5 things to know for December 28: Transformer explosion, financial markets, Saudi Arabia, Congo, weather

Posted at 4:12 AM, Dec 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-28 06:47:21-05

The last weekend of the year is upon us, so there’s no better time to look back at the movies and TV shows that thrilled us in 2018 — along with the ones that let us down. Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. New York transformer explosion

If you were in New York around 9 Thursday night, as the sky lit up a brilliant shade of blue, you were probably asking yourself, “What the heck was that?” No, it wasn’t an alien invasion or some out-of-control marketing stunt for the next “Avengers” movie. It was a transformer that blew up at a power plant in Queens, producing an eerie, glowing turquoise color that was visible for miles. The blast shook buildings, rattled windows and sent folks running into the streets. But thankfully no one was hurt in the explosion. There were some temporary power outages, and LaGuardia Airport closed for about an hour. New York police later tweeted that an equipment malfunction was the cause of the blast.

2. Financial markets

Wall Street’s wild roller-coaster ride continues. The Dow started off Thursday by plummeting a whopping 611 points, then it rallied in the final hour of trading for a swing of almost 900 points. The late comeback saw the Dow close 260 points higher. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq ended the day slightly higher as well. All this comes after the Dow suffered its worst ever Christmas Eve session, followed by its biggest ever daily point gain the day after Christmas. So what’s fueling all of this volatility? Investors are worried that the economy, while still strong, will slow down in 2019. They’re also watching to see how President Donald Trump’s trade policies will turn out and what planned interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve will do

3. Saudi Arabia

King Salman is shaking up Saudi Arabia’s government as the kingdom continues to deal with the fallout from the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The foreign affairs minister was replaced, a new head of the National Guard was announced and new security intelligence officials were hired. But nothing seems to have changed for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the heir apparent to the Saudi throne who the CIA concluded ordered Khashoggi’s killing. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and harsh critic of the Saudi regime, was killed and reportedly dismembered by a 15-person team at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul in October.

4. Congo

Protests broke out in parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after the latest delay in the presidential election there. The election, repeatedly postponed since 2016, is set for Sunday. But voters in the cities of Beni, Butembo and Yumbi won’t be able to cast ballots until March, because of concerns about terrorism and an ongoing Ebola outbreak. The announcement of the delay sent people into the streets, where they blocked roads and burned tires. Police responded with tear gas to break up the crowds.

5. Winter weather

Blizzard warnings in the northern Plains and upper Midwest will wind down this morning as a severe weather system that also brought torrential rain to the South moves eastward. The storm, which killed two people, produced whiteout conditions and dumped up to a foot of snow in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas. A 75-mile stretch of Interstate 70 in Kansas was shut down because of the blizzard conditions. The storm system also soaked parts of Louisiana and Mississippi with more than 11 inches of rain. More than 50 million people remain under flood watches from New Jersey to Louisiana.


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“Black Mirror” fans rejoice. Netflix dropped a trailer for a movie based on the trippy sci-fi show that premieres today.

Making moves, Part 1
A 71-year-old Frenchman is trying to float across the Atlantic — in a barrel. Because that’s how we all want to spend our retirement years.

Making moves, Part 2
Crossing Antarctica. Alone. While pulling a sled. Not our idea of a good time, but a US athlete did it, in 54 days, and made history, to boot.

Eye to the sky
You won’t need to go to the movies next year to see great special effects. Just look up for 2019’s five eclipses, super blood wolf moon and other cool events.



The number of days the partial government shutdown has dragged on. And it looks like it will continue into next week and maybe the new year after the House and Senate adjourned and made plans to reconvene Monday. One congressman told CNN’s Dana Bash that no progress had been made in negotiations.


The number of police officers in the United States killed in the line of duty this year.


Quiz time
Which country has been plagued by extreme heat in the days following Christmas?

A. India

B. Saudi Arabia

C. Mexico

D. Australia

Play “Total Recall: The CNN news quiz” to see if you’re right. And don’t forget, you can also find a version of the quiz on your Amazon devices. Just say, “Alexa, ask CNN for a quiz.”


All cracked up

Ever wonder how fast glass cracks? No, we haven’t either. But the Slow Mo Guys have because, well, that’s what they’re into. (Click to view.)