5 things to know for December 21: Ukraine, Trump’s taxes, Weather, Title 42, Taliban



CNN

Today is the first official day of winter, hence the bitter cold sweeping across most of the US. In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year, when the Earth is at its furthest tilt away from the sun. Depending on how close you are to the North Pole, this also means daylight will soon decrease dramatically for some time.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will make a dramatic visit to Washington today, using his first trip outside his homeland since the onset of Russia’s invasion to rally US support for his country’s defense. He will meet with President Joe Biden, who is set to announce he is sending nearly $2 billion in additional security assistance to Ukraine, including a sophisticated new air defense system. Over the course of the 10-month invasion, Zelensky has remained steadfast in Ukraine while appealing to nations around the world for support. This makes it even more of a remarkable moment as he joins a top international ally today to call for sustained military and economic assistance.

The Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee said Tuesday it will release former President Donald Trump’s tax returns within days, and asserted that the IRS failed to properly audit the former president’s taxes while he was in office. The committee also released a report Tuesday detailing six years’ worth of the former president’s returns, including claims of massive annual losses that significantly reduced his tax burden. The release marks the conclusion of a nearly four-year legal battle House Democrats waged against the former president after they took control of the House in 2019. The pursuit was also tied in part to long-held suspicions about Trump’s finances after he declined to release his tax returns while running for president in 2016 or once in office.

Winter weather alerts are currently in effect for more than 70 million people across the US as a sprawling storm system threatens to deliver a dangerous trio of heavy snow, strong winds and frigid temperatures to much of the country today, with conditions lasting through the end of a busy travel week. Forecasters have been warning this week’s powerful storm could bring travel to a standstill as it hits areas from the Northwest through the Plains, the Great Lakes and the central Appalachians before arriving in the Northeast, according to the National Weather Service. In anticipation of what could likely be widespread flight delays and cancellations, United, American, Delta, Southwest and Jet Blue have issued travel waivers for dozens of airports across the country.

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The Biden administration wants the Supreme Court to allow for the end of Title 42 – but not for at least a week. On Tuesday, the administration encouraged the court’s justices to reject an emergency bid by a group of GOP-led states to keep the controversial Trump-era border restriction in effect while legal challenges play out. But it also asked the court to delay the policy’s termination until at least December 27, citing ongoing preparations for an influx of migrants and the upcoming holiday weekend. Title 42 had been scheduled to end today, but Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily froze that deadline on Monday. Until the Supreme Court issues an order – which could come at any time, as the court has no deadline – it will remain in place.

The Taliban government has suspended university education for all female students in Afghanistan, the latest step in its brutal clampdown on the rights and freedoms of Afghan women. The US condemns “the Taliban’s indefensible decision to ban women from universities,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday. Girls were previously barred from returning to secondary schools in March, following monthslong closures imposed after the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021. The Taliban have historically treated women as second-class citizens, subjecting them to violence, forced marriages and a near-invisible presence in the country. Women in Afghanistan can no longer work in most sectors, require a male guardian for long-distance travel and have been ordered to cover their faces in public.

House January 6 committee to release full report on Capitol riot

The House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection will release its full report today, marking the end of the panel’s expansive probe into the day’s fateful events. A summary was released on Monday, concluding former President Donald Trump was ultimately responsible for the insurrection. The report releasing today is based on 1,000-plus interviews and other documents collected – including emails, texts and phone records – in the year-and-a-half-long investigation undertaken by the bipartisan committee.

The best and worst TV endings of 2022

From “Better Call Saul” to “Killing Eve,” here are some of the noteworthy series that said goodbye this year. But which ones delivered praise-worthy finales?

Elon Musk says he will step down as Twitter CEO – with one caveat

After millions of Twitter votes for his ouster in a poll of his own creation, Musk said he would resign “as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job!”

Justin Bieber slams H&M for their Bieber collection

“I wouldn’t buy it if I were you,” the singer said in an Instagram story about the clothing company’s new merchandise bearing his image.

These natural wonders aren’t US national parks. But they should be

Want to explore America’s national parks without the crowds? Here are some great spots in the great outdoors where you won’t be elbow-to-elbow with other nature seekers.

Harry and Meghan’s next Netflix docuseries will drop on New Year’s Eve

Following the recent release of their eye-opening eponymous series, the royals will soon debut a Nelson Mandela-inspired project titled “Live to Lead.”

68 million+

That’s how many Instagram likes a photo gallery shared by Argentine footballer Lionel Messi has received within days of being posted, making it the most-liked post ever on the social platform. The images documented Argentina’s victory in the 2022 World Cup. On Tuesday, Messi and his teammates arrived back in Buenos Aires as millions of people lined the streets to celebrate their champions’ return.

“If you can’t feel safe in your own home, where can you feel safe?”

– Tarrant County prosecutor Ashlea Deener, urging jurors in closing arguments to consider a lengthy prison term for a former Texas police officer following his manslaughter conviction for the fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson, a then-28-year-old Black woman, in her own home in 2019. Following deliberations , Aaron Dean, the 38-year-old White former Fort Worth police officer, was sentenced Tuesday to nearly 12 years in prison. Dean showed no emotion as the sentence was read.

A moving sidewalk

Water pouches were slid under cobblestones in the city of Bourges, France, to give this art exhibit motion. (Click here to view.)

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