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Updated at 8:27 p.m. ET

Omni Hotels & Resorts, the international luxury hotel chain owned by billionaire Robert B. Rowling, is being accused of misusing millions of dollars in federal pandemic relief funds meant to keep workers on payroll.

This year, the hottest trend on Wall Street could be summed up in one strange and unfamiliar word: SPAC.

Shaquille O'Neal's got a SPAC. Former House Speaker Paul Ryan's got a SPAC. Famed investor Bill Ackman launched a $4 billion SPAC. And a 25-year-old became the youngest self-made billionaire thanks to — you guessed it — a SPAC.

So what is a SPAC? A "special purpose acquisition company" is a way for a company to go public without all the paperwork of a traditional IPO, or initial public offering.

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Chinese regulators have ordered Ant Group, the mobile payments company run by billionaire Jack Ma, to overhaul major aspects of its business — a move that follows a scuttled IPO and comes just days after regulators announced an investigation of affiliate Alibaba.

Regulators announced Sunday that it had found major problems in Ant Group's business practices in China.

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Relief aid will be on the way to millions of struggling Americans and a looming government shutdown has been avoided. President Trump signed into law last night the massive coronavirus relief and spending package that Congress passed last week.

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The hottest trend on Wall Street this year is a SPAC. That's spelled S-P-A-C.

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: Constantly now - SPAC, SPAC, SPAC.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: SPAC frenzy.

The model train company Hornby has seen a big increase of sales because families are spending more time at home. Prior to the pandemic, it was described as a "company in chaos."

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The pandemic has damaged countless businesses, but in the U.K...

Updated at 3:05 p.m. ET

Willy Solis never saw himself as an activist.

"I'm an introvert, extreme introvert," he said. "That's my nature."

But 2020 changed that — like so many other things.

Food banks have seen demand climb dramatically this year. Eric Cooper of the San Antonio Food Bank talks about how additional federal dollars could make a difference to his clients.

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The legendary El Chapultepec has closed after 87 years in business — not only because of the pandemic, but also because Denver has changed.

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U.S. tourists aren't welcome in most countries around the world because of the high number of coronavirus cases surging in the United States. But at least one country is keeping its borders open: Mexico. And many Americans, keen to escape the cold or lockdowns, are flocking to its stunning beaches.

On a recent weekend in Cabo San Lucas, one of Mexico's top tourist destinations, Sharlea Watkins and her friends downed beers at a restaurant overlooking the city's marina.

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Santa Claus takes many forms throughout the holiday season: there's the work party Santa, the parade float Santa and the illustrious mall Santa. In Baltimore, there's the Santa on a cargo bike carrying several hundred pounds worth of Christmas trees, trailed by the scent of slow-cooked pork.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ... hand sanitizer, a spray can of Lysol, a big box of TP and a cleaning gizmo for keys and phones.

All year, cleaning products have been flying off the shelves — now, they're flying straight into Christmas stockings and wrapping paper. Holiday-season sales of sanitizing wipes and sprays have doubled this year, according to Nielsen. Sales of hand sanitizer have more than quadrupled.

Updated at 3:20 p.m. ET

With the clock ticking down, the United Kingdom and the European Union finally agreed to a free trade deal a week before the Brexit transition period ends and 4 1/2 years since Britons voted in a landmark referendum to leave the EU.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the agreement as a way for the country's businesses to continue to have tariff-free and quota-free access to the massive EU market while delivering on the promise of the 2016 Brexit campaign.

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For months, the warning was clear from economists, housing advocates and public health experts: Without more help from Congress, millions of Americans could be evicted, in the dead of winter, in the middle of a raging pandemic.

"I can't construct a darker scenario," Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi told NPR in November. "It's absolutely critical that lawmakers step up."

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President Trump issued even more pardons last night to his friends, his loyalists and his daughter's in-law.

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Late last week, The New York Times issued one of its biggest mea culpas in years. The nation's leading newspaper returned a Peabody award and a citation as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize after retracting the core of its hit podcast series Caliphate.

In seeking to restore faith in its journalism, however, The Times may have demonstrated the persistence of some of the problems at the heart of this scandal. The paper's top editor participated in a podcast to help correct the record and to say, as he put it, "we got it wrong."

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Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl's district sweeps from the beaches of Santa Monica to the San Fernando Valley. Among the two million people she represents are Latino communities hit especially hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Many essential workers, many market and pharmacy and food service and restaurant and hotel workers and a lot of health care workers," she said. "So a lot of people just had to go to work."

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Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET

The Trump administration says it has reached a deal with Pfizer to buy an additional 100 million doses of the company's COVID-19 vaccine, effectively doubling the federal government's supply from Pfizer.

The pharmaceutical giant is to deliver 70 million doses by June 30, 2021, and complete the rest of the order by the end of the following month, according to a statement released Wednesday morning by the Department of Health and Human Services.

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