5 things to know for December 1: Covid-19, transition, economy, France, Australia


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1. Coronavirus 

Everyone in the US who wants a Covid-19 vaccine will be able to get one by June, according to an official with the White House vaccine initiative Operation Warp Speed. Before that happens, a vaccine needs to be authorized, and President Trump is asking questions about why the FDA hasn’t given an emergency use authorization to Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine yet. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is supposed to meet with the FDA commissioner today to discuss. More places are locking down as experts fear coronavirus case numbers will continue to rise during the holiday season. Los Angeles County, the biggest county in the US, is now under a stay-at-home order. It’s also World AIDS Day today, a reminder that the coronavirus isn’t the only pandemic threatening lives across the globe.

2. White House transition 

There’s a glaring empty spot in President-elect Joe Biden’s recent round of Cabinet picks: defense secretary. Three candidates are in final contention to lead the Pentagon, but Biden’s delay in naming one has opened the contenders up to scrutiny and could muddle the selection process for this critical role. It doesn’t help that the Pentagon is undergoing a White House-directed post-election purge right now. Chris Maier, the top official leading the Defeat-ISIS Task Force, resigned yesterday. Maier is one of several senior officials to be fired or asked to resign in recent days. Meanwhile, President Trump is still beating the election fraud drum. But some Republicans in Biden-won states, like Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, are defending their states’ election integrity.

3. Economy 

There probably won’t be widespread relief for struggling workers until next year. Congress has all but shelved talks on a new stimulus bill in favor of passing a spending bill by December 11 to avoid a partial government shutdown. Some relief programs could be added to that bill, though, and it  could extend some unemployment programs set to expire at the end of the year. However, a government watchdog report has found millions of jobless Americans may not be getting their full unemployment payments. The US Government Accountability Office says most states have been paying claimants in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program the minimum benefit instead of the amount they are eligible for based on prior earnings. States probably did this to get the program up and running for gig workers and other self-employed people but never recalculated the payments.

4. France 

French President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party has promised to change the details of a proposed “global security” law that would restrict the filming of police officers. Macron’s party says the part of the controversial law in question was intended to protect police forces, but it will revisit the language to remove “ambiguity.” Demonstrators crowded French streets over the last week in protest of the law and a “New National Policing Scheme” that was announced in September. Protesters say the legal moves would expand the state’s right to monitor its citizens and restrict the coverage of political demonstrations, which have been particularly contentious in recent years.

5. Australia

Australia is burning again. Firefighters have been battling a massive bushfire on the popular tourist destination of Fraser Island for six weeks now as the country sweltered under its hottest November on record. Crews are also battling fires in dozens of other areas of mainland Queensland and New South Wales. Bushfires are common across the country, but especially arid conditions in recent years have led to worsening blazes. Experts worry the continued record heat could set up another devastating bushfire season. Last year’s so-called Black Summer was Australia’s worst bushfire season ever, burning nearly 30 million acres and directly killing at least 33 people and an estimated 1 billion animals.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

The White House Christmas decorations honor essential workers

They also feature 106 wreaths, 62 trees and no fewer than 17,000 bows

Alligators can regrow their tails, study says 

“It’s just a flesh wound.” — An alligator, probably. 

Chipotle adds smoked brisket to its menu for a limited time

It is TOO early in the morning to be craving smoked brisket

George Clooney has cut his own hair with a Flowbee (!) for the past 25 years (!!!)

Bet you never thought you’d see the words “George Clooney” and “Flowbee” in the same sentence. 

The Word of the Year for Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com is …

…………………………………. pandemic

TODAY’S NUMBER

940,000

That’s about how many absentee ballots have been requested by Georgia voters for the state’s all-important Senate runoff elections in January. If the Democratic challengers in the two contests win, Democrats would gain control of the Senate with the Vice President’s tie-breaking vote. 

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Sorry to Māori. The monocultural aspects of our journalism have not served Aotearoa New Zealand well.”

Mark Stevens, editorial director of Stuff, New Zealand’s largest media publisher. The brand, which owns New Zealand’s largest news website as well as numerous regional and community titles, apologized for the way it has portrayed the country’s Indigenous people after an internal investigation uncovered evidence of “racism and marginalisation.”

TODAY’S WEATHER

AND FINALLY

Glasscinating 

I don’t know about you, but I could watch murrine glass videos all day. They look like forbidden candy and make incredible art. (Click here to view.) 



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