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5 things to know for February 16: Stimulus, Capitol riot, Covid-19, weather, Ebola

Happy Mardi Gras! Though Covid-19 canceled New Orleans’ legendary Carnival parades, residents have responded by turning their houses into floats. Laissez les bons temp rouler!

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day. (You can also get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Stimulus 

Millions of Americans stand to lose their unemployment benefits in less than a month, meaning the pressure is on for Congress to reach an agreement on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion economic rescue proposal. Despite Biden’s hopes for a bipartisan deal, a process is underway that would allow Democrats to pass the bill through the Senate with just 51 votes. The House is on track to pass their portion of the proposal as soon as next week. But the bill could face a tougher time in the Senate. Progressive and moderate Democrats there will have to settle a series of philosophical debates over its scope, including whether they are willing to spend $1.9 trillion and whether they want to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour as part of the bill.

2. Capitol riot

New audio and video recordings from the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill offer even more insight into how some rioters had little fear of police as they launched a large, coordinated attack. The footage also highlights the restraint of police at the scene, and suggests the riot could have been deadlier had officers acted more aggressively. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced plans for a commission to investigate the riot, similar to the one that examined the 9/11 terror attacks. But some of the extremists who entered the Capitol that day are carrying on as before. As the FBI investigates members of the extremist, anti-government Oath Keepers, the group’s leader might even be emboldened. And Parler, the social network on which some of the rioters organized, is back online after it went dark for a month.

3. Coronavirus

One of most surprising success stories on vaccine rollout comes from the UK. At the height of the pandemic last year, the British had one of the highest national death tolls in the world. Now, thanks to an early series of big bets on then-unproven vaccines, as well as its centralized National Health Service, the UK has the third-highest vaccination rate in the world — behind only Israel and the UAE. That’s especially good news, as more evidence suggests that the coronavirus variant first identified in the UK is linked to more severe disease. The UK’s success comes as new research from Israel finds that the Pfizer-Biotech vaccine appears to reduce symptomatic coronavirus infections by more than 90%. Elsewhere in the world, the rollout hasn’t gone as smoothly: Peru’s foreign minister resigned recently after being outraged that government officials had been vaccinated even before the country started offering doses to health care workers.

4. Winter storms

It’s colder out there than it has been in decades. About 200 million people remain under some sort of weather-related alert after a winter storm that has pummeled much of the US. The storm moves into the Northeast today, leaving a heavy trail of snow and ice in its path. That’s after snow blanketed the usually temperate states of Texas and Oklahoma. If you’re one of the millions of customers whose power has gone out or will go out at some point this week, these tips can help you stay warm and safe. And in another extreme weather event, three people were killed and 10 more were injured after a tornado ripped through a coastal North Carolina community.

5. Ebola

Countries in West Africa are on high alert after an Ebola outbreak in Guinea. The nation confirmed at least seven cases of the disease, including three deaths, on Sunday. The World Health Organization has teams on the ground and is working to procure the Ebola vaccine, which has helped control recent outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The world’s largest Ebola outbreak to date began in Guinea in 2014, spreading into neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone through 2016. More than 28,000 people were infected by the severe disease, and more than 11,000 of them died.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

After a recent surge of attacks, hundreds of people are volunteering to escort elderly Asian Americans to help keep them safe

There’s still some good in this world.

Scientists have discovered strange life forms under Antarctica’s giant floating ice shelves

They’re dumbfounded at how these creatures are able to survive such extreme conditions — and think they might possibly have stumbled on a new species.

Meanwhile, here’s how the animal friends we know stay warm during extreme cold

From the penguins who cuddle together to the alligators with their noses frozen above ice, how some critters have adapted is truly a sight to behold.

French workers can now eat lunch at their desks without breaking the law

The days of multi-course meals with colleagues in bistros seem so far away.

Machine Gun Kelly says he wears girlfriend Megan Fox’s blood around his neck

Who still thinks romance is dead?

PROFILES IN PERSEVERANCE

February is Black History Month, and every day we’re highlighting Black pioneers in American history. Learn more here.

Jane Bolin, judge, 1908-2007

Bolin made history again and again. She was the first Black woman to graduate from Yale Law School. The first Black woman to join the New York City Bar Association. The nation’s first Black female judge. But she didn’t dwell on those achievements. “I wasn’t concerned about (being) first, second or last,” she said in 1993. “My work was my primary concern.”

TODAY’S NUMBER

$60

The price of US oil rose above that number per barrel for the first time since January 2020. It’s all thanks to a strange combination of vaccines, economic optimism and a rare bout of winter weather in Texas.

TODAY’S QUOTE

“When I see Vice President Harris and her husband, I see us.”

Nikki Buskirk, a 37-year-old Black woman who sees her own marriage to a White man reflected in Kamala Harris’ interracial relationship. Harris’ example could inspire some Black women to reexamine a taboo that has shaped many of their private lives, CNN’s John Blake writes.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

A pixelated, 3D masterpiece

This artist uses thousands of Legos to create portraits of iconic figures. Watch how he does it. (Click here to view.)

CNN Newsource

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