Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Thursday, December 24, 2020:


President Trump has left Washington for Mar-a-Lago, where he will spend the holidays after throwing D.C. into chaos. The president broke with Senate Republicans and vetoed the annual defense bill, setting up the first veto override of his presidency next week. More importantly, no one -- not Democrats, not Republicans, not even the White House -- seems to know what is happening with the stimulus. President Trump has not signed it after making those 11th-hour demands that the $600 checks be upped to $2,000. If the bill isn’t signed by Monday, the government will shut down. Meanwhile, the president has issued another wave of pardons, granting clemency to Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Charles Kushner (Jared’s father), among two dozen others. POLITICO


A winter storm that is creating a white Christmas for parts of the Upper Midwest will turn into a significant rain event for the East Coast later today into Christmas Day. Torrential rain and high winds are in the forecast for much of the Northeast. Combined with warmer temps and the snowmelt from last week’s storm, that could pose flooding risks from the coastal mid-Atlantic to New England. FORECAST


More areas of Britain are going into a strict lockdown due to a more infectious variant of the coronavirus that is sweeping through the country. Another mutated strain in South Africa is also being studied; both appear to be much more infectious but not necessarily deadlier. In the U.S., the good news first: cases and hospitalizations are finally starting to significantly decline in the Midwest. The Northeast appears to be plateauing, while the outbreaks in the South and West are still rising sharply. December has now overtaken April as the deadliest month yet. The country heads into Christmas with about 3,400 people dying of the virus every day. COVID TRACKING


Not that there’s ever a good time for a mutant strain of the coronavirus to emerge, but it’s a particularly bad time right now for Britain. The Brexit transition period ends on New Year’s Day, with or without a UK-EU trade deal that is still being negotiated. Many anti-Brexiters have been warning that it’s going to result in huge logjams at the border as goods will now have to go through customs. That prediction came true this week, for other reasons, when France closed its ports for 48 hours due to the outbreak. Truck drivers can now cross the English Channel, but they have to test negative first and there is a huge gridlock that is leading to missed deliveries and missed holidays for thousands of drivers. SKY


The early coronavirus vaccine distribution in the U.S. is going slower than expected. The federal government’s goal had been to administer 20 million doses by the end of this month. So far, just over 1 million shots have been given, with a week to go. The CDC data is likely undercounting vaccinations a bit now that the Moderna vaccine is rolling out, and the process is likely to smooth out in the weeks ahead. Pfizer and the White House inked a deal to provide 100 million more doses by the end of July. CNN


Another 800,000 Americans joined the ranks of the unemployed last week. If the stimulus bill is not signed into law soon, federal unemployment benefits expire in a week, leaving 12 million people without any income. Consumer spending dropped in November for the first time since the pandemic started, consumer confidence is at a four-month low, and even the resilient housing market is starting to falter. REUTERS


In a potential preview of what the NBA is going to face without everyone ensconced in a bubble, the Rockets-Thunder season opener was postponed at the last minute because Houston didn’t have enough players available. James Harden of the Rockets was personally fined $50,000 by the league for breaking COVID protocols by attending an indoor party earlier this week, maskless. AXIOS

SPOTTED... Archie, appearing to have inherited his father’s red hair, in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s first American Christmas card: SEE IT

…Kourtney Kardashian, looking like she was photoshopped into the family’s Christmas vacation photo: SEE IT


Christmas Day is usually one of the biggest moviegoing days of the year. With many theaters still closed, two big Christmas movies are premiering directly on streaming: Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max and Pixar’s Soul on Disney+. Both family-friendly flicks are included free if you’re a subscriber  to those services. If you want something a little more grown up, the new George Clooney sci-fi drama, The Midnight Sky, just dropped on Netflix. CINEMABLEND


It’s too late to ship, and even if you have, there’s a good chance your gifts may not make it in time. That’s why the gods of commerce made gift cards. Here’s a good list of some of the most popular retailers offering last-minute options: STRATEGIST

Podcast scheduling note: This is our last regular pod of the year! We'll be dark next week, but back to biz in 2021. So bookmark our podcast and start 2021 fresh! Hosts Jill and Carlo break down the headlines, every weekday morning Listen on Apple or Spotify, or watch on YouTube, and send us your feedback!

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