New year, new pay: Starting January 1 (tomorrow!), 20 states will raise their minimum wage.
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A year ago today, the first cases of a mystery virus that would come to be known as Covid-19 were reported in Wuhan, China. Since then, 1.8 million people across the world have lost their lives in the ensuing pandemic. The US set another Covid-19 daily death record yesterday, and by some estimates, another 80,000 people could die in the next three weeks as the consequences of holiday travel and gathering set in. Other countries like Germany are also reporting record deaths, and Japan is considering a state of emergency to counter rising case numbers. In the US, vaccine rollout is lagging behind some other countries, leading to frustration and confusion in places like Florida, where unclear policies have led to a scramble for limited doses.
2. White House transition
GOP Sen. Josh Hawley says he will formally object to the results of the 2020 presidential election when Congress meets early next week to count the Electoral College votes. He is the first senator to announce plans to object to the results, along with Republican Rep. Mo Brooks. Their combined efforts will force the House and Senate to formally debate the matter, providing a platform for President Trump’s baseless conspiracy theories claiming the election was stolen from him. To be clear, the debate and the vote afterward won’t change the outcome of the election. But it will delay the results and create an ugly scene for Republicans who’d have to decide how long to tacitly entertain Trump’s false election fraud allegations.
After rejecting a measure that would increase coronavirus stimulus payments from $600 to $2,000, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell attacked the House-passed bill and said it has “no realistic path to quickly pass the Senate.” As part of the political maneuvering, Sen. Bernie Sanders vowed to delay a vote to override Trump’s veto of the military funding bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act until the issue of bigger stimulus payments is addressed. It’s looking more and more likely that this session of Congress will end without any movement on increased payments at all. Meanwhile, $600 stimulus checks are already on their way to some Americans. Oh, and the Census Bureau is going to miss today’s deadline to produce its final population count for 2020. The agency said it will deliver the final results soon.
Speaking of deadlines, British lawmakers eked out a vote to back the United Kingdom’s post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union right before the very final deadline of the Brexit transition period. The deal preserves Britain’s tariff- and quota-free access to EU consumers and allows the UK to narrowly avoid the economic disaster that would have come if it had tumbled out of the transition period without a deal. The UK may enjoy a short economic boost from the newfound security, but leaving the EU will still prove to be damaging, economists say. While the new deal covers trade in goods, it doesn’t as thoroughly cover other industries critical to the UK’s economy, like finance.
At least 22 people were killed when a series of explosions hit Yemen’s Aden airport. The attack happened as members of a new power-sharing government arrived from Saudi Arabia. It is unclear if the explosions were caused by missiles, but Saudi Arabia has blamed the attack on Iran-backed Houthi rebels. A spokesman for the Saudi-backed coalition in Yemen said the coalition intercepted and downed an explosives-laden Houthi drone that was targeting the presidential palace in the city of Aden. Yemen has been plagued by a years-long civil war, and the newly arrived government members are part of a new Cabinet formed to end a power struggle between a Yemeni separatist group and its current Saudi-backed government.
The fascinating history behind the Times Square ball drop
Did you know? The design for the ball was based on a “time ball,” a nautical device that helped sailors synchronize their on-board instruments.
Watch Boston Dynamics robots dance to ‘Do You Love Me’
No no no, we can’t think of the robots as cute and charming! That’s part of their master plan!
Apple and TikTok remove app used to arrange parties during Covid-19
Mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn leads Anderson Cooper in meditation
Let Anderson lead you peacefully into the new year.
2020 was the year of scary bugs, and 2021 will be even worse
Say it with me again, for the last time: NO MORE SCARY BUGS 2020!
That’s how much Ticketmaster will have to pay in fines after the company admitted to illegally accessing its competitor’s computers.
“We know a life has been cut short tonight and that trust between communities of color and law enforcement is fragile. Rebuilding that trust will depend on complete transparency.”
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, addressing a fatal police shooting Wednesday night. The city’s police chief says body camera footage will be released today. The shooting scene is about a mile from where George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police in late May. His death, which was captured on video, sparked national demonstrations calling for racial justice and police accountability.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
You know the song. But do you really know what it means? Have a safe and happy New Year’s holiday, everyone! (Click here to view.)