Happy Monday morning.
This is one of those days when we regret starting with bad news.
From the tragedy at the Waukesha Christmas parade to the addition of the United States to the list of ‘backsliding’ democracies for the first time, here’s the news you need to know to start your week.
Waukesha Christmas parade ends in tragedy
A driver plowed a vehicle into a crowd at a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, killing five people and injuring more than 40 adults and children. As reported by The Guardian, a red SUV plowed into the crowd at high speed on Sunday afternoon, and authorities are still hesitating to label the incident an act of terrorism.
House of Representatives passed historic immigration reform included in spending bill
The welfare spending bill passed the House of Representatives on Friday on a 220-213 vote includes the most comprehensive immigration reform package overhauled by Congress in 35 years, The Hill reported.
If the Senate approved the provision, the immigration measure in the bill would allow undocumented immigrants present in the U.S. from before 2011 up to 10 years of work authorization, falling short of the initial goal of offering them a path to citizenship.
Cuban dissident artist Yunior Garcia arrives safely in Spain
Cuban artistic dissident leader Yunior Garcia left the island after the government blocked the massive artists’ protest.
As reported by NBC News, the young Cuban playwright announced on Facebook that he and his wife had arrived in Spain “alive and well” and with their “ideas intact.”
In recent weeks, Garcia had become the most prominent figure calling for protests to demand greater freedoms from the communist-ruled island. The government largely suppressed protests due to take place last Monday.
Garcia attempted to march alone on Sunday but was prevented from leaving his apartment after police and government supporters surrounded his building. When he tried to communicate with journalists and others by holding a white rose through his window and holding up a sign that read “my house is blocked,” people on the roof dropped a large Cuban flag to cover his window.
‘Patria y Vida’ wins Latin Grammy, while one of its authors is in a Cuban prison
A group of Cuban musicians, including one imprisoned in Cuba, won song of the year at the Latin Grammy Awards on Thursday for their track “Patria y Vida,” garnering more international attention for a song that has become an anthem for the Cuban opposition.
World fears for Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai’s well-being
Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai had disappeared from the public eye for more than two weeks after accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on social media of coercing her into having sex at his home. The accusation triggered widespread censorship in China. Since Friday night, a steady stream of photos and videos purporting to show a smiling Peng going about her life in Beijing has appeared on Twitter, all posted by people working for Chinese government-controlled media and the state-run sports system, on a blocked platform in China.
The apparent propaganda push was followed Sunday by a video call between Peng and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, during which the three-time Olympian insisted she is “safe and well, living at her home in Beijing” and “would like to have her privacy respected,” according to a statement from the IOC.
Venezuela goes to elections, and socialism “wins” again
Venezuela’s ruling socialist party claimed a sweeping victory Sunday night in the first election that included the country’s main opposition parties in nearly four years, a low-turnout vote that critics say was rigged from the start.
As reported by the Washington Post, President Nicolas Maduro’s political allies won 20 of the country’s 23 governorships, according to preliminary results from the electoral council. With a turnout of just 41.8%, one of the lowest rates in the country in the last two decades, the vote reflected an electorate apathetic towards its leadership options in the crumbling socialist state.
U.S. lands for the first time on the list of shrinking democracies
The thinktank International IDEA announced over the weekend that the United States had been included for the first time on an annual list of “shrinking” democracies, noting a “visible deterioration” that began in 2019.
Alexander Hudson, a co-author of the report, told The Guardian, “The United States is a high-performing democracy, and even improved its performance in indicators of impartial administration (corruption and predictable enforcement) in 2020. However, the declines in civil liberties and checks on government indicate that there are serious problems with the fundamentals of democracy.”
The report says: “A historic turning point came in 2020-21 when former president Donald Trump questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 election results in the United States.”
In addition, Hudson pointed to a “decline in the quality of freedom of association and assembly during the summer of protests in 2020” after the police killing of George Floyd.