Rail workers are poised to strike as early as Dec. 9 despite efforts by Congress to deescalate a labor dispute that threatens an economic disaster. Also in the news: President Joe Biden's first state dinner and USA TODAY investigates migrant worker deaths in the building of Qatar's World Cup tournament.
Welcome to December. Let's dive into Thursday's news.
What is the railroad strike of 2022?
Rail unions are headed toward a strike over pay and grievances from members that working conditions are grueling and not conducive to a life off the job. With a Dec. 9 deadline looming, Congress reluctantly inserted itself in the dispute this week to stave off a strike that would cost the economy $2 billion per day. But some of the unions have rejected the deal and the disagreement is poised to escalate.
What this means: Much of the country's goods still travel by freight train. Ahead of the holiday season, a halt in the shipment of food products and other critical goods could debilitate the economy.
What rail workers want: The railroad unions are asking freight and railway companies for a pay increase, as well as better working conditions, including paid time off and a more flexible schedule.
Congress took "urgent action" to quell a strike: At Biden's urging, the House overwhelmingly passed legislation this week that would adopt a tentative deal reached in September between union leaders and freight operators. Unions representing rail workers have since rejected the deal, setting up the impending work stoppage.
Biden's first state dinner
French President Emmanuel Macron, in a three-day state visit to the U.S., will hold a bilateral meeting Thursday with President Joe Biden. The meeting will be followed by a joint press conference. Later today, Biden and first lady Jill Biden will host Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron, for the Biden administration’s first state dinner – a black-tie event that will feature a live performance from singer Jon Batiste. The French leader has raised concerns with U.S. lawmakers about the administration's climate policies giving American companies an unfair advantage in the budding green energy sector. Read more
Here's what to know about the president's first state dinner.
Macron slams Biden climate incentives as ''super aggressive'' to French firms.
More news to know now
⚖ House Jan. 6 committee members will convene about potential criminal recommendations to the Department of Justice.
🎓 The latest on student loan forgiveness: Federal appeals court keeps Biden's plan on pause in latest ruling.
⬛ University of Idaho remembers slain students amid a mystery and a killer still at large.
📝 Schools are becoming hotbeds of political conflict – especially in purple districts.
🗨 Organ transplants spike during motorcycle rallies, a study finds. Here's what that means.
🛒 $11.3 billion in holiday shopping: Cyber Monday spending broke all-time record, per report.
🎄 Photos: The 90th annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.
🎧 On today's 5 Things podcast, USA TODAY Supreme Court Correspondent John Fritze discusses the latest development on Congress’ access to former president Donald Trump’s tax returns. You can listen to the podcast every day on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your smart speaker.
🌤 What's the weather coming up this weekend? Check your local forecast here.
At least 2 killed as tornadoes, wild storms march across Southeast
More than 20 possible tornadoes slashed through the Southeast, killing at least two people Wednesday and damaging homes as a line of intense weather rolled from Texas to Georgia and as far north as Indiana. The National Weather Service issued more than 70 tornado warnings across a swath of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana on Tuesday and Wednesday as storms slammed the region with heavy rains, high winds and large hail.
Native villages fleeing climate change effects get millions in aid from the Biden administration.
Migrant workers were deceived and died for Qatar's World Cup
Millions of migrants who worked in Qatar in the lead-up to the World Cup aren't thinking about the players or tens of thousands of screaming fans. As teams enter the second week of play, migrant workers and other activists are continuing to call attention to the true human toll of the controversial tournament. While the Qatari government admits to dozens of deaths among migrants working on World Cup projects, human rights groups say thousands died to make the games possible. Read more
Learn more: Millions of migrants from East Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia have flocked to Qatar for work since FIFA chose it as the site of the World Cup in 2010. Many say they've been injured, robbed of wages, subjected to forced labor and more to make the games possible. Some have even died.
FIFA named the first all-women officiating crew for a men's World Cup match.
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🎅 Ho-ho-hold on tight! It's a nightmare to shop for ''The Twelve Days of Christmas'' in 2022.
❓ Identifying the ''Lady of the Dunes'' took nearly 50 years but her killer remains a mystery.
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Many nursing homes are poorly staffed. How do they get away with it?
Having enough nurses and aides is the strongest predictor of whether nursing home residents will thrive, but many nursing homes are understaffed. President Joe Biden has proposed the most ambitious nursing home reforms in decades, including the creation of nationwide staffing minimums, but a USA TODAY investigation found current guidelines aren’t being met, and facilities are rarely punished for it. Read more
🛑 Can't read this story about nursing homes? That's because it's subscriber-only. If you'd like to access more stories like this one, please consider joining our subscriber community.
📷 Photo of the day: Mauna Loa volcano, largest in the world, erupts in Hawaii 📷
The first eruption in 38 years of the world’s largest active volcano is attracting onlookers to a national park for “spectacular” views of the event, and it's also dredging up bad memories among some Hawaii residents who have been through harrowing volcanic experiences in the past. Read more
Click here to see more photos of the volcano's eruption.
One more thing
🔊 Buckingham Palace says a staff member resigned following ''unacceptable'' comments made to a Black exec.
😲 The antisemitic film at the center of Kyrie Irving's suspension will be staying on Amazon.
🎵 Christine McVie wrote many of Fleetwood Mac's greatest songs.
🧠 Yale University was sued over discriminating against students with mental health disabilities.
👩🍳 21 best food gifts every foodie will love: Cheese, wine and gourmet gifts for the holidays.
👑 Prince William and Princess Kate attended a Celtics-Heat game in Boston.
Nicole Fallert is a newsletter writer at USA TODAY, sign up for the email here. Want to send Nicole a note, shoot her an email at NFallert@usatoday.com or follow along with her musings on Twitter. Support journalism like this – subscribe to USA TODAY here.
Associated Press contributed reporting.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Macron, rail strike, Qatar, World Cup, tornado: Daily Briefing