Some of the most unlikely places could get a white Christmas this year. For those who celebrate, have a safe and joyful holiday. We’ll be back in your inbox next week. Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
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President Donald Trump issued yet another wave of pardons yesterday, wiping away admissions of guilt or jury convictions for 26 new people. Included on the list this time are longtime ally Roger Stone, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s father, Charles. It’s the latest example of the President wielding his clemency powers for criminals who are loyalists, well-connected or adjacent to his family. In issuing these pardons, CNN’s Kevin Liptak writes, “Trump has reminded the judiciary that, if he wants to, he can reverse its work.” Though it’s not unusual for Presidents to issue controversial pardons in their final days in office, Trump seems to be moving at a faster pace than his predecessors and with little inhibition.
In other White House news, Trump vetoed a sweeping defense bill that recently passed both chambers of Congress by veto-proof majorities. The move sets up what could be the first veto override of his presidency. Trump has been threatening to veto the bill for a while because it doesn’t include a repeal of Section 230, a law that protects internet companies from liability for what is posted on its websites — including companies Trump believes are biased against him. GOP lawmakers will now have to choose between their loyalty to the President and legislation that sets defense policy for the nation. The House is expected to act on Monday, and all eyes will be watching for how many Republicans stick with their previous support of the bill.
Here’s a bright spot in what’s otherwise been a pandemic full of gloomy numbers: More than one million people in the US have gotten their first shot of the Covid-19 vaccine — and that’s an undercount, given that the CDC still has to tally up some doses administered in recent days. Still, US officials promised that there will be enough doses to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of the year. So far, things are going slower than that. The Trump administration announced yesterday that it would purchase an additional 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. At least 70 million doses would be delivered by June 30, and the rest would be delivered no later than July 31. But while we wait, the pandemic rages on. California has surpassed more than 2 million infections, which is more cases than in all but a handful of countries.
The UK and the European Union are getting close on a post-Brexit trade agreement after months of tense negotiations. A deal is expected to be announced sometime today. For months, talks have been at an impasse after both sides were unable to agree on things like fishing quotas, how the UK would use state aid to support British businesses post-Brexit, and legal oversight of any deal struck. This deal would be a major breakthrough in the saga that began when the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016. But despite the significance of this development, the toxic political debate over the UK’s relationship with Europe is likely to continue.
5. Police violence
The mayor of Columbus, Ohio, called on a city police officer to be fired immediately after that officer shot and killed Andre Maurice Hill, a 47-year-old Black man, earlier this week. Hill was an expected guest at the home where he was shot and had committed no crime, the mayor said. Police were responding to a non-emergency disturbance call nearby. The officer, identified as Adam Coy, didn’t turn the body camera on until after the shooting. Coy has been suspended pending an investigation. Columbus Director of Public Safety Ned Pettus said that, by law, Coy is a public employee and entitled to due process. Hill’s shooting comes after another Black man was shot by a Columbus law enforcement officer earlier this month.
A perfect storm of high package volume and employees sick with Covid-19 is slowing USPS deliveries before Christmas
Track Santa as he flies around the world on Christmas Eve
As of this writing, current conditions at the North Pole indicate good weather for flying.
The animals that brought us joy during the pandemic
Feast your eyes on these adorable photos of wombats, snails and ferrets.
This is the longest music video of all time
KFC has launched a game console that keeps your chicken warm
That’s how many more Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. It’s a drop off from the week before, but nearly four times the number of claims filed during this time last year.
“The pandemic played the biggest role in me getting this pregnancy right now, because if the pandemic was not here, I would have been in school.”
Bella, a sophomore at a high school in Mombasa, Kenya, who became pregnant after being unable to con”tinue her studies remotely during the pandemic. She’s one of millions of girls who won’t return to the classroom.
An alternative Christmas tradition
To some Jewish communities and other immigrant groups in the US, nothing says Christmas like Chinese food. Here’s why.