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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review

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In the Philippines, soldiers and cabinet ministers received an unapproved COVID-19 vaccine in the name of national security.

Congress approved a 5,000-page COVID-19 relief bill that includes $600 stimulus checks for taxpayers, half the amount provided in March by the CARES Act.1 The relief bill also prohibits the doping of racehorses, makes the streaming of online video without authorization punishable by 10 years in prison, and establishes a small-claims copyright board.2 3 4 5 “Congress found plenty of money for foreign countries, lobbyists, and special interests, while sending the bare minimum to the American people who need it,” said President Trump in a vlog post in which he threatened to veto the bill.6 “I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low six hundred dollars to two thousand dollars, or four thousand dollars for a couple.” The president signed the relief package—with revision requests—after golfing with Senator Lindsey Graham on Christmas Day.7 The House of Representatives passed a bill that would increase the stimulus checks to $2,000, and 212 Democrats, 109 Republicans, and one independent voted to override Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act, which grants $740 billion to the U.S. military.8 9 The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, whose honor code reads, “A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do,” accused 72 cadets of cheating on their spring-semester calculus final.10 Israel, which was granted $3.8 billion in military aid in the COVID-19 relief bill, bombed the Gaza Strip after Palestinian militants fired two rockets, both of which were shot down before reaching their targets, toward the city of Ashkelon.11 12 In the Philippines, soldiers and cabinet ministers received an unapproved COVID-19 vaccine in the name of national security.13

Health-care workers in New York City accused colleagues of jumping the line to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and a Disney employee posted on Facebook that she had received Pfizer’s vaccine through a relative who has connections at Redlands Community Hospital in California.14 15 An Illinois woman found a biohazard bag containing a COVID-19 test swab inside a package from Kohl’s, and a Chilean research base in Antarctica reported 36 cases of the coronavirus, the first on the continent.16 17 France, Japan, and South Korea reported cases of the new, highly contagious coronavirus variant first identified in Britain.18 An estimated 200 British tourists fled a ski resort in Verbier, Switzerland, following a government quarantine order, and after 11 months of negotiations, the United Kingdom reached a trade deal with the European Union that will allow the country to exit the common market and end its participation in the Erasmus student exchange program.19 20 A Florida couple and their puppy used the emergency door to exit an airplane that was taxiing before takeoff at LaGuardia Airport, and a man in Orange City, Iowa, fled his home because he feared it was full of booby traps.21 22 “He believed his home had been set up due to a movie he had been watching and that it felt real to him at the time,” the police report read.

An affidavit that was accidentally unsealed revealed that a teenage white supremacist plotting to attack power stations across the Southeastern United States was asked by his mother to take down the Nazi flags hanging in his bedroom.23 Lori Loughlin, a parent convicted of fraud in connection with the “Varsity Blues” college-admissions scandal, was released from prison; the parents involved in the 2009 “balloon boy” hoax were pardoned by the governor of Colorado; and President Trump commuted the sentence of the “king of Medicare fraud.”24 25 26 In Rio Linda, California, firefighters rescued a man dressed as Santa Claus who was using a powered parachute to fly and became entangled in power lines.27 “He flies just around so people can see and flies around people’s houses,” said one local. “This was the first time he was in his Santa suit.” An investigation revealed that the palm oil in Girl Scout cookies is harvested by children on plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia.27 Following the release of a report revealing that 34.3 percent of Chinese adults were overweight and 16.4 were obese, the country’s National Health Commission announced Healthy China 2030, an initiative against obesity and food waste, and China’s top legislative body will review a draft bill that punishes creators of mukbang videos with fines of up to $15,300.28 “The virus will stay with us for the next ten years,” said Uğur Şahin, the chief executive of the German biotech company that partnered with Pfizer to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.29 “We need to get used to the fact there’ll be more outbreaks.”—Violet Lucca

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