Senate stalls refugee screening measure
Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would have greatly tightened screening procedures on refugees from Syria and Iraq, saving President Obama from a veto on an issue that has divided the country. The bill, which required 60 votes, failed, 55-43. The measure passed overwhelmingly in the House late last year.
East Coast braces for massive snowstorm
A snowstorm could affect 50 million people in Washington, Baltimore, New York City and Boston. One to 2 feet of snow is expected, but it’s unclear where the storm will hit hardest. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a plan for the storm that could include calling out the National Guard.
47 infected with tuberculosis
Public health officials are working to contain a tuberculosis outbreak, using federal money to pay for tests on more than 1,000 people in Perry County, one of the poorest in America. They found 47 people who are infected and need treatment to keep the disease from spreading. Patients will be paid $100 each if they follow through on treatment.
Chicago schools face financial crisis
Backed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, top Illinois Republicans called for a state takeover of the financially troubled Chicago Public Schools, which faces a nearly $1 billion budget deficit that could lead to thousands of teacher layoffs and a possible strike in a matter of months. Democrats quickly shot down the idea.
Plans for anti-ISIL meeting announced
The U.S. will convene a meeting next month of defense ministers from 27 countries participating in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant to discuss how each member of the coalition could contribute more to defeating the extremist group, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in Paris. The meeting will take place in Brussels.
U.S., Russia discuss Syrian peace talks
Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met in Zurich to try to iron out differences that threaten to scuttle or postpone peace talks on Syria that are set for next week. A Syrian opposition council announced that its negotiating team would be led by a rebel fighter who leads U.S.-backed insurgents in southern Syria.
Suicide bombing targets media
A Taliban suicide bomber drove a car loaded with explosives into a minibus carrying employees of a production company working for the country’s largest television network in Kabul. The attack, at the height of the evening rush hour, left six employees of the production company dead, police said, as well as a seventh person who could not immediately be identified. At least 25 others were wounded.
Flying turnips are festival’s highlights
Hundreds of people ran through the streets of Piornal, chasing a costumed figure and pelting it with turnips. It’s part of the Jarramplas festival. Its origins are uncertain, but some say the volunteer, who runs until he can take no more vegetable abuse, represents a cattle thief. Others say the event has religious roots.