It’s not just beads that get flung during Mardi Gras parades. Stilettos and toilet plungers get tossed, 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. Budget proposal
The Pentagon’s the big winner in President Donald Trump’s $4.4 trillion budget proposal. Trump, who wants to increase “arsenals of virtually every weapon,” asked for $686 billion, one of the largest military spending requests in US history. Meanwhile, diplomats are taking it on the chin. Trump’s budget would trim funds for the State Department by almost a third, to $39.3 billion. That provoked sharp criticism from lawmakers, retired military leaders and others, who argued that it would undermine US security and leadership.
Elsewhere in the proposal, there’s $17 billion to fight the opioid epidemic, $18 billion for a border wall, $2 billion for a new FBI headquarters and a controversial idea to cut spending on food stamps by $130 billion over 10 years by replacing nearly half of poor Americans’ monthly cash benefits with a box of food.
2. South Africa
South African President Jacob Zuma will soon learn his fate. His party, the African National Congress, held a marathon meeting to discuss its standoff with him. The decision made at that meeting will be announced this morning. The ANC, South Africa’s ruling party, wants the scandal-plagued President to step down, but Zuma refuses. If the party decides to “recall” Zuma, the move would effectively end his presidency.
3. Oxfam sex scandal
Oxfam’s deputy chief executive quit amid the growing sex scandal involving the British aid organization’s workers. The resignation of Penny Lawrence was announced after Oxfam execs meet with British government officials. Oxfam gets millions in public funding, now in jeopardy because of the scandal. Oxfam’s workers are accused of hiring prostitutes while working in Haiti (after the 2010 earthquake) and in Chad. The organization also is accused of trying to cover it all up.
4. Gun sales
One of the great ironies of the Trump presidency has been that gun sales have slumped significantly since the President, a vocal supporter of the Second Amendment, took office. (Sales skyrocketed during Barack Obama’s presidency.) The sales slump, combined with legal woes, have caused gun maker Remington to file for bankruptcy. Remington, one of the oldest gun companies in the world, plans to file for Chapter 11. It will stay in business while it restructures its debt.
5. Climate change
The seas are rising at a faster rate every year, and climate change is behind it. That’s the gist of a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It uses 25 years’ worth of satellite data to determine the oceans have risen almost 3 inches since 1993. The dramatic rise is fueled by ice melting in Greenland and Antarctica. Scientists involved in the study predict the seas will rise another 2 feet by the end of the century, which is bad news for coastal communities worldwide.
HIRSCHER HUNGRY FOR HARDWARE: Austrian ski legend Marcel Hirscher finally won Olympic gold in the Alpine skiing men’s combined event. Hirscher, who has been crowned World Cup champion in each of the last six seasons, had never enjoyed the ultimate Olympic success.
KEEPING UP WITH CHLOE KIM: Chloe Kim, the 17-year-old wonder kid, clinched gold in the halfpipe with her first run and then wowed the crowd with a spectacular second effort to earn a near-perfect score of 98.25 out of 100. Shaun White will also be in action in the men’s halfpipe, although the medal in the men’s competition cannot be won until Wednesday.
DAVIS IN ACTION: World Record holder Shani Davis is expected to make his debut at the Games in Pyeongchang today in the 1500-meter competition and the 1000-meter heats. Davis captured headlines before the Games had even begun with claims that he had lost the opportunity to be the US flag bearer at the opening ceremony on the toss of a coin.
“COLD WAR”: The US women’s ice hockey team will be looking to claim its second win as it faces off against the Olympic Athletes From Russia team. OAR was humiliated, losing 5-0 to Sweden in its opening group game.
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She thought it was an eyelash that was irritating her eyes. Instead she discovered something much worse.
The new skyscrapers in the Big Apple aren’t so big. As a matter of fact developers are building some of the most slender towers ever seen.
Angry parents, boycott threats and an apology. Probably not what the makers of “Peter Rabbit” had in mind when they put in that food allergy scene.
A Romeo looking for Juliet
Just in time for Valentine’s Day: A Bolivian water frog is on Match.com, trying to find a mate to save his species.
A second look
The new portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama aren’t exactly like what we expected, but art critics say that’s OK.
‘Chelsea bomber’ sentencing
Ahmad Rahimi, the man convicted in the 2016 bombing in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood that injured 30 people, is set to be sentenced today in federal court in Manhattan.
NUMBER OF THE DAY
$2 to $7
That’s how much more a ticket will cost you at Walt Disney World in Florida.
AND FINALLY …
My funny Valentine
Liam Neeson uses his “particular set of skills” during an audition to be Cupid. (Click to view.)