What Citi's abortion policy means for companies, a memorable Oscar night: 5 Things podcast

Will Smith hits presenter Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars on March 27, 2022.

On today's episode of the 5 Things podcast: What Citi's abortion policy means for companies

Reporter Elisabeth Buchwald explains how the company's policy helps pay for abortion-related travel. Plus, Ukraine's president says he would consider a neutrality pact, we look back at a memorable Academy Awards, reporter Elizabeth Weise looks at the conundrum of rising temperatures and air travel and the U.S. Capitol reopens to the public.

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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 Monday, the 28th of March 2022. Today, company's decisions amid tightening abortion restrictions. Plus an Academy Awards to remember and more.

Here are some of the top headlines:

  1. China has begun its biggest lockdown in two years, the move in Shanghai is to conduct mass COVID-19 testing and to help control a surging outbreak there. The lockdown is China's most extensive since shutting down Wuhan where the virus was first detected in late 2019.

  2. A 68 year old woman has died after being pulled from the Colorado River during a boating trip in the Grand Canyon. She reportedly fell into intense rapids.

  3. And then there were four. College basketball's final four is set on the men's side. On Saturday, Villanova will play Kansas, followed by North Carolina and Duke.

Citigroup quietly expanded employees' health coverage in January to include paying for travel to get an abortion. Other large employers may face similar decisions as states impose new restrictions. Finance reporter Elisabeth Buchwald has more.

Elisabeth Buchwald:

The interesting thing about what Citi is doing is they're wanting to have this policy to attract and retain workers, especially in states like Texas, where abortions are restricted after six weeks. And plenty of other states are considering tighter restrictions as well, especially as the Supreme Court considers potentially reversing some of the Roe v. Wade laws that have been in effect for a while now. And companies are kind of in this difficult position, typically ones that don't want to take a stance in politics and want to be rather neutral or finding themselves like Citi saying that they have to do something because staying silent isn't an option. At least that's what sources told me. And if the Supreme Court does reverse some of Roe v. Wade, there's no way that companies can stay silent. It affects so much of their workforce here. The other interesting thing with what Citi is doing is regardless of what the Supreme Court decides, it puts pressure on other banks and other competitors to institute a policy like that. They're the first major bank to do it and one of a handful of major corporations. We've seen some others like Salesforce offering to pay for travel expenses if people want to move out of Texas. We've seen Match, which is headquartered in Texas, offering to pay for their employees to get an abortion out of the state. And Bumble is also doing a similar thing. But then there are plenty of companies like Charles Schwab and Oracle that relocated to Texas from California who aren't doing anything at the moment. I reached out to them and I didn't hear anything back. So all that is to say that, yes, it could put a lot of pressure on them.

Taylor Wilson:

You can find this full story in today's episode description.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told independent Russian journalists yesterday that his government would consider declaring neutrality and to offer security guarantees to Russia. Zelenskyy said the pact would keep Ukraine nuclear free as well. But he added that the agreement would need to be guaranteed by third parties and put to Ukrainian voters in a referendum after Russian troops withdraw from the country. Russia almost immediately banned those remarks from being published as part of a more general effort that threatens 15 years of prison time for anyone publishing information against Moscow's narrative of the war.

Beginning today, Ukraine and Russia will meet in person in Turkey according to Zelenskyy, though Russia's top negotiators said those talks will actually begin tomorrow.

Just over a month since Russia's invasion, more than 3.6 million refugees have fled the country of 44 million according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. And an additional 6.5 million people have been displaced within Ukraine. Over 12 million have been affected overall in the area's hardest hit by the war.

Meanwhile, Russia appears to be increasingly focused on Ukraine's east. That's where some of the worst destruction has come and also where most of Ukraine's military is right now. On Friday, the Russian military declared that the first stage of its operation had largely been accomplished. Many observers say the shift in strategy could reflect President Vladimir Putin's acknowledgement that his plan for an all out blitz in Ukraine failed and that he was forced to narrow his goals and change tactics. The head of Ukraine's military intelligence Kyrylo Budanov said yesterday that the change in focus could reflect Putin's hope to break Ukraine in two like North Korea.

Well, it was an Academy Awards to remember. The Oscars returned last night to Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and the show brought hosts back: Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes. But the night's biggest headline grabbing moment came when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage and cursed him out over a joke Rock made about Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Entertain This! host Ralphie Aversa recapped what happened from Los Angeles.

Chris Rock:

Oh wow!

Ralphie Aversa:

Whoa! This is the moment that stole the Oscars. Chris Rock on stage here at the Dolby Theatre making a comment about Jada Pinkett Smith, Will's wife. Not the first time it happened. It occurred back in 2016 when Chris was hosting the Academy Awards and it happened again Sunday night.

Chris Rock:

Jada, I love you. G.I. Jane 2, can't wait to see it. All right.

Ralphie Aversa:

Rock was on stage to present best documentary but soon after the joke, Smith joined him.

Chris Rock:

Oh wow!

Ralphie Aversa:

As network delays tried to catch up, Smith was caught on camera yelling at Rock to keep Jada's name out of his mouth. As for Rock, the LAPD says he won't press charges. Overshadowed in all of this, the award for Best Doc, it went to Questlove Summer of Soul. I asked the multi-hyphenate about earning a nod for his directorial debut on the red carpet.


I was in the pandemic and I needed to put my creativity somewhere in this world and I put it all in the film. And I guess this is the result of it.

Ralphie Aversa:

It was also a big night for Ariana DeBose. She won Best Supporting Actress for West Side Story. She's the first Afro-Latina actress and first openly gay actress of color to win.

Ariana DeBose:

For all the things we have to work on, we've taken some beautiful steps forward and I celebrate that tonight.

Ralphie Aversa:

And Troy Kotsur, the first deaf male actor to win an Oscar. He takes home the award for his supporting role in CODA. The movie went on to win Best Picture. And oh yeah, Will Smith did end up winning his first Oscar, too, for playing Venus and Serena Williams' dad in King Richard. Smith tearfully apologized to the Academy in his acceptance speech.

Will Smith:

People talk crazy about you. In this business you got to be able to have people disrespecting you.

Taylor Wilson:

Will Smith was all the talk at one of the hottest after parties hosted by Vanity Fair. Here's actor Henry Golding followed by Queer Eye's Karamo Brown.

Henry Golding:

I think they're both legends. I think there's something deeper sort of to be discussed and I hope they both step up man to man and figure it all out, which I'm sure they will. Thank you so much.

Karamo Brown:

Yeah. I think what we need to learn is that as celebrities, we look at them as if they're not human beings. And sometimes we poke, we poke, we poke and tonight was a high emotion night for Will Smith, regardless. And I think we have to sometimes remember at a certain point, everyone breaks, but I think these are two men that will actually come together, figure it out and say, "Okay, enough is enough. I'm sorry." You know what I mean? But I haven't been in that situation. I never condone violence or anything of that nature, but I also could understand protecting those you love.

Taylor Wilson:

As for the night's biggest award, CODA won best picture, telling the story of a singer who's the child of deaf parents. For all the winners and more of last night's top moments, head to USATODAY.com.

Extreme heat already disrupts air travel. And with climate change, it's going to get worse. Reporter Elizabeth Weise explains what the airline industry and airplane manufacturers are doing to get ahead of the problem and what their role might be in causing it.

Elizabeth Weise:

There's two important things to know about. One, heat does not make planes fall out of the sky like a toolbox as one of the test pilots that I spoke with said. So you don't need to worry that an extreme heat event is going to make your plane not fly safely because once they're way up in the atmosphere, it's cold up there and they do fine. The issue is lift. When a plane takes off, it's got engines that push it forward in the air. It's got wings that are set at the right angle just like if you stick your hand out of the window in a car that's going fast and you tilt it up a little bit, the air pushes it upward. That's exactly how a plane takes off. When it's really hot, the air gets less dense. When the air is less dense, it takes more power or a longer distance for a plane to be able to take off.

Generally speaking, when things get over 110, 115, it's possible and it has happened that a flight might, for example, need to remove passengers or baggage because it has to take on more fuel so that it can get up to the right speeds. As we increasingly see these high heat events in the United States, we're going to have to start to take these things into account. So the airlines and more importantly airplane manufacturers are already thinking about this and working on it. And one, because they think way far out and two, because when you buy an airplane, it's going to be in your inventory of planes for 10, 20 years, depending on the airline. And so they really need to think hard about what planes am I buying now? What are the conditions going to be in 10 or 20 years? And what do I want to own then?

So the things we're seeing our lighter planes, planes using materials that are lighter. So there's just less weight. So it takes less fuel to get them up in the air and keep them there. We're also seeing more and more efficient engines being designed. Every five or 10 years, we get new engine designs that really allow planes to use less fuel, which is what in the end, this is all about. And then the federal aviation administration has also come out with a climate change plan because the other side of this to remember is that they don't cause global warming, but there is significant portion of the United States' CO2 emissions and so aviation also needs to lower its CO2 emissions. And in the next couple of years, we should see the first electric airplanes come out. Those will only be for short haul flights because aviation fuel is just so energy dense. It's really hard to replace it for a long haul flight. But for short haul flights, it's looking like we'll have electric planes. I mean, if you're flying from Seattle to Portland or something like that, but that's a lot of flights, so that will be helpful.

Taylor Wilson:

You can find Elizabeth's full story in today's episode description.

The US Capitol will reopen to the public today for guided tours. The move comes two years after the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to visits, though for now, tours will only be for limited groups that have already registered in advance. It's the latest push by Congress to relax COVID-19 restrictions. Mask requirements inside the Capitol were relaxed weeks ago and the adjacent Capitol visitor center is tentatively set to reopen to limited visitors on May 30th.

Thanks for listening to 5 Things. You can find us wherever you're listening right now seven days a week. Thanks to PJ Elliott for his great work on the show. And I'm back tomorrow with more of 5 Things from USA TODAY.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Citi to cover travel-related abortions, Oscars recap: 5 Things podcast