For a week, President Donald Trump derided and held up a $900 billion COVID-19 stimulus bill and funding for the federal government. But with Washington poised to shut down tomorrow, he made an unexpected U-turn last night and signed the bill — after letting pandemic-linked unemployment benefits expire. Critics pointed out that the delay cost 14 million Americans a week of benefits during the Christmas season. In a statement, Trump spoke of sending the bill back to Congress and insisting on changes, but with just three weeks left of his presidency that’s unlikely to happen.
AstraZeneca says its coronavirus vaccine — expected to be approved by U.K. regulators this week — should work on the new virus variant causing a panic in Britain. Saudi Arabia had paused all international flights over fear of the new strain, but now says foreign nationals will be allowed to leave. Meanwhile, New York state is investigating whether some clinics have been dispensing vaccine to people who aren’t in the approved at-risk groups meant to get the first doses after they advertised the shots would be given “on a first come first serve basis.”
Police say they believe the culprit in the Christmas morning bombing in Nashville, which injured three people and caused extensive property damage, worked alone and died in the blast. DNA from IT worker Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, was found at the site. Warner broadcast a warning to vacate the area and played Petula Clark’s hit “Downtown” before his RV exploded early Friday morning outside an AT&T building. The damage disrupted telephone and internet service across five states and emergency systems in Tennessee.
4. UK Financial Sector May Have Gotten Bad Brexit Deal
Prime Minister Boris Johnson managed to agree on an 11th-hour Brexit trade deal with the EU — but now admits that the financial services piece of the puzzle may leave London out in the cold. Until Brussels declares that the U.K. system is “equivalent” to its own, Britain’s financial sector will have more limited access to EU markets than New York or Singapore. The British fishing industry also expressed outrage over what they saw as a bad deal on ocean rights. Parliament is expected to pass the deal this week.
A gift from us to you. As we count down toward the new year, 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: Check out the stories of entrepreneurs who turned reality TV fame into commercial success — from Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi to Real Housewives' Bethenny Frankel. Whose story was the most impressive? Check out the episodes here, and let us know which you pick by following The Carlos Watson Show on Instagram and voting in our Stories.
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That’s the way the cookie crumbles. A three-sided monolith standing almost 7 feet tall and made of gingerbread and icing mysteriously appeared on a hilltop in San Francisco on Christmas Day. Thought to be an homage to the mysterious metal monument recently discovered and then dismantled in the Utah desert, the cookie sculpture was gawked at and even snacked on by passersby before crumbling the following day amid a light rain.
2. Wuhan Citizen Journalist Jailed for Virus Coverage
Lawyer-turned-livestreamer Zhang Zhan has been sentenced to four years in prison in Shanghai, ostensibly for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” But Zhang’s citizen reporting during the early days of the coronavirus crisis in Wuhan is thought to be the real reason: She’s one of eight whistleblowers who have since been punished by the Chinese government. Zhang, 37, was arrested in May and has been on a hunger strike since June, leading to concerns that she may die in prison.
Where’s all that scout’s honor? The Boy Scouts of America began letting in girls in 2018, and now the Girl Scouts have filed a lawsuit alleging that the group is using “damaging” recruitment tactics and confusing parents who think they’re enrolling their daughters in Girl Scouts. In response, the Boy Scouts accused their rival organization of waging a “ground war” to win back young women and of being “dismissive” when girls choose to join Boy Scouts. A related Girl Scouts lawsuit hopes to keep the Boy Scouts from using the word “scouts” when recruiting.
4. ‘Star Trek’ Star’s Ashes Smuggled Aboard the ISS
The show’s original Scotty, James Doohan, died in 2005 — but he’d always wanted to go to space for real. Some of his ashes were sent into orbit in 2012, but it’s now been revealed that he made it to the International Space Station in 2008, smuggled by video game designer Richard Garriott on one of the first citizen trips to the ISS. At the request of Doohan’s family, Garriott says, he stashed a laminated photo of the late actor containing some of his ashes under the floor of the station’s Columbus module.
He knee-ds a break. After two knee operations, the former world No. 1 — now ranked No. 5 due to a nearly yearlong break — has announced he won’t play in the 2021 Australian Open, scheduled for early February. The 39-year-old Swiss tennis powerhouse, currently training in Dubai, says he’ll soon start planning his 2021 schedule and could return as soon as late February. Federer’s absence has allowed rival Rafael Nadal to match his record 20 major championship wins.