You may be sending off 2020 with a shiver. Two nasty winter storms are bringing ice, snow and cold temps from Texas all the way to Michigan.
Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
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The US hit a new dismal daily coronavirus record, with 3,725 deaths recorded yesterday. What was once an unthinkable number is now a possible precursor to what medical experts are warning will be an “awful” rest of the winter. One epidemiologist said the US is now past the point of waves and spikes and is in the middle of a “viral tsunami.” The new Covid-19 variant first found in the UK has also made it to the US, with a case recorded in Colorado. The new variant spreads more quickly but does not appear to be more deadly. Meanwhile, health officials are concerned over the slow rollout of tens of millions of vaccine doses. The federal government’s Operation Warp Speed promised that 20 million doses would be administered before January 1, but only 11 million have been distributed, and just over 2 million have actually been given to people.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked an effort to boost forthcoming stimulus checks from $600 to $2,000, despite demands from President Trump and opposition from prominent congressional Republicans. Instead, it looks like McConnell plans to combine several of Trump’s other priorities into so-called “poison pill” legislation that would turn off Democrats and be highly unlikely to pass. These other policy requests include a repeal of some online liability protections and the establishment of a commission to study voter fraud. As it stands now, the $600 stimulus checks included in the bill Trump signed over the weekend are still scheduled to go out soon. But ultimately, the 116th Congress comes to an end this Sunday, and it could do so without any decision on additional funds or relief.
3. White House transition
President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team is clashing with the current administration, adding more mistrust and conflict to what is supposed to be a smooth exchange of power. Earlier this week, Biden said his transition team has “encountered roadblocks” from political leadership at the Defense Department and the Office of Management and Budget and isn’t getting all the information it needs to prepare. The Trump administration says Biden was overstating things. At the same time, people close to the transition efforts say critical information about budgets, US force posture, recently announced troop withdrawal plans and the recent cyberattack attributed to Russia are being withheld. Trump officials have also openly admitted to being wary of transition activity that could give the Biden administration a head start on dismantling Trump-era policies, like border wall construction.
Argentina’s Senate has approved a bill to legalize abortion in the Catholic-majority country. The new law, supported by President Alberto Fernández, would give millions of women access to legal terminations in all cases up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion rights advocates hope Argentina’s decision will signal a paradigm shift in Latin America, where the procedure remains largely restricted or illegal. Only Cuba, Uruguay, French Guiana, Guyana and a few places in Mexico allow for elective abortions. Despite the criminalization of the procedure, Argentina’s National Health Ministry estimates that as many as 522,000 abortions are performed annually, and thousands of girls and women suffer serious medical complications or die due to unsafe procedures.
New details on the Christmas Day bombing in Nashville have been few and far between as investigators try to piece together why 63-year-old Anthony Quinn Warner detonated a bomb that injured three and severely damaged buildings along a historic stretch of 2nd Avenue North. Warner had no significant criminal record and, so far, no signs of a political ideology. Also, the early morning timing of the blast — when few were around — suggest that Warner did not intend to cause mass casualties. The explosion happened outside an AT&T transmission building, and Warner’s father used to work for AT&T, so investigators are exploring a possible connection. And a woman who said she was Warner’s girlfriend told area police last year he was making bombs in his recreational vehicle, according to police records. Her attorney said Warner was interested in the military and explosives.
Legendary French fashion designer Pierre Cardin has died at 98
He helped popularize unisex clothing, ready-to-wear fashion and, of course, the bubble hem.
Donald Trump, Michelle Obama top Gallup’s 2020 most admired list
The former first lady has been the most admired woman in America for three straight years.
2020 was a big year for electric trucks
Netflix’s ‘Bridgerton’ had an ‘intimacy coordinator’ to help stage sex scenes
That person must be the most popular party guest ever. Wait, no — not because of that! Because of the work stories they could tell!
That’s how many new species were named this year by London’s Natural History Museum. They include a critically endangered species of monkey, an armored slug and a lungless salamander that breathes through its skin. Nature is grand.
“Artists create art that is a reflection of their environment. If you don’t like what rappers talk about, you should come see our humble beginnings. You should see what we made it out of.”
T.I., one of several prominent Atlanta rappers leading grassroots efforts to increase voter turnout and political activism in Georgia communities ahead of Tuesday’s all-important Senate runoff elections
The mind-blowing details of restoring a $3,000 Chanel bag
Given that it starts with RIPPING THE BAG APART, this is equal parts stressful and satisfying. Just trust the process. (Click here to view.)