The polar vortex, a low pressure system that swirls cold air at the Earth's poles, may be on the move. That could mean bitter cold temperatures in the US over the next few weeks.
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1. Capitol riot
A US Capitol police officer has died of injuries suffered in Wednesday's violence at the Capitol. Officer Brian Sicknick is the fifth person to lose his life as a result of the insurrection. Despite weeks of preparation, law enforcement officials say they had no intelligence that the planned pro-Trump rally would pose a threat to the Capitol building or anyone in it, and now Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund is resigning. Sund said his force and other officers were "actively attacked" with metal pipes and other weapons as rioters tried to enter the building. Digital security experts are now raising alarm over the breach, saying it could create potential national security and intelligence risks. Rioters broke into congressional offices, ransacked papers and in at least one case, reportedly stole a laptop. Nearly 6,200 National Guard members are being mobilized from several states and the District of Columbia to provide security to Washington following the deadly events.
2. White House
Two Cabinet members have resigned in the wake of the Capitol riot. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao tendered her resignation, saying she was "deeply troubled" by events at the Capitol. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos later resigned, saying President Trump's role in spurring the Capitol mob was "the inflection point." Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team are considering a rapid impeachment process if Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet refuse to take steps to remove Trump from office in the coming days. Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democratic lawmakers have called on the administration to invoke the 25th Amendment and strip Trump of his presidential powers. Trump yesterday publicly conceded his November election defeat for the first time and acknowledged a transfer of power is underway.
The US reported more than 4,000 Covid-19 deaths in a single day for the first time yesterday, as more grim stats pile up. In Los Angeles County, the number of people dying of Covid-19 in a day is now equivalent to the number of homicide deaths the city sees in an entire year. China has locked down Shijiazhuang, a city of 11 million people near Beijing, to contain the country's worst flare-up in months. In Japan, Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures went into a state of emergency today. Here's a little bit of good news: A new study offers early evidence that Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine might be effective against the two new coronavirus variants, first identified in South Africa and the United Kingdom, that are now cropping up across the globe.
The US military flew two B-52 bombers to the Middle East to demonstrate its "continuing commitment to regional security and deterrence to aggression," the Air Force said. It's the fourth such show of force in the last two months as tensions over the anniversary of the death of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani blur with tensions leading up to the transfer of presidential power in the US. There is a broad sense of concern that adversaries could take advantage of the domestic turmoil in the US, but so far, there's no concrete evidence that anything is afoot. Meanwhile, a judge in Baghdad's investigative court has issued an arrest warrant for Trump on his way out of office over the killing of an Iraqi paramilitary leader during the Soleimani assassination last year.
Boeing has reached a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department over criminal charges that the company defrauded the Federal Aviation Administration when it first won approval for its blighted 737 Max jet. The settlement includes a $243.6 million criminal fine, compensation payments of $1.77 billion to Boeing's airline customers and $500 million to a fund to compensate relatives of crash victims. The planes were grounded by the FAA in 2019 after two fatal crashes that killed 346 people, and the Justice Department said Boeing wasn't honest about the safety and performance of its jets. The FAA approved the jets to fly passengers again in November, but not before serious changes were made to the flawed safety system that caused the crashes.
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Elon Musk overtakes Jeff Bezos to become world's richest person
His net worth? $191 billion.
'Bridgerton' cast already hottest stars of 2021
Ah, that sweet, sweet Regency escapism.
Keep your 2021 goals simple in order to succeed, like putting on clothes and talking to other people
Putting on clothes? Talking to ... people? Hmmm, sounds like a stretch.
That's how much a South Korean judge has ordered the Japanese government to pay in damages to each of 12 survivors of wartime sexual slavery. The girls and women forced into sexual acts during World War II were known as "comfort women."
"The work of putting America back together, of truly repairing what is broken, isn't the work of any individual politician or political party. It's up to each of us to do our part. To reach out. To listen. And to hold tight to the truth and values that have always led this country forward. It will be an uncomfortable, sometimes painful process. But if we enter into it with an honest and unwavering love of our country, then maybe we can finally start to heal."
Former first lady Michelle Obama, in a statement addressing Wednesday's violence at the US Capitol
The first time I heard this work by Reynaldo Hahn, sung here by Susan Graham, I was moved to tears. Here's hoping it brings you some peace after a difficult week. (Click here to view.)