The checks are in the budget. In a move likely to encourage both Wall Street and Main Street, President-elect Joe Biden yesterday unveiled a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package he plans to present to Congress once he’s sworn in on Wednesday. It includes direct $1,400-per-person payments, a $400 weekly unemployment assistance boost and additional paid sick and family leave and child tax credits. It also allocates $350 billion for states, largely to keep front-line workers employed, administer vaccines and reopen schools. Democratic leaders praised the plan, while Republicans are expected to push back on some components, such as a new minimum wage of $15 per hour.
2. Capitol Attackers' Tactics, New Plans Emerge With Arrests
He planned to take and perhaps execute hostages. That’s how federal prosecutors characterize a handcuff-equipped retired Air Force officer arrested in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. His is one of more than 100 cases offering new details of the event, such as the retiree urging “patriots” online to “shoot their way in.” Dozens of rioters were reportedly on terrorist watchlists, indicating intelligence lapses. But enforcement might be working: The leader of the far-right Proud Boys claims members will “take a chill pill,” and like similar groups avoid Washington, D.C., where “this part of the battle is over.”
A powerful earthquake struck Indonesia’s Sulawesi island early today, reportedly killing 35 people and prompting fears that aftershocks could trigger deadly tsunamis. The 6.2 magnitude temblor also injured some 600 people, and “many people are buried under the ruins,” according to a local emergency response official. He added that he was “afraid to say” how high the death toll might climb in the area, which is just 160 miles from Palu, where thousands died in a 2018 quake and tsunami. It's the country's third disaster since Saturday, when a passenger jet plunged into the Java Sea, killing 62 people, and Sunday landslides on Java island that killed 24.
It may not be “the world’s most powerful weapon,” contrary to North Korean state media claims, but few are taking it lightly. The submarine-launched ballistic missile on display yesterday at a Pyongyang parade reviewed by leader Kim Jong Un poses an elevated threat along with a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile displayed in October. That one’s thought to be capable of hitting anywhere in the U.S., which Kim said last week was the Hermit Kingdom’s “biggest enemy.” Now that the volatile era of exchanging barbs and olive branches with President Donald Trump is almost over, analysts see the new weapon’s unveiling as a message to his successor.
Coronavirus Update: U.S. COVID-19 deaths are expected to exceed 400,000 by Inauguration Day. China reported 144 new daily cases, the most since its initial wave, a day after reporting its first death to the virus in 10 months. And surging infections in Germany have brought its total reported cases past 2 million.
One of the nation’s preeminent intellectuals joins Carlos to share hot takes on capitalism, inequality and the planet’s most interesting leaders. Fareed Zakaria, the foreign policy expert who’s graced CNN, The Washington Post, The New York Times and more, finally hits prime time on YouTube. Find out why 9/11 helped make his name, why he fears humanity’s extinction and what Vladimir Putin and the Dalai Lama have in common. Subscribe to The Carlos Watson Shownow and be sure to turn on your YouTube notifications so you don’t miss this!
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Joe will reunite the nations. Not that Joe. Joe the pigeon, discovered the day after Christmas in a suburban Melbourne backyard, looking exhausted and weak, and wearing a tag that appeared to be from Alabama. The bird now faces “humane destruction” to guard the country against alien avian ailments. Australians and Americans alike have campaigned to save the bird, named Joe after the U.S. president-elect. It's emerged in the last hour or so that Alabama racing pigeon authorities are saying the tag is fake, and the pigeon deserves a reprieve, but it's unclear if the disavowal is more about the name than the bird.
Can the mob afford Trump International? #DontRentDC, a viral campaign that prompted Washington, D.C., residents to stop renting their homes, is helping secure the U.S. capital ahead of President-elect Biden’s inauguration. On Wednesday, Airbnb announced it would cancel all bookings in and around the city until after Wednesday’s ceremony, which has been threatened with violence from radical Trump supporters. On Thursday, CEO Brian Chesky predicted that the pandemic would shift future bookings out of big cities and into smaller towns for visits to friends and family, and that fewer people would travel by air to attend business meetings.
What are your plans? Do you think you’ll travel normally after the pandemic? Reply to this email with your first name, last initial and city or state and we may include your view in the PDB.
3. She’s Bringing Light to a Forgotten Town
Cymone Davis has one foot in history. The 30-year-old municipal administrator wants to revive struggling Tullahassee, Oklahoma. To do that, she’s working on going back to the town’s roots, OZY reports. Founded in the middle of the 19th century, the town became a haven for freed slaves and home to a Black boarding school. Now it’s the oldest all-Black town in Indian Territory, but it needs help. Why not revive its boarding school, Davis says, and make it a beacon for Black excellence? Experts say it won’t be easy, but if done right, it could serve Black students neglected by education systems around the country.
4. Siegfried of Magician Duo Dies After Partner Roy
He won’t be reappearing this time. Illusionist Siegfried Fischbacher has died at his home in Las Vegas of pancreatic cancer at age 81 — eight months after the COVID-19-linked death of his performing partner, Roy Horn. As Siegfried & Roy, the magicians put on glitzy acts featuring big cats from 1967 until 2003, when a tiger attacked and partially paralyzed Horn. His sister, Dolore Fischbacher, a nun in Germany who spoke to her brother shortly before he died Wednesday, echoed the sentiment of fans everywhere: “He will live on in my heart.” At the Mirage in Las Vegas, building-sized marquees now memorialize its iconic performer.
5. US Olympic Running Champion McNeal Faces 8-Year Ban
Olympic 100-meter hurdles gold medalist Brianna McNeal was provisionally banned yesterday from competing and faces a potential eight-year ban for violating anti-doping rules. She’s accused of “tampering within the results management process,” which is an administrative component of monitoring athletes’ potential doping opportunities. The Athletics Integrity Unit did not release additional details. The American athlete has been sanctioned before and banned for a year in 2017 for failing to report her whereabouts in three instances. McNeal’s agency noted that she’s never tested positive for doping, and “expects to be exonerated and continue her championship career.”
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