Emily Blunt in 'Mary Poppins Returns'

The practically perfect in every way nanny makes her way back onto movie screens in a sequel to the 1964 Disney classic. Rick Damigella reports.

Posted: Dec 21, 2018 2:52 PM
Updated: Dec 21, 2018 2:52 PM

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. And as a bonus, we'll be getting a full moon and a meteor shower this weekend, too. 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. James Mattis 

The US Secretary of Defense has resigned in the wake of President Trump's surprise announcement about the withdrawal of US forces from Syria. And his resignation letter -- wow, it is a doozy. The respectful missive rejects key tenets of Trump's worldview, including his "America First" approach to diplomacy. Mattis also writes that the US must be "unambiguous" in dealing with adversaries like China and Russia and that the President should have a defense chief who shares his views.

Mattis' unexpected exit has thrown Washington for a serious loop. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner called the situation "scary" and said Mattis was an "an island of stability" on Trump's team. Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio bemoaned the development, saying, "This chaos, both foreign and domestic, is putting America in danger and must stop immediately." In related news, it looks like the US military has been ordered to withdraw half its troops -- some 7,000 service members -- from Afghanistan. Trump apparently gave the order at the same time he ordered the Syria withdrawal.

2. Government shutdown

So, it looks like we may well be headed for a partial government shutdown. President Trump said he'd refuse to sign that short-term spending bill the Senate passed Wednesday because it didn't include $5 billion for a border wall. So, the House scrambled and late yesterday passed a bill with the $5 billion. However, that bill will probably be DOA in the Senate because of the serious difference of opinion on the border wall money (and senators of both parties were miffed by Trump's ultimatum.)

So, what would a partial government shutdown look like, just a few days before Christmas? The disruption would be minimal, because 75% of government activities are already funded. But more than 420,000 government workers would be expected to work with suspended pay, including law enforcement and correctional officers. All these budget worries have affected the already-sinking markets: The Dow dipped below 23,000 yesterday, its lowest point since October 2017.

3. Gatwick Airport

The UK's second-busiest airport is open again after it closed for 32 hours due to a group of lingering drones. But the problems are far from over for stranded and delayed holiday travelers. About 110,000 passengers and 760 flights were affected, and it looks like most people won't get compensated for cancelled or delayed flights since two days of drone chaos is probably an "an extraordinary circumstance" that exempts airlines from paying out. The big questions now are: Who was flying those drones and why? Sussex Police are investigating. They say the disruption was deliberate but not likely terror-related.

4. Democratic Republic of the Congo

The long-awaited presidential election in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been delayed -- again. The election, now set for December 30, has repeatedly been postponed for some reason or another since 2016. This time, officials blame a warehouse fire this month in the capital of Kinshasa that destroyed 80% of the city's voting machines. Voters are supposed to choose a replacement for President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled for nearly 18 years. At the end of his second term in 2016, Kabila refused to step down and changed the constitution to stay in power. Since then, the extended "election season" has been marred by violence and tension. Further complicating matters is the country's growing Ebola crisis, with at least 560 reported cases.

5. UK illness

A spike in reports of a polio-like illness has caught the attention of health officials in the United Kingdom. Twenty-eight cases of the rare and potentially debilitating condition called acute flaccid paralysis, or AFP, have been reported in England, most since September. The condition causes weakness or paralysis in the limbs and largely affects children. A record number of cases of a similar condition, acute flaccid myelitis, or AFM, have been seen this year in the US. Both conditions peak in the fall, and it isn't clear what exactly is causing the record spikes. Experts in both places say the conditions are associated with a viral infection. One of the biggest priorities in the UK is making sure no cases are directly caused by polio, which likely is in the same virus family.

TODAY'S QUOTE

"This indictment was based on evidence and testimony before the grand jury. It was not based on the #MeToo movement. So, let's be clear about that."

Attorney Gloria Allred, responding to a New York judge's decision not to dismiss five felony sexual misconduct charges against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. Allred represents one of the alleged victims. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

The Netherlands wants to pay people to cycle 

Which is funny, because I would pay to be cycling in the Netherlands right now.

Zimbabweans are petitioning Disney to lift the trademark on the phrase 'Hakuna Matata'

Why? Because it really is an actual Swahili phrase popular in East Africa. Now you know.

Netflix darling, 'To All the Boys I've Loved Before,' is getting a sequel

Hopefully, the sequel's title is less of a mouthful.

Tiny AI robots took photos at a cat café to learn how to recognize the faces of people's cats 

Now, THIS is the future we want. 

'Survivor' crowns its Season 37 champion

But the real "Survivor" winner is "Survivor" itself, as it will outlive the heat death of the universe and be rebooted with void matter and cockroaches.

TODAY'S NUMBER

12

The number of primary debates Democrats plan to hold leading up to the 2020 presidential primary election

TOTAL RECALL

Quiz time!

What is the healthiest state, according to a report from the United Health Foundation?

A. Massachusetts

B. Vermont

C. Hawaii

D. Arkansas

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."

IT'S THE WEEKEND, BABY

If your kids just can't sit still waiting for Christmas to come, maybe a good trip to the movies will catch their attention. According to CNN's Brian Lowry, "Bumblebee" is an "unexpectedly appealing" prequel to the Transformers franchise. And who could forget Mary Poppins? The Emily Blunt-led sequel is, in Lowry's words, "perfectly passable but well short of practically perfect." (Your friendly neighborhood newsletter writer has seen it, and it's a trip.)

AND FINALLY

Like new again

This video of an expert painting restoration is kinda long, but it's sooo satisfying. (Click here to view.)

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 90942

Reported Deaths: 2021
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin26054922
Ramsey10572318
Dakota7216125
Anoka5801132
Stearns381223
Washington361055
Scott245833
Olmsted231927
Nobles193616
Blue Earth16116
Wright15407
St. Louis140034
Carver13607
Rice13088
Mower12935
Clay128140
Sherburne110414
Kandiyohi9332
Winona85218
Lyon6524
Waseca5338
Freeborn5223
Steele5222
Benton5153
Watonwan5064
Nicollet50416
Todd4792
Chisago4581
McLeod4522
Le Sueur4454
Crow Wing43918
Otter Tail4004
Beltrami3795
Goodhue3329
Martin3299
Pine2840
Itasca28213
Polk2754
Isanti2650
Douglas2622
Becker2482
Carlton2451
Cottonwood2190
Pipestone2159
Unassigned21252
Morrison2081
Dodge2020
Chippewa1971
Sibley1843
Meeker1832
Brown1802
Wabasha1800
Yellow Medicine1622
Murray1572
Rock1550
Mille Lacs1503
Redwood1420
Renville1367
Jackson1341
Faribault1320
Cass1313
Swift1231
Roseau1170
Houston1140
Pennington1121
Fillmore1110
Koochiching1113
Kanabec1098
Lincoln1020
Stevens931
Pope890
Hubbard830
Aitkin731
Big Stone700
Wadena670
Grant594
Lake570
Wilkin563
Norman520
Marshall501
Lac qui Parle470
Mahnomen461
Red Lake390
Traverse300
Clearwater260
Lake of the Woods211
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 80698

Reported Deaths: 1275
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15366259
Woodbury504263
Johnson501127
Black Hawk437586
Linn3808108
Story331517
Dubuque282341
Scott281827
Dallas269838
Pottawattamie200238
Buena Vista195112
Marshall176234
Sioux13723
Wapello127157
Webster120214
Clinton107419
Muscatine106854
Plymouth105820
Crawford10145
Cerro Gordo100221
Warren9326
Jasper77232
Des Moines7407
Marion7265
Tama69431
Carroll6375
Henry6204
Lee5997
Wright5631
Dickinson4876
Boone4788
Bremer4687
Washington43211
Louisa42515
Mahaska34619
Delaware3423
Franklin34218
Hamilton3153
Jackson3043
Floyd3023
Winneshiek2995
Clay2963
Benton2871
Hardin2841
Winnebago27511
Butler2622
Lyon2603
Clarke2563
Emmet25210
Poweshiek2528
Buchanan2511
Allamakee2486
Jones2483
Shelby2441
Clayton2343
Guthrie2315
Kossuth2310
Cedar2231
Chickasaw2220
Sac2200
Grundy2062
Madison2062
Cherokee2042
Fayette2002
Iowa1921
Mitchell1830
Howard1826
Harrison1812
Humboldt1763
Hancock1742
Calhoun1722
Mills1691
Palo Alto1630
Pocahontas1542
Lucas1526
Monroe15010
Page1420
Monona1401
Cass1362
Jefferson1341
Osceola1300
Appanoose1253
Taylor1241
Union1223
Davis1164
Van Buren1111
Ida1030
Worth1030
Keokuk911
Fremont900
Greene890
Montgomery885
Wayne842
Audubon681
Adair671
Decatur600
Ringgold442
Adams290
Unassigned70
Rochester
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 59°
Mason City
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 56°
Albert Lea
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 64°
Austin
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 61°
Charles City
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 55°
Tracking more warmth before cooler weather arrives for the weekend
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