They can vote for or against their two GOP senators — deciding which party controls the Senate — in today’s runoff amid a conflagration sparked by President Donald Trump demanding that Georgia’s secretary of state “find” votes to reverse his Nov. 3 loss. After a state election official debunked Trump’s claims yesterday, incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler said she’ll object to Congress certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win. At a rally for Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue, Trump focused on his fictitious claims, saying he hoped Vice President Mike Pence, who’s presiding over Wednesday's certification, “comes through” for him.
In 21 days, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Monday, Britain’s National Health Service will be overwhelmed by the highly contagious new coronavirus variant. With 27,000 people already hospitalized in England with COVID-19, the country entered its third and “hardest yet” lockdown today. But with vaccines being administered, Johnson called it “the last phase of the struggle.” More than 1 million people, beginning with elderly care home residents, have received their first dose of vaccine, but Britain’s medical association has criticized the government’s decision to not administer second doses within 21 days for full protection.
“It is time for the country to move forward.” So said a letter signed by nearly 200 of the nation’s top business leaders urging Congress to certify President-elect Biden’s victory when it meets tomorrow. Signatories include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, vaccine maker Pfizer and a host of financial giants like Goldman Sachs — and even Deutsche Bank, which holds millions in President Trump’s debt. While Trump’s allies plan to challenge the normally routine certification, the letter noted that “attempts to thwart or delay this process run counter to the essential tenets of our democracy.”
He’s too mentally fragile. That’s how British District Judge Vanessa Baraitser characterized the WikiLeaks founder, ruling against a U.S. extradition request. While she otherwise accepted prosecutors’ assertions, including that Assange’s national secrets-revealing activities were not protected as journalism, Baraitser concluded he’d be a suicide risk in an American prison. U.S. authorities plan to appeal, while Assange’s attorneys are arguing for his release from British incarceration. In the unlikely event that’s granted, Mexico has offered him asylum — although it’s rated the most dangerous place for journalists in the Western Hemisphere.
Qatar’s emir has landed in Saudi Arabia for a summit of Gulf Arab leaders that’s expected to lift the embargo on Qatar that’s been in place since 2017. The New York Stock Exchange, after consulting with the U.S. Treasury Department, has reversed its decision to remove Chinese telecom companies from its stock listings. And as Washington, D.C., braces for two days of demonstrations supporting President Trump’s baseless election fraud claims, the leader of the far-right Proud Boys has been arrested on charges of vandalizing a Black church and possessing illegal firearms.
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Leaving them out isn’t recommended. In court records revealed yesterday, Wisconsin authorities said fired pharmacist Steven Brandenburg, 46, admitted that he intentionally left 500 doses out of a refrigerator to spoil because he believed the Moderna shots would alter recipients’ DNA — mirroring baseless online conspiracy theories. In a December divorce proceeding, Brandenburg’s wife said her husband, who declined to comment, warned the world was “crashing down” and she won temporary custody of their children. Nonetheless, a prosecutor said it’s emerged that the doses might still be viable, and Brandenburg was released Monday.
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2. Alphabet Workers Form Unique Union
They’re feeling lucky. At least 227 workers of Google’s parent company yesterday announced that they’d created the Alphabet Workers Union, an unorthodox collective without collective bargaining rights, aided by the Communications Workers of America. It’s the most significant labor organizing effort yet in union-averse Big Tech following last year’s contentious Kickstarter unionization. Workers have agreed to union dues of 1 percent of their pay. Alphabet, which has weathered considerable worker turmoil, including a 2018 walkout over sexual harassment, said it supports its 132,000 employees’ “protected labor rights,” but will “continue engaging directly” with them.
A fisherman trying to stop conservationists from removing illegal nets in the Gulf of California has reportedly died after a confrontation. According to conservation group Sea Shepherd, which was working with Mexican authorities to remove gill nets blamed for killing endangered vaquita porpoises, a group of fishermen attacked their ship with explosive devices. It says the man’s fishing boat rammed one of its vessels, a repurposed Coast Guard ship, and split into two. The man’s family claims the conservationists hit his boat, while Sea Shepherd says it conducted a “defensive maneuver” used to fend off pirates.
As Agent 007 demonstrated, you only live twice. Despite reports of her death Sunday, doctors revealed that Roberts, 65, famed for her portrayal of geologist and James Bond lover Stacey Sutton in 1985’s A View to a Kill, is still alive. Her partner sparked the premature obituaries when he said Roberts, also known for Charlie’s Angels and That ‘70s Show roles, “died in his arms” after she collapsed Christmas Eve while walking her dogs in Los Angeles. While her doctors say she’s alive, her condition remains serious.
5. Cross-Country Skiing Goes Viral in the Rust Belt
Since there’s no place to go, let it snow. That’s the attitude of many parents in America’s industrial heartland who don’t want kids trading contagion playing sports indoors. “It’s one of those things that they could even try on the sidewalk,” said one Ohio mom, explaining the surge of interest in cross-country skiing, OZY reports. Equipment sales are booming and parks from Indiana to Pennsylvania are seeing crowds of skiers on trails that were already white from early snowstorms. Even the pros are staying local, considering the health risks of traveling to cross-country havens like Canada.