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5 things to know for March 31: Coronavirus, voter suppression, Chauvin trial, infrastructure, Myanmar

The seasonal weather roller coaster from warm back to cold continues to bring extreme weather from the storm ravaged Southeast through New England . CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the latest forecast.

Posted: Mar 31, 2021 6:10 AM
Updated: Mar 31, 2021 6:10 AM

The climate crisis is spooking economists. About 74% of experts agree we need "immediate and drastic" effort, or risk facing trillions in economic damage and growth.

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1. Coronavirus

Global leaders have called for an international "pandemic treaty" to help ensure the world is prepared for future crises. The leaders of France, the UK and Germany, and members of the World Health Organization are among those leading the call for increased vaccine equity and international cooperation. Countries and trade blocs have clashed over vaccine supplies, especially in Europe where the coronavirus variant first found in the UK is wreaking havoc on the region's recovery plans. Experts are worried that if Americans don't stick to safety measures, the variant could do similar damage in the US. Dangerous coronavirus variants are already leading to more hospitalizations and lockdowns in Canada.

2. Voter suppression

Republicans in key electoral states like Arizona, Texas, Michigan and Florida are moving forward with restrictive voting bills despite national outcry against similar laws just passed in Georgia. In Arizona, pending bills would repeal the state's permanent early voting list and require identification for absentee ballots. In Texas, lawmakers want to ban drive-through voting and bar election officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications. Michigan is considering a slate of nearly 40 changes to the state's voting laws. Voting rights advocates say there are so many measures cropping up in Republican-led states, they may be powerless to stop them all. Kentucky, however, is bucking the trend and just passed a bipartisan bill expanding absentee and early voting.

3. Chauvin trial

A series of bystanders testified yesterday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with third-degree murder in the death of George Floyd last May. Darnella Frazier, the teen who recorded and shared video of Floyd's last moments -- video that has been instrumental in understanding the incident and sparked worldwide uproar -- took the stand, as did an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter who said she told officers to check Floyd's pulse as he lay on the ground. To many, Chauvin's trial represents not only a judgment of the former officer's actions, but a judgment on how America responds to painful issues of racial justice. However, the judge in the trial has made it clear to jurors they need to separate their own feelings about race and Chauvin from the evidence provided in the courtroom.

4. Infrastructure

President Joe Biden will unveil his ambitious infrastructure package in Pittsburgh today, kicking off what's likely to be months of conversation and controversy among Democrats. The plan will require trillions in spending and will likely receive pushback from major businesses that will balk at things like proposed increases in corporate taxes and the ending of federal subsidies for fossil fuel firms. Right now, the biggest question is how all of it -- a total of $3 trillion to $4 trillion -- will get paid for. The American Society of Civil Engineers says such high sums are sorely needed to fix the country's crumbling roads, bridges, public transit systems and dams. Their estimate? About $2.6 trillion over 10 years.

5. Myanmar

Myanmar's military has been conducting airstrikes on an ethnic rebel-controlled area for days now as the junta steps up aggression in the region. Children have been among those killed and injured by the strikes, according to humanitarian groups. More than two dozen ethnic armed groups have been fighting against the Myanmar military for greater rights and autonomy for decades now, and February's military coup has just made the violence worse. The US State Department has ordered the departure of all non-emergency US government personnel and their family members from Myanmar as deadly crackdowns against protesters and opposing groups continue.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

The UAE is planning on sending a rover to the moon

Tiny rover, big mission.

A virus-themed episode of 'SpongeBob' has been pulled from streaming services

You know the pandemic's gotten rough when a show about a cartoon sponge hits a little too close to home.

A suspected mafia fugitive had avoided capture. Then police saw his YouTube cooking videos

Ah, the perils of internet fame.

Maryland moves to repeal its state song, a pro-Confederate anthem that urges violence and calls Lincoln a 'despot'

"Maryland, My Maryland" gets REALLY interesting a few verses in.

'Game of Thrones' stage play in the works, magazine reports

Oh good, maybe they can fix the ending!

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TODAY'S NUMBER

136

That's how many years the World Economic Forum says it will take to close the global gender pay gap. That's up from the group's previous estimate of 100 years.

TODAY'S QUOTE

"I have a suspicion that someone is trying to recategorize my generosity to ex-girlfriends as something more untoward."

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, who denied that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old after The New York Times reported that, according to its sources, the Justice Department was investigating a possible sexual relationship with the girl and whether he paid for her to travel with him.

TODAY'S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

You deserve a doughnut today

Ever gotten your morning sweet fix in a pink box? There's a lot of meaning behind that candy hue. (Click here to view)

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