Following in the footsteps of U.S. President Donald Trump, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, President Emmanuel Macron, 42, has contracted the coronavirus. Though he’s reportedly showing mild symptoms, he’ll continue to work during his weeklong isolation as France prepares to roll out vaccinations, which may begin as soon as late December if the EU approves the Pfizer/BioNTech inoculation next week. Meanwhile, artists, actors and opera singers gathered in Paris this week to protest the French lockdown, which has shuttered their workplaces.
The U.S. government has to pass a gigantic spending bill by Friday to avoid a government shutdown — but enclosed within that bill could be COVID-19 stimulus that would serve as a lifeline to the millions of Americans struggling to pay for basic necessities during the pandemic. The $900 billion package, if it passes, is likely to include small stimulus checks, but skip extra funding for state and local governments. Republicans may be hoping that passing pandemic relief could boost their chances in two January Georgia runoff elections that will determine control of the Senate.
In July, Melbourne authorities forced 3,000 residents of nine public housing towers into a strict lockdown without notice, leaving them without necessary food and medicine for as long as two weeks. Now an ombudsman’s report says that was a breach of their human rights, though Victoria’s government is still defending its actions. Meanwhile, the U.S. saw its first adverse COVID-19 vaccine reaction — an Alaska health care worker had an allergic response — as states reported that they have more vaccine than expected: Vials that officially contain five doses may in fact have enough for six or seven.
A group of Republican attorneys general, led by Texas, have filed suit against online behemoth Alphabet, the parent company of Google. They’re accusing it of shady ad tactics, violating users’ privacy and forging an improper agreement with Facebook that was kept secret with Star Wars-themed code names. Another antitrust lawsuit against Google, this one from a bipartisan group of lawmakers going after the company’s alleged monopolistic search engine policies, is expected to be filed as early as today.
Do You Know? Paleontologists say they’ve found a fossil of a previously unknown chicken-sized dinosaur with spear-like protuberances sticking out of its shoulders. In what country was it found? Reply to this email with your guess!
And Today on The Carlos Watson Show: CNN journalist and star of The View Lisa Ling gives Carlos the inside scoop on her cutting-edge journalism — from prisons and biker gangs to teenage porn addicts. Plus, she opens up like never before about her own personal struggles with fertility, with some surprising advice for young, ambitious women. Watch now.
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All bets are off. Atlantic City’s Trump Plaza casino closed in 2014 after 30 years. Now it’s so run-down that it’s scheduled to be dynamited at the end of January, and Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small — who says President Trump has “openly mocked” his town — is auctioning off the right to push the demolition button. Bids will be accepted through Jan. 19, and the cash, which Small hopes could be as much as $1 million, will go to benefit the Boys & Girls Club charity.
Stereotypes about China’s knock-off handbags may be a thing of the past. Instead, retailers chasing the country’s high-end consumers are going all-in on blockchain tech that lets shoppers monitor the quality and origins of what they buy, OZY reports — down to knowing which vet cared for the cow that became their steak. That’s good news for brands, whose IP will be protected, but it’ll also likely tap into buyers’ post-pandemic focus on health and safety when it comes to the provenance of their purchases.
3. NZ to Offer Free COVID-19 Shots to Nearby Countries
Good defenses make good neighbors. New Zealand has been singularly successful in eliminating the coronavirus, and Kiwi Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it has purchased enough vaccine not just for its own 5 million residents, but to offer it to nearby nations Tokelau, Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu. The shots will be free and vaccinations will begin once “proven safe,” Ardern says, with rollout expected over the next year. Still, New Zealand’s borders are likely to remain shut for some time.
4. Dutch Court Rules Museum Can Keep Disputed Kandinsky
When Robert Lewenstein fled the Nazi-occupied Netherlands in 1940, he had to abandon the 1909 Wassily Kandinsky Painting With Houses to be auctioned off for an abnormally low price to Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. Now Lewenstein’s family wants the painting, currently valued at $22 million, back — but Amsterdam's District Court ruled in favor of the museum, saying the circumstances of the auction are still unclear. The family plans to appeal, with lawyers darkly predicting that the case sets a dangerous precedent for Dutch art restitution, which could also apply to art directly looted by Nazis.
Before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947, African Americans were relegated to seven Negro Leagues for decades. Their stats and records were kept separate until yesterday, when MLB announced it would officially reclassify 3,400 Black players. Stars like Satchel Paige and Willie Mays who played in both leagues will see their total numbers improve, while catcher Josh Gibson might end up with the best batting average (.441) in history. It’s still unclear which records will count, though, and MLB will work with the Elias Sports Bureau to crunch the often poorly recorded data from decades ago.
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