As the pandemic rages worse than ever around the globe, some 2,500 people in northern France decided to ring in the New Year no matter what. Participants in the underground rave went so far as to repel police with rocks and bottles, allowing the illegal revelry to continue today. Meanwhile, 32 other nations have now detected the new highly contagious COVID-19 variant discovered in Britain, while overall infections in the U.S. have now surpassed 20 million, leading to a record 78,000 deaths in December. And after rocky vaccine rollouts there and in Britain, India is staging a nationwide inoculation drill today.
The writing is on the wall. The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate voted 81-13 yesterday to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a defense funding bill. Because the Democrat-controlled House voted similarly on Monday, the $741 billion measure is enacted over Trump’s objections — the first successful override of his administration. He rejected the popular bill because it stymied his plans to withdraw troops from Germany, protect Confederate base names and punish social media platforms. Republicans’ en-masse defiance of the president is seen as evidence of their recognition that he’s losing his job Jan. 20 and with it, much of his political clout.
They’re finally free. The British people narrowly voted in 2016 to break away from the European Union, but that agonizing process wasn’t complete until an hour before 2020 came to a close. That’s when a fresh trade agreement came into force, allowing British Prime Minister and chief Brexiteer Boris Johnson to proclaim “freedom” for his nation. But the deal leaves many unanswered questions, such as how London’s financial sector does business across the English Channel. It also drives a wedge between Whitehall and pro-EU Scotland, which could revive independence efforts, along with Northern Ireland, which remains part of the EU’s single market to preserve its open Irish border.
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4. Coming Up: Trump's Final Showdown
It’s all over, but there will be shouting. With the declaration by Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley that he’ll join Trumpist House Republicans, it seems certain that President Trump will get his electoral challenge in Congress. Senate Republican leaders don’t want an embarrassing floor fight Wednesday that’s expected to fail, and even Vice President Mike Pence, who will convene the joint congressional session, has convinced a court to reject a lawsuit that sought to give him power to overturn state election results. Calling the challenge “awful,” Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said, “I am going to support my oath to the Constitution. That’s the loyalty test here.”
In the Week Ahead: Today is the 118th birthday of Japan’s Kane Tanaka, who’s thought to be the world’s oldest person. The NFL’s regular season ends Sunday. And a winter storm is expected to snarl travel and bring power outages to the Midwest and eastern U.S. over the next few days.
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They’re the Deep Party. Yet Republican control of the U.S. Senate may rest with the enthusiasm of this group spurned by Trumpists. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue are fighting close runoff battles for their seats. So old-school Republican groups are secretly reaching out to fiscally conservative and other establishment party members in a last-ditch get-out-the-vote effort. OZY reports. But it’s got to be done quietly, with the old-schoolers arguing that the two seats will curb Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s agenda — which requires a taboo admission that Republican President Trump actually lost his job on Nov. 3.
It was the “pandemic within the pandemic”: an estimated 100 cruise ship passengers who died of COVID-19-related causes. But there was an epidemic within that. A half-dozen crew members are believed to have taken their own lives, which experts say isn’t surprising, considering many people on shore — some three times more than pre-pandemic — had “seriously considered” suicide this spring. With no ports allowing them to disembark and only tiny shipboard quarters in which to quarantine, it was too much for some to bear.
It was a desperate time. Medical facilities in Denniston County, Colorado, were overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases last spring, so county officials ordered vacation-home dwellers to leave. But many of them, wealthy Texans with outsize political clout that included intervention by their home state’s attorney general, sought to oust county commissioners in November elections using a $3 million super PAC in a battle detailed by local writer Nick Bowlin. They never raised that much money, and their handpicked candidates lost — providing a lesson for those who think local fortitude is no match for big-time interlopers.
Ahmet Altan has been one of Turkey’s best-known authors for two decades. His signature work is historical fiction about the early-20th-century rise of the Young Turks who overthrew the last Ottoman sultan. His latest work, I’ll Never See This World Again, a memoir composed from notes handed to his lawyers, is about living one of his novels. Those works describe past episodes of tyranny, and now, writes fellow novelist Kaya Genç, Altan has been imprisoned for allegedly “sending subliminal messages” through his work that helped foment a 2018 coup attempt. If Altan is afforded library access, he plans to write about the Armenian genocide — an effort unlikely to result in better treatment.
For Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney, it was a double embarrassment. Arguing that it only had six games to prove itself during a pandemic-wracked schedule, he recently ranked Ohio State No. 11 in a coaches’ poll. But the Buckeyes beat Sweeney’s Tigers 49-28 in one of two College Football Playoffs semifinals Friday at the Allstate Sugar Bowl, and OSU is headed for the Jan. 11 national championship in Miami Gardens, Florida. There they’ll face perennial (and heavy current) favorite Alabama, which easily dispatched No. 4 Notre Dame 31-14 in yesterday’s Rose Bowl.
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