biden-and-putin-talk,-denver-shooting,-covid-on-cruise-ships,-wild-weather:-5-things-to-know-thursday

Biden and Putin talk, Denver shooting, COVID on cruise ships, wild weather: 5 things to know Thursday

Biden and Putin talk ahead of January diplomatic meeting

President Joe Biden will hold a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to discuss a range of topics, including upcoming diplomatic engagements with Russia. The call comes as U.S. and Russian officials are set to meet next month, according to reports. In the past several months, there has been a buildup of Russian troops along Ukraine’s eastern border and Biden and allies have said they will impose tough economic sanctions if the situation escalates. Biden held a high-stakes video teleconference with Putin earlier this month, where he emphasized that he preferred a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine. However, the president warned that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. would send additional defense resources above what it is already providing and would be looking to deploy additional forces to fortify its NATO allies in the area. 

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Biden warned Putin of ‘severe consequences’ in call

President Joe Biden says he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow will face “severe consequences” and economic pain “like nothing he’s ever seen” if it tries to attack Ukraine. Biden says he’s “confident” Russia got the message. (Dec. 8)

AP

Authorities investigating what motivated shooting spree in Denver

Authorities in Colorado are investigating a motive behind the shooting spree that left six people, including the shooter, dead in Denver. Earlier in the week, Denver police said they are “aware” of a series of books published by a company once owned by the gunman that eerily foreshadow the deadly shooting rampage – even naming two of the victims. The department added the book series has become “a component of our ongoing homicide investigation.” The shooter had “personal” or “business” relationships with nearly all of the victims, Matt Clark, Denver police commander of the Major Crimes Division, said Tuesday. “It does appear that the offender was targeting specific people in this case,” Clark said. 

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Colorado shooting spree: suspect was on police’s ‘radar’

Alicia Cardenas, 44, Danny Schofield, 38, and Sarah Steck, 28, were among the five people killed in a string of attacks in Denver and Lakewood.

STAFF VIDEO, USA TODAY

CDC is monitoring 92 cruise ships for COVID-19. What it could mean for you.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is monitoring 92 ships for the coronavirus, a factor that could add to travelers’ worries as they consider whether or not to embark on an upcoming cruise. But that doesn’t mean there is an outbreak on board. Even with stringent vaccination, testing and masking, among other protocols, it is fairly common for cases of COVID-19 to emerge among the passengers and crew. Nevertheless, the CDC recommends people avoid cruise travel if they are not fully vaccinated and advises that people get a booster shot if eligible. Here’s how to check whether your ship is on the CDC’s list

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COVID-19: A look at the most startling pandemic numbers from 2021

From vaccinations to variants, here are some of the most shocking pandemic stats from 2021.

Staff video, USA TODAY

Wild weather expected across much of U.S. 

Another day of crazy weather is forecast across the U.S. on Thursday. While much of the western and north-central U.S. deals with heavy snow and bitter cold, near-record warmth and the chance for severe thunderstorms will continue to be the story in southeastern portions of the nation. In the north, wind chill warnings extend from Montana and parts of the Dakotas to northern Minnesota, where wind chill temperatures will drop as low as 50 degrees below zero, the National Weather Service said. Heavy snow will continue in the western mountains, where totals will be measured in feet, not inches. Meanwhile, temperatures will soar into the 70s and 80s in the southeastern U.S., potentially setting record highs. In addition, scattered showers and some thunderstorms will remain possible across broad portions of the South on Thursday, the Weather Service said. 

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Kentucky tornado survivors recall frightening moments, ‘It was awful’

Survivors of the tornado that tore up parts of Kentucky recall moments during and after the storm hit.

Associated Press, USA TODAY

Michigan State, Pittsburgh are without biggest stars in Peach Bowl

College football’s bowl season is ramping up ahead of Friday’s College Football Playoff semifinals. Thursday’s slate of games offers some intrigue, with No. 10 Michigan State facing off in the Peach Bowl against No. 12 Pittsburgh (7 p.m. EST, ESPN), the best of the bunch. Though Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett and Spartans’ running back Kenneth Walker III will sit this one out, Pitt’s offense will feature Jordan Addison, who won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver. Pittsburgh is looking for its first 12-win season since 1976 and its first-ever win over Michigan State.

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Formula for an upset: How Cincinnati can shock Alabama in College Football Playoff

Sports Seriously: Dan Wolken breaks down how Cincinnati can pull off the massive upset and take down Alabama in the Cotton Bowl.

Sports Seriously, USA TODAY