Today marks the 77th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a day that changed the course of American history and the history of the world. 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. United Nations
The President may have his new UN ambassador. Trump is expected to nominate State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert to replace Nikki Haley, who announced in October she’d step down. It would be quite a change: The administration as a whole is deeply distrustful of the UN, and the outspoken Haley reportedly sparred with other US officials. Nauert, an ex-Fox News host, would be a decidedly less senior presence in one of the most high-profile posts in US diplomacy. First, though, she’d need to be confirmed by the Senate — and Dems would likely grill her on her qualifications.
The two sides in Yemen’s yearslong civil war — which has ruined the country’s economy and infrastructure and sparked a humanitarian crisis — just began long-awaited direct talks in Sweden as a step toward calming the violence. But even that glimmer of hope has darkened. Just hours before talks began, Houthi rebels and Saudi-backed Yemeni officials traded threats. The talks are sponsored by the United Nations, and a UN official advises everyone to temper their optimism, as the negotiations are merely consultations, not likely a move toward peace. Since the conflict began four years ago, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed or wounded and untold numbers affected by famine. Strategic clashes between the warring parties have choked infrastructure, so aid and basic necessities are extremely hard to access.
Welcome to another downhill in the roller coaster that is US-China relations. Just days after trade tensions between the countries started to loosen, the arrest of a high-level Chinese executive has sent stock markets plunging again. Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei, was detained days ago in Vancouver at the request of US authorities, who say she threatens national security. The US wants to extradite Meng, and a bail hearing is set for today. Chinese officials want Meng released and demanded an explanation of the charges. It’s pretty obvious why this pokes a huge hole in the slowly-growing bubble of optimism surrounding US-China trade. The big question now is how both sides move forward with economic solutions, if they do at all.
The Environmental Protection Agency is rolling back an Obama-era coal emissions rule designed to regulate climate change. The move is part of the Trump administration’s effort to loosen restrictions on the coal industry, and it flies in the face of a recent congressional report that warns of climate change’s dire consequences (and that the President flatly dismissed). The reversal will make it easier to build coal-powered plants, but the message of this decision is as important as the result: It shows that the Trump administration has no qualms about disregarding US and international warnings about the changing environment to shore up waning energy interests. (Remember: EPA acting chief Andrew Wheeler is a former coal industry lobbyist.)
5. Winter weather
Happy Friday! Hope you’re ready to be cold. The Southeast is going to see some snowy skies this weekend thanks to a serious winter storm. It will start building today in the Southern Plains and Texas, then spread through the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Along with snow, people from Texas and Oklahoma all the way to North Carolina should brace for rain, freezing rain, and just, well, freezing. Meantime, California, still reeling from record wildfires, is facing its own cooldown. Some roads around Los Angeles and Bakersfield had to close yesterday because they were coated with snow.
If the Russia investigation is your thing, today is your day. Special counsel Robert Mueller is set to unveil new filings regarding jailed former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen. These documents are expected to be extremely significant for the Trump administration, offering signs of how the Russia drama may unfold in the weeks ahead.
Kevin Hart steps down as 2019 Academy Awards host after his old homophobic tweets resurface
We say “resurfaced” like they weren’t just there on a major website for everyone to find. What a mess.
Pizza is the top ‘addictive’ food, according to a study
Well, we know what those researchers ate on the clock.
Angela Merkel said ‘shitstorm’
And we printed the word! What a weird time for journalism!
‘Jeopardy!’ contestants baffled by question about CNN show
Dubai launches sail-thru supermarket for yacht owners
Heaven forbid one have to disembark a fancy boat for a Hot Pockets run, like some sort of peasant.
“We’ve been carrying a suit on our tour bus for a couple of months and wondering. …By hook or by crook, we were going to be there for him.”
Joe Bonsall, of The Oak Ridge Boys, reminiscing about the country group’s long friendship with George H.W. Bush. They honored a promise to sing at the former President’s funeral with a moving rendition of “Amazing Grace” at yesterday’s service in Houston.
The number of seats in the House of Representatives gained by Democrats in the midterm elections, according to the latest results, after Republican Rep. David Valadao conceded to TJ Cox in California’s 21st District.
IT’S THE WEEKEND, BABY
If you’re a DC Comics fan and/or are massively, unquenchably in love with Jason Momoa (mostly the latter), you’ll want to stay up late this weekend to watch the “Aquaman” star host “Saturday Night Live.” If your TV desires are a little less thirsty, you can get your beauty queen on with the Jennifer Aniston-led Netflix Movie “Dumplin’.” The HBO documentary “Icebox” is also out, which follows the harrowing journey of young asylum-seekers.
A living Lite-Brite
I was really in the mood for Christmas light videos, and then I remembered THIS group exists, and they’re even better. (Click here to view.)