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The DEA announced that it had seized enough fentanyl to kill every American.

In a last-minute push before the end of the legislative session, the U.S. Congress passed a 4,155-page, $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that funds the government through next September, clarifies that the vice president’s role in tallying electoral votes is strictly ceremonial, and bans TikTok from federal devices.1 2 The bill allocates half its funding, $858 billion, to defense, and $1 billion to help poor countries cope with the impacts of climate change, less than one-tenth of what President Joe Biden had promised. Fifteen billion of the spending is devoted to earmarks, including $1.5 million to promote outdoor dining in Pasadena, $2 million to promote STEM education using dirt bike culture, and $2 million for the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum.3 4 5 After weeks of denials, George Santos, an incoming Republican congressman who has an unresolved check fraud case in Brazil, has been evicted multiple times, and has possibly violated financial disclosure laws, admitted that he had lied about attending Baruch College and New York University, working at Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs, owning 13 properties, running an animal rescue charity, having four employees who died in the Pulse nightclub shooting, and his faith.6 7 8 “I never claimed to be Jewish,” Santos stated. “I said I was ‘Jew-ish.’” In the United Kingdom, mail carriers, garbage collectors, border patrol staff, rail workers, emergency responders, and nurses went on strike, and Brits were advised against playing contact sports or getting “blind drunk,” while medical services were limited.9 10 A Tory MP said that nurses should not receive higher pay because he could earn more money in the private sector but chooses not to, and another Tory MP said that bishops opposing the relocation of refugees to Rwanda were inappropriately “using the pulpit to preach from.”11 12 A grandmother from Cardiff defended her practice of charging her family, including her three-year-old grandchildren, for Christmas dinner.13

In Afghanistan, where two-thirds of the population is expected to need humanitarian aid in the next year, the Taliban banned women from working for humanitarian aid agencies and from attending universities.15 Saudi Arabia banned female students from wearing the hijab and abaya in exam halls.16 In light of footage in which South Sudanese president Salva Kiir appeared to urinate on himself at an official event, Africans debated whether he should remain in power.17 An adviser to the president of Sri Lanka resigned after the release of videos in which he appeared to sexually abuse his then-girlfriend’s dog.18 In Fiji, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who first came to power in a 2006 coup, lost an election to Sitiveni “Rambo” Rabuka, who first came to power in a 1987 coup.19 A signed transcript of New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, calling an opposition leader “such an arrogant prick” was sold for over $63,000.20 The governor of Arizona agreed to disassemble the border wall made of empty shipping containers that he had constructed on federal land at a cost of at least $82 million, and several busloads of migrants were dropped off in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’s house in freezing weather on Christmas Eve.21 22 It was reported that in Pennsylvania, an unhoused woman was scooped up by a tractor that was clearing the encampment where she lived, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation found a dehydrated human heart in a stockpile of road salt.23 24

In his Christmas greeting to the Roman curia, Pope Francis warned that Vatican bureaucrats are vulnerable to an “elegant demon.”25 A Slovenian priest said to be close to the pope was accused of propositioning two nuns for a threesome, saying that it would mirror the Holy Trinity, and a Welsh woman with over 800 tattoos said that she had been asked to watch her child’s nativity play through a classroom window.26 27 It was reported that Radio City Music Hall used facial recognition technology to prevent a lawyer involved in a case against its parent company, Madison Square Garden Entertainment, from seeing the Rockettes with her daughter, and that images of a woman on the toilet that had been recorded by a Roomba vacuum had leaked onto social media.28 29 Google denied taking a picture of an invisible airplane.30 A rapper who used a photo of himself at the Capitol riot as an album cover was sentenced to five months in prison, and an Indiana man was charged with killing and mutilating his father because he believed that the victim had turned into a robot.31 32 The DEA announced that it had seized enough fentanyl to kill every American, and a Colorado library closed after “higher than acceptable” levels of methamphetamine were found in its air ducts.33 34 It was reported that a French hospital was evacuated after an 88-year-old man arrived, seeking the removal of an undetonated World War I shell from his rectum, and a vintage tank carrying a group of inebriated men dressed as Santa Claus got stuck in a hedge, blocking traffic for two hours.35 36 “They were all very friendly,” said a woman who had seen them, “and full of Christmas joy.” —Jon Edelman

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