5 things to know for February 2: Ice storm, Debt limit, Middle East, Abortion, Crypto
By Alexandra Meeks, CNN
Happy Groundhog Day! This morning, many Americans woke up early to see whether Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, a sign that supposedly determines whether we can expect six more weeks of winter or an early spring. For what it’s worth, that’s according to a groundhog’s nonscientific forecast — and his accuracy has historically been a hit or miss. Still, people across the US are enamored with the quirky tradition and are gearing up to participate in a number of celebrations.
Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
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1. Ice storm
Treacherous wintry conditions due to freezing rain, sleet and ice are wreaking havoc across parts of the South. Texas has been bearing the brunt of a dangerous ice storm that has already caused power outages for nearly 400,000 homes and businesses, according to PowerOutage.US. Air travel in parts of the region has been halted and authorities are warning drivers to avoid poor road conditions across Texas as well as surrounding states — including Oklahoma, Arkansas and Tennessee. Meanwhile, the Northeast is bracing for a blast of bitterly cold air that could feel well below freezing. More than 15 million people are expected to be under a wind chill watch or warning in the Northeast beginning as early as today through at least Saturday.
2. Debt limit
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is signaling optimism that both he and President Joe Biden can reach a consensus on the nation’s debt limit “long before” the US reaches default. “I think that at the end of the day, we can find common ground,” McCarthy said after a highly anticipated White House meeting on Wednesday, despite previously exchanging political jabs with the president on the matter. House Republicans want spending reductions, but the White House had previously said it will not offer concessions or negotiate on raising the debt ceiling. Although McCarthy didn’t walk away from the meeting with an agreement in hand, he called it “a good first meeting,” noting that the White House and the new House GOP majority still “have different perspectives on this.”
3. Middle East
Amid high tensions in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN this week that any measurable progress toward a long-term peace agreement is unlikely anytime soon. Netanyahu made it clear that while he’s “open” to negotiations with the Palestinians and is willing to cooperate with them on security matters, not much else will move. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also made a trip to Israel and the West Bank this week and expressed concerns about the crisis that’s showing no signs of de-escalation. Blinken’s visit comes after Palestinians and Israelis suffered significant bloodshed last week. Thursday was the deadliest day for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in nearly two years, followed by a shooting near a Jerusalem synagogue Friday, which Israel has deemed one of its worst terror attacks in recent years.
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Republican attorneys general from 20 states wrote letters to executives at CVS and Walgreens warning the pharmacy chains against using the mail to dispense abortion pills in their states. The letters rebuke recent guidance from the Justice Department and go against a new Biden administration policy that allows certified pharmacies to dispense abortion pills with a prescription, including by mail order. Several states restrict medication abortion, some with blanket bans and others with specific limits on access to abortion pills. CVS and Walgreens have said that they intend to comply with federal and state law with their plans to dispense mifepristone, one of the two drugs used in medication abortion. This comes as a new Gallup poll finds Americans are broadly unsatisfied with the country’s policies on abortion.
A record $3.8 billion worth of cryptocurrency was stolen from various services last year, according to a report published Wednesday. The increase in crypto heists, from $3.3 billion in 2021, came as the overall market for cryptocurrencies suffered significant declines. Some of the biggest thefts were driven by North Korean-linked hackers, blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis said in the report. US officials worry Pyongyang will use money stolen from crypto hacks to fund its illicit nuclear and ballistic weapons program. North Korean hackers have stolen the equivalent of billions of dollars in recent years by raiding cryptocurrency exchanges, according to the UN. In an effort to combat digital criminals, law enforcement and national security agencies say they are cracking down on more advanced money laundering techniques.
Tom Brady retires (again)
The decorated NFL quarterback announced on Wednesday that he’s hanging up his cleats — “for good” this time.
Beyoncé is going on a world tour
Do you hear that buzzing noise? It sounds like the singer’s devoted fan base, the Bey Hive, is getting ready to swarm Ticketmaster.
6-year-old orders $1,000 worth of food on Grubhub
A Michigan boy was “playing” on his dad’s phone before bedtime. To his parents’ surprise, he was actually ordering every food imaginable.
Australia’s new $5 note won’t feature King Charles
The bill will feature Australia’s Indigenous population instead, the country’s central bank announced today.
Ozzy Osbourne cancels all shows, says his touring career is over
After being injured in a major accident four years ago, the 74-year-old rocker said he can no longer cope with the travel required for a tour.
That’s up to how many hours of footage relating to Tyre Nichols‘ deadly beating has yet to be released by Memphis police and the city of Memphis, prosecutors said. The unreleased footage surrounding the brutal January 7 traffic stop in Memphis most notably includes audio of what was said after the 29-year-old Black man was beaten by police and after an ambulance took him to a hospital. The city last week released graphic footage of the initial stop and the beating. Prosecutors say the additional footage could play a critical investigative role.
“The job is not fully done.”
— Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, explaining that the central bank is far from declaring victory in its fierce battle with inflation, though the Fed is slowing the pace of its aggressive interest rate hikes. Powell’s comments came after the Fed unanimously approved a quarter-point interest rate hike on Wednesday, marking the return to a more traditional interest-rate policy compared to previous months of jumbo-sized rate increases to cool the economy.
Check your local forecast here>>>
Groundhog visits human best friend
In honor of the holiday, see how this groundhog became a part of a woman’s family after visiting her doorstep for years. (Click here to view)
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