President Donald Trump has continued his pardoning spree, handing clemency to 26 people — including longtime associates Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, who both went to jail during the Russia investigation. One analysis found that 60 of Trump's 65 pardons went to people with personal or political ties to the president. Meanwhile, Trump vetoed a defense bill because it allowed renaming military bases currently named for Confederate leaders and didn’t repeal online liability protections for social media companies. That sets up a potential showdown that could see Congress override his veto for the first time in his presidency.
Though the U.S. government set a goal of 20 million COVID-19 vaccinations by the end of the month and states have been sent 9.5 million doses, only about 1 million shots have actually been given. Meanwhile, Moderna and Pfizer are currently testing their vaccines against the highly contagious new strain that’s recently rampaged through Britain. The European Union is expected to roll out its own vaccination push beginning on Sunday. Delivery drivers, who have signed confidentiality agreements, will deliver the vaccine to secret storage locations to protect against hijacking.
China’s largest tech group, Alibaba, has been hit with a rare antitrust lawsuit from Chinese regulators, who’ll scrutinize the e-commerce giant’s selling practices. The crackdown follows founder Jack Ma’s high-profile speech attacking state-owned banks and regulators. Meanwhile, a recent antitrust lawsuit filed by U.S. states against Google could conceivably result in trillions of dollars in fines for violating state regulations — a difficult blow even for a company as valuable as Alphabet.
Britain and the EU are expected to announce that they’ve reached a Brexit deal today, though they’re still reportedly haggling over a last-minute problem regarding fishing rights. If terms are available today, that’ll leave just a week for Parliament to vote to implement the agreement before the U.K. crashes out with no deal Dec. 31. Even with a trade deal, Brexit is expected to shrink the U.K. economy by 1 percent in the first quarter of next year — though far more dire economic forecasts had been made for a no-deal situation.
Ethiopia’s human rights commission says gunmen killed more than 100 people in a western village Wednesday, prompting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to deploy troops. An iceberg the size of Delaware that had been on a collision course with a South Atlantic island — home to scientific research bases and wildlife populations — has split into three large fragments. And in the midst of surging COVID-19 rates in Southern California, ’80s TV star Kirk Cameron is drawing fire for organizing unmasked Christmas singalongs to protest the state’s stay-at-home order.
Tune In: This Christmas Eve, jam with some of your favorite musicians on The Carlos Watson Show. You may discover a new side to a familiar face like John Legend or Lenny Kravitz — or find a new favorite in Finneas or Saweetie. Ready for the best holiday binge? Enjoy.
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Just open them post-Christmas. This year’s load of holiday mail is estimated to be about 40 percent higher than in a normal year, which has stretched delivery and postal workers to the breaking point. COVID-19 has not only meant that more gifts are being sent through the mail than handed over in person, but also that about 19,000 postal workers are either sick or in quarantine. Tens of thousands of seasonal workers have been hired, but officials say millions of packages may still arrive after the big day.
2. Amazon Hit With Class Action Suit Over Ring Hacks
For a home security device, it wasn’t very secure. Amazon-owned Ring manufactures small cameras, often connected to doorbells. But dozens of users have reported distressing hacks of their devices, with hackers cursing at them or threatening to kill them from the cameras. Ring has repeatedly laid the blame on users choosing insufficiently strong passwords, but this new class action suit notes that a security breach of the company last year may have exposed users' information through no fault of their own.
3. Alaskan Tribes Demand Protection of Tongass Forest
Seeking to open America’s largest national forest for development, the Trump administration recently reversed rules forbidding road-building within the protected territory. But now a coalition of tribal governments, environmental organizations and others are suing the government to reinstate the rule, saying the changes were made unlawfully. Business interests in Alaska have long sought to overturn the Clinton-era regulation, but environmental groups point out that increased logging in the forest will likely worsen the effects of climate change.
4. ‘Three-Body Problem’ Adaptation Disrupted by Murder Plot
We thought this was sci-fi, not a murder mystery. Filming Cixin Liu’s award-winning trilogy — soon to be a Netflix series helmed by Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — was always going to be difficult. But now the chairman of Chinese rights-holder Yoozoo, who’s credited as a producer on the show, has been hospitalized after being poisoned, authorities say. The suspect they’ve arrested is a fellow Yoozoo executive. Investigations are ongoing.
5. Chinese Olympic Swimmer’s Doping Ban Overturned
So he wasn’t playing dirty pool. In 2012, Sun Yang became the first Chinese man to win Olympic gold in swimming. But earlier this year, he was handed an eight-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport after a 2018 incident where he smashed vials of blood taken for doping tests. He’s since maintained his innocence and questioned the testers’ credentials. Sun’s appeal to a Swiss federal court has now sent the case back to CAS, meaning he’s allowed to swim at least until another verdict is handed down.
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