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5 things to know for December 23: Air travel, Jan. 6, Ukraine, Immigration, NASA


By Alexandra Meeks, CNN

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, yes — but if your family is anything like mine, there might be some chaos too. Last-minute gift shopping, cooking for hours, deep cleaning before loved ones arrive; it’s frantic, hilarious and often vexes me, but I wouldn’t change a thing. As your holiday traditions unfold, remember to soak in all the moments that spark joy, even the ones that come with a sprinkle of stress. If you need a fun little break from it all, check out CNN’s Holiday Quiz to see how much you know about the festive season. Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Air travel

The massive winter storm battering the US is hitting major cities at a time when millions of travelers are trying to make holiday trips. Nearly 3,000 flights within, into, or out of the US have already been canceled today, according to flight tracking site FlightAware. Cancellations are highest at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and in Detroit, Seattle, Chicago, Denver and Boston, data shows. On Thursday, there were approximately 2,500 cancellations nationwide, with airports in Chicago and Denver most affected — Chicago O’Hare International Airport was logging average delays of almost three hours due to snow and ice. Many train and bus services have also been impacted, with Amtrak and Greyhound announcing cancellations and schedule changes across the Midwest and Northeast.

2. January 6

The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection recommends barring former President Donald Trump from holding office again. That recommendation is among the conclusions in the bipartisan panel’s final report, released late Thursday evening, providing an overview of their findings on how Trump and his allies sought to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The committee has already referred Trump to the Justice Department on at least four criminal charges, while saying in its executive summary it had evidence of possible charges of seditious conspiracy and conspiring to injure or impede an officer. Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said he has “every confidence that the work of this committee will help provide a road map to justice.”

3. Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday labeled fighting in Ukraine a “war” for the first known time in public — deviating from his carefully crafted description of Moscow’s invasion as a “special military operation.” Putin’s comment came as training for Ukrainian troops on the newly announced Patriot missile systems the US is providing to Ukraine is to begin “very soon,” a senior US defense official said. The Patriot system costs between $450 and $550 million, the Pentagon said, while each missile costs approximately $4 million. US officials said they will also soon start an expanded training program for Ukrainian forces to train approximately 500 soldiers per month on larger combat operations.

4. Immigration

Migrants at the US-Mexico border are struggling to find shelter while enduring freezing temperatures. In Texas, El Paso is in the midst of a declared state of emergency over thousands of migrants living in unsafe conditions. The city has opened government-run shelters at its convention center, hotels, and several unused schools, but is unable to accept migrants who don’t have documentation from Customs and Border Protection, city officials said. US border officials are also warning migrants about the potential dangers of crossing rivers or deserts during the dangerously cold weather. “Help avoid human death and tragedy, stay home or remain in a safe shelter,” Hugo Carmona, Acting Associate Chief of US Border Patrol Operations, said in a statement.


NASA and Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, are weighing options on how to bring home several people from the International Space Station after a Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked there sprang a leak last week. None of the seven people currently on board the ISS — including three Russian cosmonauts — were in danger as a result of the leak, but it’s unclear whether the spacecraft will be able to make a trip back to Earth with its crew on board. That trip had been scheduled for March 2023, but Roscosmos is now evaluating whether to fly its next Soyuz mission to the ISS empty — and move the launch up two to three weeks so the spacecraft could serve as an alternate rescue vehicle.

Happening later

House expected to vote on government spending bill

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on a massive $1.7 trillion spending bill today, as lawmakers look to avoid a government shutdown before rushing home for the holiday break. The Senate passed the measure Thursday, just ahead of tonight’s funding deadline, along with a bill to extend the deadline by one week in order to provide enough time for the bill to be formally processed and sent to President Joe Biden’s desk.


The best new series and limited series of 2022, from ‘Severance’ to ‘The White Lotus’

Looking for a new show to stream while on a holiday break? Check out these binge-worthy shows airing this year.

The best holiday dessert for non-bakers is simple — and it will make everyone happy

Ice cream might sound like a hot weather dessert, but it’s actually the ideal holiday treat for everyone — young and old, dairy-loving and dairy-free. Here are ways you can dress it up to serve a group of any size.

Why everyone is talking about ‘nepo babies’

The term refers to the child of successful and influential adults in industries like entertainment or fashion. (“Nepo” is short for nepotism.) Some say their birth-given privilege is unfair, while others defend them for leveraging their fame.

Shania Twain talks body positivity and posing topless for single cover

Twain said she’s “expressing her truth” and no longer “hiding behind the clothes.” Read more about the singer’s confidence journey and how she embraces her body in her 50s.

Men to compete in Olympic Artistic Swimming for first time at Paris 2024

Many aquatic athletes are celebrating the inclusive move to allow men to compete in the sport, previously known as synchronized swimming.


How many Christmas trees are displayed throughout the White House this year?

A. 7

B. 13

C. 46

D. 77

Take CNN’s special edition Holiday Quiz to see if you’re correct!



That’s how many blankets Target recently recalled after receiving four reports of children becoming entrapped inside, including two fatalities. The Pillowfort weighted blankets can trap children if they unzip the cover and then enter the blanket, posing a risk of suffocation, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said. Consumers are being urged to stop using the recalled blankets immediately and return them to stores for a refund.


“Our politics has gotten so angry, so mean, so partisan, and too often we see each other as enemies, not as neighbors.”

— President Joe Biden, attempting to strike a unifying message in a Christmas speech to the nation Thursday. Biden called for the “poison” to be drained from politics in favor of bipartisan cooperation. He also encouraged reaching out to connect with loved ones over the holidays, considering the years of isolation brought on by the pandemic. “No one can ever know what someone else is going through, what’s really going on in their life, what they’re struggling with… that’s why sometimes the smallest act of kindness can mean so much,” Biden remarked. “So, this Christmas, let’s spread a little kindness.”


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Put a bow on it

Meet a woman who works in “bow kingdom,” where large bows are created for special occasions and holiday car commercials. (Click here to view.)

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