US battle tanks headed to Ukraine

President Joe Biden said the U.S. will provide additional military aid to Ukraine in the form of battle tanks. Former President Donald Trump's accounts on Facebook and Instagram will be reinstated. And victims of the mass shooting in Northern California were identified. 

👋 Hello there! It's Julius with today's news. 

But first: A holiday mystery. 🎅 A 10-year-old in Rhode Island hopes a DNA test on a cookie and carrots will prove whether or not Santa is real. 

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US to send tanks to Ukraine in major escalation of war effort

Biden announced Wednesday that the U.S. will send 31 of its front-line battle tanks to Ukraine, as Ukrainian forces prepare for a new Russian offensive. The M1 Abrams tanks are viewed as critical to stave off a springtime offensive by Russian forces and to help the Ukrainians claw back parts of their country seized during the invasion. Biden touted a "worldwide commitment" to Ukraine, pointing to contributions from other NATO allies. Germany announced Wednesday it would provide 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks for Ukraine's military. Britain said earlier this month it will provide 14 of its Challenger 2 tanks, and France also plans to contribute armored fighting vehicles. Read more updates on Ukraine.

Facebook to lift suspension on Trump's accounts

Facebook parent company Meta Platforms says it will reinstate former President Donald Trump's accounts on Facebook and Instagram in the coming weeks. Trump has not been allowed to post on Facebook and Instagram since his accounts were indefinitely shut down following the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. At the time, Facebook said the ban was indefinite. After its outside board weighed in, the company banned Trump for two years and said it would decide this month whether to lift the suspension. Facebook says Trump will have to play by the rules. The company says it can restrict the accounts of public figures who violate its community standards during periods of civil unrest. See more on the tech giant's decision.

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Will Brittney Griner fly charter  despite WNBA restrictions?

On the heels of Brittney Griner’s release from Russia, there are concerns about the WNBA star's travel. Griner will need to fly privately due to security concerns, according to reports, which could create problems across the WNBA. Normally, the league doesn’t allow chartered flights, except in rare circumstances. But Griner's return to the U.S. after a prisoner swap for a Russian arms dealer was met with disturbing statements from critics, who have made disparaging comments about the deal that brought her home. At 6-foot-9, Griner is easy to notice in an airport, so charter flights might be her only secure option for travel. Read more.

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner during a WNBA Finals game in 2021.
Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner during a WNBA Finals game in 2021.

Victims in Half Moon Bay shooting identified

The San Mateo County Sheriff's Office said the victims in Monday's mass shooting near Half Moon Bay, California, were five men and two women, who were mostly Asian American and Latino farmworkers, and suspected to be the shooter's co-workers. The San Mateo County Coroner's Office identified the victims as: Zhishen Liu, 73; Qizhong Cheng, 66; Marciano Martinez Jimenez, 50; Yetao Bing, 43; Aixiang Zhang, 74; and Jingzhi Lu, 64. The seventh victim was not identified by official sources, but the Mercury News and Reuters confirmed Jose Romero Perez as another victim of the shooting. The Mexican Consulate of San Francisco said Tuesday that two of the victims who died were from Mexico. Read more about the victims.

San Mateo County Sheriff’s deputy puts up yellow tape outside mountain mushroom farm in Half Moon Bay, Calif., following a mass shooting.
San Mateo County Sheriff’s deputy puts up yellow tape outside mountain mushroom farm in Half Moon Bay, Calif., following a mass shooting.

Real quick

Genetics may be at play in SIDS, study suggests

The cause of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, continues to be a medical mystery but a new study suggests genetics may play a role. Over the course of 39 years, researchers found siblings of infants who died of SIDS had a four-fold higher risk of dying suddenly compared to the general population, according to the report. The large study reinforces previous research that shows SIDS may be more of a medical problem than previously thought, said Dr. Richard Goldstein, director of Robert’s Program on Sudden Unexpected Death in Pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital. See more findings from the study.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Texas tornado, Ukraine, Half Moon Bay victims: The Short List