National News

5 things for January 4: Politics, Iran protests, voter fraud panel, colder than Mars

Posted January 3, 2018 6:07 a.m. EST

— Bomb cyclones are so hot (or rather, cold) right now, but there are plenty of other weird weather terms to know and love, too. 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. Politics

Stop us if you've heard this one, but there is unrest in Washington this week. Why? For one, a new book was released featuring former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon going off about the Trump administration's ties to Russia and calling a campaign meeting between a Russian lawyer and several top Trump figures "treasonous" and "unpatriotic." Trump was none too happy and torched his ex-aide in a statement, saying Bannon "lost his mind" after he left the White House. Then, Trump's attorney said he'd sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bannon, who late in the day called Trump "a great man."

Oh, and Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman indicted on money-laundering and other charges, is suing special counsel Robert Mueller, alleging the Justice Department violated the law in appointing him. It's no secret a lot of the President's supporters want Mueller gone, and this lawsuit is a pretty big shot across the bow. 

2. Iran protests

After six days, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Wednesday that a string of anti-government protests is over. But after a few hundred arrests and at least 21 deaths, there is no sign that the protests are abating, so many are reading the announcement as a warning instead of a fact. If you'll recall, the protests began as a response to Iran's stagnant economy and other woes, but quickly grew into a forceful protest of the Iranian government's authority. 

3. Voter fraud commission

Remember the commission Trump started in May to battle the nearly nonexistent problem of voter fraud that he said cost him the popular vote? Well, it's gone now. In a statement, the White House said the commission was disbanded because too many states declined to hand over voter information. The panel was widely panned, even by those supportive of the President, with critics saying it was unnecessary and self-serving. Nonetheless, the White House and officials close to the matter have suggested it's possible that Homeland Security may be encouraged to look at the issue in the future.

4. Weather

It's still cold, y'all. And on top of being frozen, you may also be stranded: 90% of flights out of LaGuardia airport in New York City are cancelled today, and other hubs in the Northeast are similarly crippled. More than 60 million people in 15 states, from Maine to Georgia, are under some type of warning or advisory from this winter storm. That's right, even the South is getting it. Tallahassee, Florida, yesterday got its first measurable snowfall in 28 years. Friday's predicted temperature at Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire is minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit. For the record, at the same time, the temperature on Mars will be around minus 2. Stay warm, and stay safe -- sadly, the bitter cold and storms have claimed at least 12 lives across the country.

5. Confederate monuments

Two state lawmakers in South Carolina want to put up a new Confederate monument honoring the sacrifices of black Confederate troops who, according to one of the lawmakers, "stepped up to defend their home state during a tumultuous time in our country's history."   *record scratch*   Black Confederate troops? Historians say there were no such thing. "In all my years of research, I can say I have seen no documentation of black South Carolina soldiers fighting for the Confederacy," historian Walter Edgar recently said. Yes, black people served in the Confederate army, Edgar pointed out, but they were slaves or free blacks forced to work without pay as cooks or servants. 

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AND FINALLY ...

The cutest nudist

This sweet bird lost all of her feathers due to an illness. Now, she has tiny, adorable little sweaters to keep her warm. (Click to view.)