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5 things to know for December 21: Stimulus bill, Covid-19, White House, Pan Am, Iraq

Today marks the winter solstice, the official start of the season and the shortest day of the year. This year, it also coincides with a special event in the night sky. Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Stimulus bill

For months, lawmakers in Congress have been at a partisan stalemate over the latest round of pandemic relief. Over the weekend, top leaders finally reached a deal on a $900 billion stimulus package that provides much-needed aid for small businesses, schools and unemployed Americans. Congress is expected to vote today on the agreement. The deal includes $600 checks for certain individuals, but it could be some time before the money hits your bank account. It also allocates funds to bolster Covid-19 vaccine distribution, testing and contact tracing. Here’s more on what’s in the second stimulus package — and what isn’t.

2. Coronavirus

More countries are banning travelers from the UK in an effort to contain a mutated variant of Covid-19 that could spread even faster. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to chair an emergency meeting about the new variant today. Scientists in the US and UK still expect the vaccine to work against the variant, saying they should know more in a few days. In the US, the first doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine will likely be administered this morning — and these people are next in line. Despite the good news, cases and deaths are skyrocketing in much of the US, and things will get worse before they get better.

3.White House transition

President Donald Trump is still trying to overturn the election result, despite there being only a month left until President-elect Joe Biden takes office. But the latest turn in the effort has alarmed even some White House staffers — people who are used to Trump’s inflammatory and anti-democratic rhetoric. A recent meeting in which Trump heard arguments about invoking martial law to stay in office had some officials sounding the alarm to the press. Trump dismissed reports about the talk of martial law, and it’s unclear whether he endorsed the idea. But even the mention of it could fan the flames among many supporters clinging to the belief the election result was fraudulent.

4. Pan Am bombing

Thirty-two years ago, 270 people — the majority of them Americans — were killed when Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed over Lockerbie, Scotland. Today, the US plans to announce new criminal charges against a former Libyan intelligence officer for his alleged involvement in the 1988 terrorist attack. Attorney General William Barr announced the first indictments in the investigation during his initial stint in the role nearly three decades ago. The latest charges, which will be among Barr’s final acts leading the Justice Department, bring his tenure there full circle. Last year, Barr said he had long been frustrated by the US response to the attack.

5. Iraq

Rocket attacks on Sunday targeted Baghdad’s Green Zone, where the US embassy in Iraq and other foreign missions are located. Eight rockets were fired at the heavily fortified area, which frequently sees such attacks. The Iraqi military said most of the rockets hit the neighborhood near the US embassy, damaging several buildings and injuring at least one Iraqi soldier. Iraq’s president called the attack a “terrorist act,” and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed it on Iranian-backed militias. There had been concerns before — sources said earlier this month that the US was temporarily withdrawing staff from its embassy over fears of retaliation around the anniversary of the killing of a powerful Iranian military commander.


The Bidens get vaccinated today

President-elect Joe Biden and incoming first lady Jill Biden will receive the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in Delaware, according to his transition team.


Paul McCartney has a quarantine album out now

And the first single is a jam.

Ariana Grande appears to be engaged

That rock is a stunner.

Rohingya children will get to see themselves in the new Muppets from Sesame Workshop

Meet Noor and Aziz, twin Muppets who live in a refugee camp in Bangladesh.

A father who died years ago left his son $10 to buy his first beer when he turned 21

Cheers to one dad’s thoughtful gesture.

Pythons might become a new menu item in Florida if scientists can confirm they’re safe to eat

We’ll have to pass on that, no matter what the scientists say.



That’s how much tip a customer at a restaurant in Ohio left for the entire staff to split. Each employee got a surprise Christmas gift of $200.


“We want to hand these on to the next administration and make sure America never has to go through what we went through again.”

Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services, on plans to replenish and improve the federal supply stockpile.


Check your local forecast here>>>


It’s sledding season!

Racing down snowy hills is a blast — but sometimes we fall flat on our faces. Here are some particularly epic fails.

(Click here to view.)

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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