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Here are the week’s top stories, and a look ahead.

1. Unemployment benefits have lapsed for millions of Americans because President Trump has not signed a $900 billion pandemic relief bill.

The bill, passed by Congress as part of a larger spending package, would allow people to collect aid until March and revive supplemental benefits of $300 a week on top of the basic relief check. Above, outside a center in Kentucky that offers help to file unemployment claims.

But Mr. Trump, who is pushing for larger direct payments to Americans, has given no indication that he plans to sign the bill. So the existing benefits ended on Saturday, affecting an estimated 12 million people.

Because the president has refused to sign the bill, the United States now also faces a looming government shutdown on Tuesday and the expiration of a moratorium on evictions at the end of the year.

President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday said, “This abdication of responsibility has devastating consequences.”


2. The European Union’s vaccination campaign began today, but some of the bloc’s 27 countries got a head start.

A 101-year-old woman in a nursing home in eastern Germany became the country’s first recipient of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine on Saturday, when Hungary and Slovakia also began inoculating people. Scientists say the vaccine should work against the new, potentially more infectious variant found in Britain and a handful of other countries.

In the United States, where vaccinations began two weeks ago, new surveys show that the portion of people saying they are likely or certain to take the vaccine has grown to more than 60 percent from about 50 percent this summer, and in one poll, to 73 percent — a figure that approaches what some public health experts say would create herd immunity.

Scientists will continue to study how they can stop the spread of the virus and will try to determine whether vaccinated people, despite being much less likely to develop severe Covid-19, may still be able to infect others.


3. An explosion in Nashville left three people hospitalized, the city shaken and investigators mystified.

At least 41 businesses were damaged when an R.V. exploded in the city’s downtown on Christmas morning. Federal agents said on Saturday that they did not know who carried out the explosion or why — or even whether a person had been inside the vehicle when it exploded.

Before the blast, a message blared from the R.V., warning that a bomb would detonate within 15 minutes and then counting down, with music, the police said. Here’s what to know about the case.


4. The Brexit deal is done. Sort of.

Britain will leave the European Union on Jan. 1, but its exit is only the beginning of an unpredictable experiment in how to unstitch commercial relations across Europe.

The trade deal, reached on Christmas Eve, smooths the flow of goods across British borders. But it leaves financial firms without the biggest benefit of E.U. membership: the ability to easily offer services across the region from a single base. That loss is especially painful for Britain, which ran a surplus of 18 billion pounds, or $24 billion, on trade in financial and other services with the European Union in 2019.

Lawmakers in Britain and Europe are preparing to vote on the deal in the coming days.

Alan Cowell, a longtime Times correspondent, wrote about the Brexit fight and how the chaos last week of trucks stuck on highways in Britain because of new coronavirus restrictions, above, seemed to offer a foretaste of what life outside the European Union might mean.

5. A Pittsburgh hot dog shop, a famous Cambridge dive bar and a vibrant Filipino restaurant in Los Angeles: All are among the casualties of 2020.

Across the United States, thousands of businesses have closed during the pandemic, but the demise of so many beloved hangouts cuts especially deep. Above, Ma’am Sir opened in 2018 to rave reviews for its signature Filipino dishes, like sizzling pork sisig and oxtail kare-kare.

They were local landmarks — watering holes, shops and haunts that weathered recessions and world wars, only to succumb to the economic ravages of the coronavirus. This is their obituary.


6. The myth of a stolen election lives on in a new attack on voting rights.

President Trump failed to get any traction in courts with his baseless claims of manipulated voting and insistence on recounts, as in Georgia, above, but he has given new momentum to the movement to limit ballot access.

Georgia’s Republican legislators have discussed toughening state rules on voting by mail and on voter identification. In Pennsylvania, Republican lawmakers were considering reversing moves that had made it easier to vote absentee, and their counterparts in Wisconsin were considering tighter restrictions for mail voting, as well as for early voting.


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7. A citizen journalist who posted videos from Wuhan, China, is set to go on trial on Monday.

Zhang Zhan, a 37-year-old former lawyer, reported on the lockdown in Wuhan. She was arrested and faces accusations of spreading lies in the first known trial of a chronicler of China’s coronavirus crisis. Three other citizen journalists have disappeared from Wuhan.

A tide of new coronavirus cases in Africa is raising alarm in countries that, over all, appear to fare far better than those in Europe or the Americas.

And Japan, Spain and France have found small numbers of infections from the U.K. variant of the virus, most linked to travelers from Britain.


8. The stock market will not quit.

Even though the pandemic has killed more than 330,000 people in the United States, put millions out of work and shuttered businesses across the country, the market is now tipping into outright euphoria.

While the stock market ended with a small loss this past week, the S&P 500, Dow Jones industrial average and Nasdaq are just shy of record highs. Many investors, even those leery of growing signs of overconfidence, say it’s reasonable to expect stocks to continue to climb.


9. Sheep stew or chocolate bomb, anyone?

A shop excavated this month in Pompeii provides fresh clues about the eating habits of the ancient city’s population. Archaeologists uncovered jars that appeared to contain two dishes: a pork and fish combination, and a concoction involving snails, fish and sheep, perhaps a soup or stew. Further analysis is expected to determine whether vegetables were part of the ancient recipe.

Speaking of eruptions, if you’d rather stick with modern cuisine, try a hot chocolate bomb, above.

They’re big truffle-like treats, filled with marshmallows and candy — and, for the grown-up diner, alcohol — that are designed to dissolve dramatically in warm milk.

“You’re not sure when the explosion will happen,” said a fan of the slow-mo chocolate deluge. “You wait in anticipation. And then, when it does, there’s joy.”


10. And finally, read your way into 2021.

The troubled release of Cyberpunk 2077, the mystery of Chartreuse and George Clooney on his new movie and Donald Trump: These stories and more are our latest edition of The Weekender.



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