5 things to know for December 6: NAFTA, Denmark, Wisconsin, Costa Rica, microplastics


How’s this for efficiency: Less than a week ago, a road in Alaska was ripped up in a 7.0-magnitude earthquake. Now, it’s completely fixed. 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. NAFTA 

President Trump has been threatening to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and it looks like he may be close to pulling the trigger. Before last week’s G20 Summit in Argentina, Trump and his Canadian and Mexican counterparts signed a replacement NAFTA deal called, appropriately, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). When he left the G20, Trump basically gave Congress an ultimatum: Choose between USMCA or nothing. This is important because pulling out of NAFTA without a successor in place would invite Mexico and Canada — both leading importers of US goods — to put tariffs on items coming from the United States. With stocks flagging and investor fears mounting, that could set off a pretty severe economic shock. 

2. Denmark 

Denmark has a new plan for dealing with what it calls “unwanted” immigrants: Move them to a remote island that was once used for studying sick animals. No, really. The island in question is Lindholm Island, two miles out to sea. If it sounds extreme, it’s supposed to be. Rising far-right and anti-immigration sentiments that have swept Europe have now reached the highest levels of government in Denmark. Some of the country’s legislators have made it clear they have no qualms about testing the boundaries of human rights conventions to preserve what they call the Danish way of life. The controversial deal still must be passed by the parliament.

3. Wisconsin

Some states are still feeling the aftershock of last month’s midterm elections. In Wisconsin, state Democrats are considering legal action after the GOP-held legislature approved a series of measures that would restrict the power of incoming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. During a “lame duck” session, Republicans voted to reduce the number of early voting days, require legislative backing for certain decisions traditionally made by the governor and attorney general, and change the way the legislature could represent itself in court (a move that weakens the role of attorney general). State Democrats say the moves don’t just undermine the incoming leaders, they undermine the entire electoral process.

4. Costa Rica 

The killing of an American tourist in Costa Rica is threatening the verdant Central American country’s reputation as a safe travel destination. The body of 36-year-old Carla Stefaniak was found this week. She went missing late last month after dropping off her travel companion at the airport. Her body has been found, her family confirmed, and a suspect is in custody. Costa Rica is typically seen as a very safe place for travelers, but the country has seen a jump in homicides in recent years. According to one survey of official data, the country broke its record for reported homicides in 2017, with 603 reported killings.

5. Microplastics 

A study on the ecological impact of microplastics had stomach-churning results. Literally. Researchers examined more than 100 sea turtles of all seven species across the globe. Every … single … one … of them had microplastics in their gut. The findings bolster an already strong global call to reduce the usage of microplastics, which can easily get washed into waterways. Microplastics, in case you’re not sure, are exactly what they sound like — teeny tiny particles of plastic. Some glitters are microplastics, as are those synthetic scrubbing beads in some face and body products. Countries and states around the world have taken steps to ban some of these harmful substances

HAPPENING LATER

A final day of mourning

A funeral service is set for 11 a.m. ET in Houston, where the late former President George H.W. Bush is lying in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. Bush’s grandson, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, and his close friend, former Secretary of State James Baker, will deliver eulogies. Burial is set for 5:15 p.m. at the the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. 

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Pantone has chosen ‘Living Coral’ as the 2019 color of the year

The Illinois State Capitol building will house a Satanic statue as part of its holiday decorations

I mean, it IS just one unfortunate typo away from Santa. That’s festive, right?

New York City is dedicated to building more statues of historic women

Because the country wasn’t just built by stately old white guys on mildly irritated horses.

9,000 counterfeit Nikes have been seized by US Customs and Border Protection

And they all look like DAD SHOES. Is this what the kids are into these days?

Jessica Simpson was irked by Natalie Portman’s comment about her

TODAY’S QUOTE

“When collective hate organizes and gets industrialized, then genocide follows. We have to take it more seriously today than I think we have had to take it in a generation.”

Director Steven Spielberg, speaking about the spread of hate while reflecting on the 25th anniversary of “Schindler’s List”

TODAY’S NUMBER

$130,000

That’s how much “Secret Santas” across the country have paid off in Walmart layaway bills so far this year. The practice of anonymously paying off other peoples’ holiday layaway bills has been going strong for a few years now, and it looks like some generous folks are feeling the holiday spirit.

AND FINALLY …

You’re my human now

You know, this cold weather would be a LOT easier to take if it came with adorable, friendly penguins. (Click to view.)



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