5 things to know for December 20: Dem debate, impeachment, weather, Russia, Ebola

CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports.

Posted: Dec 20, 2019 8:00 AM


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.

Here's what 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. 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.

2. Impeachment

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.

4. Russia 

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.

5. Ebola

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.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

The 3 'Fifty Shades of Grey' books are the top 3 bestselling books of the decade 

We hope you're proud of yourselves. 

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? 

We ran out of steam at "nor'easter."

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. 

TODAY'S QUOTE

"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

TODAY'S NUMBER

138

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.

TOTAL RECALL

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

AND FINALLY

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.)

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(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
Sangamon1015799
Peoria9147133
Kankakee8636103
Rock Island8612135
McLean848954
Tazewell6835104
Macon6517132
Kendall626947
LaSalle6108134
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
Logan170113
Iroquois169326
McDonough158241
Fulton146012
Shelby137426
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
Wabash5708
Menard4661
Pulaski4132
Marshall4066
Hamilton3873
Brown3224
Henderson2891
Schuyler2711
Stark2683
Alexander2562
Calhoun2470
Putnam2430
Scott2310
Edwards2263
Gallatin1913
Unassigned1850
Hardin1551
Pope1011
Out of IL100

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

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
Bartholomew347365
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
Jasper155913
Montgomery154629
Harrison154124
Ripley151521
LaGrange150631
Whitley146815
Huntington140210
Decatur137144
Putnam134828
White134823
Wells134630
Clay132724
Randolph132622
Jefferson131316
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