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Massive storm leaves 24 dead & other big news headlines

It’s the Monday after Christmas, the start of that weird short week before New Year’s. Grab a coffee and check out today’s top news headlines.

1. Regaining control

Iraqi forces have re-taken Ramadi from ISIS, ending seven months of occupation by the extremist group. It is an enormous defeat for ISIS, which was the faction’s final stronghold. Pockets of resistance still remain, including small communities surrounding the city, though the Iraqi flag now flies over government buildings. The loss of Ramadi is the latest in a string of significant defeats for ISIS. — The New York Times

2. Purity pledge

The Virginia GOP wants primary voters to sign a document pledging that they are Republican. In that state any registered voter can vote in the primary and choose a Republican or Democrat ballot. Donald Trump, long distrustful of the establishment GOP, fired off a series of angry tweets on Sunday, accusing the GOP of trying to stifle independent or unaffiliated voters. One delegate (R-Loudon) responded with “MORON.” Classy. — The Richmond Times-Dispatch

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3. Queen of hearts?

Donald Trump has accused Hillary Clinton of playing “the women’s card,” which means… we don’t even know what. It’s the latest salvo between the two, indicating that both candidates are increasingly girding for a Trump v. Clinton general election. Clinton responded by saying she wouldn’t respond, though she noted that Trump has a “penchant for sexism” — perhaps the biggest understatement of the year. Trump took a Twitter swing at Bill Clinton’s womanizing before changing the convo, again, to which candidate has the best strength and stamina. Perhaps his whole campaign is just a long commercial for an energy powder. — Slate

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4. Heavy weather

Massive storms over much of the country killed 24 people this weekend, including eight international soldiers stationed in Missouri. Texas, after seeing tornadoes this weekend, is bracing for snow and freezing temperatures after an 81-degree day on Saturday. Illinois also suffered severe flooding and New Mexico, Oklahoma and west Texas are under a blizzard warning. Governors of the states have declared states of emergency and remind citizens not to drive onto flooded roadways. What is Mother Nature trying to tell us? — CNN

 5. R.I.P.

Ellsworth Kelly, the renowned abstract painter and sculptor, died on Sunday at his home in Spencertown, New York. He was 92. Retrospectives of his work have been mounted at the Guggenheim and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Kelly was born in 1923, served in WWII and studied art in France on the GI Bill. He is survived by his partner, Jack Shear. — NBC News

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6. Dissolution resolution

Celebrity chef Guy Fieri wants out of his restaurant partnership with Steve Gruber. The two started Northern California’s Johnny Garlic restaurant chain in 1996; the pair now has seven locations and serves such delicacies as wild boar schnitzel and buffalo meatloaf. On Monday Gruber filed legal papers to stop the dissolution of the partnership, giving him time to try to buy out Fieri’s stake. No worries for the customers, though: The suits have no effect on day-to-day operations. Dig into that Big Bite Burger with impunity before the New Year’s resolutions kick in. — NBC Washington

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