The nominations for this year's Grammy Awards were announced yesterday. Debate, complain or gloat accordingly.
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. Impeachment investigation
It seems like the words 'dramatic' and 'bombshell' are thrown around a lot in reference to the impeachment inquiry hearings, but if there were ever a time to use them, it would be to describe yesterday's testimony from US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. Right out of the gate, Sondland confirmed that, yes, a 'quid pro quo' scheme existed and President Trump directed it. He also said 'everyone was in the loop' about what was going on with Ukraine foreign policy, implicating top officials including Vice President Mike Pence. Sondland's testimony punched several gaping holes in the Trump administration's defense of the Ukraine saga. For one, Sondland said he got the impression Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky didn't actually have to conduct the investigations; he just had to announce them. If he's correct, that lends credence to the theory that the probes were simply a political maneuver. Sondland's testimony was especially important for Democrats because he is one of the main witnesses to have had direct contact with the President during the time of the Ukraine dealings.
2. Democratic debate
A few things became clear in last night's Democratic debate in Atlanta: All 10 participating candidates support impeaching the President, and no one agrees on how to approach health care. In fact, health care was barely touched upon, even though it's a central concern leading up to the election. Instead, the candidates focused on who would be the most likely to build a winning contingency against Trump. Pete Buttigieg, who came in hot after rising in Iowa polls, was attacked on this front. Other candidates questioned the Indiana mayor's leadership and ability to attract diverse supporters. Nonetheless, he was one of the night's winners, according to CNN's Chris Cillizza. Also a winner? Kamala Harris, who established herself as a fighter for the average voter. Joe Biden didn't have a great night. He stumbled over questions about race and marijuana legalization, and when asked about domestic violence, he said we have to 'keep punching' at a solution. Yikes.
Israel may be heading for its third presidential election in 12 months. When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried and failed to form a government after September's election, his opponent, former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, got the opportunity to take power and form one himself. But Gantz announced yesterday that his Blue and White party hasn't been able to gather the necessary coalition in four solid weeks of negotiations. Now, Israel is in unprecedented political territory. For the next 21 days, any member of the Israeli legislature, known as the Knesset, could potentially become Prime Minister, if they gather a political majority. If that fails, it would be back to the polls for an election-weary public.
4. United Auto Workers
There is serious trouble brewing with the United Auto Workers, one of the most powerful unions in the country. UAW's executive board took steps to remove its president, Gary Jones, and expel him from the union following allegations of bribery and misuse of union funds. So far, 10 people have pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges surrounding the scandal. Some of those charges involve bribes paid to union officials by executives at Fiat Chrysler. And now, fellow automaker GM is suing Fiat Chrysler, saying the latter engaged in corrupt bargaining with UAW. Fiat Chrysler called the charges in the suit 'meritless' and will fight them in court. If you'll recall, the UAW recently waged a six-week strike at GM that cost the automaker an estimated $2.9 billion.
The US House of Representatives passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act yesterday, and Chinese officials wasted no time expressing their fury. If the bill were to become law, the US would have to confirm annually that China was maintaining the freedom and protection of semi-autonomous Hong Kong. (This is especially important given the ongoing protests there.) If it wasn't, the US could withdraw the city's special trading status, which would be a huge blow to the Hong Kong economy. Beijing threatened economic consequences and said if the US goes through with the law, it would further muck up the nations' tense trade relationship.
A new 'Sesame Street' show in Arabic aims to help refugee children
'Ahlan Simsim' means 'Welcome Sesame.' And it's giving us all the feels this morning.
Amazon wants to ship you anything in 30 minutes
New 'smart skin' may let you reach out and virtually touch anyone
Burger King is running out of zesty sauce because of a global horseradish shortage
It feels like there are probably more dire consequences to an agricultural shortage, but yes, zesty sauce is important, too.
Uber could test a new safety feature that lets riders and drivers record rides
In a perfect world, this would just be 15 minutes of silence followed by a polite farewell.
'It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family's work and the valuable work going on in the many organizations and charities that I am proud to support.'
Prince Andrew, announcing yesterday that he will step back from public duties after being roundly criticized for comments about his relationship with the late convicted sex abuser
That's how much White Claw projects in sales this year. White Claw is that trendy brand of hard seltzer that took the country by storm this summer. It's sort of like an alcoholic La Croix (another fizzy beverage that had its 15 minutes of fame).
Everybody come look at this black chicken!
This chicken is like a fairy tale character. Or a video game character. Either way, he's certainly a character. (Click here to view.)