By Alexandra Meeks, CNN
In recent months, back-to-back extreme weather events like floods, tornados and hurricanes have caused catastrophic damage across the US — costing at least $165 billion last year alone. Scientists are saying the fingerprints of climate change are all over these weather disasters and underscore the urgency to cut planet-warming emissions.
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At least 17 people have died in California as a result of the winter storms that have battered the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday. From north to south in the Golden State this week, heavy downpours have caused mudslides, sinkholes and desperate rescues. The latest forecasts show more rain is expected to drench Northern California today and Thursday, while Southern California will see a pause in rain until the end of the week. Northern California’s severe weather will also be followed by a weekend storm, meteorologists say, in addition to four more atmospheric river events expected next week. There are also winter storm alerts in effect for five other western states including Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Ukrainian troops are set to begin training on the Patriot missile system in the US as soon as next week, according to the Pentagon. The training program will take place at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, where the US conducts its own training on operating and maintaining the advanced air defense system. The US has already trained Ukrainian troops in Europe, but analysts say the decision to conduct Patriot training on American soil could increase tensions with Moscow further as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has constantly warned Western nations against further involvement in the war. About 90 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers are expected to arrive in Oklahoma for the training, the Pentagon said.
3. US military
The US military’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for troops has been officially rescinded, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a memo Tuesday night. The requirement to remove the mandate was viewed as a win for conservative lawmakers who had argued that it was hindering the military’s recruitment efforts, although Pentagon officials maintained there was no evidence to support the claim. This comes after President Joe Biden recently signed the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, requiring its dismissal. Separately, the US military announced Tuesday that it intercepted a shipment of more than 2,000 Iranian assault rifles destined for Yemen. The move will likely add to the existing tensions between the US and Iran, which have increased in recent months due to the crackdowns on civil unrest throughout the country.
4. Airline complaints
After Southwest Airlines experienced a meltdown that scuttled holiday travel plans for hundreds of thousands of passengers, federal officials now say they’re acting on “thousands” of complaints from Southwest customers — including complaints that the airline is not making good on its pledge to issue refunds. The Department of Transportation “has sent every complaint directly to Southwest” and is now demanding the airline “provide substantive responses” to each within 60 days. Southwest Airlines told CNN it is processing “tens of thousands” of requests each day and is complying with the department’s regulations. According to a financial filing from Southwest, the meltdown cost the airline between $725 million and $825 million in lost revenue, additional crew costs, and passenger refunds.
5. Egg shortage
Several grocery items are getting more expensive, but nothing comes close to the rise in egg prices. The price increases are linked to a deadly avian flu that has been a problem in the US for several months now, causing widespread shortages. Specifically, the bird flu has been reducing poultry flocks — but the situation has been exacerbated by elevated feed and energy costs for producers, in addition to high demand in the supermarket. This year, US egg supplies will “remain constrained” through the first quarter, though flocks are expected to start repopulating faster as bird flu risks are contained, according to a new report. However, scientists say the egg shortage in other countries like Japan may not improve anytime soon as circulation of the virus has reached an all-time high.
THIS JUST IN
Several people injured in suspected Paris knife attack
At least six people were injured in an attack at Paris’ Gare Du Nord central railway station early this morning, French authorities said. Police officers fired multiple shots and the alleged attacker was injured. The motive for the attack remains unknown at this time, officials said.
FAA system outage is causing flight disruptions across the US
A Federal Aviation Administration system that provides pilots with notices they need to read before flying is experiencing an outage, affecting flights in the US. It’s unclear how many flights will be affected, because some airlines may be able to operate without information from the system, known as the NOTAMS system.
Golden Globe Awards
The Golden Globes returned to live TV Monday after going on hiatus over controversies. See the list of TV shows and films that took home top prizes.
M&M’s new packaging is causing a stir
The company’s latest candy pack is drawing criticism from right-wing news networks and on social media.
Restored Pompeii home offers extraordinary glimpse into life in Italy’s ancient city
After 20 years of restoration, visitors are now able to view inside the house of Vettii. Watch this video for a quick tour.
Tom Hanks called ‘insane’ for drinking this cocktail
During an appearance on “The Late Show,” actor Tom Hanks recreated a very unusual cocktail — and host Stephen Colbert called it “shamefully good.”
Inside China’s crackdown on tattoo culture
Many public sector organizations in China have stated in job descriptions that people with tattoos are not eligible for certain roles, including police officers and firefighters. Learn more about the country’s crackdown on body art.
Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic official to be convicted of child sex abuse before the ruling was overturned in 2020, has died, according to his secretary. He was 81. Pell’s death was confirmed Tuesday after he was admitted to a Rome hospital for hip replacement surgery. While the operation was successful, Pell subsequently suffered a cardiac arrest.
That’s how long Allen Weisselberg, the long-time chief financial officer for former President Donald Trump, has been sentenced to serve in jail for his role in a decade-long tax fraud scheme. Weisselberg’s sentencing on Tuesday caps one long-running investigation — but it comes as the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office continues to investigate the Trump Organization over the accuracy of the companies’ financial statements.
“People know I take classified documents, classified information seriously… I don’t know what’s in the documents.”
— President Biden, saying Tuesday that he was surprised to learn government records from his time as vice president — which included some classified documents — had been taken to his private office after he had left public service. Among the classified documents are US intelligence memos and briefing materials that covered topics including Ukraine, Iran and the United Kingdom, according to a source familiar with the matter. The White House has convened a call with top allies to explain the investigation surrounding the classified documents, hoping to quell the growing criticism and questions about the discovery.
Swimming camels in India
It’s Wednesday, also known as “hump day” to mark the midpoint of the week. So, to fit the theme, enjoy this video of swimming camels. (Click here to view)
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