What We’re Following
A deep freeze is working its way through the Midwest. Schools are closed and states of emergency have been declared as cities from Minneapolis to Indianapolis deal with subzero temperatures that plunged to 20 below. The chill is the result of a polar vortex—and because of the marvel of modern meteorology, which precisely predicted the event a week ago, cities and states were able to cobble together response plans ahead of time. Of course, this cold front shouldn’t calm any anxieties about climate change: The past four years were the warmest on record.
After going 35 days without pay during the government shutdown, many federal-government workers were left lining up at food banks or filing for unemployment assistance. The longest-ever shutdown was a glaring reminder of the financial instability of working- and even middle-class Americans—and the lack of social programs to keep them afloat. It could take some households months to fully recover, especially in families with government contractors, who likely won’t receive any back pay.
Venezuela’s economy has been on the verge of collapse, leading to a mass exodus of millions of Venezuelans to neighboring Colombia. The country has responded to the influx of migrants in an unorthodox way: welcoming them with open arms. The continued stream of border crossers, however, is heightening the pressure on Colombia to reconsider its strategy. Venezuela’s economic crisis has also incited a political power struggle, and the Trump administration has flirted with sending troops to the country to force the ouster of Nicolás Maduro. Conor Friedersdorf writes that, if Trump indeed stokes a war, it would be a reckless blunder that should have Congress thinking seriously about impeachment.