Russia-Ukraine crisis, Kamila Valieva competes in Beijing, 2022 Oscar hosts: 5 things to know Tuesday

US defense secretary heads to Europe amid fears of Russia invading Ukraine

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin leaves Tuesday for meetings with military and government leaders in Belgium, Poland and Lithuania, to discuss the Russian buildup of troops along the border with Ukraine, the Pentagon announced. Austin will meet with defense ministers of U.S. allies, along with NATO leadership, in Belgium “to discuss Russia’s military buildup in and around Ukraine, reiterate the U.S. commitment to Article 5, and continue the Alliance’s progress on deterrence and defense while ensuring the Alliance is prepared to face tomorrow’s challenges.” Russia’s Defense Ministry announced Tuesday that some units participating in military exercises would begin returning to their bases. It wasn’t immediately clear where exactly these troops were deployed or how many were leaving — and the news came a day after Western officials said some forces and military hardware were moving toward the border. Article 5 is NATO’s mutual defense clause. An attack on one NATO country is considered an attack on every member of the alliance. Austin will also meet with leaders from Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. 

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Kamila Valieva takes the ice at Winter Olympics amid doping scandal

The most-anticipated figure skating short program since the 1994 Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan scandal begins Tuesday morning when 15-year-old Russian gold-medal favorite Kamila Valieva takes the ice for her two-minute, 40-second short program. She was expected to dominate the competition, but that was before a positive drug test. A test that Valieva took two months ago was flagged for a banned heart medication, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport cleared her to compete, ruling that Valieva was a “protected athlete” because of her age. Attorneys for Valieva argued that the banned substance trimetazidine entered her system through a medication that her grandfather takes, a member of the International Olympic Committee confirmed Tuesday. According to The Dossier Center, Valieva’s attorney, Anna Kozmenko, noted Valieva’s grandfather takes trimetazidine for heart issues.

Defense begins in case against officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights

The defense is expected to start presenting witnesses Tuesday, a day after federal prosecutors rested their case against J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, the three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights in May 2020. It came after nearly three weeks of testimony from doctors, police officers and bystanders, including the teenager who recorded widely seen video that showed Officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee onto Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes while the 46-year-old Black man was handcuffed, facedown and pleading for air. Kueng, Lane and Thao are broadly charged with violating Floyd’s constitutional rights while acting under government authority. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back and Lane held down his legs while Thao kept bystanders back. Thao and Kueng said they plan to testify, while Lane hasn’t made a final decision on the matter.

Upcoming Flint water crisis trial will test contractors’ liability

Jury selection starts Tuesday in a trial to determine if engineering contractors Veolia North America and Lockwood, Andrews & Newman, known as LAN, bear responsibility for lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan. The companies were not part of the recent $626 million settlement between Flint residents and the state of Michigan, Flint and two other parties. Attorneys for four Flint children claim Veolia and LAN were negligent in not doing more to get the city to properly treat water that was being pulled from the Flint River in 2014-15. Corrosive water caused lead to leach from service lines serving homes, a disastrous result in the majority Black community. Veolia and LAN deny liability. Veolia said it had a brief contract with Flint, mostly to address other water issues at the city’s treatment plant. LAN, too, said water quality was not part of its assignment. Nonetheless, U.S. District Judge Judith Levy declined to dismiss the lawsuit.

3 Oscar hosts to be revealed Tuesday morning on ‘GMA’

Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes will host the 94th Oscars on Sunday, March 27, according to multiple reports. Variety first broke the news, saying the women are “finalizing details” to host. Each woman will lead the telecast for one of the show’s hours, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The Oscars have not had a host for the last three years. The hosts will formally be announced Tuesday morning by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” The show is hoping to rebound from the dismal viewership of last year’s broadcast, which was both an all-time low and the norm for pandemic-era awards shows. In addition to bringing back starry hosts and bumping the best picture nominees to a set ten, the Academy is also hoping to spike interest through social media voting for a “fan favorite” movie that will be announced during the show.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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