Not going to make it to Times Square for New Year's Eve? Keep your party hat on. Here are 19 quirky events across the country where you can ring in the new year. And 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. US and Syria
The US might be hitting the pause button on that planned withdrawal of troops from Syria. GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said President Trump now has a better understanding of the possible consequences of pulling all US troops out of the country and will re-evaluate his decision. Graham talked about Syria with Trump yesterday, when the two had lunch at the White House. Graham, who blasted the President's decision when it was first announced earlier this month, stressed that Trump wasn't changing his mind on the troop withdrawal, only slowing things down. The White House, though, didn't clarify whether the President had changed his thinking on the withdrawal plans.
2. Lion attack
A worker at a zoological park in North Carolina was killed by a lion that escaped its locked enclosure during a cleaning. The victim, 22-year-old Alexandra Black, was part of a team at the Conservators Center in Burlington that was cleaning the animal's area when it somehow escaped the space in which it had been locked. The lion "entered the space the humans were in and quickly killed one person," the center said. The lion was euthanized. Black, who had been an intern at the center for just two weeks, loved animals and died "following her passion," her family said.
3. Migrant children
The videos are shocking and disturbing. They show migrant children being pushed and dragged by staffers in a shelter. The Arizona Republic first reported on the surveillance videos, which show a male staffer dragging a young child into a room and pushing him against the wall. Another video shows a female staff member pulling a child through a room. The incidents reportedly occurred back in September at the Hacienda Del Sol shelter in Youngtown, Arizona. Two staffers were fired and several others were disciplined, a source tells CNN. The shelter, operated by Southwest Key, has since been closed. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office will refer the case to the county attorney's office for review and the possible filing of criminal charges.
4. California wildfires
Could California's largest utility be hit with murder or manslaughter charges? It's possible, according to court documents filed by the state attorney general. PG&E could face such charges if it's found to be responsible for causing any of the state's recent spate of deadly wildfires, including the horrific Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive blaze in state history. The charges could range from minor misdemeanors up to "homicide offenses like implied-malice murder and involuntary manslaughter," if it's proven that the wildfires broke out as a result of PG&E failing to properly operate and maintain power lines, a brief filed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra says. The utility said it's doing all it can to reduce wildfire risks.
5. Newspaper cyberattacks
Some of America's best-known newspapers may have been the victims of a cyberattack over the weekend. Several papers that use software from Tribune Publishing -- such as the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune and Baltimore Sun -- suffered printing and distribution delays. And distribution of The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal in Southern California was also delayed because those papers use the same systems for printing. Tribune Publishing says malware was discovered on its computer servers, and a source told the L.A. Times the cyberattack seems to have come from "outside the United States."
THIS JUST IN...
Russia says it has detained a US citizen suspected of spying. Paul Whelan was arrested Friday in Moscow "while carrying out an act of espionage," the Russian Federal Security Service says.
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Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson surprised his mom with a new house for Christmas, and her reaction to the gift will be the best thing you'll see all day.
New year, new you?
What's the best way to kick off 2019? Becoming a millionaire. It could happen because the Mega Millions' $415 million jackpot drawing is New Year's night.
Not all heroes wear capes, Part 1
This man was photographed wearing a sign seeking a kidney for his wife. The pic went viral, and now strangers are offering to give their kidneys.
Not all heroes wear capes, Part 2
Social worker Alan Naiman was known for his frugality during his life. Following his death, he's being remembered for his generosity. In his will, he left $11 million to children's charities.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"To be honest, it's not a wall."
Outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly, who told the Los Angeles Times that the Trump administration abandoned the idea of a solid, concrete wall on the border with Mexico in the early days of the Trump administration. As the partial government shutdown reaches its 10th day, negotiations are at a standstill, and neither President Trump nor Democratic leaders are showing signs of budging from their positions on border wall funding.
The number of Netflix accounts that watched "Bird Box" during its first week of release. The streaming company says that's the best first seven days ever for a Netflix film, but the impressive number needs an asterisk because it can't be independently verified.
Trying to catch up to what all the cool kids were listening to this year? Then rock out to this seamless mash-up of 2018's biggest hits.(Click to view)
- 5 things to know for December 31: US-Syria, migrant children, California wildfires
- 5 things to know for December 20: Syria, shutdown, Weinstein, Russia, airport drones
- 5 things to know for December 26: Migrant death, tsunami, Wall Street, Thailand, snow
- 5 things to know for November 12: California wildfires, elections, Armistice Day
- Officials lift most California wildfire evacuations
- Twin California wildfires grow, threatening 9,000 buildings
- 'Bus driver from heaven' rescued young children from California wildfire
- Winds churn California wildfires, keep aircraft from helping
- Dangerous winds persist as wildfires roar in California
- 51-year-old arrested in connection to California wildfire