By Andrew Torgan, CNN
Some parts of the United States may see a rare white Christmas this weekend. And speaking of vacation, 5 things to take the day off tomorrow to do some last minute shopping.
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1. Corona virus
With Omicron now the most widely detected variant in the United States, hospitals are preparing for a surge in Covid-19 cases. And for the second year in a row, many of the doctors and nurses on the front lines of the epidemic will treat these patients over the Christmas holidays. Nearly 70,000 Americans have been hospitalized with Covid-19 as of yesterday, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, up from about 45,000 in early November. In related news, the US Food and Drug Administration yesterday authorized Pfizer’s antiviral pill, Baxlovid, to treat COVID-19. It is the first antiviral pill that infected people are allowed to take at home before they are sick enough to be admitted to hospital.
2. Capitol riot
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Rebellion has asked Representative Jim Jordan, a top congressional ally of former President Donald Trump, to voluntarily meet with the committee as it targets Republican lawmakers who may be familiar with the events leading up to the Capitol. riot. Jordan previously warned the committee that targeting GOP lawmakers in any capacity would be met with political retaliation if Republicans retake the House after the 2022 midterm elections. Jordan is the second Trump ally to receive an interview request this week. Representative Scott Perry denied the commission’s request to voluntarily sit with investigators.
3. Student loans
President Joe Biden said yesterday that he has extended the suspension of student loan payments until May 1. Payments, which were due to restart on February 1 for millions of borrowers, have been suspended since the start of the pandemic. During this time, interest stopped increasing and bad debt collections were suspended. Biden cited the ongoing Covid-19 crisis as a reason for the extension. The decline comes less than two weeks after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki indicated that the administration was planning to resume payments, resisting pressure from some Democrats who have called for an extension of pandemic relief benefits.
Yesterday, a state-owned media reported, citing the Russian Foreign Minister, that Russia hopes to hold bilateral talks with NATO and the United States in January on the security guarantees it is seeking from both parties. The news comes just a day after NATO announced its readiness to engage in a “meaningful dialogue” with Russia amid its military buildup near the Ukrainian border. The US and its allies have warned Russia of the consequences of further hostilities amid its continued military build-up along the Ukrainian border – a move US intelligence saw as preparation for a large-scale invasion in the coming months. Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded security guarantees from the United States and NATO, including a binding pledge that NATO will not expand eastward and will not allow Ukraine to join the military alliance.
5. Supply Chain
Yesterday Biden announced the progress his administration has made in alleviating supply chain problems that have led to consumer product shortages, raised prices for Americans, and contributed significantly to historical levels of inflation in the United States. The president cited evidence that bottlenecks are starting to unblock and said retail stocks were up 3% from a year ago. Separately, a new report on consumer confidence showed that Americans are more optimistic about the economic recovery, which continued to show surprising strength in the final month of the year.
This is only in…
Law enforcement officials are at the scene of a “major industrial accident” early this morning at the ExxonMobil plant in Baytown, Texas, about 25 miles from Houston. Ed Gonzalez, Harris County Sheriff, said in a tweet that initial reports indicate that there has been some type of explosion inside the plant. He said four people could be infected. Nearby residents reported a powerful explosion.
Jennifer King makes NFL history as the first black coach
I stepped in as a running coach for the Washington football team.
NHL players will not participate in the Beijing Winter Olympics
League in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Taco Bell adds a surprising new menu item
Let’s just say it’s not something you’d expect to order in a place known as TACOS!
McDonald’s limits sales of French fries in Japan due to potato shortage
Customers can only order the smallest size of french fries due to supply chain issues.
US passport fees increased by $20
At least you can keep the same photo for 10 years.
That’s how many people face extreme levels of hunger in Afghanistan as winter approaches – more than half of the country’s population. At least one million children under the age of five are at risk of dying of starvation.
“If you act out of line, you will be waiting in line.”
FAA official Steve Dixon, in announcing a new partnership between the FAA and TSA that could result in unruly travelers losing their TSA PreCheck credentials.
Instead of our regular weekly news quiz, we have a special quiz to get you in the holiday mood! Here’s a question to get you started: People in some parts of Europe and China don’t wear colorful underwear to bring them luck on New Year’s Eve?
Takes CNN’s Holiday Quiz To see if you are right!
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joy to the world
A little something that puts you in the holiday spirit. (Click here to view.)
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