00:51 - Source: CNN
Trump: Russia probe is a hoax
CNN —  

Puppy power
This broom is no match for this pack of cute German shepherd puppies. (Click to view.)

1. Immigration

After days of waiting, it’s here. Devastating winds and rain from Florence hit the Carolinas today. The Category 2 hurricane now has maximum sustained winds of 110 mph and is about 200 miles southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina. At this point, it looks like Florence’s center will be somewhere over the Carolina coasts late tonight or tomorrow. And as it moves inland, people in Georgia, Virginia and Maryland need to stay alert. The big concern remains that Florence will stall, pounding the region with nonstop rain, catastrophic winds and potentially deadly flooding for days. One of five huge threats is storm surge, possibly as high as 13 feet. And there are six nuclear power plants in Florence’s projected path – but not everyone thinks they can withstand it.

Meantime, Trump downplayed talk he’s getting ready to fire special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; “They’re still here,” he said. When questions turned to Russia, he used his go-to phrase – “no collusion” – FIVE times. Speaking of Russia, senior administration officials told CNN the President personally made the decision to dump the plan to hit the Russians with more sanctions after the Syria chemical weapons attack. Trump also is facing backlash for using the word “breeding” when discussing cities that don’t cooperate with the feds to deport undocumented immigrants.

01:06 - Source: CNN
Trump: Denuclearization tremendous for world
01:05 - Source: CNN
Panelist: Trump's 'breeding' tweet is racist

2. Vaping

The escalating clergy sex abuse scandal that’s raging within the church prompts Pope Francis to call an unprecedented meeting. The Pope will meet the presidents of the Catholic bishops conferences from around the world in February at the Vatican. Francis has come under withering criticism for his handling of the crisis (and his poll numbers have nosedived). A meeting between the Pope and leaders of the US church on the crisis is set for today.

3. Campaign 2020

The man likely to become Cuba’s next President may not carry the Castro name, but he’ll uphold the Castro ideology. Cuban First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel was nominated by the country’s National Assembly to replace Raul Castro as the island nation’s leader. He’s a 57-year-old technocrat who said he believes “in continuity,” dashing the hopes of those wishing that a change in leadership could lead to reforms. And Raul Castro is still expected to exercise a large measure of control over the Cuban government.

02:38 - Source: CNN
The challenges facing Cuba's likely new leader

4. Bahamas

Chemical weapons experts still haven’t been able to get into Douma, the site of a suspected gas attack on civilians. The latest delay was caused by gunfire on a UN security team. It’s not clear now when the team of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will be allowed into the city. And that’s concerning because there’s fear all the physical evidence of an attack might be gone by the time a team gets in. About 75 people were killed in the attack, for which Syria and Russia were blamed. The US, UK and France retaliated last week with missile strikes.

05:10 - Source: CNN
An American ISIS widow looks for a way home

5. Tariffs

As investigators piece together what happened to the engine on a terrifying Southwest Airlines flight that turned fatal, the flying public has to be asking: What about the thousands of other jet engines in service right now? The Southwest jet engine showed signs of “metal fatigue,” and this type of thing has happened before on at least one other Southwest flight. So, the airline’s going to start doing intensive inspections of its planes’ engines. The FAA last night said it would issue a directive requiring inspections of certain kinds of plane engines.

Editor’s note: We’re grateful to our readers who are aviation experts and who pointed out a line in yesterday’s newsletter that implied the pilot regained control of the plane only after it dropped from about 30,000 feet to 10,000 feet. It’s standard procedure in an emergency to descend to 10,000 feet, which is what the pilot, who’s being praised for her “nerves of steel,” did.

01:11 - Source: CNN
Passenger: I tried and tried to pull woman in
02:41 - Source: CNN
Pilot praised for her handling of emergency

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Dancing with the ‘stars’

Looks like Steven Spielberg is joining the superhero craze. He’s getting involved in “Blackhawk,” from the DC Universe.

Welcome to Wakanda

Saudi Arabia ended it’s 35-year ban on movie theaters with a screening of “Black Panther.”

01:50 - Source: CNN
Kids see themselves in 'Black Panther' heroes

Remember me?

He needed a kidney and made a desperate plea. Thankfully, a classmate he hadn’t seen in five decades answered the call.

WJLA

Reboots roll on

First, it was “Total Request Live.” Now, MTV’s bringing back “YO! MTV Raps” for the Migos generation.

Tips wanted

That “Three Billboards” movie was inspired by an actual cold case, and police just doubled the reward in the real-life mystery.

Tumbleweed trouble

Living the California lifestyle is awesome – until giant tumbleweeds roll into town and darn near take over.

KABC

HAPPENING LATER

Prince death investigation

A Minnesota prosecutor will announce today whether anyone will be charged in pop legend’s April 2016 death.

01:03 - Source: CNN
Prince: The End

TODAY’S NUMBER

100 million

The number of Amazon Prime members, revealed for the first time by CEO Jeff Bezos in a letter to shareholders

20,000

04:14 - Source: CNNMoney
Is Amazon a monopoly?

TODAY’S QUOTE

“This action goes against our very foundation.”

Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, after three members of the Tennessee Air National Guard were fired or demoted after one used a dinosaur puppet while taking the reenlistment oath

From Facebook

AND FINALLY

What’s Michael Scott’s superpower?

Someone with a little (too much) time on his hands mashed up the intro from “The Office” with scenes from “The Avengers” movies. (Click to view.)