Biden will try to determine where China’s Xi stands on Russia war
President Joe Biden will speak by phone with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, as the White House warns Beijing that providing military or economic assistance for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will trigger severe consequences. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would question Xi about Beijing’s “rhetorical support” of Russian President Vladimir Putin and an “absence of denunciation” of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “This is an opportunity to assess where President Xi stands,” Psaki said. Biden has repeatedly criticized China for military provocations against Taiwan, human rights abuses against ethnic minorities and efforts to squelch pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong. But the U.S.-China relationship may have reached a new low with the Russian invasion. In the days after Putin deployed Russian forces in Ukraine, Xi’s government tried to distance itself from Russia’s offensive but avoided criticizing Moscow. At other moments, Beijing’s actions have have included amplifying unverified Russian claims that Ukraine ran chemical and biological weapons labs with U.S. support.
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UK drops COVID-19 travel measures, despite a rise in cases
The United Kingdom is dropping all remaining COVID-19 travel measures Friday, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. The new measures allow all travelers – regardless of vaccination status – to enter without a passenger locator form or negative coronavirus test. Currently, adult travelers from the U.S. who are not fully vaccinated must show a negative coronavirus test taken no more than two days before travel and purchase a PCR test to be taken within the first two days after arrival. All passengers must also fill out a passenger locator form no more than three days before their arrival. The updated measures come even as COVID-19 case counts are rising. More than 444,000 people in the U.K. tested positive in the seven days leading up to March 14, up 48% from the week prior, according to government data.
Pair of powerhouses take the court in women’s NCAA Tournament
Two No. 1 seeds are in action Friday in the women’s NCAA Tournament, with South Carolina and Louisville playing games. South Carolina, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, will take on Howard (ESPN, 2 p.m. ET) in their home stadium, Colonial Life Arena. The Gamecocks are hoping to make their fourth Final Four appearance and win their second national championship under head coach Dawn Staley. The other No. 1 seed starting their tournament run Friday is Louisville, in the Wichita region. The Cardinals will also compete in their home arena, the KFC Yum! Center, when they take on 16-seeded Albany (ESPN2, 6 p.m. ET). Like South Carolina, Louisville is also hoping to reach the fourth Final Four under its current coach, Jeff Walz.
Cleanup efforts continue in Japan after earthquake
Cleanup efforts in Fukushima and Miyagi continue Friday after a powerful magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck off the northern Japanese coasts, killing four people, injuring 107 others and knocking out power. The region is part of an area devastated by a deadly magnitude 9 quake and tsunami 11 years ago that caused nuclear reactor meltdowns, spewing massive radiation that still makes some parts uninhabitable. Early Thursday, the Japan Meteorological Agency lifted its low-risk advisory for a tsunami along the coasts of Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures. Tsunami waves as high as 11 inches reached shore in Ishinomaki, about 240 miles northeast of Tokyo.
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‘WeCrashed’ premieres on AppleTV+, latest series on tech flameouts
The latest streaming series about big-business flameouts, “WeCrashed,” will premiere on AppleTV+ Friday. The series chronicles of the rise and fall of commercial real estate startup WeWork, based on the Wondery podcast. WeWork had a high valuation, a magnetic CEO and not much else going for it before the worth of the company crashed in 2019. Jared Leto plays that oddball CEO, Adam Neumann, a role seemingly tailor-made for the notoriously method and committed actor. Anne Hathaway is cast as Neumann’s wife, Rebekah. The premiere of “WeCrashed” comes weeks after a pair of series also centered around leaders of formerly unicorn startups. “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber,” features Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Uber founder Travis Kalanick. In “The Dropout,” Amanda Seyfried portrays disgraced Theranos CEO and founder Elizabeth Holmes.
Contributing: The Associated Press