President-elect Joe Biden has publicly dinged the outgoing Trump administration for withholding national security information his team may need to protect the country. Without the full picture, he said, foreign nations could potentially exploit vulnerabilities, as in the recent massive cyberattack that targeted federal agencies. President Donald Trump, who fully blocked all transition efforts for two weeks after he lost the election, has still refused to concede. Biden reportedly plans to invoke the wartime Defense Production Act to direct the private sector to mobilize against the pandemic once he takes office Jan. 20.
Spain, one of the European countries worst hit by COVID-19, has announced that it’ll create a registry of people who refuse to get vaccinated. Though the list won’t be public, it will be shared with other EU countries. Vaccine skepticism in Spain is rapidly dropping: In November, 47 percent of Spaniards said they wouldn’t get the vaccine, but that’s fallen to just 28 percent. Meanwhile, some tech companies are working on vaccine passport apps that will allow global travelers to show proof of vaccination when they cross borders.
Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to increase COVID-19 benefit checks from $600 to $2,000, though it’s unclear if the changes will make it through the Senate. They also voted to override President Trump’s veto of a defense spending bill, which he blocked because it didn’t put new restrictions on Big Tech. If the Senate also agrees to override it, it’ll be the first bill of the Trump presidency to become law without his approval. Meanwhile, New York state passed sweeping legislation banning most evictions for another 60 days even if tenants can’t pay rent.
The Columbus, Ohio, police department has fired an officer for shooting Andre Maurice Hill, who was holding a cell phone, while responding to a non-emergency call. Former officer Adam Coy will now face criminal proceedings. Meanwhile, jazz musician Keyon Harrold’s video of a white woman accusing his Black 14-year-old son of stealing her iPhone has gone viral. In it, the unidentified woman tackles the child, demanding he hand over his own phone. She reportedly hasn’t apologized, even after her phone was returned by the Uber driver whose car she left it in.
COVID-19 cases are soaring in South Africa, leading President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a curfew and a ban on alcohol sales. Argentina’s Senate is debating a bill that could legalize abortion. And two Georgia counties have been ordered to stop purging voter rolls ahead of a Jan. 5 runoff election that will decide which political party controls the U.S. Senate.
Read This: Today we’re bringing you a deep dive into different perspectives on feminism from some of our favorite episodes of The Carlos Watson Show. Whether you explore the philosophies of OGs like Gloria Steinem and Donna Brazile, or new takes on gender and power from Jameela Jamil, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Isabel Sandoval, find them all here.
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Fangs for the endorphins. Snake massage is gaining popularity across the world, with clients in Indonesia, Egypt, Brazil and the U.S. allowing pythons and other non-venomous ophidians to slither all over their oiled backs in a procedure that’s purported to help with joint and muscle pain. Some clients even reported that their nervousness about snakes helped them in the long run, as facing the fear gave them a feeling of self-confidence and accomplishment along with the relaxation of a massage.
2. Saudi Women’s Rights Activist Sentenced to Jail
Loujain al-Hathloul campaigned tirelessly for Saudi Arabia to recognize women’s right to drive. She was detained in 2018 — and weeks later, the driving ban was lifted. But the activist, now 31, has just been sentenced to five years and eight months in jail on terrorism charges following a confession that was reportedly given after torture and sexual abuse. Both the United Nations and the U.S. State Department have encouraged the kingdom to release al-Hathloul early, though it’s unclear if their efforts will succeed.
Watch this space. Low-Earth orbit has become crowded with satellites, and scientists are increasingly worried about the concentration of space junk — and about the harmful substances that get released into Earth’s atmosphere when those satellites eventually fall. To avoid that, researchers in Japan are experimenting with making satellites out of wood, reasoning that they’ll burn up easily without raining debris on Earth or releasing toxic pollutants. They’re hoping to launch the first such orbiters in 2023.
4. Lori Loughlin Released From Prison Post-Admissions Scandal
She’s gone from Full House to the big house … and now back to her own house. The actress was released from federal prison yesterday after spending two months behind bars as punishment for paying an estimated $500,000 in bribes to get her daughter into the University of Southern California. Loughlin’s husband is still serving out his five-month sentence, reportedly in protective custody for reasons related to COVID-19.
The Brazilian soccer star — whose country has suffered the world’s second-highest pandemic death toll — is planning a 150-person New Year’s party at his beachfront mansion that will last five days. A supporter of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has famously downplayed COVID-19 and derided vaccines, Neymar initially denied he was planning a party, and now has reportedly banned smartphones from the event. One Brazilian sportswriter called the bash “an affront to 190,000 grieving families.”
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