Monday Sunrise Briefing: A $900 billion US relief package

Bethany Baker / The Coloradoan via Reuters
Arlet Cano Reyes at the annual Hispanic Christmas tradition Las Posadas in Fort Collins, Colo. on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020. Usually community members walk door-to-door reenacting Mary and Joseph seeking lodging, this year they just did a distribution of coats, toys, and food for families in need.

Help is on the way. After negotiating through the weekend, U.S. Congressional leaders on Sunday finalized a $900 billion economic stimulus package. While smaller than the $2.2 trillion CARES Act earlier this year, this bill provides a $600 check for Americans earning up to $75,000 per year, a $300 per week bonus for those collecting unemployment, and about $300 billion to help businesses, as well as money for vaccine distribution, renters, schools and child care, the Postal Service, and people needing food aid. The bill also reportedly includes an extension of the moratorium on evictions. While many states face a sharp drop in tax revenues, Republicans successfully opposed Democrats’ demands for hundreds of billions of dollars in state and local aid. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the relief package Monday, along with the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill for a new fiscal year. 

2. Preventative steps. Across Europe, plus Canada and India, governments banned travelers from the U.K. Sunday after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a new strain of the COVID-19 virus was found in southern England. He stressed “there’s no evidence to suggest it is more lethal or causes more severe illness,” or that vaccines will be less effective against it. But Germany, for example, said all flights coming from Britain, except cargo flights, were no longer allowed to land as of midnight Sunday. The Eurostar passenger trains from London to Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam were also halted.

On Saturday, Mr. Johnson also announced new, stricter level of coronavirus restrictions, including closing London shops and restaurants, and forbidding mixing of households through Christmas. In the rest of England, people will be allowed to meet in Christmas bubbles for just one day instead of five, as the government originally planned. 

Why We Wrote This

Good morning! Welcome to your Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, sunrise briefing.

Here are two news events from this past weekend (while you may have been watching the SpaceX launch, Christmas caroling, and enjoying an offline life). Also, what to look for in the news this week.


AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
Like father, like son. Tiger Woods and his son, 11-year-old Charlie, share a fist bump at the PNC Championship, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. The pro-tournament for major champions and family members was Charlie's prime-time debut.

Look Ahead

Monday, Dec. 21

The Great Conjunction: In a spectacular conjunction, Jupiter and Saturn will appear extremely close about a half hour after sunset - appearing like an elongated star or double planet. It’s the closest observable conjunction in 800 years. The next will be in 80 years. If it’s cloudy where you are, you could watch online

EV milestone. Tesla stock will be added to the S&P 500 index today. The electric vehicle maker will become the 6th largest stock in the index. Tesla's price per share hit a new high Friday, and has risen more than 700 percent in 2020.

Longest and shortest day. Dec. 21 marks the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, where it is the darkest day of the year. In the Southern Hemisphere, it is the summer solstice and the longest day of the year.

Tuesday, Dec. 22

Welcome mat challenged. A federal judge in Houston is scheduled to hear arguments about invalidating the Obama-era DACA program preventing the deportations of roughly 650,000 people. The hearing is a continuation of a 2018 lawsuit brought against the federal government by Texas and eight other states that argue they will face “irreparable harm” if the program continues.

NBA returns. A shortened 72-game NBA season begins today, and is tentatively scheduled to end in May. No word yet on whether fans may attend. The Toronto Raptors will start their season in Tampa, Florida.

Friday, Dec. 25 

Christmas Day.

Blockbusters debut online. "Wonder Woman 1984" opens on HBO Max today and so does Pixar's "Soul" on Disney+.  Netflix's period English romance "Bridgerton," based on Julia Quinn's bestselling novels, opens too. Produced by Shonda Rhimes.

Generosity Watch

Feroza Syed was shocked. The guy ahead of her at the McDonald’s drive-through had just thrown his drink back at the employee. She pulled up to the window to find Bryanna soaked in soda and crying. Her offense? The guy didn’t want ice in his drink. Ms. Syed commiserated and gave her a $20 tip.

But she couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d witnessed. 

Later that day, she retuned to the McDonald’s with the license plate number of the offensive customer. That’s when she discovered Bryanna was pregnant.

In 24 hours, Ms. Syed raised $1,700 for Bryanna by sharing the incident on social media earlier this month. Later, in response to continuing requests to help, Syed shared Bryanna’s Cashapp, Venmo, and PayPal information so folks could donate directly, and she set up a baby registry at Target.

"Doing the right thing inspires others to do the right thing and what I keep learning again and again and again is when you see something like this or any situation where someone is being mistreated or harmed ... all it takes is one person to change the narrative," Ms. Syed told CNN.

Hidden gem 

Courtesy of Maisie Sparks
Maisie Sparks turned a frightening traffic stop into an important lesson for all involved.

Start your week with a recent story that inspired Monitor readers:

Contesting a traffic stop leads to justice – and mercy

Sneak preview

In tonight’s Daily Edition, watch for our film critic's list of the best movies of 2020.

Finally, check out the Monitor’s selected stories from Friday's subscription-only Daily Edition:

  1. In Georgia, GOP candidates hitch wagons to ‘fraud’ narrative
  2. Kidnapping dissidents abroad, Iran is sending a message at home
  3. Mexican reform reins in DEA partnership. Why now?
  4. Telescope sales and stargazers are both looking up these days
  5. From H.E.R. to Taylor Swift, women deliver the best songs of 2020

You have unlimited access to all our pandemic coverage. If you value our credibly hopeful and nonpartisan approach, please consider subscribing.

Have Merry Christmas! We’re taking a holiday break next week. See you in January!

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