Russian forces depart Chernobyl; Ukraine-Russia peace talks to resume
Russian military troops departed the heavily contaminated Chernobyl nuclear power plant early Friday, handing control back to Ukrainians. Moscow took control of Chernobyl over a month ago. According to Ukrainian officials, Russian troops destroyed a new laboratory at the plant working to improve management of radioactive waste that had “highly active samples and samples of radionuclides” last week. Elsewhere, Ukrainian forces have retaken the villages of Sloboda and Lukashivka, which are south of the besieged northern city of Chernihiv and located along one of the main supply routes between the city and Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, according to Britain’s Defense Ministry. Ukrainian and Russian negotiators are set to resume talks via video Friday, five weeks into a conflict that has left thousands dead and driven more than 4 million refugees from Ukraine. However, there seemed little faith that the two sides would find agreement on their respective demands any time soon.
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Despite obstacles, another solid month of US hiring in March is expected
Defying a pandemic and supply chain disruptions, the U.S. economy has cranked out more than 400,000 jobs every month for nearly a year — a significant winning streak in uncertain times. And despite surging inflation, the hiring wave likely continued last month in the face of yet another jolt: Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has unsettled the economic outlook and catapulted gasoline prices to painful levels. The Associated Press reports that economists surveyed by the data provider FactSet expect the Labor Department’s March jobs report out Friday morning to show that employers added 478,000 jobs. That would mark a drop from the 678,000 jobs added in February. However, economists also forecast that the unemployment rate dipped from 3.8% to 3.7% and that would mark the lowest unemployment rate since just before the pandemic struck two years ago, when joblessness reached a 50-year low of 3.5%.
Traveling to Canada? Skip the COVID test (if you’re vaccinated)
Vaccinated tourists going to Canada will no longer need to get a pre-departure COVID test starting Friday. The change, announced March 14, is the latest easing of travel restrictions by Canada, which originally closed its borders to nonessential travel after the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. People who have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or a single dose of Johnson and Johnson’s vaccine at least 14 days before arriving in Canada are considered fully vaccinated; boosters are not necessary. Travelers who are not fully vaccinated are only allowed entry under certain circumstances and will need to test for coronavirus before and after arrival and quarantine for 14 days. Canada also will continue random testing of travelers.
It’s April Fools’ Day. You’ve been warned.
If you’re not a fan of pranks, this tip is for you: Friday is April Fools’ Day. The first day of April, though not a public holiday, is traditionally celebrated as the day to pull practical jokes, hoaxes or hijinks on others. (By custom, jokesters will yell “April Fools!” at the successful completion of the ruse.) In recent years the business world has gotten in on the action with prank press releases, from Velveeta delving into skincare to Green Giant cauliflower-flavored Peeps just in time for Easter. So be advised: If it sounds too wild to be true … it’s “April Fools!”
Heavyweight battles in the women’s Final Four
Cinderella was not invited to the Final Four of this year’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament. Of the quartet of teams squaring off Friday in Minneapolis, three were No. 1 seeds entering the tournament: South Carolina, Louisville and Stanford. The fourth is is a No. 2 seed and a perennial powerhouse in Connecticut. But what the matchups lack in surprise they make up for in star power. South Carolina looks to go wire-to-wire after being ranked No. 1 in the USA TODAY Sports women’s basketball coaches poll all season long, against a Louisville program hungry for its first-ever title (7 p.m. ET, ESPN). Stanford and all-time coaching wins leader Tara VanDerveer seeks to repeat as champions, but will have to go through UConn’s superstar sophomore Paige Bueckers and legendary coach Geno Auriemma (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The winners of Friday’s games will face each other in the championship game Sunday night.
Contributing: The Associated Press