After months of gridlock, Congress finally managed to pass an $892 billion COVID-19 stimulus bill, which includes $600 individual checks. But President Donald Trump has blasted the package, demanding that checks be increased to $2,000 in a statement that mentioned the “next administration.” He followed that up with “maybe that administration will be me,” despite the fact that he lost the election and will be replaced next month by President-elect Joe Biden. Though Trump hasn’t explicitly threatened to veto the bill, he could — which could mean a government shutdown, since it also funds 2021 federal spending.
The U.S. government has sued Walmart, the largest American retailer, accusing its more than 5,000 pharmacies of not scrutinizing prescriptions enough and thus fueling the opioid crisis. Walmart — which preemptively countersued the government for scapegoating it in October — dismissed the claim as “riddled with factual inaccuracies.” The opioid epidemic killed 50,000 Americans last year and is thought to have worsened during the pandemic.
France has relaxed its travel ban on the U.K., which had been prompted by a new fast-moving strain of COVID-19 in London — but had raised fears of holiday food shortages as delivery trucks couldn’t get across the border. Flights have been grounded this week as 57 countries refused to accept British travelers. South Africa is also struggling with a similar virus variant. Meanwhile, White House pandemic response coordinator Deborah Birx has announced her retirement after reports that she traveled to celebrate Thanksgiving with family despite pleading with Americans not to do so.
After failing to pass a budget, Israel dissolved its government today after just seven months. This will be the fourth time the country goes to the polls in less than two years, and new challenges to longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the hard right could prove to be the end of his time in the top job. A longtime Trump ally, Netanyahu may struggle to forge ties in the new U.S. administration — but he scored a win with voters this week as Israel began administering COVID-19 vaccinations.
President Trump has granted pardons or commuted sentences for 20 people, including his former campaign aide George Papadopoulos and three former Republican congressmen. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla will replace Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the Senate next month, making him the state’s first Latino senator. And mineralogists have discovered a previously unknown dark green mineral, kernowite, in a rock mined in the U.K. hundreds of years ago.
A gift from us to you. This holiday season, we’re bringing you some of our favorite episodes from The Carlos Watson Show in “odd couple” matchups and asking you to decide which conversation you found most interesting. Today, join the movement of one of these activists — acclaimed author and social critic Roxane Gay, or sexual harassment activist Anita Hill. Which one has you inspired to take up the cause? Check out episodes featuring our favorite activists here, and let us know which you pick by following The Carlos Watson Show on Instagram and voting in our Stories.
As the largest bank in the U.S., JPMorgan Chase & Co. is stepping up to foster economic opportunity and inclusion for historically marginalized communities. “Systemic racism is a tragic part of America’s history,” writes Brian Lamb, global head of diversity and inclusion at JPMorgan Chase. “It’s our responsibility to do something about it, given the role of banks in the financial health of the communities we serve.” Learn more about JPMorgan Chase's $30 billion commitment to providing economic opportunities in underserved communities.
As long as they’re con-tent. Though COVID-19 has grounded would-be holiday travelers, some are headed to Singapore’s Changi Airport anyway, where luxury glamping tents are on offer for overnight stays. For $269 per night, visitors can sleep in plush queen-sized beds, eat picnics and stroll the terminal’s shopping areas and climate-controlled gardens, which are bedecked in Christmas lights. Available until early January, the camping packages are already sold out until a few days after Christmas.
2. Trump’s Personal Bankers at Deutsche Bank Resign
Investigators will have to take this into account. Rosemary Vrablic and Dominic Scalzi have overseen loans granted to both President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, for a decade, but both have stepped down as New York officials probe the bank’s relationship to the president. Deutsche Bank has loaned at least $300 million to the Trump Organization alone. Vrablic has been under internal investigation by the bank for months. Both resignations will take effect next week.
Merry Christmas, you filthy animals. While the coronavirus can be transmitted to dogs and cats (and minks!), some epidemiologists worry that future pandemics might see far more transmission between pets and their owners, OZY reports. Past epidemics have seen companion animals killed en masse — as minks have been in Denmark during the COVID-19 crisis — but improved pet testing and isolation could be key to stopping the spread of future “petdemics,” according to experts.
This isn’t the first time the former Hollywood powerhouse that produced Singin’ in the Rain and the James Bond franchise has looked into being acquired. In fact, in the last few months Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has considered forging ties with a high-profile streaming service — one that might be lured by the new Bond film, No Time to Die, which has been kept out of theaters by the pandemic. But the $5.5 billion price tag might not be worth it to major streaming services concerned about running into antitrust lawsuits if they get too big.
With his 644th goal for Barcelona, his home since 2004, Lionel Messi broke Brazilian soccer legend Pelé’s record for most goals scored with a single club. Messi, a six-time Ballon d'Or winner, tried to leave the club where he’s spent his entire career in August, but Barcelona refused. His contract will be up at the end of the season, though, and the 33-year-old Argentine superstar will be free to make deals with another club starting in January.