUMBER

15

That’s how many people joined suspected shooter Payton Gendron’s private account on the communications app Discord shortly before the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York over the weekend, a person with knowledge of Discord’s internal investigation told CNN. Gendron, an 18-year-old White man, is accused of driving from nearly 200 miles away to kill 10 people and wound three others in a shooting that took place at a Tops supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“$18 for a beer… uhhhh what. Gotta treat the fans better than that!”

— Professional golfer Justin Thomas, in a tweet after getting wind of a report that said it will cost fans $18 for a beer and $16 for a salad at the 2022 PGA Championship this week. Thomas, who won the 2017 PGA Championship, said he felt like he had to stand up for the fans. “It’s just a bummer. You want people to come to the tournament. If I’m on the fence and I’m looking at the concession stand, that’s not the greatest thing,” he said at a news conference.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

It’s National Bee Day!

The United Nations has designated this day to remind people of the importance of preserving bees and other pollinators. In this 1-minute viral video, a professional bee handler shows how she removes bees with her bare hands AND without protective equipment! (Click here to view)

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