In our news wrap Wednesday, a cold wave kept the nation’s Midwest and Northeast in a deep freeze, as arctic winds dropped temperatures to 37 degrees below zero in some places. Officials warned of the risk of frostbite with less than 30 minutes of exposure. Also, hundreds of critically ill patients are finally being evacuated from the rebel-held area of eastern Ghouta region in Syria.
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A cold wave kept the nation's Midwest and Northeast in the deep freeze today. Windchill warnings and advisories stretched from North Dakota to New Hampshire, as arctic winds dropped temperatures to 37 below zero in some places.
Officials warned of the risk of frostbite with less than 30 minutes of exposure, and they went on alert.
Any time that we have an extreme in weather, be it cold or hot, it taxes the EMS system as a whole. Look for people who may need assistance maybe before they're so bad off that they require an ambulance to go to the hospital. And they will get them services like a shelter, a detox, and things like that.
As the cold set in, Erie, Pennsylvania, declared a state of emergency, with a record 65 inches of snow. More snow was falling today.
In Syria, critically ill patients are finally being evacuated from a rebel-held area near Damascus. Hundreds of sick people in eastern Ghouta have been unable to get treatment at area hospitals. But now government troops are letting aid groups evacuate nearly 30 critically ill patients. In return, the rebels want a like number of captive fighters released.
Also today, Russia declared the main battle with the Islamic State in Syria is now over. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Syrian army and its allies must turn their focus to hunting down the Nusra Front group, linked to al-Qaida.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin has officially registered to run for his fourth term as president. In Moscow today, Putin handed in his papers in person to the nation's election commission. Early polls show he's likely to be reelected in the March vote. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny is urging a boycott of the election after he was banned from running.
Today, he called for nationwide protests next month.
(Through interpreter): Let's come out to the street for yourselves, for your rights, for your future, for the fact that we do not want to lose another six years. We will start a big campaign on one hand to persuade everyone to participate in the boycott and not to take part in the election, and on the other hand to count how many people really come to the polling stations, and not let Putin fabricate that number.
Putin is 65 years old and has already led Russia as prime minister and now president for a total of 18 years.
Former President Obama is urging leaders to be careful in their online statements. He spoke with Britain's Prince Harry in an interview that aired today on the BBC. The former president didn't directly mention President Trump, but he did voice concern about social media's effect on politics.
Former President Barack Obama:
All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the Internet.
One of the dangers of the Internet is, is that people can have entirely different realities. They can be just cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.
Mr. Obama also said he considers the Affordable Care Act, widely known as Obamacare, one of his greatest achievements.
The Library of Congress says it will no longer archive every public tweet, including the president's. Instead, starting in the new year, it will be more selective. The library cites the growing volume in tweets and the increase in characters from 140 to 280. The National Archives keeps all presidential tweets, and will continue to do so.
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 28 points to close at 24774. The Nasdaq rose three points, and the S&P 500 added two.