Your Christmas tree branches are drooping, needles are on the floor and the trunk is now a glorified cat-scratching post. We've got some tips on what to do with your tree. Here's what 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. China, Russia and Iran
China, Russia and Iran are holding four days of joint military drills in the Gulf of Oman starting today. The Gulf of Oman, one of the world's key trade routes and an economically important region, has been a point of tension between Iran and the United States this year. After two oil tankers were attacked in the narrow strait in June, the US blamed Iran. Tehran denied the allegations. The drills by the three American rivals come not long after the US flexed its own naval muscle in the Middle East. According to a Chinese official, the exercises are a normal military exchange between the three armed forces. But Washington and President Donald Trump, who earlier this year proposed a US-led naval mission to the Gulf of Oman to protect economic interests in the region, probably won't see it that way.
2. Kazakhstan plane crash
At least 12 people are dead after a plane with 98 people onboard crashed shortly after takeoff near the city of Almaty in Kazakhstan this morning. The plane was heading for the capital of Nur-Sultan when it lost altitude after takeoff, hitting a concrete fence and a two-story building, an airport official said. The Fokker 100 aircraft, a medium sized twin-turbofan jet often used for short haul flights, was operated by the Kazakhstan-based carrier Bek Air. Video and photos of the crash site show the damaged plane broke into several parts. But parts of the fuselage appeared to be relatively intact, raising hopes that many people on board survived the initial impact. Rescue operations began immediately, and all Fokker 100 flights are temporarily suspended as authorities investigate.
3. Coast Guard search
Coast Guard crews are searching by air and in the water for a helicopter with seven people onboard after it failed to return yesterday from a tour off Kauai's Napali coast in Hawaii. The owner of the helicopter company reached out after the aircraft appeared to be missing, the Coast Guard said. An official said the weather conditions in the search area are challenging, with low visibility and blustery winds. The aircraft is equipped with an electronic locator, but no signals have been received, officials said.
4. Anti-Semitic hate crimes
The New York Police Department is investigating five possible anti-Semitic incidents that occurred in the city this week, all during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah. The first incident happened on Monday morning, when a 65-year-old man told police he was punched and kicked by another man who yelled a slur at him. That same day, a 67-year-old man told police that a group of teenagers allegedly approached his 6-year-old son and another 7-year-old boy from behind and struck them inside the lobby of a residential building. On Tuesday, a group of people allegedly yelled anti-Semitic slurs at a 25-year-old man as he walked down the street, and a 56-year-old man alleged that he was punched by a person after being approached by a group. And on Thursday, police charged a woman with assault as a hate crime after she allegedly attacked a Jewish woman in front of her 3-year-old child. Anti-Semitic incidents are the most common hate crime reported in the city. The NYPD reported 166 anti-Semitic incidents from January through September this year.
5. Swiss avalanche
A ski slope in the Swiss Alps is closed today after an avalanche injured at least two people and buried several in snow yesterday. The avalanche struck a slope at the SkiArena resort in Andermatt, Switzerland, about 68 miles south of Zurich. Six people were rescued or freed themselves, and rescuers do not believe any more people are trapped beneath the snow. Local police will investigate how the avalanche came down.
A Reddit user's Secret Santa was Bill Gates
An 81-pound package of gifts!
'Peloton husband' buys his girlfriend ... a Peloton bike
A giant red star is acting a little weird
It could just be going through a phase. Or it's about to explode.
Researchers discovered a brand new mineral in a tiny meteorite
Welcome to the world, edscottite.
A 10-bedroom mansion was being offered for $50,000
But there's a catch. There's always a catch.
"It's very hard on me. I had the weight of the world on my shoulders."
Greg Zanis, who has made tens of thousands of white crosses, Stars of David and crescent moons for victims of shootings. After decades of work, the retired carpenter is handing over his ministry to someone else.
That's how much "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" made in its first week.
Hold onto that holiday brain
It's almost the weekend, so ride that wave and enjoy this oddly satisfying, kinetic sand cutting sequence. Watch it here.