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McConnell Blocks Quick Vote on $2,000 Checks, Despite Bipartisan Support

Trump quickly threatened Republicans on Twitter after McConnell blocked the effort.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked attempts on Tuesday to unanimously pass a measure for $2,000 stimulus checks despite the fervent bipartisan clamor from President Donald Trump, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and a broad majority of Americans.

The Kentucky senator objected following demands from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to push a quick vote on the direct aid to citizens, who are buckling under the economic pressures of the ongoing pandemic.

Speaking from the Senate floor, McConnell acknowledged that Trump “would like further direct financial support for American households,” reports Fox News

On Sunday night, the president signed a $2.3 trillion economic relief package while lambasting the fact that the second-round stimulus checks would only be $600, rather than $2,000 per person.

On Monday, the House voted to pass a bill increasing the amount to $2,000, with the bill receiving 44 Republican votes, gaining the two-thirds majority support required to pass in the House. However, McConnell’s move on Tuesday prevented the quick passage of the measure.

It remains unclear whether McConnell will allow a floor vote on the bill, which he tied to Trump’s request to look into election security and his demands that Congress address Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides protection for companies hosting third-party content on their platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook.

“Those are the three important subjects the president has linked together,” McConnell said. “This week the Senate will begin a process to bring these three priorities into focus.”

McConnell also objected to joint efforts by Schumer and Independent Vermont Sen. Sanders to urgently bring action on the stimulus checks. Schumer’s request likely would have passed on Tuesday afternoon, while Sanders’ request would have set the stage for a vote on the bill on Wednesday afternoon.

Sanders voiced objections to McConnell’s attempt to quickly move to a vote to override Trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act.

“There are only a few days left in this session,” Schumer said, urging that the Senate prioritize direct aid to Americans in the form of the stimulus checks. “We should not adjourn until the Senate holds a vote on both measures: the NDAA veto override and the House bill to provide $2,000 checks for the American people.”

Under the House-passed legislation, the $600 checks would be increased to $2,000.

Those earning over $75,000 per year would get less money while people earning over $95,000 would get nothing. Married couples who file their taxes jointly would see their check amounts decrease if they earn over $150,000 per year, while the checks would zero out at $190,000.

The stimulus bill signed by Trump on Sunday would see a new $300 weekly supplement given to unemployed people while the Paycheck Protection Program would get $284 billion in new funding for forgivable small business loans.

Nearly 6 out of 10 consumers in the U.S. say that they have dealt with major financial setbacks due to the pandemic as of the end of November, according to a study from TransUnion. The study also found that 40 percent of those households say that their ability to continue paying their bills is reliant on them receiving another stimulus check.

The fight over stimulus checks comes as organizations have warned that the start of 2021 could see a historic crisis of evictions and homelessness across the country as a nationwide ban on evictions is set to expire at the end of the year, removing protections from some 30 to 40 million renters, according to the CDC.

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Animals

Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida

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A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.

In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.

“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.

Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.

Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.

Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.

Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.

However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.

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Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son

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A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.

The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.

The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.

“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.

“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.

The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.

The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.

“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.

The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.

The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.

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Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter

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The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.

However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.

In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.

It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.

The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.

Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.

The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.

The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.

The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.

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