Last year, President Trump vowed he'd never sign another sweeping spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. Spoiler alert: Suddenly those spending bills don't seem like such a bad idea.
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1. Democratic debate
Seven top Democratic candidates gathered for the final debate of 2019, and boy, it was a spicy one. Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg continued their feud over transparency at fundraisers and personal wealth, but it was Amy Klobuchar who put her foot down to end the squabbling, turning the conversation to campaign finance reform and positioning herself as the moderate candidate so many voters have shown they're longing for. Joe Biden, who has struggled through some debates, got some redemption last night. He asserted the need to work with Republicans and find common political ground, and he confidently defended his age. Buttigieg, Warren and Biden may be front-runners right now, but the strong performance from Klobuchar could give her momentum heading into the election year. Here are the winners and losers, per CNN's Chris Cillizza, photos from the night and the best one-liners.
This is not how it was supposed to go. After President Trump was impeached Wednesday night, we expected Speaker Nancy Pelosi to send the articles to the Senate so the next phase, a Senate trial, could begin. She still hasn't done that, and now it's clear why: It seems she's trying to gain leverage over the Senate and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It's no secret McConnell and other Senate Republicans will try to make this trial as difficult as possible, so Pelosi's stalling could change negotiations about how the trial goes down. It could also give her more time to name her party's leaders for the trial. This struggle between two congressional titans is not likely to cool off over the two-week holiday break. By the time a Senate trial gets underway, it will be a brand-new year -- and an election year at that.
3. Winter weather
Weather across the US is getting nasty again, just in time for the first big holiday travel weekend. Parts of the Northeast have already been caught off guard by snow squalls, which are short, ferocious bursts of snow and strong wind. A squall in Pennsylvania yesterday caused a 30-car pileup on Interstate 80, leaving two people dead and least 44 injured. A strong Gulf storm will lash the Southeast with rain and heavy winds. And in the Northwest, a phenomenon called an "atmospheric river" will drench Oregon and Washington and usher in heavy snow in mountain areas. An atmospheric river is a narrow corridor of the upper atmosphere that transports intense moisture from a large body of water onto land. So, it's essentially a giant firehose. A firehose that could seriously muck up your weekend travel plans.
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual marathon news conference, discussing issues like term limits, Russia's strained relationships with other nations and, yes, the fresh impeachment of President Trump (it was based on "made-up reasons," Putin said). The 4 hour, 20 minute event did hold some clues about Putin's plans once his term runs out in 2024. The Russian President set off social media alarm bells when he suggested the Russian constitution could be amended to change term-limit rules, which prohibit more than two consecutive terms in office. Putin is on his fourth term and his second consecutive one. Russia's state-run media denied Putin could seek another term in 2024, but the fact that it was brought up will undoubtedly raise plenty of questions.
The FDA just approved an Ebola vaccine for the first time, and it could help prevent the spread of the deadly virus among some of the world's most vulnerable populations. The vaccine, Ervebo, protects against the disease caused by the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus in people 18 or older. While Ebola cases in the US are relatively rare, the disease regularly ravages developing countries in Africa. An ongoing outbreak of the Zaire strain has killed more than 2,000 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The 3 'Fifty Shades of Grey' books are the top 3 bestselling books of the decade
Man accused of stealing $10,000 worth of lobsters, leading to bizarre lobster truck chase
Bet you can't guess where this happened. (Yes, it's Boston.)
Virginia scientist Camille Schrier is your new Miss America
Score one for awesome STEM women.
Can you name all 9 common types of winter storms?
The new 'Star Wars' is out this weekend, so here's an explainer for everyone who's too embarrassed to ask what's going on
You are in a safe place here. No one's judging you.
"If it wasn't for us, who would find them?"
Eli Ortiz, the founder of "Aguilas Del Desierto" (Eagles of the Desert), a group of predominantly Mexican-American volunteers who find and bury missing migrants who have died while crossing the border into the US
The number of E. coli cases across 25 states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked to romaine lettuce. The CDC recommends people avoid lettuce grown in Salinas, California. Not sure? It's best to avoid it altogether, the experts say.
EPIC quiz time!
Instead of our weekly quiz, we have not one, but SIX end-of-decade quizzes you can take to test your knowledge of the 2010s before they're gone for good! Warm up with this World News question, then take them all here:
In March 2012, a controversial video about a Ugandan warlord went viral on YouTube, sparking what fleetingly popular phrase?
A. Never Again
B. KONY 2012
C. Save Our Children
D. Make War Infamous
A real winter wonderland
Christmas lights are great, but the Earth already has something even better. Let your eyeballs take a vacation with this soothing time lapse of the aurora borealis. (Click here to view.)