Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.

In Maya Angelou’s words, “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.” 2020 has been a challenging year but now, we have made it together to the holiday season. Whether it is via Zoom, or at an outdoor socially distanced gathering with everyone wearing their masks, we urge you to remember the people and our country that we all love. In 2021, we will inaugurate a new President; the outgoing Congress is already recognizing that times are changing, and as part of that change, vaccinations protecting us against the virus are just around the corner. In honor of President-Elect Joe Biden, we share with you his holiday speech: https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/joe-biden-delivers-remarks-before-christmas-holiday-transcript-december-22 We will return soon after Christmas with more vetted news that you can trust.

Storm Lake Times

Perhaps no industry has attracted such widespread infamy for its handling of COVID-19 this year as the nation’s meatpackers. As the pandemic spread across the country, one plant after another became a hotbed of the virus, which exploded onto unprepared communities as companies fought to keep their plants open and the meat coming.

ProPublica first wrote about the risks facing meatpacking workers before the outbreaks occurred, then documented how the industry ignored years of warnings, blindsiding local health officials and leaving workers to serve as kindling when COVID-19 arrived

But to understand how things got to this point — how American cities came to be held hostage to global meat corporations — there may be no better place to go than Waterloo, where the outbreak at Tyson’s pork plant took a stunning toll on both workers and the community.

Read more: https://www.stormlake.com/articles/the-battle-for-waterloo/

CNN, Pamela Brown, Kevin Liptak, Katelyn Polantz, 12/22/2020

“President Donald Trump on Tuesday announced a wave of lame duck pardons, including two for men who pleaded guilty in Robert Mueller’s investigation, as well as ones for Republican allies who once served in Congress and military contractors involved in a deadly shooting of Iraqi civilians.

“The pardons of former campaign aide George Papadopoulos, former US congressmen Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins, and the four Blackwater guards involved in the Iraq massacre kick off what is expected to be a flurry of pardons and commutations in the coming weeks as Trump concludes his term….”

Read more: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-announces-wave-of-pardons-including-papadopoulos-and-former-lawmakers-hunter-and-collins/ar-BB1c9Dxk

The Hill, Sarah Pollus, 12/22/2020

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday night responded to President Trump’s call for an increase in stimulus funds following Congress’s passage of the COVID-19 relief package this week, saying she’s ready to push for the $2,000 checks the president requested.

“‘Republicans repeatedly refused to say what amount the President wanted for direct checks,’ Pelosi tweeted, placing the blame on GOP lawmakers. ‘At last, the President has agreed to $2,000 — Democrats are ready to bring this to the Floor this week by unanimous consent. Let’s do it!’…”

Read more: https://thehill.com/homenews/news/531389-pelosi-responds-to-trump-lets-push-for-2k-checks-this-week

Editor’s note: The increase Trump pushed for today is the same increase he has opposed for months.

Bloomberg, Erik Wasson, Laura Litvan, Billy House, 12/21/2020

“…The plan would provide direct payments of $600 to most Americans and $300-per-week in enhanced unemployment benefits through March, according to lawmakers and aides. Expiring programs for gig workers and the long-term unemployed also would continue….”

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-20/congress-strikes-deal-on-900-billion-pandemic-relief-plan

Speaker Pelosi. Good evening, everyone.

“I’m very honored as well as, tonight, happy to welcome the distinguished Leader of the Democrats in the Senate. I want to salute him for the masterful work he did last evening to find a solution, to give us a path to bring the legislation forward that will help America’s working families.

“Our purpose has always been to crush the virus, put money in the pockets of the American people, which we do in this legislation. Sadly, our third purpose to honor our heroes was not fully appreciated by our Republican colleagues and so our support for state and local government, while significant in this legislation, requires more to be done. So, we consider this a first step. And that, again, more needs to be done. And we’re so excited that that will be happening under the Biden-Harris Administration, about 700 hours from now….”

Read more: https://www.speaker.gov/newsroom/122020-1

The Washington Post, Rachel Siegel, Jeff Stein, Mike Debonis, 12/20/2020

“…Stimulus Checks…

  • “The legislation includes $600 stimulus checks
  • per person, including adults and children. That means a family of four would receive $2,400, up to a certain income threshold.
  • “The size of the payment decreases for people who earned more than $75,000 in the 2019 tax year. The check disappears altogether for those who earned more than $99,000.
  • “The size of the checks, or their existence at all, had been a point of contention over weeks of negotiations….

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/20/stimulus-package-details/

The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, 12/18/2020

“[Assuming confirmation] Mr. Regan… will be on the front lines of the incoming administration’s effort to undo one of President Trump’s most sprawling transformations of the federal government: the unraveling of a half-century of pollution and climate regulations, and the diminishment of the science that underpinned them….

“‘He has navigated well through really tough terrain,’ said Megan Mullin, associate professor of environmental politics at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. ‘North Carolina is as tough a place as any to uphold environmental laws in the face of opposition from utilities, the farm lobby, and hostile legislators.'”

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/17/climate/michael-regan-epa.html

The Hill, Jordain Carney, 12/18/20

“Congress passed a days-long stopgap bill on Friday, hours before the government was scheduled to shut down, as negotiations over another coronavirus stimulus bill stretched into the weekend….

“The House already passed the two-day continuing resolution (CR), meaning it now goes to President Trump’s desk. He’ll need to sign it before midnight in order to prevent a temporary, middle-of-the-night lapse in government funding….”

Read more: https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/530944-congress-passes-bill-to-avert-shutdown-as-coronavirus-talks-drags-into

The Washington Post, Amy Goldstein, 12/17/2020

“President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team is contemplating a pair of steps for his early days in office that would quickly establish that the Trump era’s disdain for the Affordable Care Act has come to an end at the White House.

“Insurance marketplaces, created under the law for people to buy ACA health plans if they cannot obtain affordable coverages through a job, could be reopened….

“To attract people to those marketplaces, the advisers are interested in restoring millions of dollars that federal health officials cut during President Trump’s first two years in office….”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/12/15/biden-aca-expansion