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5 things to know for Dec. 28: Border crisis, Ballot fight, Gaza, Holiday travel, Gas prices


By Alexandra Banner, CNN

(CNN) — If you feel as though you didn’t read enough this year, don’t fret. CNN asked a handful of 2023’s most relevant authors, musicians, and cultural tastemakers for book recommendations to help kick-start your 2024 reading list.

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

1. Border crisis

Top officials from the US and Mexico met on Wednesday to discuss the crisis at the southern border as the Biden administration scrambles to slow an unprecedented migrant surge. The meeting was “very productive,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said, though it remains unclear which specific agreements were reached. Homeland Security officials have recently discussed a range of ways Mexico can help drive down numbers at the US border, including moving migrants south, controlling the railways used by migrants to move north, and providing incentives to not journey to the border, like visas, to remain in the country and avoid migrating irregularly.

2. Ballot fight

The Colorado Republican Party has asked the US Supreme Court to overturn the ruling that disqualifies former President Donald Trump from the state’s 2024 ballot. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled last week that Trump is constitutionally ineligible to run next year because the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists holding public office covers his conduct during the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. The filing Wednesday came hours after the Michigan Supreme Court rejected a similar 14th Amendment lawsuit, keeping Trump on the ballot there. The dueling outcomes further raise the stakes for the Colorado appeal to the US Supreme Court, which is uniquely positioned to provide nationwide guidance on the novel constitutional matter.

3. Gaza

At least 50 Palestinians were killed following Israeli strikes in Gaza earlier today as fatalities in the enclave surpassed 21,000 since October 7, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry. The rising toll comes as Israel’s military chief said Tuesday that the war against Hamas “will continue for many more months” and that Israeli forces are concentrating their efforts “in the southern Gaza Strip — Khan Younis, the central camps, and further.” Israel is also claiming there are “logistical limitations” to getting aid into Gaza and urged “the international community to find additional solutions,” as global leaders warn of the spiraling humanitarian disaster in the region.

4. Holiday travel

US airlines are delivering a significant holiday improvement this year compared to the travel meltdown at the end of 2022. Figures from FlightAware show that carriers have canceled less than 1% of all flights over the past week. Airlines scheduled more than 162,000 flights from December 20 to 26 and canceled just 1,100. The scene is substantially more positive than the last 10 days of 2022 — when a Southwest Airlines scheduling fiasco caused the cancelation of 16,900 flights and left two million passengers stranded. The 10-day peak travel period, which ends on January 1, is likely to be the busiest ever at US airports — with more than 7.5 million air travelers.

5. Gas prices

Gas prices will fall in 2024 for a second year in a row, GasBuddy told CNN. The travel and navigation app, which had a forecast for 2023 that proved to be eerily accurate, expects US gas prices will average $3.38 a gallon in the key election year of 2024. That would represent a significant improvement from 2023’s average of $3.51 a gallon and an even bigger drop from 2022’s average of $3.95. GasBuddy’s forecast bodes well for consumers who remain highly sensitive to swings in the cost of living, especially at the gas pump. Cheaper gas prices would give the Federal Reserve an even wider runway as it seeks to pull off a rare soft landing of the US economy by taming inflation without starting a recession.


Apple to restart watch sales today
The full Apple Watch lineup will be available for purchase again after a court temporarily blocked an import ban on its latest smartwatches.

Paramore stirs speculation after wiping site and social media
Fans are wondering if the band is breaking up or preparing for a new project. Here’s what we know.

Airport falls silent as priest blesses planes
The chaplain at Dublin Airport took advantage of the empty runway on Christmas day to perform his annual “Blessing of the Planes.” Read more about the ceremony that dates back to 1947.

5 easy ways to keep your brain sharp
Here are the top five things we learned this year from the “Chasing Life” podcast with CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. This season examined the brain in its many states — including the organized brain, the menopausal brain and the depressed brain.

Steve Ballmer is set to make $1 billion a year for doing nothing
Ballmer, the sixth-richest person in the world, is set to collect that much in dividends for simply owning Microsoft stock in 2024.


Former US senator and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl has passed away following a brief illness, his foundation announced on Wednesday. He was 88. Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat and co-founder of the Kohl’s department store chain, served in the US Senate for 24 years. A lifelong basketball fan, he also bought his hometown NBA team in 1985, ensuring the Bucks remained in Milwaukee.

Separately, comedian Tom Smothers, who with his brother performed as the singing comedy duo the Smothers Brothers, has died, according to a family statement. He was 86. Dick Smothers, Tom’s younger brother and professional partner, said his brother was at home at the time of his death related to cancer.


$250 million
That’s how much the US will provide to Ukraine in a new military aid package, the State Department announced on Wednesday. It is the last assistance package the US can send to Ukraine until Congress approves the Biden administration’s funding requests. The US has sent more than $46 billion in military aid to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began in February 2022.


“Defendants seek to free-ride on The Times’s massive investment in its journalism.”

— The New York Times, accusing OpenAI and Microsoft of copyright infringement in a new lawsuit filed Wednesday. Among several claims, the Times alleges that the companies’ artificial intelligence technology illegally copied millions of Times articles to train ChatGPT and other services without providing compensation. The suit is the first among major news publishers to take on OpenAI and Microsoft, the most recognizable AI brands.


Check your local forecast here>>>


See the new bird roosting atop Notre Dame Cathedral
A golden rooster is now perched atop the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, a year before the gothic landmark is scheduled to reopen. Watch this short video to learn why.

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