Extreme weather plagues the nation, the Obamacare countdown clock ticks toward zero and a lesson in how to destroy your career in 140 characters of less.
It's Monday, and here are the “5 Things to Know for Your New Day."
1. WINTER WEATHER
Winter of our discontent: Mother Nature is a bit manic these days. Check out this late December snapshot of the national weather picture: Record-breaking high temperatures yesterday in New York City, tornadoes and deadly flooding across the Southeast, and lots of ice and snow in Nebraska and Kansas. Anything else? Yes, another storm is ready to dump more snow from the Pacific Northwest into the Midwest. Slip north of the border and some 250,000 customers don't have power in Toronto. Mayor Rob Ford says they hope to have it restored in time for Christmas. One more thing - it's very, very cold in Canada. Good day, eh?
Indra Petersons looks at the extreme weather across the country throughout the morning.
2. OBAMACARE DEADLINE
Tick, tick, tick: Just a few hours are left to sign up for coverage through the government's HealthCare.gov website. Pick a plan today to have health insurance next year. The deadline should prove to be a real test for the revamped operation. In the early days of the website, a few dozen inquiries shut the site down. This should be a high-traffic day.
Athena Jones is live throughout the morning as the Obamacare deadline approaches.
3. OFFENSIVE TWEET
Tweet heard around the world: Who says there's no bad PR? Former IAC public relations executive Justine Sacco apologized yesterday for her "needless and careless" tweet about AIDS in Africa.
The native of South Africa says she's "very sorry" for the pain she caused. The gaffe cost Sacco her job. Media company IAC "parted ways" with her over the weekend. A faux account skewering Sacco has already popped up.
Brian Stelter reports on the Twitter backlash at 7.
4. POLITICAL UNREST
Evacuating Americans: South Sudan is a downright dangerous place to be these days. Violence is spreading across the North African nation. Things were so bad at a U.N. camp in Bor that President Obama decided it was best to airlift Americans out. He sent in a team of 46 service members to do the job. Some 15 people were evacuated. Four of the troops were wounded. South Sudanese President Salva Kiir blames soldiers loyal to his former vice president for starting the violence. Multiple armed groups are active across the country. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced.
Al Qaeda mea culpa: Being a terrorist group means never having to say you're sorry, right? The head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula apologized yesterday for a hospital attack in Yemen earlier this month that left dozens of people dead. Qassim Al-Raimi said the group's fighters were told not to attack the mosque or the hospital in a December 5 assault on the Yemeni Ministry of Defense compound, but someone made a mistake.
Here's how the original attack unfolded:
Barbara Starr is live from the Pentagon on the imploding security situation in South Sudan.
5. NIGELLA LAWSON
Cocaine allegations: Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson is back in the spotlight just days after a British court cleared two former personal assistants of fraud. Yesterday, police said they would examine evidence suggesting the flirty cooking diva took cocaine. Lawson admitted during the trial to occasionally using drugs including the white powder. Scotland Yard says it's looking into evidence, but admits no charges are coming anytime soon.
Isa Soares tells us what's cooking at 6.
Those are your five biggies for the day. Here are a few others that are brewing and have the Internet buzzing.
- Quack me up: Two days was long enough. Cracker Barrel has already reversed Friday's decision to pull some "Duck Dynasty"-themed products from its shelves. An onslaught of customer feedback tipped the scales. "You told us we made a mistake," Cracker Barrel said. "And, you weren't shy about it." Double-D patriarch Phil Robertson's comments about homosexuality landed him in hot water with A&E, where the show airs, and gave Cracker Barrel pause - but not for too long.
- Hallelujah Christmas: Leonard Cohen's classic, but moody, "Hallelujah" gets the Christmas treatment from Cloverton.
- Rockers reunited: Fate often takes folks in different directions. Carlos Santana is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and former bandmate Marcus Malone is homeless and living on the streets in Northern California. In the late 1960s, both played in the Carlos Santana Blues Band. Fate recently brought them back together again.
- Paul's Home Alone: Who's Paul, you ask? He's Paul Little - the ambitious guy who decided to recreate this holiday classic. Yawn, you say? Paul plays all the parts.
- iDominoes: Let's say you're out of dominoes, but have a couple thousand extra iPhones. You could line them up and then knock them down, right? Or if you're Aatma Studio, you could just get your animators to do it.
There you go. All you need to know to get an early start to your morning.
Be sure to tune in to "New Day" from 6 to 9 a.m. ET. Join us at NewDayCNN.com and go and have a GREAT NEW DAY!