Nothing is certain

It’s Tax Day in America. Do you know where your taxes are? Meanwhile, mask rules are relaxing as COVID-19 infection rates in the USA slow down. 

👋 It’s Laura! Here’s Monday’s news, just for you. It’s tax-exempt!

But first, the truth is out there. 👽 Get this: Another former federal official  acknowledges the possible existence of UFOs a couple of weeks before a government-sanctioned report on “unidentified aerial phenomena” is sent to Congress. I just wanna know if the UFOs plan on visiting Earth any time soon because I have a lot of questions.

The Short List is a snappy USA TODAY news roundup. Subscribe to the newsletter here or text messages here.

Uncle Sam called 

He wants that tax money! Did you pay up yet? Before the tax man comes and shakes you down for your lunch money, make sure you take extra care not to make sloppy mistakes or you could miss out on a larger refund, owe more in taxes or face an IRS audit. If you don’t plan on filing this year, you might want to reconsider so you don’t miss out on Earned Income or Child Tax credits.

  • What to do if you’re filing Monday: We’ve got 12 tips for last-minute filers here.
  • Save some scratch: If you make less than $72,000, you can file for free online with IRS Free File at IRS.gov.
  • Need some extra time?Here’s how to file a tax extension.
  • And hey, while you’re at it, snag a freebie. You earned it. Free Krispy Kreme doughnut, food specials and COVID-19 vaccine freebies up for grabs Monday.

Best not to keep the IRS waiting. (Photo: Getty Images)

Mask rules dropping like flies

Target dropped its mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers, joining Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Starbucks, Costco and other businesses. Target’s updated mask policy starts Monday for customers and employees, but like other retailers, it still strongly recommends unvaccinated customers and employees wear masks.

💉 Sharing is caring: “We’re taking another step to help the world,” President Joe Biden said Monday, announcing plans for the United States to send at least 80 million doses of coronavirus vaccines overseas by the end of June. “It’s the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do,” he said. The 20 million doses are from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, the president said, adding to the previously announced distribution of 60 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine abroad.

📊 Number drop: Statistics released Tuesday will show that new infections are down in all 50 states, Biden said. As of Monday, the USA has more than 32.9 million confirmed coronavirus cases and 586,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The global totals: More than 163 million cases and 3.38 million deaths. 

  • The coronavirus variant that first appeared in India has arrived in the USA. Here’s what you need to know. 

Baseball fans forgo masks as they watch the Miami Marlins play the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 14 in Los Angeles. (Photo: Mark J. Terrill, AP)

What everyone’s talking about

  • Los Angeles officials arrest arson suspect as Palisades Fire burns more than 1,325 acres, forcing evacuations.
  • Ariana Grande marries fiancé Dalton Gomezin weekend wedding.
  • Report: Bill Gates was investigated by Microsoft before stepping down from the board in 2020.
  • Multitasking Boston Red Sox fan grabbed a stray bat like it was nothing and didn’t get off the phone while doing it. 
  • ‘So I raped you’: Facebook message renews woman’s fight for justice 8 years after she was attacked. 

A week of war

President Joe Biden “expressed his support for a cease-fire” in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, after international diplomats made little headway in ending the weeklong war that has killed hundreds. The Israeli military unleashed another heavy wave of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip early Monday, saying it destroyed militant tunnels and the homes of nine Hamas commanders. Earlier, Israel said it would press on with its attacks against Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, and the United States had signaled it would not pressure the two sides for a cease-fire, but Biden shifted course after the release of a joint statement on the issue from 29 Democratic and independent senators. At least 200 Palestinians have been killed in the week of airstrikes, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Ten people in Israel have been killed in the rocket attacks launched from Gaza.

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken asks Israel for evidence of Hamas operations in Gaza building housing media.
  • ‘It’s a human rights issue’: Thousands across USA join global protests in solidarity with Palestinians.

A Palestinian firefighter extinguishes a fire May 17 at a beachside cafe hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City. (Photo: Khalil hamra, AP)

Abortion rights rollback headed to Supreme Court

Are bans on abortions after 15 weeks unconstitutional? Drawing sharp reactions from both sides of the abortion debate, the U.S. Supreme Court waded into one of the nation’s most polarizing issues Monday, agreeing to hear a challenge to Mississippi’s ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The court’s conservative majority will get the chance to consider a direct test of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973, which found that women have a constitutional right to abortion. A decision in 1992 reaffirmed that right up to the point that a fetus is viable outside the womb, often set at about 24 weeks. Several conservative states, including Mississippi, approved bans on abortion before that stage of pregnancy. A decision is not likely until next year, potentially landing months before the 2022 midterm election.

  • Supreme Court’s split decision for abortion rights gives opponents an unlikely boost.

Abortion rights advocates and opponents square off outside Mississippi's lone abortion clinic in 2013. (Photo: Rogelio V. Solis, AP)

Real quick

  • Dozens of railcars pile up, catch fire after a derailment in Iowa town; evacuations ordered due to ammonium nitrate cargo.
  • House Democrat proposes to censure 3 GOP lawmakers for downplaying the severity of the Capitol riot Jan. 6.
  • Brooklyn Center officer faces hearing in the shooting of Daunte Wright; city approves sweeping changes in policing. 
  • Child tax credit: Monthly advance payments to families who qualify will begin in July. 

Former Gaetz confidant Greenberg pleads guilty

Continuing the saga of the entanglement between a disgraced Florida official and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to a variety of misdeeds, including sex with a minor. Greenberg, 36, a husband and father, pleaded guilty to six of the 33 counts on which he’d been indicted, admitting to sending more than $70,000 over 150 transactions to arrange liaisons with young women he met through a “sugar daddy” website. Through that site, he met a 17-year-old girl with whom he engaged in criminal sex acts and drug use, introducing her to other adult men, according to his plea agreement. Though his name didn’t come up in court Monday, investigators are attempting to determine whether Gaetz was one of those adult men. 

  • Now what? Here are the details of former Seminole tax collector Greenberg’s plea — and how it could affect Gaetz.
  • Greenberg wrote a ‘confession’ letterimplicating Gaetz paid for sex with a minor.

Joel Greenberg pleaded guilty to sex with a 17-year-old. (Photo: Joe Burbank, AP)

A break from the news

  • 👰 Don’t head down the aisle without these: 10 must-haves for a bride on her big day, according to a wedding planner.
  • 📺 Take a trip down memory lane: 26 TV shows from the ’90s that’ll leave you feeling nostalgic. 
  • 👩‍💻 Don’t throw your computer out the window! Here’s how to speed it back up.

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network. Want this news roundup in your inbox every night? Sign up for The Short List newsletter here.

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