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Happy Wednesday! Have you done all your holiday gifting? For those of you who are stragglers like us, we’ve got gift suggestions that’ll keep giving. Know that there’s no shame whatever you do around Christmas. After all, as you’ll see today, Santa is likely guilty of a ton of crimes himself. Meet the Indigenous stars who are leading modern revolutions — and check out the songs that have shaken regimes.
After months of gridlock, Congress finally managed to pass an $892 billion COVID-19 stimulus bill, which includes $600 individual checks. But President Donald Trump has blasted the package, demanding that checks be increased to $2,000 per person. Though he hasn’t explicitly threatened to veto the bill, he could — which could mean a government shutdown, since it also funds 2021 federal spending. (Sources: Reuters, Politico)
2. What the Doctor Ordered
The U.S. government has sued Walmart, the largest American retailer, accusing its more than 5,000 pharmacies of not scrutinizing prescriptions enough and thus fueling the opioid crisis. Walmart — which preemptively countersued the government for scapegoating it in October — dismissed the claim as “riddled with factual inaccuracies.” (Sources: WSJ, BBC)
3. Cleared Channel
France has relaxed its U.K. travel ban, which had been prompted by a new fast-moving strain of COVID-19 in London but had raised fears of holiday food shortages as delivery trucks couldn’t get across the border. South Africa is struggling with a similar virus variant. Meanwhile, White House pandemic response coordinator Deborah Birx has announced her retirement after reports that she traveled to celebrate Thanksgiving with family despite pleading with Americans not to do so. (Sources: BBC, The Guardian, NYTimes)
4. Plan B for Bibi
After failing to pass a budget, Israel dissolved its government today after just seven months. This will be the fourth time the country goes to the polls in less than two years, and new challenges to longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the hard right could prove to be the end of his time in the top job. (Sources: AP, Al Jazeera)
Water bodies have rights. That’s the radical idea driving residents of the region of Murcia in southwestern Spain. They’re seeking legal recognition for the Mar Menor, one of Europe’s largest seawater lagoons, in a bid to stop pollution that is killing the water body. The lake’s a person, they argue: one that feeds them. Could this spark a new conservation model around the world?
As the largest bank in the U.S., JPMorgan Chase & Co. is stepping up to foster economic opportunity and inclusion for historically marginalized communities. “Systemic racism is a tragic part of America’s history,” writes Brian Lamb, global head of diversity and inclusion at JPMorgan Chase. “It’s our responsibility to do something about it, given the role of banks in the financial health of the communities we serve.” Learn more about JPMorgan Chase’s $30 billion commitment to providing economic opportunities in underserved communities.
History books have largely ignored Indigenous communities around the world, their cultures and traditions trampled upon by colonial legacies that linger. But these heroes are making new history that the rest of the world is now waking up to.
Last year, the Indigenous Australian with a wide smile became the youngest person to ever address the U.N. Human Rights Council, at the age of 12. He’s also the subject of the award-winning documentary In My Blood It Runs about Australia’s education system and how it fails children like him — something he’s now fighting against.
2. Joy Harjo
A Muskogee Creek Native American, Harjo is also the first Indigenous person to serve as U.S. poet laureate — and she’s now serving her third consecutive term in the position, only the second person in American history to do so. Fun fact: she first picked up a saxophone in her late 30s and has now released five albums.
3. Francisca Linconao
This Mapuche grandmother is known in her community as a spiritual healer. But she’s also an activist focused on spiritual land rights — and was put on trial, though acquitted, in the killings of two Chilean farmers. Read more on OZY.
Have you ever wondered how many crimes and other offenses Santa would be guilty of if he were indeed everything he’s cracked up to be?
Let’s start with the most obvious: Santa is the Al Capone of home invasion. He may not be your typical thief — arguably the opposite of one — but the crime of burglary is more about preserving the sanctity of a person’s home than protecting against theft, and about a third of all burglaries occur while someone is in the home.
2. Unlawful Surveillance
Long before his annual Christmas Eve crime spree, Santa is engaged in a global surveillance enterprise that makes the NSA look like a bunch of ham radio enthusiasts. Sure, Santa receives a great deal of the intelligence for his massive “naughty or nice” list from parents and shelf elves, but knowing when each of the estimated 526,000,000 believing children under the age of 14 are sleeping and awake requires a legally dodgy surveillance operation.
3. Labor and Employment Law Offenses
Of course, Santa is also the CEO/Dear Leader of some form of fascist Arctic labor colony. There is really no evidence to suggest that the elves who man the North Pole’s toy factory receive any salary or compensation of any kind other than room and board, making them closer to serfs toiling on the land of their lord’s estate than paid employees or even independent contractors.
Odd Couple: Who’s Your Favorite?
This holiday season, 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, join the movement of one of these activists — acclaimed author and social critic Roxane Gay, or sexual harassment activist Anita Hill. Which one has you inspired to take up the cause? Check out episodes featuring our favorite activistshere, and let us know which you pick by following The Carlos Watson Show onInstagram and voting in our Stories.
Singing of Revolution
It’s easy to forget in 2020, but the run-up to Christmas in 1991 was marked by the rapid demise of the Soviet Union, culminating in its red flag coming down for the final time outside the Kremlin on Dec. 25. There, as in multiple revolutions, songs played a central role.
In 1985, Latvia kicked off its so-called Singing Revolution at a Soviet-controlled concert festival. Allowed to sing a few folk songs to end the program, it became a powerful finale in which Latvians asserted their patriotism — and went unpunished by the crumbling Soviet Union. A few years later, they won independence. Read more on OZY.
2. Clap for Change
The rhythmic “Un violador en tu camino,” translated as “a rapist is in your way,” began as a performance piece at Chilean protests against violence toward women. Since then, it’s been performed around the world … even on the floor of Turkish Parliament, where eight female lawmakers performed the dance to make a point to their startled male colleagues.
3. To the Barricades
“Do You Hear the People Sing?” is the rallying cry for student revolutionaries in the long-running musical adaptation of Les Misérables. But it also became an anthem for protesters in Hong Kong last year, when teenage students stepped up to sing the national anthem … and launched into the protest song instead to show their support for pro-democratic forces in the city.
Gift Boxes You Can Send
It’s still not too late. These subscription boxes are — literally — gifts that keep giving.
We think it’s about time for a second wave of isolation baking — but what can you send someone who’s already made it through the cookie swamps and sourdough wars? We like Breadista, a German bread baking subscription box, which will turn the recipient into a Teutonic rye nerd with monthly kits of pre-measured ingredients.
2. Women Who Dared
We could all use a few heroes right now. The monthly Girls Can! Crate aimed at kids aged 5-10 focuses on a different inspiring woman each month, from Kenyan Nobel Prize-winning tree planter Wangari Maathai to Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, and includes activities and experiments related to her achievements.
3. The Great Outdoors
Getting out into nature has been a saving grace this year, especially for those of us cooped up in small living spaces. The monthly subscription boxes from Get Cairn include a variety of hiking and outdoor gear to make your loved ones feel well-equipped as they get really into nature while we all wait to be vaccinated.
Charu Sudan Kasturi, Ned Colin and Sean Braswell helped spike this Whiskey in Your Coffee.