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Senate overwhelmingly passes defense bill despite Trump veto threat

The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by an 84-13 vote on Friday, defying President Trump's threat to veto the bill if it does not repeal liability protections for social media companies.

Why it matters: Both the House and Senate have now passed the bill by a veto-proof two-thirds majority, though it's unclear if the same number of lawmakers that voted to pass the bill would vote to overturn a Trump veto. Overriding Trump's veto would serve as a rare Republican rebuke to the president in his last weeks in office.

  • The NDAA, which this year authorizes a $740 million budget for essential defense spending, will now head to Trump's desk. It has been passed by Congress every year since 1967.
  • The bill includes provisions that would grant a pay raise for troops, allow paid parental leave for federal employees and boost anti-discrimination protections for federal employees.

The big picture: Trump's threatened veto is centered around Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects social media from being liable for content created by its users.

  • The president in May signed an executive order seeking to limit the powers of Section 230, but he does not possess the unilateral authority to regulate tech and social media companies.
  • Trump has also expressed opposition to the 2020 NDAA for its proposal to rename 10 military installations that are named after Confederate leaders.

What they're saying: In a statement ahead of the House's vote this week, the White House said the bill "fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history, and contradicts efforts by this administration to put America first."

Go deeper: Top GOP senator loudly sets Trump straight on defense bill

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

The Food and Drugs Administration on Saturdayissued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

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Italy on Saturday announced it was tightening restrictions in five of the country's 20 regions in an effort curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Driving the news: The announcement comes as health experts and scientists warn of the more transmissible coronavirus variants, per Reuters.

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Palestinian Authority announces new COVID restrictions as cases surge

The Palestinian Authority on Saturday announced fresh coronavirus restrictions, including a partial lockdown, for the occupied West Bank as COVID-19 cases surge.

The big picture: The new measures come as Israel, which leads the world in vaccinations, faces increased pressure to ensure Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip have equal access to vaccines.

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Myanmar military fires UN ambassador after anti-coup speech

Myanmar's military regime on Saturday fired the country's Ambassador to the United Nations, Kyaw Moe Tun, a day after he gave a pro-democracy speech asking UN member nations to publicly condemn the Feb. 1 coup, The New York Times reports.

Details: State television said the ambassador had "betrayed the country and spoken for an unofficial organization which doesn’t represent the country and had abused the power and responsibilities of an ambassador."

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Scoop: Biden admin call on Putin pipeline provokes GOP anger

A briefing between the State Department and congressional staff over Vladimir Putin's Russia-Germany gas pipeline got tense this week, with Biden officials deflecting questions about why they hadn't moved faster and more aggressively with sanctions tostop its completion.

  • The Biden officials also denied negotiating with the Germans over a potential side deal to allow the pipeline to be finished.
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Warren Buffett calls American progress "discouraging," but isn't betting against it

Warren Buffett called progress in America "slow, uneven and often discouraging," but retained his long-term optimism in the country, in his closely watched annual shareholder letter released Saturday morning.

Why it matters: It breaks months of uncharacteristic silence from the 90-year-old billionaire Berkshire Hathaway CEO — as the fragile economy coped with the pandemic and the U.S. saw a contentious presidential election.

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