5 things for December 19: Amtrak crash, Trump nominee, Austria, Libya, ESPN

Remember the “WannaCry” cyberattack earlier this year? Looks like the US is pinning it on North Korea. 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. Amtrak crash

At least three people are dead and more than 100 others injured after an Amtrak train derailed yesterday in Washington state. The train was on its first trip on a new route between Seattle and Portland when 13 of its cars jumped the track. Several of them fell from an overpass onto a busy interstate highway. None of the reported fatalities involved people on the highway. 

The train reportedly was traveling 80 mph in a 30-mph zone, which will be one of the main details investigators will look at in the coming days. They may also look at the so-called black box, or event data recorder, to get more information about the train’s braking and other operational details. The federal go-team will also interview the engineer, conductor and the other three crew members.

2. Trump nominee

Matthew Petersen, President Donald Trump’s district court nominee, has withdrawn his nomination just days after his bizarre confirmation hearing went viral. In a video of the hearing, Petersen, who now serves as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, was peppered with questions about how many depositions he had worked on, how many jury trials he had tried and the last time he had read the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It’s safe to say, he had a bit of a hard time landing the answers. In a letter to the President, Petersen said the hearing amounted to “my worst two minutes on television.”

3. Austria

Austria’s new coalition government, which includes the far-right Freedom Party, was sworn in yesterday amid protests. Though the Freedom Party will argue it has modernized, it was founded in the 1950s by actual former Nazis. Also raising some eyebrows is the country’s new Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz. He is the leader of the center-right People’s Party and, at 31, is the youngest major leader in the world. Protesters shouted in the streets, bearing signs with pleas like, “Don’t let Nazis govern.”

4. Libya

British lawmakers used a debate yesterday to express their outrage at the revelations about the slave trade in Libya exposed by a CNN report last month. One member of Parliament described the crimes as “violations of human rights and human dignity that are on an unthinkable scale.” Video footage released last month shows migrants being sold into slavery in the north African country, some for as little as $400 each.

Another MP called the crimes depicted in the video “atrocious,” acknowledging that “nobody really knows the extent of the problem.” He argued that the power vacuum in Libya and the root causes of migration need to be addressed before any solutions can be found.


ESPN staffers and personalities around the world of sports are reeling after the surprise resignation of ESPN President John Skipper. Skipper resigned on Monday, citing a substance addiction. “I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction,” Skipper said in a statement. “I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.” According to an ESPN source, the announcement was solely because of addiction and was unrelated to last week’s announcement that Disney would acquire most of 21st Century Fox. That deal would bring 22 regional sports networks previously owned by Fox under ESPN’s control.


People are talking about these. Read up. Join in.

Sarah Palin’s oldest son charged with beating up his father

Track, 28, allegedly bloodied his father, Todd, during a dispute over a truck. 

The digital currency bitcoin is the hottest online movement

Which you already know, if you know anyone who won’t stop bragging about their bitcoin. 

Nobody liked ‘A Christmas Story Live!’

Maybe now we can stop messing around with classic movies that were perfectly fine to begin with.  

Wacky Idaho city council race result could be the most interesting election outcome of the year

Because, historically, contested results, mismarked ballots and recounts haven’t given us any problems whatsoever. 

Facebook will demote posts fishing for ‘likes’

Sooo … every post, then? 

“My personal belief is that there is very compelling evidence that we may not be alone.”

Former Pentagon official Luis Elizondo on the recently revealed government program he led to research potential UFOs, speaking on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront”

Kinda wanna burn it, kinda wanna … eat it? 

If you are in the mood for deeply satisfying holiday videos, the making of this Christmas candle will be right up your alley. (Click here to view.) 

What is positive train control, and could it have prevented the Amtrak crash?
Amtrak traveled 80 mph before it derailed, NTSB says

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