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5 things to know for December 16: Ukraine, Covid, Twitter, Immigration, Climate


By Alexandra Meeks, CNN

Much of the East Coast will be hunkering down this weekend as snow and ice begin to smother parts of the Mid-Atlantic and New England. The region is gearing up for the same powerful storm system that’s already brought several cities across the South to a halt, with at least 50 tornadoes reported this week in Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma.

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

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1. Ukraine

Russian missile attacks have been reported today in multiple Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, knocking out power and water supplies. The latest wave of strikes killed two people in central Ukraine and injured several others, military officials said. Amid Ukraine’s continued pleas for international assistance, the US Congress passed a massive defense spending bill Thursday that includes $800 million in support.

The legislation, which now goes to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature, provides funding for the federal government to pay for the production of weapons to send to the country, rather than drawing directly from current US stockpiles. It would also expedite delivery of munitions to Ukraine and neighboring US allies.

2. Covid-19

The new defense spending bill also includes a provision that rescinds the US military’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate. Republicans have been lobbying to kill the vaccine requirement for service members, and some leading Democrats have also agreed it’s time for a change in the policy. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy said last week that, “the end of President Biden’s military Covid vaccine mandate is a victory for our military and for common sense.” McCarthy also said that Biden himself endorses the move to end the mandate, though White House officials say that’s an overstatement.

3. Twitter

Twitter on Thursday evening abruptly suspended the accounts of several high-profile journalists from top news organizations. Neither Elon Musk nor Twitter representatives responded to a request for comment from CNN, and the platform did not explain precisely why the journalists were banned. But in a series of tweets, Musk falsely claimed the journalists had violated Twitter’s new “doxxing” policy by sharing his live location, amounting to what he described as “assassination coordinates.” (The popular @ElonJet account — which frequently posts the location of Musk’s private jet — had earlier in the week been banned on the same grounds.) Among the suspended accounts was that of CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, who did not share the billionaire’s live location. The suspensions raise a number of questions about the future of the platform and call into serious question Musk’s supposed commitment to “absolute” free speech.

4. Immigration

The Biden administration has released a six-pillar plan to address a surge in migrant crossings that is anticipated after the scheduled end of Title 42 next week. It includes additional resources at the US-Mexico border, highlights consequences for unlawful entry and lists steps to improve processing efficiency, bolster nonprofit capacity, target people smugglers and collaborate with international partners. According to the plan, the increase in resources to the southern border includes the hiring of nearly 1,000 Border Patrol processing coordinators and 2,500 contractors and personnel from government agencies. Expecting thousands of migrants’ arrival daily, US Customs and Border Protection will impose legal consequences on those who cross unlawfully and don’t have a legal basis to stay in the US, the plan states.

5. Climate

California regulators approved an aggressive plan Thursday to achieve carbon neutrality in the state by 2045. The plan, approved by the California Air Resources Board, looks to move one of the world’s largest economies to renewable energy and away from fossil fuels. The board said the plan will cut air pollution by 71% and gas emissions by 85%. Beginning in 2026, all new residential buildings will be required to install electric appliances and in 2029, the requirements will begin extending to commercial buildings, the plan states. The board also previously approved a rule requiring all passenger vehicles sold in the state to be zero-emission by 2035. Separately, Virgin Atlantic today announced plans to fly a Boeing 787 from London to New York, powered solely by waste oils and fats, a move hailed as a step toward reducing aviation’s significant environmental impact.


15 of 2022’s most extraordinary discoveries

A Van Gogh self-portrait. A massive pink diamond. A route that could lead to Cleopatra’s long-lost tomb. View the full list of stunning finds made this year here.

Harvard University appoints first Black president

Congratulations are in order for Claudine Gay. Currently the school’s Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, she’ll become the first person of color and the second woman to hold the role of Harvard University’s president.

Real Madrid signs 16-year-old Brazilian player in $63 million deal

The highly-touted teenager has a lucrative job lined up — when he reaches legal age in 2024.

Uber Eats launches robot delivery service in Miami

Would you like fries with that? Autonomous, “remotely-supervised” robots are now delivering some customers’ orders in Florida’s Miami-Dade county, with Uber Eats planning to expand the scheme in other US cities next year.

This champion adaptive surfer knows the power of resilience

Meira Va’a Nelson lost her mother as a young child, and was paralyzed in a car accident as a teen. Still, she’s showing others in Hawaii and across the world how disabled people can thrive in the water.


Which teams will face off in the 2022 World Cup final on Sunday?

A. Argentina and France

B. Argentina and Morocco

C. USA and Croatia

D. USA and England

Take CNN’s weekly news quiz here to see if you’re correct!



That’s how many men were sentenced Thursday for plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The three men, who prosecutors said are members of a militia group known as the “Wolverine Watchmen,” will all serve years in prison for their gang participation and supporting a terrorist act, among other charges. “A conspiracy to kidnap and kill a sitting governor of the state of Michigan is a threat to democracy itself — and this kind of violent extremism has become disturbingly common,” Whitmer said.


“The American people have gotten wise to him. Took a little while, but they did.”

— Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, discussing former President Donald Trump’s 2024 prospects in an interview with CNN. Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi both predicted Trump will lose his third bid for the White House and said President Joe Biden should run again after what they described as an “excellent” first two years in office. A new CNN poll, however, found Americans have little appetite for a Biden-Trump rematch. About 6 in 10 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they want their party to nominate someone other than Trump in 2024 (62%), while a similar 59% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they’d like to see someone other than Biden at the top of the ticket in the next presidential election.


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Mariachi band plays “Game of Thrones” theme song

Bundle up in this chilly weather and enjoy a fun rendition of the HBO show’s theme. Sure, winter is coming, but you can still make it a great day. (Click here to view; HBO, and HBO Max, are owned by CNN’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery.)

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