Cramm for 1/15/21
Biden just outlined a new spending package.
Back in March, the US gov gave the thumbs-up to a $2.2 trillion stimulus package to help, well, stimulate the economy amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Only a slight problem...Congress was having a very hard time agreeing on any kind of follow-up to that deal - meaning a much smaller stimulus package was passed just last month. It got a lot of flak for being too little, too late.
Enter: Prez-elect Joe Biden. Yesterday, he said ‘voila’ and unveiled a $1.9 trillion (yes, with a tr) spending package. The deal would give direct payments of $1,400 to add to the $600 stimulus already going out - plus increase weekly federal unemployment benefits from $300 to $400. Oh, and it’d also raise the federal minimum wage to $15, set aside $20 billion for a national vaccine program, and up the child tax credit.
The Biden team reportedly wants to get Republicans on board with the package, but in the interest of time, they’re also considering just passing as many of the provisions as possible via budget reconciliation. Hint: that only requires 50 votes in the Senate - which Dems now have thanks to the Georgia runoff election.
This is the first of what’s expected to be a long list of new provisions to help fight the pandemic and keep Americans secure. TBD on whether the effort is bipartisan.
WORLD: Recently, police showed up at a public gathering of people who were violating coronavirus measures in Brussels. A Black man - later identified as Ibrahima B - tried to run away but was taken in for questioning by police. When he got to the station, he lost consciousness and later died at a hospital. It’s not yet clear what caused him to lose consciousness and pass away, but the death is already sparking massive protests that’ve led to 116 arrests. Now, the Brussels prosecutor's office is opening an investigation into “involuntary manslaughter.” In other news, the entire Dutch cabinet just quit. You read that right. The why: thousands of Dutch families were falsely accused of child welfare fraud.
USA: Everyone is talking about Dustin Higgs, who’s set to be executed today by the federal gov. Higgs was sentenced to death on the (widely disputed) theory that he ordered another man, Willis Haynes, to murder three women in 1996. There’s been a lot of debate around whether the evidence against him really holds up. Cue attempts to get Higgs off death row, where he’d be the last federal prisoner to be executed under Trump. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, the Justice Dept just announced 10 new charges in the Capitol attacks. The announcement brought some other news, too: FBI director Christopher Wray says around 200 people have been identified as suspects - then added that the FBI is coming for them.
WORLD: Not long ago, Indonesia’s Sulawesi island was hit with a 6.2-magnitude earthquake. The quake destroyed homes and buildings and triggered landslides. So far, 34 deaths have been confirmed, with 600 people injured and reports of many people trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings. Thousands of people have been displaced. Now, rescue teams are searching for any missing people. Meanwhile, more US coronavirus deaths have been reported in the past two weeks than in any other 14-day period in the pandemic. Not a typo. Now, some experts predict the US could surpass 400,000 coronavirus deaths by the time Biden takes office next week.
WHAT TO KNOW
“Electric eels:” what hunt in packs. Guess we won’t be sleeping ever again.
“Chris Evans Says His Reported Return as Captain America Is ‘News to Me’” - an actual headline. Avengers, don’t assemble.