Parts of the southern US have received a month’s worth of rain in the last three days, prompting flash floods and widespread travel disruptions. Up to 7 inches of rainfall has already drenched some Texas cities, while areas of Louisiana received around 5 inches within 24 hours.
Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
1. Middle East
The Red Cross has warned that Gaza faces a complete medical shutdown unless immediate action is taken to safeguard essential services. “Every functioning hospital in the Gaza Strip is over-crowded and short on medical supplies, fuel, food and water,” said William Schomburg, the head of the Red Cross office in Gaza. This comes as Israeli forces have insisted that Hamas systematically operates in Gaza hospitals and adjacent areas, “using the residents as human shields.” Meanwhile, a United Nations building sheltering displaced Palestinians was hit by Israeli tank fire on Wednesday, killing at least 12 people and injuring 75 others. The White House said it is “gravely concerned” by the strike as Israel pushes forward with its military campaign.
Senate Republicans are deeply divided over a national security deal that will impact immigration funding and aid for Ukraine. Former President Donald Trump has encouraged Republicans to sink a bipartisan compromise on new border security legislation, as many Republicans insist that the border must be dealt with before Ukraine aid can be approved. GOP leaders are pressing for a vote as soon as next week on the package, even though there is no deal or legislative text yet. But many House Republicans are already rejecting the plan out of hand. And as Trump ramps up his opposition to the deal, it is making it harder for on-the-fence Republicans to side with President Biden over Trump on an issue central to the 2024 campaign.
3. Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has declined to halt the execution of an Alabama inmate set to be the first to be put to death this week by nitrogen gas. The controversial method — which is untested and unproven — has raised concerns it could lead to excessive pain or even torture. Following the Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday, inmate Kenneth Smith is due to be executed during a 30-hour window starting today for his part in a 1988 murder for hire. Alabama 14 months ago aborted an effort to execute him by lethal injection because officials could not complete the procedure before the execution warrant expired.
4. Plane Safety
The FAA on Wednesday cleared the way for dozens of grounded 737 Max 9 planes to return to the air. Several airlines in recent weeks, especially Alaska and United, have faced hundreds of cancellations a day because of the grounding of the aircraft over safety concerns. The FAA said all of Boeing’s Max 9 planes must first be inspected, including the bolts, fittings and guide tracks for the door plug — the piece of the fuselage that flew off an Alaska Airlines plane earlier this month. However, the FAA has prohibited Boeing from any production expansion of the 737 Max lineup while its safety probe continues. Aviation experts say this will likely thwart Boeing’s efforts to return to profitability in the near term.
Cinnamon applesauce pouches that may have sickened hundreds of children in the US were never tested for heavy metals during their manufacture at an Ecuador plant, according to a newly obtained FDA report. Inspections conducted at an Austrofood facility in December found that the plant “did not sample and test the raw material or the finished product for heavy metals” and did not have “adequate sanitary facilities and accommodations,” among other observations. At least 385 reported cases of illness have been linked to the fruit puree products across 42 states, the CDC said. The contaminated applesauce was sold under the brands WanaBana, Weis and Schnucks.
Jon Stewart to return to ‘The Daily Show’
After almost a decade, the comedian will return to the show as a weekly host starting February 12. Watch this short video to learn how his return could impact the 2024 presidential race.
Who invented butter chicken?
A judge is set to rule on a dispute over who created one of India’s best-known dishes globally. One restaurant claims it created the curry in the 1930s, but another rival chain said the restaurant’s story is complete naan-sense.
Why the ‘sleepy girl mocktail’ might be a good idea
The internet is raving about a cherry juice mocktail … but does the concoction actually help you get a better night’s rest? Dietitians and health experts are weighing in.
Madonna’s team responds to being sued for starting recent Brooklyn concerts hours late
The pop star is facing legal troubles for starting her shows more than fashionably late.
Jim Harbaugh is heading back to the NFL
The Los Angeles Chargers have hired Jim Harbaugh as head coach just weeks after he led the University of Michigan to a national championship.
That’s how much a voting technology company is seeking in damages from Fox Corporation — the parent company of Fox News — over the network’s repeated airing of 2020 election lies. A judge ruled Wednesday that tech company Smartmatic can move forward with its defamation lawsuit, dealing a major blow to the right-wing network.
“These products may interact, in life-threatening ways, with other medications a consumer may be taking.”
— The FDA, urging consumers not to buy tianeptine products due to over 1,000 reports of severe adverse events. In the US, tianeptine products are often marketed as dietary supplements that can improve brain function and treat conditions like anxiety and pain. But health experts warn an alarming number of people are misusing tianeptine to mimic the effect of opioids, such as a euphoric high and sedation.
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AND FINALLY …
Cat disqualified from show after swatting the judge
This feisty feline is the epitome of “black cat energy.” Watch the funny video.
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