Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 28, 2020

Trump signs COVID-19 relief and omnibus spending bill, investigators say Nashville bombing suspect died in blast, and more

1

Trump signs COVID-19 relief, omnibus spending bill

President Trump on Sunday signed the coronavirus stimulus package and a massive spending measure needed to prevent a government shutdown just ahead of a Monday deadline. The move was unexpected, coming after Trump had called the legislation a "disgrace," suggesting he might veto it. The $900 billion coronavirus package contains $600 stimulus checks to individuals. Trump had called for increasing the checks to $2,000. The coronavirus measure also renews extra unemployment benefits that had just expired. Trump also had criticized parts of the spending bill, including foreign aid requests included in his own budget request. He called on Congress to remove "wasteful items" from the bill.

2

Nashville bomber identified, died in Christmas morning blast

Federal authorities said Sunday that DNA evidence had shown that Anthony Quinn Warner, the Tennessee man identified as the suspect in the Christmas Day bombing in downtown Nashville, died in the blast. Warner, 63, worked as an independent computer technician at a real estate firm, Fridrich & Clark. Federal agents searched his house, where he had kept an RV like the one that exploded in the bombing, and the real estate office on Saturday. Before the explosion, a speaker system in the RV broadcast a warning to evacuate the area. Three people were injured in the blast but only Warner died. Investigators are trying to determine a motive for the bombing, which occurred outside an AT&T facility and damaged regional phone and internet coverage.

3

Army sergeant charged in deadly Illinois shooting

Police have charged an Army Green Beret, Sgt. 1st Class Duke Webb, for the fatal shootings of three men at a Rockford, Illinois, bowling alley. Webb, 37, faces three counts of murder and three counts of first-degree attempted murder, Rockford Police Chief Dan O'Shea told reporters Sunday afternoon. Three other victims were wounded in the attack. One, a 62-year-old man, was hospitalized in critical condition. The two others who were wounded were teenagers who were picking up food when the shooting started. A 16-year-old was shot in the shoulder and treated at the scene, then released. The other, age 14, was shot in the face and hospitalized in stable condition. Webb, a Florida resident, is stationed at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, but was on leave.

4

Germany's vaccine campaign faces delays

Germany's coronavirus vaccination rollout encountered delays on Sunday after temperature trackers found that about 1,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine weren't kept cold enough in transit. "When reading the temperature loggers that were enclosed in the cool boxes, doubts arose about the compliance with the cold chain requirements," the district of Lichtenfels in the north of Germany's largest state, Bavaria, said in a statement. The temperature in one vaccine transport cool box apparently rose to 15 degrees Celsius, above the maximum of 8 degrees Celsius, a spokesman for Lichtenfels said. The problem delayed the vaccination campaign in several cities. Hungary, Germany, and Slovakia received vaccine shipments Saturday and quickly began inoculating frontline health care workers and the elderly, launching the European Union's vaccination campaign.

5

House to vote on overriding Trump's defense-bill veto

The House on Monday plans to vote on overriding President Trump's veto of the annual defense spending bill. Both the House and the Senate passed the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act with veto-proof majorities, although House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has said that many Republicans won't vote to override, potentially putting the bill's fate in doubt. If the Democrat-led House musters the two-thirds majority necessary to keep it alive, the Senate is expected to vote Tuesday. It would be the first time Congress has overridden one of Trump's rare vetoes. Trump objects to a provision in the bill directing the Pentagon to rename military bases named after Confederate generals, and to the lack of language repealing an unrelated law protecting tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter.

6

Chinese court sentences citizen journalist to 4 years for virus reports

A Chinese court on Monday sentenced a citizen journalist to four years in prison for her work documenting the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Zhang Zhan, a 37-year-old former lawyer, traveled in February from her home in Shanghai to Wuhan, where the outbreak started, to examine the virus' toll. She shared videos showing how crowded hospitals had become, and how worried local residents were about their dwindling income. Zhang was the first person known to have faced trial for providing information about the coronavirus in China, where the state tightly controls the news media.

7

Fauci: U.S. looking closely at new coronavirus strain

U.S. health officials believe the coronavirus variant first detected in Britain is no more deadly or resistant to vaccines than the strain spreading through the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said Sunday. Fauci said he supported the decision by public health officials to require travelers from Britain to show a negative COVID-19 test before entering the U.S., and said the new strain is something the U.S. should "follow very carefully." "We're looking at it very intensively now," he said on CNN's State of the Union. Fauci predicted that the general public in the U.S. would be eligible to be vaccinated by late March or early April.

8

Trump to hold Georgia rally ahead of runoff election

The Republican National Committee and President Trump said Sunday that Trump will hold a rally in Georgia on Jan. 4, two days before the state's crucial Senate runoff election. Both of the state's Senate seats will be on the ballot, and the outcome will determine control of the Senate. Republicans have to win just one of the races to hold onto a narrow Senate majority. If Democrats win both, the Senate will be split evenly at 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler face Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock. Perdue narrowly led Ossoff in the November vote. Warnock won more votes than Loeffler and GOP Rep. Doug Collins.

9

Phil Niekro, Hall of Fame knuckleballer, dies at 81

Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro died after a long fight with cancer, the Atlanta Braves announced Sunday. He was 81. Niekro won 318 games in a 24-year career that ended in 1987 when he was 48. The five-time All-Star was famous for throwing hard-to-hit knuckleballs, with the pitch helping him earn three 20-win seasons with Atlanta. The pitch also earned him a nickname that stuck through his life. "Knucksie was one of a kind," tweeted Dale Murphy, a teammate of Niekro's who won two straight NL MVP awards. Niekro was the seventh baseball Hall of Famer to die in 2020, following Lou Brock, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, and Tom Seaver.

10

Wonder Woman 1984 makes biggest box office debut since March

Wonder Woman 1984 brought in $16.7 million at the box office in the U.S. and Canada over weekend, Warner Bros. announced on Sunday. It was the biggest domestic film debut since the coronavirus crisis hobbled the entertainment industry in March. Warner Bros.-parent AT&T said that nearly half of its more than 3.6 million HBO Max subscribers streamed the film on Christmas. Wonder Woman 1984 was one of the first Hollywood blockbusters to be released in theaters and on streaming platforms simultaneously. "During these very difficult times, it was nice to give families the option of enjoying this uplifting film at home, where theater viewing wasn’t an option," said Andy Forssell, executive vice president and general manager of WarnerMedia’s direct-to-consumer division.

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