5 things to know for January 4: Washington, Thailand storm, Paul Whelan, ‘El Chapo’
Want to channel your inner Elsa? The world’s largest ice and snow festival opens tomorrow in China. Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)
President Trump meets with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders this morning at the White House as they try to find a way to end the partial government shutdown, now almost two weeks old. No one expects much of a breakthrough, though. The President is still demanding $5 billion for a border wall; Pelosi and the Democrats say that’s not going to happen. Last night, the House, now-led by Democrats, passed bills that could end the shutdown, but they’ll go nowhere in the GOP-led Senate, and even if they did, President Trump would veto them. So, the stalemate continues.
Against the backdrop of this shutdown showdown, members of the 116th Congress were sworn in yesterday. Washington has never seen a Congress that looked like this: a record number of women (including more women with young children and in positions of leadership); the first Native American women, the first Muslim women, the youngest woman ever elected. Just how different is the group? This picture shows the holy books of various faiths that lawmakers used to be sworn in.
2. Thailand tropical storm
Thousands of people are stuck on islands in southern Thailand as Tropical Storm Pabuk hits. The storm struck another part of the country earlier today with winds of nearly 50 mph and heavy rain. Pabuk, the first storm to make landfall in Thailand in decades, is passing through some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations during its peak holiday season. Thousands of people living along coastal areas had already been evacuated. Pabuk is expected to make a second landfall over Thailand tomorrow.
3. Paul Whelan
As Russia charged American Paul Whelan with espionage, we’re hearing more about his arrest. Whelan, a corporate security director from Michigan, had classified information on a flash drive with him when he was arrested in his hotel room, a Russian news site reported. CNN hasn’t independently verified that these are the official Russian allegations against him. Whelan’s lawyer is trying to get him released on bail because it could be half a year before his case goes to trial. He’s been visited in prison by US Ambassador Jon Huntsman. Whelan’s family says he’s not a spy and was only in Moscow for a friend’s wedding.
4. ‘El Chapo’ trial
How much does it cost for a drug cartel to bribe a whole nation of government officials? More than $1 million a month. That’s what the Sinaloa cartel spent on police and military officials in Mexico who helped the drug traffickers carry out their operations. This eye-popping fact about the cartel’s so-called “corruption budget” was revealed yesterday in testimony by a former Mexican drug trafficker during the trial of alleged kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. He’s pleaded not guilty to charges of international drug trafficking and conspiracy to murder rivals in a trial that’s dragged on for weeks.
5. Birth certificates
Birth certificates in New York City now have a gender-neutral option. A law that went into effect on New Year’s Day makes it easier for transgender and non-binary New Yorkers to match their birth certificate to their gender identity. An “X” label option on birth certificates is also available. New York City joins California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho in allowing a birth certificate change without the signature of a medical authority. New Jersey will allow that starting next month.
Hitmaker in chief
Barack Obama has been a President and won a Nobel Peace Prize. Now, he can add R&B chart topper to his list of accomplishments, thanks to “Hamilton.”
There’s an app for that?
Los Angeles now has an app that’ll give residents a heads-up — and possibly a few vital seconds to scramble to safety — before a big earthquake hits.
Meet the 11-year-old boy who swam to the bottom of a pool and saved the life of a drowning man in Minnesota.
What goes down must come up
After a couple years of bad press and a verbal (and Twitter) pounding from President Trump, NFL ratings rebounded nicely this season.
That’s how much reports of rape were up in New York in 2018. Mayor Bill de Blasio said part of the increase can be attributed to #MeToo.
That’s how many points the Dow dropped yesterday as Wall Street absorbed news of Apple’s latest woes and a big decline in US factory activity.
“When I see Jazmine Barnes’ face, I see my own daughter.”
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who pledged to give his game check from this weekend’s NFL playoff game to the family of 7-year-old Jazmine, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Texas. Police released a composite sketch of a suspect.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft took pictures of an object named Ultima Thule during a flyby on New Year’s Day. What does it look like?
A. Like a reindeer
B. Like a sleigh
C. Like Santa Claus
D. Like a snowman
Play “Total Recall: The CNN news quiz” to see if you’re right. And don’t forget, you can also find a version of the quiz on your Amazon devices. Just say, “Alexa, ask CNN for a quiz.”
It’s just cute dogs chasing snowflakes because, really, what else do you want for the first weekend of 2019? (Click to view.)