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5 things to know for February 4: ISIS, Ukraine, Olympics, Covid-19, Afghanistan

By Alexandra Meeks CNN

America’s jobs recovery got an unexpected boost in January despite the Omicron variant spreading rapidly throughout the country. The economy added 467,000 jobs last month, which is significantly better than most economists had expected.

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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The leader of ISIS was killed yesterday during a US counterterrorism raid in northwest Syria. Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi killed himself and his family after detonating a bomb as US forces approached his compound, Biden administration officials said. The explosion resulted in multiple civilian casualties, though there was a discrepancy between the White House and a Syrian civil defense group over how many. Qurayshi succeeded ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after he was killed in similar US raid in 2019. President Joe Biden watched the raid unfold in real time from the White House Situation Room. It was the highest-profile counterterrorism operation of Biden’s tenure.

2. Ukraine

US officials say Russia is planning to stage a fake attack by Ukraine in order to justify an invasion. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said that the US believes the Russian government is creating “a very graphic propaganda video” that would depict an attack by Ukrainian military or intelligence forces that would include corpses, actors depicting mourners, and images of destroyed locations. Moscow has continued its buildup up of forces and military equipment along the countries’ shared border, despite diplomatic efforts by the US and allies to de-escalate the situation. Russian Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov told CNN yesterday that Moscow is not planning any false flag operations to invade Ukraine.

3. Olympics

The Winter Olympics in Beijing begin today and excitement is building around the opening ceremonies scheduled to kick off later today. About 3,000 athletes will be competing in 15 disciplines across 109 events through February 20. Politics have dominated the build-up to the Games though, with several countries — including the US — imposing diplomatic boycotts to protest China’s alleged human rights abuses. Tensions in Eastern Europe are also impacting the atmosphere at the Olympics as Russia threatens to invade Ukraine. And Coronavirus concerns are at the forefront after a total of 308 Olympic-related cases were reported yesterday, 111 of which involve athletes or team officials, the Beijing Olympic Committee said. Participants are currently confined to a “closed loop system” and will compete, eat and sleep within that bubble without making any contact with the wider Chinese population until the Games end.

4. Coronavirus

Medicare will start paying for home Covid-19 tests beginning this spring. Last month, the Biden administration began requiring health insurers to cover the cost of home tests. Medicare was not initially included in the directive, sparking an outcry from seniors. This move will allow the 36 million senior citizens and Americans with disabilities in the traditional Medicare program to get reimbursed for tests purchased at participating pharmacies and retailers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told CNN. Separately, a new spinoff of the Omicron variant, called BA.2, has been found in at least 49 countries, including the United States — but medical professionals say there’s no need to worry because there is no evidence that it causes more severe symptoms than the original Omicron variant.

5. Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s public universities have reopened to female students for the first time since the Taliban took over the country last year. Female students were allowed back on university campuses this week, but on the condition they were separated from male students. Under the Taliban’s previous rule from 1996 to 2001, women and girls were barred from education. But the group has been vague on its plans for the education of girls and women since the hardline government resumed power on August 15. In many provinces, young girls are still being excluded from secondary schools, prompting aid groups to sound the international alarm for swift action.


“Moonfall” premieres in US theaters today

The movie is quite stellar. You’ll really enjoy this if you gravitate toward space disaster epics.

MacKenzie Scott donates $133.5 million to educational nonprofit

Move aside Santa! Ms. Scott is coming to town… with millions of dollars in unsolicited donations.

Demand for candy and snacks is increasing

Anyone else guilty of stress eating Hershey Kisses during the pandemic?

A drawing bought for $30 at a yard sale has been valued at $10 million

Maybe a treasure hunt at your neighbor’s next yard sale will make you a millionaire! Have hope!

The colorful Caribbean

Vamos! These vibrant images of Puerto Rico will make you add the Caribbean to your travel list.


The Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival in China, was celebrated this week. What year have we entered, according to the Chinese zodiac?

A. the Year of the Snake

B. the Year of the Rat

C. the Year of the Tiger

D. the Year of the Horse

Take the 5 Things weekly news quiz to see if you’re correct!


$240 billion

That’s how much Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, dropped in market value yesterday. The company’s shares closed down more than 26% following a rough earnings report, making it the worst trading day in Meta’s history as a public company.


“How do we unite us again? Unity is elusive, but it’s really actually necessary.”

— President Joe Biden, delivering remarks yesterday at the National Prayer Breakfast at the US Capitol. His address to members of Congress and religious leaders at the multi-faith event stressed the importance of unity “during a moment of great division.”


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Kittens and puppies meet for the first time

Calling all cat and dog lovers! Start your day with this adorable first encounter. (Click here to view)

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