10 things you need to know today: December 21, 2020




  • In World
  • 2020-12-21 12:02:00Z
  • By The Week

1.

Congressional Democrats and Republicans reached a deal late Sunday on a new $900 billion coronavirus relief package. The legislation will include stimulus checks of $600 per person, with smaller benefits for those who earned more than $75,000 last year. The package also includes enhanced unemployment benefits of $300 per week starting as early as Dec. 27. Negotiators have been pushing for financial relief as record numbers of coronavirus infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have stoked concerns of more economic damage as previous benefits expire. "More help is on the way," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said. The deal is considerably smaller than the $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed in March, but still one of the largest ever. [The Washington Post]

2.

A federal advisory panel said Sunday that front-line workers - including teachers, day-care staff, and grocery store employees - along with people age 75 and over should be next in line to get coronavirus vaccines. Under the recommendation by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, these groups, totaling about 49 million people, would be eligible for vaccinations after those in the first-priority group, which includes health care workers and people living in long-term care facilities. The panel's recommendations came as trucks delivered the first doses of Moderna's vaccine, which on Friday became the second, after Pfizer's, to receive emergency-use authorization from federal regulators. [The Associated Press, The Washington Post]

3.

Several European countries and Canada on Sunday closed their borders to British travelers fleeing strict new lockdown restrictions ordered by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The new wholesale lockdown covers London and surrounding areas. It was imposed to deter a new, fast-spreading variant of the coronavirus. Britain's health secretary, Matt Hancock, called crowds that packed trains over the weekend "clearly irresponsible" for trying to slip out to avoid the lockdown, which could separate the London area from the rest of the United Kingdom for months. The Netherlands said it was suspending flights from Britain through Jan. 1. Italy also halted air travel, and Belgium banned British travelers for 24 hours. Many other nations followed. [The New York Times]

4.

President-elect Joe Biden's White House chief of staff, Ron Klain, said Sunday that the Biden administration's response to a suspected Russian hacking campaign would include more than just financial repercussions. "It's not just sanctions. It's steps and things we could do to degrade the capacity of foreign actors to engage in this sort of attack," Klain said on CBS's Face the Nation. The hackers accessed the computer systems of several U.S. government agencies, with thousands of American companies possibly exposed, too. Biden's team is reportedly considering options including financial penalties and retaliatory hacks against Russian infrastructure. The Kremlin denies responsibility for the cyberattack. President Trump downplayed the significance of the attack and suggested China, not Russia, might be behind it. [Reuters, NBC News]

5.

Airport travel is surging ahead of Christmas and New Year's despite surging COVID-19 cases and pleas from public health officials for Americans to avoid traveling over the holidays. More than 1 million people passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints daily over the weekend, a level not seen since Nov. 29 at the end of the Thanksgiving weekend. Experts say Thanksgiving travel and gatherings contributed to the December surge in coronavirus infections. The seven-day rolling average of new cases has jumped from 176,000 a day before Thanksgiving to more than 215,000 a day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued an advisory telling Americans that "postponing travel and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19." [The Associated Press]

6.

President Trump's campaign on Sunday filed a longshot appeal to the Supreme Court, asking the high court to reverse the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's rejection of Trump's mail-in ballot challenge. Trump's team said the revisions to the law were unconstitutional. The filing marked the latest development in a series of lawsuits Trump's lawyers and allies have filed, and lost, in an ongoing bid to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the November election. Numerous courts have rejected the cases, and members of the Electoral College from all 50 states and the District of Columbia cast their votes last week, formalizing Biden's win over Trump by a 306-232 margin. The House and Senate will meet Jan. 6 in a joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College results. [The Associated Press, Fox News]

7.

At least eight Katyusha rockets hit Baghdad's heavily fortified "Green Zone" in an attack on the U.S. Embassy, American diplomatic sources and Iraq's military said Sunday. The attack killed at least one local civilian and caused minor damage to the embassy compound, diplomats said. No embassy personnel were injured. The Iraqi military said an "outlaw group" fired the rockets. U.S. diplomats blamed "Iran-backed militias." Secretary of State Michael Pompeo strongly condemned the attack. The rocket fire came ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 3 U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad. The U.S. withdrew staff from the Baghdad embassy this month in anticipation of possible retaliatory strikes as the anniversary of the assassination approached. [NPR, Reuters]

8.

Outgoing Attorney General William Barr is expected to announce criminal charges on Monday against former Libyan intelligence officer Abu Agila Masud in connection with the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, CNN reported, citing three U.S. officials familiar with the matter. Masud is believed to be in Libya. U.S. officials are talking with their Libyan counterparts about how to take him into custody, CNN reported. Flight 103 was en route from London to New York when a bomb blew the plane up over Lockerbie, Scotland. The terrorist attack killed 270 people. Most of the victims were from the United States. Monday is the 32nd anniversary of the bombing. In 2003, late Libyan leader Moammar Ghadafi accepted responsibility for the bombing but claimed he did not order the attack. [CNN]

9.

Tesla on Monday makes its debut in the S&P 500, becoming the most valuable company ever admitted to Wall Street's main benchmark index. Tesla shares jumped to a record high on Friday in busy trading ahead of the move. The surge came as index-tracking funds bought $90.3 billion Tesla shares to keep their portfolios in lockstep with the S&P 500. The electric-car maker's stock has gained 70 percent since mid-November, when its admission to the S&P 500 was announced. The shares are up by 700 percent in 2020. The stock gains have lifted Tesla's market value to $660 billion. It is now the sixth most valuable publicly traded company in the world. [Reuters]

10.

Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced Sunday that their new charity would work with the World Central Kitchen and its celebrity chef, Jose Andres, to provide meals in disaster-hit areas around the world. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's Archewell Foundation will help the relief group build community relief centers, with four opening in 2021. The first will be on Dominica, a Caribbean island hit in 2017 by hurricanes Maria and Irma. The next center will be in Puerto Rico, which also was devastated by the storms. The centers will be ready to serve as service kitchens and aid distribution hubs, schools, and medical clinics. [Reuters]

More stories from theweek.com
Arizona GOP chair urges Trump to heed Flynn and 'cross the Rubicon,' alarming people who get the reference
Trump's Pentagon is making a lame-duck bid to split U.S. Cyber Command from the NSA
5 insanely funny cartoons about Trump's election-fraud failure

COMMENTS

More Related News

Asian markets take a step back after Biden-fuelled rally
Asian markets take a step back after Biden-fuelled rally

Asian markets fell Friday as investors took a breather following a strong week for global equities as Joe Biden took up residence in the White House, though ...

Dr. Fauci says letting
Dr. Fauci says letting 'the science speak' is 'liberating' after serving under Trump

Fauci said he always tried to speak his mind while he served in the Trump administration. "That's why I got in trouble some times," he added.

The Coming Green New Dole
The Coming Green New Dole

Welcome to the Capital Note, a newsletter about business, finance, and economics. On the menu today: climate follies, minimum-wage follies, "robber baron...

Brianna Keilar Shreds Kevin McCarthy For Contradicting His Criticism Of Trump
Brianna Keilar Shreds Kevin McCarthy For Contradicting His Criticism Of Trump

The CNN host termed it "head-spinning" how often the House Republican leader flip-flops on his own comments.

Australia
Australia's Victoria state records 16 days with no community COVID; nationwide no local cases for 5 days
  • US
  • 2021-01-22 01:36:29Z

Australia's second most populous state of Victoria eased social gathering restrictions on Friday after recording 16 days without any new coronavirus...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World