5 things to know for January 19: Economy, New Zealand, Covid-19, Ukraine, Amazon – CNN

CNN  — 

A street snack known as “dragon’s breath” is at the center of a new dangerous viral video trend. The colorful candies are dipped in liquid nitrogen to create a vapor effect when eaten – resulting in smoke-like fumes flowing out of the mouth, nose and ears. Health officials are warning against consuming the popular candy after at least 20 children in Indonesia suffered food poisoning and other severe injuries.

Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Economy

The US is expected to reach its debt limit today, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, but lawmakers have a few months to negotiate until the government defaults. Established by Congress, the debt ceiling is the maximum amount the federal government is able to borrow to finance obligations that lawmakers and presidents have already approved. The debt ceiling currently stands at $31.4 trillion and has been modified more than 100 times since World War II. Once the debt limit is reached, the Treasury Department will begin implementing extraordinary measures to delay a default in order to avoid a financial crisis. Essentially, if the government is no longer able to borrow, it would not have enough money to pay all its bills. That means it would likely have to temporarily delay payments or default on some of its commitments, potentially affecting Social Security payments, veterans’ benefits and federal employees’ salaries, among others.

2. New Zealand

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unexpectedly announced today that she will resign within weeks, saying she doesn’t believe she has the energy to seek reelection in the October polls. Her term will likely end by February 7, when she expects a new Labour prime minister will be sworn in – though “depending on the process that could be earlier,” she said in a statement. When Ardern became prime minister in 2017 at the age of 37, she was New Zealand’s third female leader and one of the youngest leaders in the world. Within a year, she had given birth in office – only the second world leader ever to do so. She was also a former DJ and lapsed Mormon who garnered immense popularity among young people. However, her popularity has waned in recent years, with some critics arguing she has done little to deliver the transformational government she promised when first elected.

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screengrab jacinda ardern resignation

Jacinda Ardern chokes up while announcing impending resignation
02:36 – Source: CNN

3. Covid-19

Amid rising Covid-19 cases across the US, Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing to permanently ban coronavirus vaccine and face mask mandates in his state. DeSantis, a vocal Covid-19 skeptic, signed measures in 2021 that made Florida the first state in the country to threaten businesses with fines if they required workers to get a Covid-19 vaccine. In addition to proposing permanent bans on mask and vaccine mandates, DeSantis also wants to prevent doctors from losing their medical license if they stake out positions that contradict medical consensus. This comes as medical experts have noted a national decline in childhood vaccination numbers. Among several reasons, experts say misinformation and disinformation around Covid-19 vaccines may have seeded doubt in other vaccines. 

4. Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today once again called upon Western allies and partners to send more weapons to Ukraine to help fight Russia. Zelensky’s appeal comes as the US is set to finalize a massive $2.5 billion military aid package for Ukraine that includes a first shipment of Stryker combat vehicles, sources told CNN. The package is not expected to include tanks or the long-range missiles sought by Kyiv. US officials say the Biden administration also intends to provide $125 million in additional energy support for Ukraine. According to Zelensky, the additional weapons are crucial as Russia is likely to launch another series of drone attacks soon.

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Major Mike Lyons

Retired officer breaks down risk in sending artillery rounds to Ukraine
01:54 – Source: CNN