Friday morning news – December 25, 2020

House GOP Reject Trump’s Call for Bigger Stimulus Checks » AUDIO: [Gavel] The House will be in order…

In a Christmas Eve session, House Republicans and Democrats declined to include President Trump’s changes to the coronavirus relief and government spending package. 

The president said the $2.3 trillion legislation didn’t offer Americans big enough stimulus checks. He wanted to bump the payouts from $600 per person to $2,000. 

In a largely symbolic move, Democrats held a rushed vote yesterday. If the chamber unanimously supported the bigger stimulus checks, the House could have approved the changes yesterday. 

But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy opposed the measure.

Republicans then countered asking Democrats to slash the amount of spending on foreign aid. But Democrats in-turn blocked that request. 

So the House adjourned yesterday without an agreement. 

In a press conference afterwards, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the president and Republicans don’t appear to be on the same page. 

HOYER: As we saw today, Republicans in Congress and the White House can’t agree on what they want. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the chamber will hold a vote on the stimulus-check increase on Monday. 

The E.U. and the U.K. reach a Brexit Trade Deal » The European Union and the United Kingdom have reached a Brexit Trade Deal, sealing the U.K.’s 2016 decision to leave the European bloc. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a press conference the deal benefits both sides. 

VON DER LEYEN: It is fair. It is a balanced deal and it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides. The European Union and the United Kingdom will stand shoulder to deliver on our common goals.

Under the agreement, both sides will continue to trade free of tariffs but there will be more bureaucracy for importers and exporters. The free flow of workers will also end, and London’s financial center won’t have guaranteed access to European markets. 

But British Prime Minister Borris Johnson said the deal gives Britain the freedom to depart from EU regulations and sign free-trade deals with countries like the United States. 

JOHNSON: We’ve taken back control of our laws and our destiny. We’ve taken back control of every jot and tittle of our regulation in a way that is complete and unfettered. 

One major sticking point in the negotiations was Northern Ireland’s status. Under the agreement, the country will remain in the EU’s customs area, meaning it won’t need a customs border with the Republic of Ireland. 

Now the European and U.K. parliaments must sign off on the deal by the end of the year or else tariffs and border delays automatically begin. 

Winter Storm Stretches Across Upper Midwest » A powerful winter storm system moved across much of the country this week, granting wishes for a White Christmas. 

On Tuesday, blowing snow and damaging winds up to 95 miles per hour shut down I-70 west of Denver. 

Then on Wednesday, the storm blanketed the Plains with heavy snow and high winds causing white out conditions. 

The blizzard made driving difficult for cross-country Christmas travelers, but in Minneapolis, last-minute Christmas shoppers told NBC station Kare 11 the weather didn’t phase them. 

SHOPPER 1: I was born and raised in Minnesota, love it here and the cold doesn’t bother me.

SHOPPER 2: I’m very used to this. We got kind of lucky up until today.

On Christmas Eve, the storm blanked the Great Lakes region in snow but dumped rain on the Eastern SeaBoard. 

Forecasters say the torrential rain will put the East Coast under flood risks that could extend into next week. 

Judge Halts Protections For Arkansas Babies » A U.S. District Court Federal judge has issued a restraining order that temporarily halts four Arkansas anti-abortion regulations from taking effect. WORLD’s Sarah Schwiensberg has the story. 

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: A set of Arkansas abortion laws that safeguard the unborn will not take effect as planned. The Arkansas legislature passed the laws in 2017. 

The regulations include a ban on dismemberment abortions. Additionally, providers are required to seek consent from the woman’s partner or a family member before performing the procedure. Physicians must also obtain pregnancy-related medical records to ensure abortions aren’t influenced by sex selection. And health care workers are required to report teenage patient abortions to local police. 

The laws survived an earlier constitutional challenge and took effect on Tuesday. Within hours, U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker issued a two-week injunction against their enforcement. In her restraining order, Judge Baker claimed the regulations impose “an unconstitutional, substantial, and undue burden.” 

The Arkansas Attorney General says she expects the state will successfully defend the laws on appeal. The temporary restraining order is in effect until January 5. 

I’m Sarah Schweinsberg. 

The Coronavirus Spreads To Antarctica » The Coronavirus has reached Antarctica. For more than eight months, it was the only continent not touched by the pandemic. But this week the Chilean army reported 36 cases at its Bernardo O’Higgins research station on the northernmost point of the Antarctic Peninsula. 

Patricio Ochoa is colonel of Antarctic affairs: 

OCHOA: The test shows 36 men tested positive for COVID-19. Of which 26 were Army personnel, 10 were civilians from a contract company who were doing work on an Antarctic device. 

The 36 individuals were evacuated to Chile, where they are under isolation and are reported to be in good condition.

Medical officials have long been concerned about the potential impact of the virus on researchers in Antarctica. Christian Nunez Espinosa is an infectious disease researcher.

RESEARCHER: We know that exposure to extreme weather affects a person’s physiology. The conditions of isolation, the changes in seasonal light can also be immunosuppressive. 

In an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus, all major research projects in the Antarctic have been halted. There are 70 permanent research bases from 29 countries spread across the icy continent the size of the United States and Mexico. 

Streaming Movie Premieres » And finally this morning, Christmas Day has historically been one of the biggest movie days of the year. But as many local governments have restricted public gatherings this holiday, movie studios are feeling the pinch. So a number of highly-anticipated premieres are moving forward online. 

Anticipated blockbusters like Wonder Woman 1984 and Pixar’s latest animated film Soul—starring Jamie Foxx—are streaming this weekend. It’s a trend some industry analysts see continuing, even after the pandemic. 

Not all studios are on board though. News Of The World—starring Tom Hanks—and Matteo Garrone’s Pinoccio are two films moving forward today with theatrical only releases. 

As theater attendance is down more than 85 percent from last year, it’s yet to be seen if big names and even bigger budgets will bring the audiences in.

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) The U.S. Capitol is seen, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020, in Washington. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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