In Their Defense The House (355-78) and Senate (84-13) both passed the National Defense Authorization Act last week for the 59th year in a row. This year’s carries a $740B price tag.
The bill has been sent to the desk of President Trump, who indicated on Sunday that he would veto it and trigger a Congressional override vote. A presidential veto can be overridden by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate.
Stimulating Conversation A bipartisan group of almost a dozen senators unveiled a two-part coronavirus stimulus package Monday afternoon, though congressional leaders were not involved in crafting the bill, nor was Treasury Secretary Mnuchin (the White House representative for stimulus talks).
The Democratic House & Republican Senate have until Friday at midnight to pass a government spending bill to avoid a government shutdown (with President Trump’s approval).
A number of lawmakers are pushing to include some stimulus in the government spending bill, while others are seeking a more significant standalone relief package.
Friday also marks the last day in session for the 116th Congress before adjourning for the holidays. The 117th Congress will convene on January 3, 2021, to begin its two-year term.
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💉 America Begins Vaccinating
The first U.S. doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine were administered in Queens, NYC, on Monday morning. According to federal officials, 145 sites were set to receive the vaccine on Monday, 425 on Tuesday, and 66 on Wednesday. A majority of the first doses are expected to go to high-risk healthcare workers.
💬 Relevant Quote: “We plan to have about 40 million doses of the vaccine available to us and distributed in the U.S. by the end of this year.” –Moncef Slaoui, the scientific head of Operation Warp Speed.
Members of the Electoral College met in all 50 states on Monday to cast their votes for president. Joe Biden captured 306 electoral votes compared to 232 for President Trump, making Biden the official President-elect.
More: President-elect Biden addressed the country Monday evening. Watch it here.
London will impose its highest tier of lockdown restrictions on Wednesday due to a rapid rise in coronavirus infection rates. Health officials have identified at least 1,000 cases of a new strain of COVID-19 across England, which they say may be linked to the rise in cases in its capital city.
💬 Relevant Quote: “There is currently nothing to suggest that this variant is more likely to cause serious disease, and the latest clinical advice is it’s highly unlikely this mutation would fail to respond to a vaccine.” -UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock
Google suffered a large-scale worldwide outage Monday morning, affecting Google Docs, Gmail, YouTube, and more. The company later confirmed that the outage, which lasted approximately 45 minutes starting at 6:30 am ET, resulted from internal issues rather than an external cyberattack.
More: Some Google-reliant school districts closed for the day, including a district in Westland, MI, with ~10k students.
🔒 Private Practice
The FTC requested data from nine social media and video streaming companies – Amazon, TikTok-parent ByteDance, Discord, Facebook, Reddit, Snap, Twitter, WhatsApp, & YouTube – as part of an inquiry into their privacy and data collection practices.
Appledebuted new privacy “nutrition labels” for apps listed in its App Store, broken into three categories of data collection: “Data used to track you,” “Data linked to you,” and “Data not linked to you.”
🚕 We Bought a Zoox
Zoox, a self-driving company acquired by Amazon in June, unveiled its first robotaxi on Monday. The electric, fully driverless vehicle is a “carriage style” car, meaning the passengers are seated facing each other with no space allocated for a driver or passenger seat.
More: Zoox said it is currently testing in three cities – Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Foster City, CA.
⌚ Amazon’s Halo, a wearable fitness tracker with a corresponding subscription service and mobile app, became available to purchase on Monday.
😋 … So We Can Enjoy:
🍩 Popeyes’ new chocolate beignets, which the company added to its menu yesterday for the holiday season only.
🦦 Significant Otters
In September, we brought you the story of Harris and Pumpkin, two otters from England who lost their partners earlier this year. The lonesome animals, who reside at two different wildlife sanctuaries, were set up on a blind date by their zookeepers after matching on “Fishing for Love” – an otters-only dating website.
Since their initial meeting, Harris and Pumpkin have gotten along swimmingly (😉). Harris has now moved into Pumpkin’s enclosure full-time, and the couple shows all signs of engaging in a happy, long-term relationship.
🌳 Park Place
A 250-year-old red oak tree located on a residential property in a suburb of Toronto, Canada, was saved from being cut down earlier this month by the city council. The tree was at risk of being felled due to the property owner’s concerns about the plant causing potential damages to the adjacent house.
The red oak – which has a trunk measuring 17 feet in circumference – is now owned by the city, which voted to buy the surrounding lot and construct a miniature park just for the tree.
👴 Walking the Walk
John Hobson, a 93-year-old retired Air Force colonel from Xenia, OH, is a self-made walking stick whittler. Last year, he crafted personalized walking sticks as Christmas presents for all of his grandchildren.
This year, John began selling his handcrafted sticksfor $3 apiece to raise money for the local Xenia Area Fish Food Pantry. To date, the veteran has whittled ~100 staffs and started a GoFundMe for the pantry – raising more than $1,200 in total.
📣 Calling All Dog Lovers
Town & Trail delivers all natural, human-grade treats — perfect for any dog.
Taking a less is more approach, Town & Trail treats are made from USDA beef and contain only five human-grade ingredients. These naturally shelf-stable treats are rooted in South African tradition and are air-dried, keeping healthy protein and nutrients in — and gross chemicals out.
👃 The Nose Knows… in January, an international team of scientists will break ground on “Odeuropa,” a three-year, $3.3M project seeking to answer the age-old question: What did the past smell like?
🌋 The Floor is Lava… looking for something to occupy your time? You could always watch a volcano erupt (2 min).
💵 Paid Back in his Own Coin… in 2003, a mistake by NBA agent Bill Duffy resulted in his client, Anthony Carter, missing out on $3M. Nearly two decades later, Duffy made good on his promise to repay Carter in full.
📺 Ad Gone Mad… we’re confident you won’t be able to guess the product behind this TV advertisement within the first 60 seconds. (Total runtime: 90 secs. This is a weird one – enjoy!)
🐈 Cat’s Out of the Bag
Which of these is not a member of the genus Panthera (known as ‘Big Cats’)?
A) Tigers B) Jaguars C) Cheetahs D) Lions
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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The cheetah is the only remaining species of the genus Acinonyx. The feature distinguishing Big Cats from the rest of the Felidae family is the ability to roar, an adaptation cheetahs do not possess (along with cougars, which are also called mountain lions, pumas, or panthers).