Some of the country’s national parks suffered serious damage during the partial government shutdown. Here’s how you can help them recover. And 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. State of the Union
President Trump appealed for national unity during his speech last night, though parts of his address also highlighted the partisan gulf that so starkly divides the nation. Trump urged Americans to move “forward together,” and his lines promising to unite Republicans and Democrats to lower prescription drug prices, improve infrastructure and battle cancer and HIV/AIDS generated genuine bipartisan applause.
But immigration was a huge topic, too, and Trump indicated he’s not backing down from his demand for $5 billion for a wall on the US-Mexico border, calling border security a “moral issue.” The President also threw out red meat for his base, calling for an end to investigations into his administration and mentioning late-term abortion. Trump also said his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be February 27 and 28 in Vietnam.
2. Pope Francis
Pope Francis, for the first time, said the sexual abuse of nuns by bishops and priests was a problem in the Catholic Church. Francis made the comments on his flight back to Rome after he spent a few days visiting the United Arab Emirates. Francis said the Vatican had “been working on this for some time” and had “suspended some clerics, sent them away for this” and “dissolved” some orders of nuns “that were very tied up in this, a corruption.” This comes as the church continues to grapple with child sex abuse by priests. While in the UAE, Francis celebrated the first papal Mass in the Arabian Peninsula.
3. US weapons in Yemen
Saudi Arabia and its partners waging war in Yemen have given weapons bought from the US to fighters linked to al Qaeda and other extremists groups in the country, a CNN investigation discovered. The weapons have been used as a form of currency by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, its main partner in the war, to buy the loyalties of militias or tribes and to influence the political landscape in Yemen. Iranian-backed rebels who have been fighting the Saudi coalition in the country have also gotten their hands on US weaponry, exposing some of America’s sensitive military technology to Tehran. A US defense official confirmed to CNN an investigation into this has begun.
4. Alabama mall shooting
A police officer who mistakenly killed a man at a mall on Thanksgiving won’t face any charges. The officer, who still hasn’t been publicly identified, was working mall security when he shot and killed Emantic Bradford Jr. after an earlier shooting that left two people injured. Police first said Bradford, 21, was a suspect and brandished a weapon, then walked that back. Witnesses said Bradford was helping mall patrons when the officer shot him in the back. Alabama’s attorney general said the officer “did not commit a crime” because the officer viewed Bradford, who was armed, as an “immediate deadly threat.” An attorney for Bradford’s family called the AG’s decision “outrageous.”
5. James Brown
In Part 2 of CNN’s investigation into the death of James Brown, reporter Thomas Lake examines the death of Brown’s third wife. When Adrienne Brown died in 1996, authorities found no signs of foul play. But a friend always suspected murder. Then in 2017, a retired detective told CNN he’d thoroughly read an informant’s old notebook for the first time and found a doctor’s chilling confession.
All news is good news?
After the Kevin Hart controversy, the folks who run the Oscars say the show will go on without a host and all the brouhaha has been good publicity.
Get ready to say goodbye to the Pritchetts, the Dunphys and the rest of the “Modern Family” gang. The groundbreaking sitcom’s 11th season will be its last.
Talk about information security. A USB drive was found inside frozen seal poop in New Zealand. And it still works!
Earth’s magnetic north pole keeps drifting toward Russia, and that’s bad news for your GPS maps. But don’t worry; scientists are on the case.
Walk into the chambers of the Nevada Legislature and you’ll see a first in the nation’s history: The majority of lawmakers are women.
That’s how much the bed in the super luxe suite of the world’s largest cruise ship is worth.
On a magic carpet ride
These guys’ idea of fun is to tie a carpet to the back of a vehicle and ride through the streets of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. (Click to view.)