December 21, 2016

In the Siberian city of Irkutsk, 62 people have died after drinking a bath lotion that contained methanol and antifreeze.

More than 30 people are seriously ill and in the hospital, and Irkutsk's health minister Oleg Yaroshenko said nearly half of those being treated are not expected to survive. Analysts say it's believed that 12 million Russians drink cheap alternatives to alcohol, and the country has a problem with alcoholic products not meant for ingestion being sold in vending machines. Many are labeled as cosmetics or medicine, the BBC reports, and in Irkutsk, the people who died or are sick drank a hawthorn-scented bath lotion. The bottle states that its contents are not meant for drinking, but the label also said the product contained ethanol, not methanol, which can cause blindness and death.

Over the course of the investigation in Irkutsk, 12 people have been arrested, 1,500 buildings and homes searched, and thousands of bottles of alcohol confiscated. In the wake of the mass poisoning, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to create and submit new legislation by July to crack down on the sales of such products. He also wants stricter penalties for bootleggers and better labeling of products that contain more than 25 percent alcohol. Catherine Garcia

11:01 a.m.

The Cats trailer dropped into all of our lives on Thursday with little warning, leaving unsuspecting viewers everywhere stunned by whatever unspeakable horror it is that director Tom Hooper is set to unleash into theaters this Christmas.

The footage released on Thursday was the first time the public at large got a glimpse at the film's use of so-called "digital fur technology" to morph its star-studded cast into CGI cats, and let's just say Universal was likely hoping for a different reaction.

"My eyes are bleeding," critic Kristy Puchko wrote, adding, "There is no god." For The Ringer, Kate Halliwell decided the trailer is "the worst thing I've ever seen," asking a series of 66 questions ranging from "What fresh hell is this?" to "has God abandoned me?" The Atlantic's Sophie Gilbert faced a similar emotional crisis, writing, "Am I high? ... Is this the final glitch in The Matrix that ushers in the end times?"

The Daily Beast's Kevin Fallon, meanwhile, wrote that the trailer has "shaken me to my core," while Vanity Fair's Joanna Robinson summed it up best by asking, "What. And how. And what. And why. And what." Critics were shocked by everything from how bizarre the cats' faces look to how weirdly small they are on the giant sets to, well, basically everything else about the entire enterprise. Even director Jordan Peele got in on the pile-on, responding to a video adding the creepy Us trailer music onto the Cats footage with his seal of approval.

On YouTube, the reaction hasn't been much kinder or less confused. Universal's official upload of the trailer currently has more dislikes than likes, with comments such as "I'm terrified" and "Why are you doing this to us?"

Whatever the answers might be, audiences have five months to prepare themselves for this no doubt distressing theatrical experience, as Cats hits theaters on Dec. 20. Brendan Morrow

9:33 a.m.

The New York Times' Thomas Friedman seems to have hit a nerve with President Trump.

After the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist in a Tuesday article labeled Trump a racist following his attacks on four minority congresswomen, Trump on Friday dedicated not one but three tweets to blasting Friedman as a "weak" and "pathetic sort of guy," giving him the nickname "Thomas 'the Chin' Friedman," and mocking him for playing golf.

Trump also claimed he spoke to Friedman over the phone recently and he, as Trump puts it, "kissed my a.."

This was one of several tweets Trump fired off on Friday amid widespread criticism both over his racist tweets and over a "send her back" chant shouted at his rally. He wrote that "I am not" a racist and declared the media "crazed" for its reaction to the chants, even after saying on Thursday he disavows them. "I was not happy with it," Trump said. Brendan Morrow

8:43 a.m.

Microsoft on Thursday reported earnings that far exceeded Wall Street's expectations due partly to strong ongoing growth from its Azure cloud services and LinkedIn. The software giant reported profit of $13.19 billion, or $1.71 a share, up from $8.87 billion, or $1.14 a share, in the same period last year. Analysts had expected profit of $1.21 a share, MarketWatch reports.

Microsoft wrapped up its 2019 fiscal year with $36.8 billion in net profit, a 21.6 percent increase over the previous year. Sales increased by more than 14 percent. Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood said the company expects sales and operating profit to continue growing by double digits in the coming fiscal year, too. Microsoft shares gained more than 1 percent in after-hours trading after closing up by 0.1 percent on Thursday. Harold Maass

8:38 a.m.

The second round of Democratic presidential debates could be former congressman John Delaney's swan song, as if his team get its way, he'll drop out of the race not long after.

The 2020 Democrat's staffers recommended on July 9 that he drop out of the 2020 race by mid-August after thinking he "flopped" during the first Democratic debate and is virtually assured of being shut out of third one in September, Axios reports. Delaney, who has been polling at less than one percent, did qualify for the second round of Democratic debates later this month, but the threshold is being raised starting in September, and Delaney is one of a number of candidates expected to not meet the new requirements.

According to this report, Delaney "seemed open" to dropping out this summer during a recent meeting with his staffers, although he still wanted to hang in there long enough to attend the second debate. He's set to participate in the second round's first night, debating alongside Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on a separate night than former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

If Delaney, who sources close to the campaign complained about to Axios by saying that "every other day he would have a different position," does leave the race soon, he could be the second major 2020 dropout after Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). Then again, with reports of turmoil within the campaign of former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, the question of which 2020 candidate named John will next drop out on the advice of their frustrated staffers may be a real nail-biter. Brendan Morrow

7:48 a.m.

Iran is now denying that one of its drones was destroyed by the United States after President Trump announced on Thursday that the U.S. Navy had done so.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi on Friday tweeted that "we have not lost any drone" after Trump said that the U.S.S. Boxer destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz that came within 1,000 yards and would not stand down. "I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS by mistake!" Araghchi also wrote.

"This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters," Trump said upon announcing that the Iranian drone had been destroyed, CNN reports. His announcement came amid escalating tensions with Iran and a month after Iran shot down a U.S. drone in the Strait of Hormuz, nearly prompting Trump to launch a retaliatory strike that he says he called off with 10 minutes to spare.

A spokesperson for the Pentagon also said on Thursday that the Iranian drone was destroyed by the U.S. after coming "within a threatening range," The New York Times reports.

Iran's military spokesman denied Trump's claim as well, The Washington Post reports, saying that "all Iranian drones" in the Strait of Hormuz "including the one which the U.S. mentioned ... have returned to their bases. Brendan Morrow

2:00 a.m.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) was greeted by throngs of cheering supporters when she arrived at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Thursday night.

It's been a rocky week for Omar, starting with President Trump telling her and three other Democratic women of color to "go back" to their home countries. On Wednesday night, Trump brought Omar up during a rally in North Carolina, and accused her of "launching vicious anti-Semitic screeds." The crowd started chanting, "Send her back!" and while Trump did not say anything during the rally, on Thursday he claimed he was "not happy" and tried to stop it.

Omar heard different cheers on Thursday night, as supporters welcomed her back. Before heading to a town hall, Omar — one of Trump's most vocal critics — told supporters she would "continue to be a nightmare to this president, because his policies are a nightmare to us. We are not deterred, we are not frightened, we are ready. We are in the ring. We are in the people's house, and we are going to continue to fight it until we have the America we know we all deserve."

Linda Garrett-Johnson told The Star Tribune she came to the airport to show Omar that "Minnesota is standing with her." Garrett-Johnson said she was horrified by Trump's comments, adding that she "heard things like that growing up a person of color. I didn't ever think that I would ever live to hear it from the president of the United States." Catherine Garcia

1:35 a.m.

Every night at 8 p.m. on the dot, sisters Zaria and Hailey Willard grab a few books, turn on their computer, and get settled in for a story time accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

Zaria, 13, and Hailey, 8, live in Dover, Delaware, and love to read — their mother, Victoria Willard, told Good Morning America their home is filled with books, and she read to her daughters before they were even born. Knowing that not everyone has the luxury of a large library or someone to read to them, the sisters decided they would step in, using Facebook Live to host a bedtime story session every night. "Reading is good for you," Hailey said.

On Sundays, they head to the library and check out the books for the week, making sure to select stories about "characters who look like us," Zaria said. The girls take turns reading, and their mother monitors everything. Their father is in the Navy, and the sisters are working on their next big project: writing and illustrating a series of books about military families. Catherine Garcia

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