It doesn’t appear to be a new pandemic. But a new strain of coronavirus that spreads 70 percent faster than the original has caused many nations to clamp down on travel from the U.K., where the strain was identified. France has even banned freight shipments from Britain as officials in London and Brussels meet today to manage the crisis. And while the increased potential for contagion to spread is worrisome, health officials say the new strain is no more deadly than the original and current COVID-19 vaccines should be just as effective against it.
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2. Did Trump Contemplate Martial Law?
It’s fake news, says President Donald Trump. But worried White House aides reportedly rushed to tell the media that he considered imposing martial law in a bid to overturn his Nov. 3 loss. Ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn publicly floated the idea of having the military rerun the election in swing states, and The New York Times says he attended a Friday meeting where Trump asked about it. Meanwhile, the president is reportedly considering naming conspiracy-promoting lawyer Sidney Powell as a special counsel to probe the election, and he’s lobbying Alabama’s new senator to challenge Electoral College results in Congress.
It will save “lives and livelihoods … as the virus accelerates.” That was Democratic leaders’ take on the $900 billion relief package they hashed out with their Republican counterparts last night. Attached to a $1.4 trillion package funding the government through September, the relief includes direct payments of up to $600, even for children, and assistance to small businesses and health care providers. It also extends unemployment benefits and an eviction moratorium that were set to expire. After a government shutdown was averted by a one-day extension, lawmakers are expected to pass the overall budget today.
The sleeve-rolling isn’t figurative for this politician. President-elect Joe Biden, who at 78 falls into a high-risk group, is scheduled for his COVID-19 shot today. Shipments of Moderna’s vaccine, the second one approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, are expected to arrive across the country today, adding to the Pfizer/BioNTech shot already being administered. Yesterday the FDA’s advisory committee on how to allocate vaccines, which put health care workers and nursing home residents first in line, said that essential workers and the 20 million Americans aged 75 and older should be next.
Iran-backed militias have been blamed for eight rocket strikes last night on the fortified area housing the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad. Brexit negotiators missed a European Parliament deadline Sunday, raising the specter of weeks of legal and trade limbo between Britain and the EU. And just after sunset today, Jupiter and Saturn will align to shine brightly in what’s being called the “Christmas Star.”
A gift from us to you. As we count down to the end of the year, we’re bringing you some "odd couple" matchups of our favorite episodes from The Carlos Watson Show so you can decide which conversation you find the most interesting. Will it be the new AOC, Rep.-elect Jamaal Bowman, or the new Ava DuVernay, writer and director Isabel Sandoval? Watch our favorite episodes featuring rising stars here, and let us know your pick by following The Carlos Watson Show on Instagram and voting in our Stories.
We didn’t think they could get sharper, but we’ve outdone ourselves this time. Guys who shave four times a week say that with the new Harry’s razor blades, their eighth shave is as smooth as their first. So, does this improvement come with a price hike? Not at Harry’s. The new blades are just $2 each for an eight-pack, the same as they always were. “We’re constantly working on ways to improve, and don’t think an upgrade should come at the expense of our customers. After all, we started Harry’s because we were tired of the upcharging tactics used by so many razor companies,” says co-founder Jeff Raider. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Snag yourself a Trial Set and decide for yourself.
Imagine if she’d won. Miss Provence was the runner-up, but she’s the one getting the attention today. During Saturday’s pageant, April Benayoum explained she had a “passion for geography” because of her diverse background, with a Serbo-Croat mom and an Israeli Italian dad. The inevitable social media rants evoking Hitler and the Holocaust followed, earning condemnation from government officials, vows that police would find the authors and threats against platforms that failed to remove the hate speech. The contestant? She handled it with poise: “I obviously condemn these comments, but it does not affect me at all.”
It’s a lesson in eco-no-masks. Recognized on the beach near his posh seaside home, Chilean President Sebastián Piñera couldn’t say no to a young woman who wanted a selfie with her leader. But after the photo circulated online, the president, whose 90-day pandemic state of emergency remains in effect, admitted he’d violated mask mandates. Chile has lost more than 16,000 people to COVID-19, and requires masks in all public spaces — and punishments include fines and even jail time. Piñera has agreed to pay a $3,500 fee and he’s apologized for the breach.
She’s the face of Saudi women’s empowerment. Entrepreneur and social media influencer Adwa Al Dakheel, 28, is a guitarist, writer, amateur pilot, refugee advocate and national champion squash player, OZY reports. But her day job is running Falak, a two-year-old investment hub that injects $1 million a year into startups for a four-month development program. Falak has fostered 17 startups employing 150 people and generating $125 million. That doesn’t negate Saudi Arabia’s troublesome human rights record — which includes imprisoning women’s rights activists — but Al Dakheel is a striking role model for change.
It toppled a big tree. The Los Angeles Film Critics Association yesterday announced that Small Axe, an anthology of films about West Indian immigrants in mid-20th century London, is 2020’s best picture. The choice was remarkable because Amazon Studios didn’t even submit Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen’s film for this year’s Academy Awards. Other LAFCA winners included Chloé Zhao for directing Nomadland, Wolfwalkers for best animated film, Carey Mulligan for best actress in Promising Young Woman and Chadwick Boseman, who was posthumously honored as best actor in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Finally, something normal in 2020. After a pandemic-ravaged NCAA football season, the elite teams chosen to compete in the College Football Playoff semifinals on New Year’s Day include perennial favorites: No. 1 Alabama will face No. 4 Notre Dame in Arlington, Texas, while No. 2 Clemson will play No. 3 Ohio State in New Orleans. Critics assailed the committee’s choice of OSU, a team that’s played only six games because of a coronavirus-shortened schedule, complaining it got preferential treatment (and a quarantine reduction) for its popularity over teams like undefeated University of Cincinnati.
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