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5 things to know for December 23: N. Korea, Saudi Arabia, impeach, oil spill, US violence

As you head home or elsewhere for the holidays, take a few minutes to peruse this list of things that you should definitely not pack in your carry-on bags.

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. North Korea

Remember that “Christmas gift” that North Korea said it would send to the US? We now have a new idea of what it could be. North Korea is planning to adopt a hard-line policy that involves abandoning negotiations with the US and taking denuclearization off the table, according to a source familiar with its thinking. Diplomats from Pyongyang and Washington have been trying to negotiate a trade that would see North Korea give up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for relief from punishing sanctions that have hurt the North Korean economy, but the rhetoric on both sides has ramped up in recent weeks. And as the clock ticks closer to North Korea’s self-imposed end-of-year deadline for negotiations, it appears less and less likely that North Korea will cut a deal with the US anytime soon. That’s partly because Kim Jong Un sees Trump as politically vulnerable right now because of his impeachment and the looming 2020 presidential election, the source said.

2. Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has sentenced five people to death for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom’s public prosecutor announced. Khashoggi was a Saudi journalist and a Washington Post columnist who was critical of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s policies. He was allegedly killed and dismembered on October 2, 2018, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by men with close ties to the highest levels of the Saudi government and bin Salman.

3. Impeachment

Newly released documents over the weekend showed that roughly 90 minutes after President Donald Trump’s infamous call with Ukraine’s president, efforts to freeze security funding for Ukraine had already begun. Senate Democrats seized on this information over the weekend, arguing that it strengthened their case for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to call witnesses that Trump refused to provide for the House investigation. Republicans, however, are arguing that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi overreached when she held off on sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate because Democrats weren’t satisfied with the rules that would govern the trial. For now, it seems that the stalemate between the two parties is deepening and Trump will be left in limbo over the holidays.

4. Oil spill

Scientists and environmentalists are not going to be happy about this. Emergency teams in the Galapagos Islands are working to contain a 600-gallon oil spill after a cargo vessel overturned early Sunday, officials said. The spill happened on San Cristobal Island after a crane appeared to lose control of a large container that was being loaded onto the ship’s deck. Video shows the crane and container falling onto the ship, causing it to tip into the ocean and forcing the crew to jump off as it began capsizing. San Cristobal is just one of the islands that make up the volcanic archipelago located hundreds of miles off Ecuador’s coast. Conservationists have gone to great lengths to protect the Galapagos, which is home to many species that can’t be found anywhere else on Earth.

5. Violence across the US

At least 28 people were shot in three separate incidents across three states over the weekend. In Chicago, 13 people were shot early Sunday morning at a house party held in honor of a man who was killed earlier this year. The victims range in age from 16 to 48, and four of them were in critical condition yesterday. A few hours later, seven people were gunned down as they waited to get into a lounge in downtown Baltimore. Two shooters exited a car near the lounge just after 2 a.m. and began firing on those in line, a Baltimore police officer said. Within hours of the incidents in Chicago and Baltimore, a 19-year-old man was killed and seven others were injured in a shooting in a restaurant parking lot in Minnesota.


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