Stimulus Checks, Virus Variant, Breonna Taylor: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, blocked a vote on $2,000 stimulus checks.

Instead, he said, the Senate would “begin a process” to consider bigger payments, along with President Trump’s other demands: protecting election security and removing some legal protections for technology companies.

The fate of the measure remained unclear as pressure mounted on the Senate to vote on the aid.

Mr. McConnell’s decision to link all of Mr. Trump’s demands together could doom any chance of passage. While Democrats all support larger checks, they are unlikely to endorse a hasty overhaul of the legal shield currently in place for social media companies, especially measures put forward by Republican senators aimed at confronting what they believe is anti-conservative bias.

2. The U.S. confirmed its first case of the more contagious coronavirus variant discovered in Britain.

The case was detected in a Colorado man in his 20s with no travel history. The variant is thought to be more contagious, though there has been no evidence to suggest that it is more deadly or resistant to the vaccines that have been deployed across the U.S. and Europe.

Speaking in Wilmington, Del., President-elect Joe Biden said vaccine distribution was not “progressing as it should” and promised to step up the pace when he takes office. Above, people lined up to get the vaccine in Florida today.

The vaccine rollout has gotten off to a slower start than hoped. Federal officials had said their goal was for 20 million people to get their first shots by the end of the year. As of Monday morning, 11.4 million doses of vaccines had been distributed across the U.S., but just 2.1 million people had received their first dose.

Separately, new research has found that people whose bodies were teeming with the coronavirus became seriously ill more often and were more likely to die, compared with those who carried much less virus and were more likely to emerge relatively unscathed.

3. At least one more Louisville police officer tied to the raid on Breonna Taylor’s home will be fired.

The Louisville Metro Police Department sent a letter of termination to Detective Joshua Jaynes, who prepared the search warrant for the botched raid.

The announcement comes nine months after officers shot and killed Ms. Taylor, a Black emergency room technician whose death set off a wave of protests in American streets. Until now, only one officer has been held accountable in the case.

4. Coronavirus cases are spiking in England, despite strict lockdowns and stay-at-home orders for nearly half of the nation.

Hospitals are treating more patients than at any time during the pandemic, and the number of new infections has set a daily record. Above, a Covid testing center in north London.

Scientists have said that the more contagious variant of the virus is driving the rise in cases. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to impose another national lockdown and move students to remote learning. The government is scheduled to meet on Wednesday.

And from Moscow, new data indicates that Russia’s death toll from Covid-19 is more than three times as high as officially reported.

5. The pandemic has fueled a spike in crime in New York.

The city’s 447 homicides made 2020 New York’s bloodiest year in nearly a decade. The city saw increases in burglaries and car thefts, even as other categories of crime fell. Shootings doubled, most of them concentrated in neighborhoods hit hardest by Covid-19 and unemployment.

While the numbers reflect the increase in violent crime in cities across the country, they still fell below New York’s darker days in the 1980s and ’90s.

In New Jersey, facial recognition software led to the wrongful arrest of a man accused of shoplifting candy and trying to hit a police officer. Now he’s suing. He is the third known person to be wrongly arrested based on a bad facial recognition match. All were Black men.

6. Boeing’s troubled 737 Max plane returned to American skies for the first time in almost two years.

The plane was used for American Airlines Flight 718, flying from Miami to New York and ending a long and difficult chapter for Boeing.

The Max was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after 346 people were killed in a pair of crashes, separated by months, in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Even though the Federal Aviation Administration required Boeing and the airlines that use the Max to install software updates, modify wiring and make other changes before the plane could fly again, the families of those killed in the crashes argue that the Max is still unfit to fly.

7. The story of Franco A. — a far-right German officer who pretended to be a Syrian refugee — mirrors the story of Germany itself.

To achieve his disguise, he darkened his face and hands with his mother’s makeup and applied shoe polish to his beard. The ruse, prosecutors say, was part of a plot to carry out one or several assassinations for which his refugee alter ego could be blamed, and to set off enough civil unrest to bring down the Federal Republic of Germany.

When he goes on trial next year, Germany will also be in the dock — not only for the administrative failure that allowed Franco A. to pass himself off as a refugee for so long, but also for its longstanding complacency in fighting extremism.

8. Pierre Cardin, the visionary designer who also transformed the business of fashion, died in France. He was 98.

In a career spanning more than three-quarters of a century, Cardin dressed artists, political luminaries, tastemakers and members of the haute bourgeoisie. He also reached the masses by affixing his name to a cornucopia of merchandise, from off-the-rack apparel to bath towels.

“I wash with my own soap,” he once boasted. “I wear my own perfume, go to bed with my own sheets, have my own food products. I live on me.” Above, Cardin in his studio in Paris in 1963.

His designs were influenced by geometric shapes, often rendered in fabrics like silver foil, paper and brightly colored vinyl. He drew inspiration from everywhere, be it the pagodas he visited in China, Op Art painting or automotive design.

9. It was a good year for books. Publishers reported unexpectedly strong sales in 2020.

When the United States slammed shut in March, book sales dropped sharply, but the dip didn’t last. While some parts of the industry have struggled, like bookstores and educational publishers, publishing executives say that demand came rushing back around June.

There have been a few particularly powerful themes in book selling this year. The Black Lives Matter protests following the killing of George Floyd caused a rush on books about race and antiracism. Political books, especially about President Trump, have also performed well.

Print sales by units are up almost 8 percent, and audiobooks are up as well.

10. And finally, your boss’s new favorite sayings.

The coronavirus gave 2020 a new dictionary. There are some phrases whose use skyrocketed this year. Our journalists analyzed more than 20,000 business presentations to uncover the new lexicon.

“You’re on mute” was said on 1,000 percent more calls between executives and investors in 2020 compared with 2019. Uses of the word “humbled” rose 200 percent. The phrase “new normal” appeared nearly 3,000 times.

Have a chatty evening.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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