10 things you need to know today: December 5, 2021
Biden and Putin schedule Ukraine call for Tuesday, CNN fires Chris Cuomo, and more
Biden and Putin Ukraine call set for Tuesday
U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss the increasingly dire situation in Ukraine during a video call Tuesday. Whitehouse spokesperson Jen Psaki said Biden plans to "underscore U.S. concerns with Russian military activities on the border with Ukraine and reaffirm the United States' support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine." Some 94,000 Russian troops have massed on the Ukrainian border. Intelligence estimates suggest an invasion could begin as early as next month.
CNN fires Chris Cuomo for helping brother handle sexual misconduct allegations
CNN announced Saturday that anchor Chris Cuomo had been fired after evidence emerged that he used his position and contacts to help his older brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), weather accusations of sexual misconduct. The former governor resigned in October after an investigation concluded that he had groped or otherwise harassed 11 women who worked for him. CNN called the younger Cuomo's behavior "a breach of journalistic ethics" and announced that they have hired a law firm to examine his behavior in greater depth.
Death toll from Indonesian volcano eruption rises to 14
After a volcanic eruption on the Indonesian island of Java Saturday, the death toll has risen to 14. Local authorities said 56 are injured and around 1,300 have been evacuated. Columns of ash towered more than 40,000 feet into the sky, lava flowed into a nearby river, and ash blanketed several nearby villages. The volcano, Mount Semeru, is over 12,000 feet tall and has erupted at least 62 times since 1818.
Pope meets with migrants in Greece after being heckled by Orthodox priest
A Greek Orthodox priest heckled Pope Francis during his Saturday visit to Athens, shouting "Pope, you are a heretic!" before being led away by police. The elderly priest fell to the ground as police grabbed him, but he seemed uninjured. Francis "appeared not to notice." The Roman pontiff then proceeded to a meeting with Ieronymos, the Greek Orthodox bishop of Athens, who welcomed Francis with "honor and fraternity." Sunday, Francis met with migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos. He warned politicians against "instilling fear of the other" and using migrants for "political propaganda." Pope Francis is expected to return to the Vatican Monday.
Gambian president headed for landslide reelection, preliminary results suggest
Polls closed Saturday night in mainland Africa's smallest nation, but preliminary results suggest that incumbent Gambian President Adama Barrow is well-positioned to win a second term. With 41 of 53 constituencies reporting, Barrow has received over 315,000 votes, more than doubling his nearest competitor. There are four other candidates on the ballot, but Barrow only needs a plurality to win. This presidential election Gambia's first since former dictator Yahya Jammeh went into exile in 2017. Jammeh first took power in a 1994 coup. Barrow defeated Jammeh in the 2016 election, but Jammeh disputed the results and attempted to remain in power. He fled to Equatorial Guinea after neighboring countries threatened military intervention to oust him.
Congressman criticized after posting Christmas photo with guns
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has drawn criticism after posting a photo of himself and his family smiling in front of a Christmas tree while holding guns only four days after a school shooter killed four people in Michigan. Massie captioned the photo, which he tweeted Saturday, with the words "Merry Christmas! ps. Santa, please bring ammo." Massie is well-known for his libertarian views. Manuel Oliver, the father of one of the victims in the 2018 Parkland school shooting, called the photo "very nasty." Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) posted a tweet calling Massie an "insensitive asshole."
Bond set at $500,000 each for parents of Michigan school shooting suspect
Bond has been set at a total of $1 million for James and Jennifer Crumbley, parents of accused Michigan school shooter Ethan Crumbley. The parents were arrested in Detroit Saturday after an hours-long manhunt. Both pleaded not guilty to four counts each of involuntary manslaughter. Ethan has been charged with terrorism, murder, and other counts after allegedly killing four students and wounding seven others Tuesday. Oakland county prosecutor Karen McDonald levied charges against the parents Friday after learning that they had purchased the gun for their son and ignored warnings from teachers about his mental state.
Iran nuclear talks hit stalemate over sanctions
The United States' hesitancy to lift all sanctions on Iran is the greatest obstacle to reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement, a senior Iranian official said Sunday. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — which was signed by Iran, Germany, the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, and France — reduced sanctions against Iran in return for restrictions on Iran's nuclear program. Former President Trump pulled out of the deal and re-imposed sanctions in 2015. Talks broke off Friday and are expected to resume Monday. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has urged the U.S. and other nations to take a hard line against Iran, saying that Iran "must begin to pay a price for its violations."
Tighter U.S. travel restrictions start Monday as cases spike again
The U.S. is averaging more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases per day for the first time in two months. As of Saturday, 1,651 Americans are dying of COVID every day, according to the seven-day average. Starting Monday, international travelers will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of departure, the Biden administration announced Thursday. Under the previous policy, the test could be taken up to three days prior to departure. The new Omicron variant has been detected in at least 16 states.
Meta to add 'Split Payments' feature to Facebook messenger
Facebook Messenger, a messaging app with more than 1.3 billion monthly users worldwide, will add a new "Split Payments" feature, parent company Meta (formerly Facebook) announced Friday. It was already possible for users to send each other money through the app, a service also offered by apps like Venmo and Cash App. The app Splitwise offers expense-splitting but relies on third party services to actually transfer funds. Messenger's new feature will integrate both functions and, according to the announcement, enable the user to "split a bill evenly or modify the contribution amount for each individual — with or without yourself included."