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5 things to know for Nov. 21: Israel, AI, Seasonal viruses, Trump, Gun violence


CNN

By Alexandra Banner, CNN

(CNN) — A few days before Thanksgiving, the White House appears eager to promote dropping prices on everything from gas to the cost of turkeys as many Americans grapple with a holiday cash crush. The push to highlight easing prices comes as the Biden administration has struggled to move the needle with voters who say their pocketbooks are in pain — despite some improved economic indicators.

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

1. Israel

A Hamas leader said today the militant group is “close to reaching a truce agreement” with Israel, supporting similar assertions from the White House. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Monday that negotiators are “getting close to the end” on the release of hostages held by Hamas — but he declined to elaborate on the details of a potential deal. An estimated 239 hostages are being held in Gaza, abducted during Hamas’ October 7 attacks on Israel that killed around 1,200 people, according to the Israeli military. Also, in a rare glimmer of hope for Gaza, 28 premature babies arrived in Egypt today as Palestinian authorities ramp up efforts to transport injured patients through the Rafah crossing for life-saving treatment.

2. Artificial intelligence

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, is facing a potential wave of employee resignations following the surprise ouster of CEO Sam Altman. More than 500 employees signed a letter threatening to quit after they accused the OpenAI board of mishandling Altman’s firing and “negotiating in bad faith” with the company’s executive leadership. In the scathing letter, the employees warned that they would “imminently” follow Altman to Microsoft unless the board resigns and reinstates him and Greg Brockman, the former president of OpenAI who was also removed by the board on Friday. Meanwhile, Microsoft stock reached a record high on Monday after announcing that Altman will join the company to head its artificial intelligence innovation division.

3. Seasonal viruses

As many Americans look forward to embracing loved ones this Thanksgiving holiday, health experts are encouraging safe gathering habits amid a mix of seasonal viruses in circulation. The latest CDC data shows cases of flu, Covid-19 and RSV are picking up in most parts of the country, meaning many common public surfaces and heavily populated areas may potentially be contaminated. However, there are a number of familiar precautions you can take to keep from catching an illness from fellow travelers or out-of-town visitors such as handwashing, opening windows when possible and masking in areas with limited ventilation. Vaccines are also available at hospitals and major retail pharmacy chains, experts stress. Plus, each US household is now eligible to order an additional four at-home Covid-19 tests — for free.

4. Trump

A court will decide how much former President Trump can directly criticize Jack Smith, the special counsel overseeing his federal 2020 election subversion case. On Monday, a federal appeals court in Washington, DC, heard oral arguments for over 2 hours about the gag order issued against Trump by the judge. The order restricts Trump’s ability to publicly target court personnel, witnesses or Jack Smith and his staff. Overall, the judges were skeptical of Trump’s broad arguments that the gag order violated his free speech rights, but may loosen some of the restrictions against him. The appeals court has temporarily frozen the order, a move that last week allowed Trump to continue his attacks on the special counsel and his family.

5. Gun violence

Police say four people were injured after a gunman opened fire at a Walmart near Dayton, Ohio, before taking his own life Monday night. Authorities say the suspect entered the store around 8:35 p.m. ET and shot four people before turning the gun on himself. The victims were taken to hospitals for treatment, though their current conditions remain unclear. Monday night’s violence marks at least the second deadly shooting at the store. It is also among at least 609 mass shootings in the US this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Separately, a search is underway for a Colorado shooter after three people were killed Monday in a dispute over property lines. The incident in the rural southern Colorado area remains under investigation.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

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‘Napoleon’ releases in US theaters this week
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A never-before-seen glimpse of the heart of the Milky Way
The James Webb Space Telescope captured a stunning new image of our home galaxy, released by NASA on Monday.

TODAY’S NUMBER

40%
That’s the percentage of Ukraine’s electricity grid that has been destroyed by Russian missiles and drones over the last two years. Amid ongoing airstrikes, US tech giant Cisco confirmed it quietly sent dozens of equipment kits into Ukraine over the last several months to help the country keep the lights on this winter.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“This holiday season is estimated to bring some of the busiest travel days in US history.”

— Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, saying travelers should anticipate flight delays surrounding Thanksgiving due to some weather concerns and busy skies. Approximately 50,000 flights are scheduled across the US on Wednesday, the FAA estimates, likely meaning crowded airports and long lines.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY …

The US government printed a record number of $50 bills last year
Watch this short video to learn why the federal government printed more than 750 million $50 bills in 2022.

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