Despite pressure from Democrats, some Republicans and even President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nixed talk of any quick vote on sending Americans $2,000 relief checks, saying there was “no realistic path” to do so. Meanwhile, GOP Sen. Josh Hawley says he’ll contest the certification of the Electoral College vote confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s win, meaning senators are likely in for a lengthy floor debate over Trump’s false assertions of election fraud.
At least 26 people died and scores more were injured when explosions and gunfire erupted at Yemen’s Aden airport shortly after a plane carrying members of the newly installed unity government landed. Another explosion struck near the presidential palace shortly afterward. It’s not clear who is responsible for either blast, and Houthi rebels have denied responsibility. If the airport is out of commission, that’ll mean there’s only a single functioning airport in the country of 28 million citizens.
With Brexit set to come into effect at 11 p.m. tonight London time, U.K. lawmakers yesterday approved the EU trade deal negotiated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Holdouts who voted against the deal included members of parties from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, pointing up longstanding predictions that Brexit could lead to tensions or even a breakup of the United Kingdom. In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she expected the deal’s “disastrous” terms would fuel support for another independence referendum.
After a nearly yearlong pause in taxes on the digital revenue of big tech companies, France has started collecting again, sparking a fight with the U.S. — which is retaliating with high tariffs on $1.3 billion in French imports starting Jan. 6. Italy and the U.K. are expected to follow France’s lead, which could put the squeeze on huge multinationals used to taking advantage of tax structures. The taxes could also hurt smaller merchants, as behemoths like Amazon have simply passed the cost of French taxes along to them via fees.
The Nashville suicide bomber’s girlfriend warned police about him more than a year before the attack. A Chinese environmental influencer known to fans as Glacier Bro is presumed dead after falling into fast-moving icy water. And Boston Dynamics has released a video of its robots dancing.
Watch This: At the end of one of the most turbulent years in recent history, one poignant and lasting impact of 2020 may be the racial awakening that followed the murder of George Floyd in May. As we continue our campaign to host the bold conversations the country needs going into 2021, binge on our Reset America playlist here to dive into meaningful discussions with everyone from Ava DuVernay and Ta-Nehisi Coates to Megyn Kelly and Malcolm Gladwell.
They were tempting fete. App Vybe Together allowed users to create and find underground parties — and a recent promotional video for New Year’s Eve events showed merrymakers clearly not wearing masks or engaging in social distancing despite the fact that COVID-19 has killed more than 1,770 Americans just in the last 24 hours. Apple has removed the app from its store and the company’s website is now defunct, though the creators protested, “We could be living, at least a little during these times.”
A 45-year-old nurse in California tested positive for the virus in the window between his first and second dose of the Pfizer inoculation, which experts say is not surprising. They say the first dose of the vaccine offers about 50 percent protection after 10 to 14 days, but the second shot is key for immunity. Meanwhile, a Wisconsin hospital employee has been fired after intentionally leaving dozens of vials of vaccine out of the freezer, leading to about 500 doses being thrown out.
This gave us the blues. Scientists analyze the color of rivers in aerial photographs as a quick way of tracking how they may be changing — and over the 34 years between 1984 and 2018 about a third of American rivers changed from blue to green or yellow. What those colors mean isn’t yet clear, though green can indicate algae and yellow can be a sign of increased sediment. Either way, the scientists say this can help track rapid environmental change in U.S. waterways.
4. ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Actress Dawn Wells Dies at 82
The show about island castaways ran for only three seasons in the 1960s, but it cemented Wells, who played girl-next-door Mary Ann, as one of TV’s iconic good girls. The former Miss Nevada died Wednesday of COVID-19. Wells continued her run as Mary Ann long after the show ended, appearing in multiple reunion films and authoring two books about her character, one a cookbook and the other a self-help tome entitled What Would Mary Ann Do?
5. Becky Hammon Becomes First Woman to Coach NBA Game
They spurred change. With 3:56 to go in the second quarter of last night’s Lakers-Spurs game, San Antonio coach Greg Popovich was thrown out for repeatedly talking back to officials. So assistant coach Becky Hammon stepped in, becoming the first woman in NBA history to ever direct a regular season game. The six-time WNBA All-Star, who has been with the Spurs since 2014, called it “a substantial moment” but said she was just focused on winning — though in the end the Lakers won 121-107.
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