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Severe winter weather is threatening holiday travel on some of the busiest days of the year, but there are ways you can avoid a fiasco if you have a trip coming up. Arrive at airports early, pack light and consider rerouting your itinerary if your flights are in the path of severe blizzard conditions. Also, keep an eye on possible alerts from your airlines, as more than 1,100 flights today within, into or out of the US have already been canceled. Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
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1. Winter weather
A major storm system, which the National Weather Service is calling a “once in a generation type event,” is touching nearly every state in the US. More than 100 million people are currently under winter weather and wind chill alerts as record-breaking temperature drops are being observed. Denver International Airport saw a 37-degree drop in temperature over one hour Wednesday, which officials said is the biggest ever drop recorded at that location. That same day, Cheyenne, Wyoming, also saw a 30-degree drop in temperature in just 10 minutes. Governors in Georgia, Oklahoma and Kentucky have each declared a state emergency, as several other state leaders activate emergency response operations. Major cities in the South – including Nashville, Memphis, Birmingham, Alabama, and Jackson, Mississippi – are all expected to see snow today.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed gratitude for US support in an impassioned address to Congress during his first overseas trip since the Russian invasion of his country began. In his speech Wednesday, Zelensky called for more US help and stronger sanctions against Moscow, telling lawmakers Ukraine “will never surrender,” and that their support “is not charity” but an investment in democracy. Earlier in the day, President Joe Biden had announced the US will send Kyiv a Patriot missile defense system as part of an additional $1.8 billion assistance package, and Zelensky reiterated that air defense systems are crucial to countering Russian attacks. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared there would be a substantial investment in his military as the war drags on.
3. January 6
House Republicans released a report Wednesday focused on security failures at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, highlighting well-documented breakdowns in intelligence sharing, Capitol security and coordination between various law enforcement agencies responding to the riot. Republicans cast the report as a rebuttal to the bipartisan House select committee’s investigation into the day’s events as they are set to take control of the chamber – and endeavor to take back the narrative. The Democratic-led select committee had planned to release its final report on Wednesday but has delayed the rollout until today. An executive summary released Monday laid blame for the insurrection squarely on former President Donald Trump.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced co-founder and former CEO of crypto exchange FTX, is expected to soon be arraigned in the US after being extradited from the Bahamas Wednesday night. He faces eight counts of fraud and conspiracy following an indictment by federal prosecutors. In the wake of the company’s collapse, federal prosecutors in New York charged him with defrauding investors and stealing billions from FTX customer assets to pay for losses at his hedge fund. If convicted on all charges, the 30-year-old could face life in prison. Two of Bankman-Fried’s former senior executives were also charged Wednesday for their roles in the yearslong scheme. They pleaded guilty to multiple criminal charges and are cooperating with federal prosecutors, according to court records.
Parts of China hit hard by rising Covid-19 cases have resorted to rationing the amount of medicine for sale down to the pill as the country faces a huge wave of infections. Local versions of Tylenol and Advil – some of the most common drugs used to alleviate flu-like symptoms – are nearly impossible to get at drugstores across China, fueling anger and concern. In some areas, purchases of ibuprofen are being strictly limited to a maximum of six tablets or 3 ounces of liquid per customer per week. Meanwhile in the US, Covid-19 and other causes have driven life expectancy down to 76.4 years, the lowest it has been since 1996, CDC data shows.
Runaway llama outsmarts officers in lengthy police chase
The adventurous llama caused some drama after escaping her enclosure in Fairfax County, Virginia. Watch the video here.
Santa’s house has soared in value over the past year, Zillow says
Even prices in the North Pole are going up: Santa’s Arctic abode, a charming (but fictional) 3-bedroom cabin, is now worth $1.1 million – an increase of 12% over the past year.
Need a new Christmas movie?
Speaking of Santa, when you’re tempted to watch “Home Alone” for the tenth time, consider these festive alternatives.
John Mayer reveals inspiration for ‘Your Body Is a Wonderland’
Fans have long speculated that Mayer’s Grammy-winning 2002 single was inspired by one of his former celebrity girlfriends. He’s finally revealed who the song was really about.
Allison Holker Boss posts for the first time since husband tWitch’s death
“Oh how my heart aches,” the dancer wrote in an Instagram post, one week after her late husband’s death.
Pittsburgh Steelers legend Franco Harris, arguably best known for the “Immaculate Reception,” one of the most iconic touchdown plays in NFL history, has died at the age of 72, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced on Wednesday. Harris was a four-time Super Bowl champion, winning MVP honors in Super Bowl IX after rushing for 158 yards in the game against the Minnesota Vikings to help the Steelers capture their first-ever league title. The nine-time Pro Bowler was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
That’s how many cars were involved in a Thanksgiving pileup in the San Francisco Bay Area after a Tesla’s “full-self-driving” software braked unexpectedly, the driver told police. The crash led to nine people being treated for minor injuries including one juvenile who was hospitalized, according to a California Highway Patrol traffic crash report. Tesla’s driver-assist technologies are already being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration following reports of unexpected braking that occurs “without warning, at random, and often repeatedly in a single drive.” The agency has received hundreds of complaints from Tesla drivers.
“This bill is hanging by a thread.”
– Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, warning Wednesday that Democrats are struggling to reach an agreement with Republicans on the $1.7 trillion federal spending bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, has said senators are “making good progress” toward securing an agreement by the end of the week, before government funding runs out. Talks are expected to continue this morning.
Check your local forecast here>>>
One husband’s tribute to a timeless love
Charles “LaLa” Evans put together a powerful memorial to remember his late wife Louise after more than 59 years of marriage. Watch this short video to see how he celebrates their beautiful love story. (Click here to view.)