Toys "R" Us is closing more than 180 stores, more proof that Walmart and Amazon are squeezing their retail rivals. Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)
1. Russia investigation
Special counsel Robert Mueller has indicated interest in questioning President Donald Trump about his dismissals of former FBI Director James Comey and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN. The sources cautioned against presuming the President would sit down with Mueller in the next few weeks, saying there is still much to be negotiated.
CNN's Stephen Collinson says this news, paired with word that Mueller's team has already interviewed Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, indicates at least part of Mueller's Russia probe is racing toward its end game. "A foreboding moment looms for (Donald Trump's) presidency and for the nation," Collinson writes.
The end of the government shutdown finds Republicans and Democrats moving even further apart on immigration. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer withdrew an offer that would have approved funding for President Trump's border wall. And the White House indicates it wants more than just the wall and additional resources on the Southern border in exchange for a DACA fix. It wants Homeland Security to have more power to remove undocumented immigrants. These changes in positioning risk losing the support of very conservative and very liberal lawmakers. Which means we'll probably be facing another immigration-fueled shutdown come February 8.
3. Kentucky school shooting
They're planning prayer vigils today at Marshall County High School in western Kentucky after a shooter killed two students and wounded 16 others. The suspected gunman is a 15-year-old male student who was nabbed on the scene. He'll probably be charged as an adult on murder and attempted murder charges. Shocked students described utter chaos as gunfire broke out in the school's commons area right before classes started. Some kids jumped fences and ran into the woods for safety.
4. North Korea
What does Kim Jong Un really want? CIA Director Mike Pompeo thinks the North Korean leader is developing nukes for more than just preserving his regime. Pompeo says Kim's ultimate goal is to take over the entire Korean Peninsula, and he's prepared to use both nuclear weapons and conventional military forces to do it. So could the US do a limited military strike to stop him without risking a full-scale war? Pompeo wouldn't answer that, but President Trump has said in the past that all options are on the table when it comes to dealing with North Korea.
So who's going to win? Looks like "The Shape of Water" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" have all the momentum in the best picture race, but don't be shocked if a dark horse like "Lady Bird" nabs the Oscars' top prize. And maybe this year it won't be so #OscarsSoWhite, with three African-Americans and a black English actor getting nominations in the acting categories, and "Get Out" director Jordan Peele grabbing writing and directing nods. Sadly for superhero movie fans, there was nothing for much-loved "Wonder Woman." Check out the complete nominations list and get reactions from the nominees. The Academy Awards are March 4.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"If they try to send us back there now, we will not go."
Rohingya refugee Halima Khatun, saying she refuses to return to Myanmar under a repatriation deal reached between that country and Bangladesh
People are talking about these. Read up. Join in.
Now we all know how Jack died, and "This Is Us" fans will never look at the Super Bowl the same way again.
Rest in peace
Novelist Ursula K. Le Guin, who died at 88, wrote a little bit of everything, but she was a master of sci-fi classics such as "A Wizard of Earthsea."
Congrats to Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who's pregnant and would be the first sitting senator to give birth while in office.
When your state just issued a false ballistic missile alert, forgetting your Twitter password DOES NOT HELP. Just ask Hawaii's governor.
Artist Jeremy Deller asks the really big questions in his work, like what does music look like?
NUMBER OF THE DAY
The number of people killed in a pair of explosions outside a mosque in Benghazi, Libya
AND FINALLY ...
Wake up call
The husky dog desperately wants to play with his pig pal, but the pig ain't having it. And why is this porky creature asleep inside a house? That's a question for another day. (Click to view)