5 things to know for Feb. 19: Foreign aid, West Coast storms, Gun violence, Presidential race, Electric vehicles

Thousands of US employers are observing Presidents’ Day, a federal holiday that commemorates George Washington’s birthday. While most retailers and restaurants will remain open, many banks, post offices and non-essential government agencies will be closed.

Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

1. Foreign aid

As funding for Ukraine faces an uncertain future in Congress, the US Army has been left to foot the bill for hundreds of millions of dollars in support for Ukraine’s war effort against Russia over the last few months. Since October 2023, the beginning of the fiscal year, the Army has spent over $430 million on various operations, including training Ukrainian troops, transporting equipment, and US troop deployments to Europe. Army officials are concerned that without new funding, they will have to begin pulling money from other critical projects to continue supporting Kyiv. However, a key foreign aid bill is in limbo as many US lawmakers have left for recess — and as House Speaker Mike Johnson appears defiant to bring it to the floor for a vote.

2. West Coast storms

Another atmospheric river has formed across the US West Coast as nearly the entire population of California remains under flood alerts. Officials are urging people to try to stay off the roads due to the likelihood of dangerous flooding and significant debris flows. Around 37 million are under severe weather watches today, with up to 5 inches of rain expected through the midweek in Los Angeles and up to 10 inches in isolated areas of the Santa Lucias and Santa Ynez mountain ranges. This comes after a potent storm lashed California earlier this month, bringing record-breaking rainfall and triggering hundreds of mudslides in the southern parts of the state.

3. Gun Violence

Two police officers and a firefighter were fatally shot while responding to a domestic incident Sunday in Burnsville, Minnesota — around 15 miles south of Minneapolis. Authorities said gunfire erupted after police were called to a home where a man was reported to be armed and barricaded inside with family members. “We must never take for granted the bravery and sacrifices our police officers and first responders make every day,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said after the shooting. Separately, services at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston resumed Sunday morning with a large security presence one week after a woman accompanied by her 7-year-old son walked into the megachurch armed with a rifle and opened fire. The child, who was injured in the shooting, remains hospitalized in critical condition.

4. Presidential race

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday announced he has a new gig — as a sneaker salesman. Trump unveiled his new shoe line, “Trump Sneakers,” in Philadelphia, saying the venture has been in the works for more than 12 years. The announcement came a day after a judge ordered him and his companies to pay nearly $355 million in his New York civil trial for fraudulently inflating his financial statements for a decade. Also over the weekend, Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley was back on the campaign trail in hopes of appealing to voters despite Trump’s widening lead in the GOP polls. In a CNN interview, she cited the respective ages of President Joe Biden, 81, and Trump, 77, as reasons why she will stay in the 2024 race.

5. Electric vehicles

The Biden administration is considering relaxing stringent vehicle emissions rules it proposed last year in what could be a potential blow to EV growth. Instead of a previously proposed rule that would rapidly increase the number of electric vehicles sold in the US, President Biden’s new plan may give automakers until after 2030 to meet certain EV sales requirements. The rule is still not finalized and is expected to be released in the spring, sources told CNN. In the meantime, White House officials are stressing Biden’s commitment to reduce emissions and transition away from gas-powered vehicles despite pushback from leading automakers.


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Daytona 500: How to watch the race today
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Walking speed is gaining traction as a vital sign
Your gait speed could provide critical information about physical and mental health risks. Here’s when you should receive a gait analysis.

Stanley cup craze: Why do we love our water bottles so much?
Always carrying a water bottle (or prized Stanley cup) can help you remember to stay hydrated. But should you be limiting the number of refills a day? Experts weigh in.

Here’s what the Starbucks of the future looks like
Starbucks unveiled a new design for its cafes that is a “more accessible store experience,” which is aimed at improving the layout for those with disabilities.


1.5 million
That’s roughly how many Palestinians are sheltering in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Israeli officials said they would expand their military operations in the region if hostages held by Hamas are not returned by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, or as soon as March 10.


“His spirit is as strong as ever.”

— Jason Carter, the grandson of former president Jimmy Carter, sharing a statement Sunday after his grandfather marked one year in hospice care. At 99, Carter is the oldest living US president in history.


Check your local forecast here>>>


Mount Rushmore was supposed to look very different
It took more than 14 years to create the Mount Rushmore National Memorial — the world-famous monument featuring the faces of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. In honor of Presidents’ Day, watch this video to see how it was sculpted.

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