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The FDA is about to grant an emergency use authorization for the Coverna-19 vaccine from Moderna after the agency’s advisers voted yesterday to recommend it. If authorized, officials expect nearly 8 million doses of the vaccine to reach the United States by next week. Vice President Mike Pence is set to receive the first blow of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine today, making him the highest-ranking US official to be vaccinated against the virus. Other countries are preparing for their own vaccine launches: India is preparing working groups pending an emergency use authorization for at least one vaccine candidate. South Korea plans to vaccinate more than 80 percent of its population – about 44 million people – by next November. Meanwhile, Germany and Japan have reported a record number of cases, and in the US, deaths from Covid-19 have already exceeded 40,000 this month.
2. The cyber attack in the USA
The cyber army of the Department of Homeland Security has warned that the recent cyber attack affecting government agencies is much wider than officials believed. The cybersecurity and infrastructure agency said the compromised software, SolarWinds, was not the only way hackers had infiltrated networks, and those responsible could have used “undiscovered tactics, techniques and procedures.” This news only raises growing concerns about the extent and extent of the violation, which the agency says “poses a serious risk” to the federal government and other areas of the public and private sectors. Questions also persist as to how long the violation has been undetected by the US government and when President Trump, who has remained silent on the matter, can address the issue.
There is more bad news on the labor market. Another 885,000 people applied for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, marking an increase in claims far beyond what economists expected. Unemployment has risen in recent weeks and about 14 million people are relying on government coronavirus aid programs that are set to expire by the end of the year, unless Congress acts. To make matters worse, it looks like Congress will not receive any bills until the end of the week, which means there could be a brief government shutdown this weekend, a GOP senator said. Remember, government funding and pandemic stimulus measures are tied together, as Congress hopes the combination will accomplish two critical tasks simultaneously and increase bipartisan support. So far … he really hasn’t.
More than 300 boys abducted during an attack on a Nigerian school were released last week, the country’s government said. Hundreds of students were feared missing after the attack, and the Nigerian army says it managed to save 344 of them. Some suspected the kidnappings were carried out by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, but the governor of Katsina state in Nigeria says they were in fact bandits disguised as members of the terrorist organization. Kidnappings for ransom have increased in Katsina state, but never on this scale. With hundreds of children involved, the incident commemorates the brutal abduction of 276 girls in Chibok in 2014. More than 100 girls have never returned home.
5. The Taliban
The senior US military officer met with Taliban officials in Qatar this week during an unannounced trip to the Middle East. The President of the United States General Staff, General Mark Milley, discussed the need for a reduction in violence in the area, which was a major condition of the agreement reached between the US and the Taliban in February, which could pave the way for an end to the longest he waged war. However, the insurgent group’s attacks on the Afghan government have continued, and US officials say they have not broken with Al Qaeda – another important condition of the agreement. All of this is taking place against a backdrop of US military forces in Afghanistan ordered by the Trump administration following the president’s election defeat.
ANSWER TO BREAKFAST
“The Masked Singer” crowned a new winner
No spoilers, but this celebrity reveal certainly makes sense.
Atlantic City blows up an abandoned Trump casino and, at the right price, you could be the one to press the button
Truly a gift for the person who has everything.
A small town in North Carolina is installing a cannon to get rid of eagles
To be clear, he will not shoot eagles. It would be … excessive. It just has to scare them.
NFL Intends to Honor Health Workers by Inviting Some Who Were Vaccinated in Super Bowl LV
Pope John brings stuffed crust to pizza wars
Pizza: unofficial quarantine food.
So many people have been executed by the US government this year, more than all 50 states combined. It is the largest number of federal executions since 1896.
“We need your actions to show that you are different from those who pay for our losses while doing nothing to show that the lives of loved ones mattered.”
Tamika Palmer, mother of Breonna Taylor, in an open letter to President-elect Joe Biden. Taylor was killed by police during a misdemeanor raid in March, and Palmer asks Biden to keep his promises to hold the police accountable for their actions.
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I’m tired of my former toil, I’ll stay here and rest for a while
Let’s end the week with a carol – but not just any carol! This version of “Jesus Christ the Apple”, performed by Seraphic Fire, was composed by British musician and writer Elizabeth Poston. Poston was a Renaissance woman who is said to have worked as a secret agent during World War II. It’s a wonderful listen, no matter where you are this December morning. (Click here to view.)