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5 things to know for Jan. 11: Presidential race, Israel, Tahoe avalanche, Climate, Bitcoin

By Alexandra Banner, CNN

(CNN) — Prices are falling for TVs, cars, and gasoline as the US economy continues to defy recession predictions. Still, many consumers remain concerned about inflation — even though the typical middle-class American household has “more wealth, higher earnings and more purchasing power than before the pandemic,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Wednesday.

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

1. Presidential race

The two Republicans vying to become the top alternative to former President Donald Trump in the 2024 GOP presidential primary — Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley — sparred during CNN’s debate Wednesday night. In their first one-on-one matchup, each gave their final pitch to Iowa voters with just days until the state’s pivotal caucuses. Both candidates sought to appear toughest on some bedrock conservative priorities: ending illegal immigration, cutting taxes and reining in the federal budget. They also traded jabs over what role the US should play in Ukraine’s war with Russia. Haley argued for robust aid to Ukraine, while DeSantis called her policy a “carbon copy” of President Joe Biden’s. Trump skipped the event and hours prior, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced he was suspending his 2024 presidential campaign.

2. Israel

South Africa has begun its genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice. The country wants the court to order Israel to suspend its military campaign in Gaza. Meanwhile, Israel — which will defend itself on Friday — has reacted furiously to the case, calling it an “absurd blood libel.” Israel has said it will argue it is acting in self-defense and that it is doing its “utmost” to protect civilians in Gaza. The US backs Israel’s position, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling the case “meritless” and a distraction from efforts to address the humanitarian crisis and prevent the war from spreading. It could take weeks before judges issue a decision.

3. Tahoe avalanche

An avalanche at a Lake Tahoe-area resort in California killed one person and injured another on Wednesday morning. The avalanche occurred at the Palisades Tahoe ski resort and quickly prompted a search and rescue effort by multiple teams for potential victims. The 66-year-old skier who died and the person who was injured were resort guests, according to Michael Gross, Palisades Tahoe’s vice president of mountain operations. The avalanche occurred in an area that had just opened in the morning and had undergone rigorous “avalanche control assessments” for several days by teams who also evaluated weather conditions and safety measures, Gross said.

4. Climate

Large swaths of the US are being hit by winter storms this week, including blizzards that have blanketed parts of the Midwest and Northeast in snow. However, a new study shows that the human-caused climate crisis has significantly reduced snowpack in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere in the last 40 years, threatening water resources for millions of people. Data published Tuesday also confirmed 2023 to be the warmest year on record at an average global temperature of 14.98 degrees Celsius. Climate scientists have repeatedly warned about the critical climate threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius when many ecosystems will struggle to adapt and summertime heat will approach the limits of human survivability in some places.

5. Bitcoin

The Securities and Exchange Commission gave its approval Wednesday for some investment companies to offer “spot bitcoin” exchange-traded funds. The move is expected to make investing in Bitcoin — the leading cryptocurrency — more accessible to Main Street investors without requiring them to own the digital asset directly. SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a statement that the agency remains wary about the volatility and “myriad risks associated with Bitcoin and products whose value is tied to crypto.” Bitcoin hit an all-time high of nearly $69,000 in November 2021. It fell below $17,000 during the “crypto winter” of 2022 and has been trading north of $45,000 in the run-up to the SEC’s decision.


SAG Awards 2024: See the full list of nominees
The nominees for the 30th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards were announced Wednesday. Notably, the ceremony next month will stream live on Netflix — a first for the show and the streamer.

Alabama coach Nick Saban is retiring
Nick Saban, one of college football’s top coaches of all time, is retiring after 17 seasons at Alabama.

Astronomers have traced the origin of mysterious radio signals in space
A group of distant galaxies is causing the fast radio wave bursts that have puzzled scientists for years, astronomers said this week.

Walmart is betting big on new technology
Walmart is joining the AI race, but can it deliver on drone delivery where its rivals have failed?

Questions swirl around athletes competing at Paris 2024
Hundreds of Ukrainian athletes are urging French President Emmanuel Macron to exclude Russian and Belarusian athletes from participating in the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.


That’s around how many Hollywood figures signed an open letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — the body behind the Academy Awards — demanding it immediately add Jews to its inclusion and diversity standards. The upcoming 2024 Oscars are the first year that films being submitted for best picture will need to meet the Academy’s new criteria designed to help better reflect “underrepresented groups” on-screen.


“We are still seeing far too many firearms at TSA checkpoints.”

— TSA Administrator David Pekoske, announcing Wednesday that more than 6,700 guns were intercepted by US airport security officers in 2023 before those weapons could make it aboard airplanes.


Check your local forecast here>>>


How to perform CPR
Most people will never find themselves in a situation calling for CPR, but if it happens, it’s great to know how to help. YouTube also said this week that it will elevate similar instructional videos on its platform to ensure users can quickly find trusted advice on first aid and emergency care.

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