At least eight deaths have been reported in the U.S. as the deadly polar vortex with frigid Arctic temperatures slammed the Midwest and headed east on Wednesday. The polar vortex has caused temperatures to drop much farther south than usual, with temperatures in certain areas of the Midwest comparable or below those in Antarctica, where the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station hit minus 25 degrees. “A record arctic air mass will remain over the central and eastern U.S. over the next several days,” the NWS warned Tuesday.
Canada has announced it is removing up to half of the Canadians at its embassy in Cuba after another diplomat was found to have fallen mysteriously ill. Canada has confirmed 14 cases of mysterious health problems since early 2017. Twenty-six American embassy workers in Cuba have also been affected, suffering a range of symptoms and diagnoses including mild traumatic brain injury, also known as concussion.
President Donald Trump lit into the U.S. intelligence community on Wednesday, telling his intel chiefs to “go back to school” just one day after they publicly contradicted him on several of his foreign policy priorities. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel both indicated on Tuesday that there is significant daylight between the president and the intelligence community on major issues. They testified that the Islamic State remains a forceful presence in Iraq and Syria, that North Korea is not likely to give up its nuclear weapons, and that Iran is not yet seeking a nuclear weapon.
Facebook posted strong financial numbers for its fourth quarter Wednesday, beating on earnings and revenue and sending shares up more than 12 percent in extended trading. Active user metrics continue to rise, though slowly. It proved to be a strong financial quarter for Facebook, despite growing public outrage over the company’s privacy practices. Earnings per share jumped 65 percent from the year-ago period. Net income totaled $6.88 billion, a record profit for the company and an increase of 61 percent from the year-ago quarter.