Trump slams “pathetic” GOP “death wish” after McConnell blocks $2000 checks – National & International News

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Trump slams “pathetic” GOP “death wish” after McConnell blocks $2000 checks. California identifies second case of UK variant. France to mobilize 100,000 police and soldiers to prevent New Year’s gatherings. That and more below…

NATIONAL NEWS

Trump slams “pathetic” GOP “death wish” after McConnell blocks $2000 checks

President Trump has blasted fellow Republican leaders as “pathetic” after Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, effectively killed a bill to increase $600 COVID stimulus checks to $2000. Given the fact that a run-off election in Georgia will decide in less than a week which party will control the Senate until 2022, Trump says that tight-fisted GOP senators must have “a death wish”. A standalone bill to increase the checks easily passed the House, with 44 Republicans joining all the Democrats in support. But once the ball was passed to the Republican-led Senate, McConnell punted. 

Instead of bringing the standalone bill for a vote, McConnell introduced his own bill with some poison pill riders. Neither of these amendments had anything to do with the coronavirus or helping the average American. One revoked liability protections for social media platforms, while the other would have established a review board for the 2020 election. This maneuvering essentially ensured that, even if the bill passed the Senate, House Democrats would be forced to vote against it.

What “normal world”?

Asked if he expects any political fallout for Republicans for killing the $2000 checks, senior Republican Senator John Cornyn responded, “No, not in any normal world”. Cornyn cited the already-approved trillions of dollars in relief, implying this was sufficient.

But for the last 12 months, Americans have not been living in a “normal world”.

Aside from the toll of the rampaging virus itself on hospitals and families, the economy has taken a beating. The country is experiencing its highest levels of unemployment since the Great Depression. People who once donated to food banks are now depending on them themselves.

Frankly, considering the millions who have lost loved ones, livelihoods and even homes this year, and the millions more in peril of such losses, even the one-time $2000 checks are a pittance. This is certainly true when compared with the generous monthly stipends other less affluent countries are doling out to their struggling citizens. But then again, those countries’ legislators aren’t about to pass $700 billion in defense spending (with Republicans leading the way).

The Democratic candidates are currently leading in Georgia’s tight run-off. With tone-deaf comments like Cornyn’s, it’s no wonder.

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California identifies second case of UK variant

Two days ago, Governor Jared Polis of Colorado announced the US’ first confirmed case of the more contagious UK COVID variant. The patient was a man in his 20s with no travel history. Shortly after Colorado officials said there was a possible second case in the state, California announced its first case. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the infection during an online conversation with Dr. Anthony Fauci. Newsom only said that the patient was in southern California, but provided no further details.

The new cases have caused experts to speculate about when and how the virus entered the country. Samples from the UK suggest that it has been circulating there since September, but officials only identified it earlier this month. US health experts believe the variant may already be spreading elsewhere in the US. The fact that the variant has already popped up in two different parts of the country (with at least one patient having no travel history) seems to suggest that this is the case.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Saudi Arabia launches new strikes in Yemen after deadly airport attack

Yesterday, a deadly attack took place at the Aden airport in southern Yemen. Minutes after a plane carrying the newly-formed Yemeni government arrived from Saudi Arabia, smoke billowed from the terminal and gunfire was heard. The attack killed 26 people and wounded 50, including aid workers and other officials. However, the new prime minister and his cabinet were unharmed.

Saudi officials quickly blamed Iranian-backed Houthi rebels for the attack. Despite denial from the Houthis, Saudi Arabia has launched fresh air raids against their stronghold in Sanaa. For the last five years, a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis, with support from the west, including the US. The US Congress recently approved a new $290 million dollar weapons sale to Saudi Arabia. The conflict has killed at least 110,000 people. Attacks on aid workers and blockades have also halted deliveries of humanitarian supplies. Aside from widespread famine, the country has also experienced immense losses from the coronavirus.

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France to mobilize 100,000 police and soldiers to prevent New Year’s gatherings

France ranks 5th among the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus. The country has seen more than 2.6 million infections and around 64,000 deaths. France and the rest of Europe is now experiencing a second wave even deadlier than the first. Most EU countries have entered strict lockdowns in hopes of slowing the spread of the virus, with France having placed an 8pm curfew. Additional fears have arisen in recent weeks due to the discovery of a new, more contagious strain in the UK.

Despite having closed bars and other entertainment venues, officials fear New Year’s Eve gatherings could cause an even greater spike in cases. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin is mobilizing 100,000 police and gendarmes to patrol the cities and certain suburbs to prevent gatherings and quell civil unrest. Paris is closing half its public transport lines at curfew, with Darmanin calling for an even wider shutdown. Officials say that certain areas where the virus is spreading could see their curfews moved up to 6pm in the coming weeks.

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