5 things to know for December 28: Transformer explosion, financial markets, Saudi Arabia, Congo, weather

The New York Police Department is investigating a transformer explosion at a Con Edison power plant in Queens, the department tweeted.

Posted: Dec 28, 2018 6:55 AM


The last weekend of the year is upon us, so there's no better time to look back at the movies and TV shows that thrilled us in 2018 -- along with the ones that let us down. 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. New York transformer explosion

If you were in New York around 9 Thursday night, as the sky lit up a brilliant shade of blue, you were probably asking yourself, "What the heck was that?" No, it wasn't an alien invasion or some out-of-control marketing stunt for the next "Avengers" movie. It was a transformer that blew up at a power plant in Queens, producing an eerie, glowing turquoise color that was visible for miles. The blast shook buildings, rattled windows and sent folks running into the streets. But thankfully no one was hurt in the explosion. There were some temporary power outages, and LaGuardia Airport closed for about an hour. New York police later tweeted that an equipment malfunction was the cause of the blast.

2. Financial markets

Wall Street's wild roller-coaster ride continues. The Dow started off Thursday by plummeting a whopping 611 points, then it rallied in the final hour of trading for a swing of almost 900 points. The late comeback saw the Dow close 260 points higher. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq ended the day slightly higher as well. All this comes after the Dow suffered its worst ever Christmas Eve session, followed by its biggest ever daily point gain the day after Christmas. So what's fueling all of this volatility? Investors are worried that the economy, while still strong, will slow down in 2019. They're also watching to see how President Donald Trump's trade policies will turn out and what planned interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve will do

3. Saudi Arabia

King Salman is shaking up Saudi Arabia's government as the kingdom continues to deal with the fallout from the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The foreign affairs minister was replaced, a new head of the National Guard was announced and new security intelligence officials were hired. But nothing seems to have changed for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the heir apparent to the Saudi throne who the CIA concluded ordered Khashoggi's killing. Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and harsh critic of the Saudi regime, was killed and reportedly dismembered by a 15-person team at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul in October.

4. Congo

Protests broke out in parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after the latest delay in the presidential election there. The election, repeatedly postponed since 2016, is set for Sunday. But voters in the cities of Beni, Butembo and Yumbi won't be able to cast ballots until March, because of concerns about terrorism and an ongoing Ebola outbreak. The announcement of the delay sent people into the streets, where they blocked roads and burned tires. Police responded with tear gas to break up the crowds.

5. Winter weather

Blizzard warnings in the northern Plains and upper Midwest will wind down this morning as a severe weather system that also brought torrential rain to the South moves eastward. The storm, which killed two people, produced whiteout conditions and dumped up to a foot of snow in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas. A 75-mile stretch of Interstate 70 in Kansas was shut down because of the blizzard conditions. The storm system also soaked parts of Louisiana and Mississippi with more than 11 inches of rain. More than 50 million people remain under flood watches from New Jersey to Louisiana.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

People are talking about these. Read up. Join in.

Dad of the year
How do you spend Christmas with your daughter when she's working as a flight attendant? You book a couple of flights, of course.

Be right back
"Black Mirror" fans rejoice. Netflix dropped a trailer for a movie based on the trippy sci-fi show that premieres today.

Making moves, Part 1
A 71-year-old Frenchman is trying to float across the Atlantic -- in a barrel. Because that's how we all want to spend our retirement years.

Making moves, Part 2
Crossing Antarctica. Alone. While pulling a sled. Not our idea of a good time, but a US athlete did it, in 54 days, and made history, to boot.

Eye to the sky
You won't need to go to the movies next year to see great special effects. Just look up for 2019's five eclipses, super blood wolf moon and other cool events.

TODAY'S NUMBERS

7

The number of days the partial government shutdown has dragged on. And it looks like it will continue into next week and maybe the new year after the House and Senate adjourned and made plans to reconvene Monday. One congressman told CNN's Dana Bash that no progress had been made in negotiations.

47

The number of police officers in the United States killed in the line of duty this year.

TOTAL RECALL

Quiz time
Which country has been plagued by extreme heat in the days following Christmas?

A. India

B. Saudi Arabia

C. Mexico

D. Australia

Play "Total Recall: The CNN news quiz" to see if you're right. And don't forget, you can also find a version of the quiz on your Amazon devices! Just say, "Alexa, ask CNN for a quiz."

AND FINALLY ...

All cracked up

Ever wonder how fast glass cracks? No, we haven't either. But the Slow Mo Guys have because, well, that's what they're into. (Click to view.)

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(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 720114

Reported Deaths: 12882
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook3042206595
DuPage45087788
Will38684563
Lake37299631
Kane31767467
Winnebago18948262
Madison14379255
McHenry14269156
St. Clair13410259
Champaign1079858
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McLean848954
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Macon6517132
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DeKalb499047
Adams473548
Vermilion391551
Boone390733
Whiteside3743115
Williamson361083
Clinton330861
Coles329859
Ogle285037
Knox280766
Grundy277618
Effingham277021
Henry270015
Jackson268536
Marion248551
Stephenson246635
Randolph226826
Livingston224527
Macoupin223218
Morgan220936
Bureau211643
Monroe207545
Franklin204825
Lee201034
Christian189443
Jefferson187859
Woodford175827
Fayette170931
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Iroquois169326
McDonough158241
Fulton146012
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Douglas135416
Jersey127224
Union118228
Montgomery115519
Crawford112213
Saline111625
Perry110223
Warren109020
Jo Daviess107617
Carroll107024
Lawrence107011
Bond104810
Pike101427
Cass96423
Hancock95612
Wayne90833
Moultrie89810
Clay84020
Greene82831
Edgar80815
Clark79820
Piatt7835
Richland78019
Ford75222
Mercer74510
Mason72120
Johnson7136
Washington7002
Jasper64411
Cumberland61416
White6148
De Witt61317
Massac5993
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Menard4661
Pulaski4132
Marshall4066
Hamilton3873
Brown3224
Henderson2891
Schuyler2711
Stark2683
Alexander2562
Calhoun2470
Putnam2430
Scott2310
Edwards2263
Gallatin1913
Unassigned1850
Hardin1551
Pope1011
Out of IL100

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 333312

Reported Deaths: 5685
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion45371865
Lake28722469
Allen19325304
Elkhart17945235
St. Joseph17599237
Hamilton14061171
Vanderburgh10280127
Tippecanoe920230
Porter873389
Johnson6973170
Hendricks6674158
Vigo637392
Monroe560850
Madison5410122
Clark540478
Delaware5184103
LaPorte492897
Kosciusko480741
Howard379478
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Warrick343073
Wayne340985
Floyd334978
Marshall317946
Cass307931
Grant295450
Hancock286957
Noble269347
Henry262837
Boone261955
Dubois249632
Dearborn238231
Jackson235534
Morgan228743
Gibson201229
Shelby199859
Knox196621
DeKalb190234
Clinton189222
Lawrence187949
Wabash181122
Miami176817
Adams176223
Daviess165845
Fayette157634
Steuben156415
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Harrison154124
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White134823
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Clay132724
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Posey127718
Scott118921
Greene109053
Sullivan105016
Jay104414
Jennings97814
Starke96624
Spencer9078
Fulton88619
Perry86421
Fountain8608
Washington8387
Franklin75727
Carroll73713
Orange71828
Vermillion6867
Owen6598
Tipton62727
Parke6226
Rush5918
Newton58812
Blackford57312
Pike54020
Pulaski44215
Benton3843
Martin3826
Brown3705
Crawford3221
Union2862
Switzerland2725
Warren2653
Ohio2437
Unassigned0267