Russia expands airstrikes in Ukraine, MLB is back: 5 Things podcast


On today’s episode of the 5 Things podcast: Russian airstrikes hit western Ukraine

The invasion had focused on eastern parts of the country. Plus, domestic security correspondent Josh Meyer reports on U.S. hesitancy to send fighter jets directly to Ukraine, reporter Jessica Guynn talks about doomscrolling, a Texas judge hears a case against the governor’s directive to treat gender-affirming care as child abuse and the Major League Baseball lockout comes to an end.

Podcasts: True crime, in-depth interviews and more USA TODAY podcasts right here.

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.

Taylor Wilson:

Good morning. I’m Taylor Wilson and this is 5 Things you need to know Friday, the 11th of March 2022. Today: Russia moves west, plus taking a look at doomscrolling and more.

Here are some of the top headlines:

  1. Florida has passed the country’s first law restricting how race is talked about at work. It comes as conservatives across the US are pushing bills that put varying limits on workplace diversity training.
  2. The first person to receive a gene-edited pig heart has died two months after the historic transplant. It’s not clear exactly what caused 57-year-old David Bennett’s death, but he had been deteriorating in recent days. He was the first person to receive an animal organ genetically modified to prevent rejection in a person.
  3. And China has locked down 9 million residents in the city of Changchun amid a spike in new coronavirus cases.

Russian strikes hit near airports in Western Ukraine earlier today as the military offensive widens. The western half of the country had largely remained untouched since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month, but airstrikes have now hit the Lutsk military airfield in the northwest part of Ukraine, killing at least two servicemen. And strikes targeted an airport near Ivano-Frankivsk in Ukraine’s southwest. Even more concerning for Ukraine, a massive Russian convoy outside the capital of Kyiv appears to be inching closer, and many vehicles have been moved into position to fire on the city.

Still the worst of war continues in Ukraine’s east. The port city of Mariupol has become a symbol of the war’s horror as evacuation efforts continue to fail out of the city and food shortages are rampant. Russia hit a maternity hospital there this week, and Ukrainian officials say some 1,300 people have died in the city. Like in much of Ukraine, Mariupol’s residents have moved largely underground to shelters, only coming up for essential supplies.

One man, Aleksander Ivanov, was seen walking above ground, pulling a cart with his things.

Taylor Wilson translating for Aleksander Ivanov:

«I don’t have a home any more. That’s why I’m moving. Why else would I be? It doesn’t exist any more. It was hit by a mortar.»

Taylor Wilson:

All meat and lots of medicine is completely gone from the city, while a black market reportedly exists for vegetables. Ukrainian officials say that daily attempts to bring in supplies have been squashed by Russian shelling. The number of Ukrainian refugees abroad has topped 2.5 million, including around 100,000 people successfully evacuated over the past 48 hours from seven cities under blockade. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy publicly said to Russian leaders yesterday that the invasion will backfire as their economy is strangled, but Russian president Vladimir Putin said that his country will overcome sanctions since it has done so before.

As Russia’s aerial bombardment of Ukrainian cities continues, the Biden Administration and its allies have been scrambling to provide the Ukrainian government with more fighter jets. But the US is cautious of sending the jets directly. Domestic Security Correspondent Josh Meyer reports.

Josh Meyer:

President Zelenskyy had a conference call with about 50 senators and House members over the weekend, and they asked him, «What do you need the most?» and he said, «I need fighter jets.» And so according to some intelligence officials, Zelenskyy and the Ukraine government have about 37 fighter jets: older fighter jets, Warsaw Pact Soviet Bloc fighter jets. And so the plan was for the US government to backfill some of the countries in the region that have similar MiG-29 fighters. These are Soviet-built fighters. And then they would basically try to get countries like Poland or Bulgaria to donate the jets to Ukraine, and then they would backfill and give them fancier, more recent, more modern F-16 fighter jets, US-made fighter jets.

So what Zelenskyy basically is saying is they need more fighter jets to fight off Russian MiG-29s that are coming in bombing civilian targets and so forth. And they basically want to control the airspace over Ukraine that would allow them to bomb this 40-mile convoy military vehicles that’s bearing down slowly, but bearing down nevertheless on Kyiv.

And basically the US government, the Biden Administration, said that they gave it a green light for Poland to donate the planes. But then at the last minute, Poland decided that they didn’t want to stick out their neck that much, so what they wanted to do was give the planes to the US government at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany, and then have the US give the planes to Ukraine. And then the US government said, «No, we don’t want to do that. We don’t want to risk escalation with Vladimir Putin. He’s unpredictable. This is a red line that we don’t want to cross.»

The US government already is providing stinger missiles, they’re providing anti-aircraft batteries, they’re providing a decent amount of material to Ukraine to help them fight off the Russians. But Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told senators that the military has made a determination that providing planes could cross some sort of red line and prompt Putin to lash out. And his quote was this: «I do believe that there is an escalation ladder and that there’s a difference between anti-tank weapons, a shoulder-fired air defense weapon, and a combat aircraft that could cross a border and actually conduct operations on Russian soil.» So what they’re saying is that you can send them missile launchers and things like that, but those aren’t things that you could drive across the border onto Russian soil, and that they’re concerned that they would be provoking Putin by giving planes to Ukraine that they could actually fly across the border into Russia.

Taylor Wilson:

You can find Josh’s full story in today’s episode description.

Lots of people are finding themselves compulsively scanning social media for updates on the conflict in Ukraine. It’s not the first time in recent years that you may have found yourself doomscrolling, but doing so can cause an exaggerated sense of danger and increased feelings of vulnerability. Reporter Jessica Guynn explains.

Jessica Gwynne:

Doomscrolling is when you spend an excessive amount of time scrolling through really bad news on social media, and it tends not to be good for your state of mind or your physical health in general. And people did an acute amount of it during COVID, but it also pops up around politics, or racial injustice, climate change, basically whatever’s really bugging you, and right now, that’s Ukraine for people.

People tend to do it at night, so it raises their stress levels and their anxiety levels right when they’re going to try to sleep. So sleeplessness can be an issue, insomnia, also just higher levels of stress and anxiety. When you get really focused on how dangerous a situation is, you tend to start thinking about everything being dangerous and worrying even more.

So we don’t have to… I mean, everyone does it, and you can do it in smaller amounts. You want to stay informed. It’s a natural inclination. I mean, what we’re trying to do by doomscrolling is get the information we need so we can regain some semblance of control. The problem is if we do it too much, it can have the opposite effect.

People say that you should just take breaks or set up some time constraints. You’re going to do it for a set amount of time or intervals during the day, and then you’re going to make sure that you’re not disengaging from other activities in your life that are part of your routine or make you feel normal or make you feel happy. Whether it’s jumping on the treadmill or watching silly cat videos or curling up and watching a movie with your family, you should still be making sure that you are balancing your life. It feels very negative when you’re watching that incredible human suffering from afar. Experts say you can really make that more of a positive by taking some kind of action: volunteer in your community or donate to humanitarian efforts.

District Judge Amy Clark Meachum will hold a hearing today on whether to grant an injunction barring the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from following Governor Greg Abbott’s order to treat gender-affirming care for minors as child abuse. That comes after the judge issued a temporary restraining order that blocked the state’s child welfare agency from investigating a couple for child abuse because they helped their teenage transgender daughter access gender-affirming medical care. Lawyers for two national civil rights organizations had asked the judge to issue the temporary order.

Baseball is coming back. Spring training sites in Arizona and Florida will be open to players, starting today. That’s after Major League Baseball’s lockout ended yesterday with a new proposed five-year collective bargaining agreement. The lockout lasted 99 days. The start of the regular season will still be pushed back a week to April 7th, but there will be a full 162-game season after all. USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale explains how the new deal will change the league going forward.

Bob Nightengale:

Well, baseball is back, finally, with the players and owners agreeing on a 162-game season with opening day on April 7th. They will move the season back three days to get those games in, playing three or four double-headers, and they will be nine-inning double-headers. The big move was baseball agreeing to talk and about the international draft, moving that discussion to July. After that, the players got together. The owner said a proposal pretty much saying, «This is it. Take it or leave it.» The players said, «We’ll take it,» on a vote of 26 to 12.

Now, we’re going to see baseball with regular nine-inning double-headers. We’re not going to see the rule changes. Those will come next year when we’ll see restrictive shifts. We’ll also see enlarged bases, and of course a pitch clock. Minimum salary will go up from $570,000 to $700,000. The players stuck to their guns, 12-team playoff pool. There’ll be a draft lottery, so there should be no more tanking; a six-spot lottery. There’s supposed to be provisions in there to stop manipulating the service time for rookies. That will be taken care of. So it should be a much better game. Now that it’s on the field, it will be on the field. Spring training games will start somewhere around March 18th to 20th. Like I said, regular season starts on April 7th, so in the schedule it’ll pickup right where it left off. Finally, these two sides, after 99 days of lockout, have agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement, and as baseball has waited for those two magical words: play ball.

Taylor Wilson:

For more to get you set for baseball season, stay with USA TODAY Sports. And you can find 5 Things on whatever your favorite podcast app is. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his fantastic work on the show, and I’m back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.


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