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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review

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Russian police launched an investigation into the break-in of a nuclear “doomsday” plane.

The Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit, brought by Texas’s attorney general and described by President Trump as his “big one,” that sought to discard millions of Biden votes in Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and force their state legislatures to choose state electors.1 The suit, which was backed by 126 House Republicans and received legal support from a group of separatists representing the imaginary states of “New California” and “New Nevada,” was the justices’ second dismissal of Trump’s efforts this week; a GOP bid to overturn the results in Pennsylvania was also rejected by the Court, with a single-sentence statement.2 3 4 The Arizona Republican Party asked its Twitter followers whether they would be willing to give their lives in the fight against Trump’s election loss.5 After days of congressional infighting failed to yield a compromise on coronavirus relief measures, the president signed a stopgap bill to avert a government shutdown; Congress now has a week to reach a deal before nonessential federal agencies run out of money.6 Britain launched the world’s first mass COVID-19 vaccination effort. “It could make a difference to our lives from now on, couldn’t it?” said William Shakespeare, an 81-year-old man who was among the first to receive the vaccine.7 8 In the United States, the FDA granted emergency use authorization to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine as case totals surpassed 16 million, by far the most of any country in the world.9 “You can overdo the masks,” said the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who called in to a radio show from his hospital bed after being diagnosed with the virus.10 Dr. Igor Shepherd, an official at the Wyoming Department of Health who recently referred to COVID-19 as a “so-called pandemic” created by Russia and China to promote international communism, resigned after suggesting that all coronavirus vaccines are biological weapons designed to reprogram the human immune system.11 12 13 In Russia, the head of a consumer-safety watchdog provoked public outcry after recommending that citizens refrain from consuming alcohol for two weeks before and two months after each dose of the Sputnik V vaccine, and police launched an investigation into the break-in of a nuclear “doomsday” plane.14 15

Four armed Royal Navy gunboats were put on standby to defend British waters from European fishing boats, and and EU officials held a series of tabletop war games to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.15 16 “I’m afraid we’re still very far apart on some key things, but where there is life there’s hope,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the negotiations.17 Both houses passed a defense bill that allocates $731 billion to defense spending and removes the names of Confederate generals from military bases.18 “We are committed to building a community that promotes equal justice and opportunity to every single person regardless of their race,” said the mayor of Murdock, Minnesota, after the city council issued a permit to a group that describes itself as part of a “great Aryan religiosity” to hold services in an unused church.19 President Trump broke with the 130-year precedent of pausing federal executions during a presidential transition and scheduled five of them ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration; if all five take place, he will have overseen the most federal executions of any president in over a century.20 U.S. security firms, police departments, and retailers have reported an increase in shoplifting around the country, specifically of food and hygienic products.21 For the first time, amid fears of scarcity, water joined gold and oil as a commodity traded on Wall Street.22

The Japanese government announced a plan to fund AI matchmaking schemes to combat its falling birth rate, and French armed forces obtained permission from a military ethics committee to begin developing “augmented soldiers” with enhanced “physical, cognitive, perceptive, and psychological capabilities.”23 24 A new study found that children are happier when given material things rather than exciting experiences, and developers in Nebraska announced plans to build a children’s park atop a disused riverfront lead factory.25 26 Walt Disney World began photoshopping masks onto the faces of visitors who were not wearing them in ride photos, and a “cruise to nowhere,” marketed as a safe escape from the pandemic, returned to Singapore early after a passenger tested positive for the virus.27 28 An annual award for the worst depiction of sex in literary fiction was canceled. “The public had been subjected to too many bad things this year to justify exposing it to bad sex as well,” said the judges.29Ani Wilcenski

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