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China's Xi to meet Putin in Russia; mortgage rates inch back; two major NCAA upsets | Top headlines for March 16 & 17, 2023

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On this version of Hot off the Wire (posted March 17 at 7:01 a.m. CT):

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping is planning to visit Russia from Monday to Wednesday in an apparent show of support for Russian President Vladimir Putin amid sharpening East-West tensions over the conflict in Ukraine.
  • Slovakia’s government has approved a plan to give Ukraine its fleet of Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets.
  • Hundreds of elite officers in Israel’s military reserves say they will not show up for duty starting on Sunday in protest over the ruling coalition’s planned overhaul of the judicial system.
  • Severe weather is starting to ease up after days of rain and snow caused by another atmospheric river over California. But more rain could be on the way.
  • Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average on the benchmark 30-year rate slid back to 6.60% from 6.73% last week.
  • Jen Psaki begins a weekly Sunday show on the MSNBC this weekend.
  • In sports, the NCAA basketball tournament saw two major upsets, the No. 1 seeds advanced, the NBA continued and MJ could be selling out.

On this version of Hot off the Wire (posted March 16 at 4 p.m. CT):

  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is telling Congress and the nation that the U.S. banking system remains sound.
  • A group of Wall Street banks is planning a rescue package of around $30 billion for First Republic Bank.
  • Attorneys for the family of a Black Virginia man who died in police custody say video of the incident shows seven sheriff’s deputies pushing down “every part of his body” with “absolute brutality.”
  • Two BNSF trains derailed in separate incidents in Arizona and Washington state on Thursday, with the latter spilling diesel fuel.
  • New data suggests U.S. deaths of pregnant women dropped significantly in 2022. It comes after a year when the maternal death rate was the highest in nearly six decades.
  • The North Dakota Supreme Court has ruled that a state abortion ban will remain blocked while a lawsuit over its constitutionality proceeds.
  • The decision by Utah’s Republican governor to sign into law a ban on abortion clinics is raising concerns about how already overburdened hospitals will accommodate becoming the only place for legal abortions in the state.
  • Allies of former President Donald Trump have filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Ethics accusing Gov. Ron DeSantis of violating campaign finance and ethics rules by running a shadow bid for the White House.
  • The first Republican presidential primaries are nearly a year away and the candidate field is unsettled. But already, a shadow contest of another sort is underway with several Republicans openly jockeying to position themselves as potential running mates to Donald Trump, the early front-runner for the nomination.
  • Poland’s president says his country plans to give Ukraine around a dozen MiG-29 fighter jets.
  • British authorities say they're banning the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok from government mobile phones on security grounds, following similar moves by the U.S. and European Union.

—The Associated Press

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