10 things to know today: January 2, 2021


On Friday, the Senate voted 81 to 13 to overturn President Trump’s veto on the $ 741 billion defense authorization bill. It was the first congressional veto waiver of Trump’s presidency, which is now in its final days. Earlier in the week, the House voted in favor of the bill. It authorizes salary increases for the military and places new limits on how much of the army’s construction budget the president can move on an emergency basis. Trump said he vetoed the measure because he disliked the way it restricted the president’s ability to downsize, as well as his ordering the Pentagon to withdraw the names of Confederate personalities in American military installations. Trump also wanted the legislation to include a repeal of liability protections for tech companies, a completely separate matter. [The Washington Post]


On Friday night, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle dismissed a lawsuit filed against Vice President Mike Pence by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and other Republicans who sought to expand the vice president’s power to dismiss the Electoral votes cast for President-elect Joe Biden on January 6, when he oversees the certification of the Electoral College. Pence’s role is seen as ceremonial and he has the responsibility of opening, announcing and accounting for results, but complainants hope he takes on an expanded role and invalidates them as part of a long and final effort. to overthrow the presidential election. . Kernodle, who was appointed by President Trump, dismissed the case as he concluded that Gohmert and his fellow plaintiffs did not have sufficient legal interest to justify the trial. Kernodle’s decision comes a day after a Justice Department lawyer representing Pence asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed. Gohmert said his lawyers would appeal. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]


The United States surpassed 20 million recorded COVID-19 cases on Friday. There are also a record number of people hospitalized with the virus; Data from the Covid Tracking Project shows that as of Thursday there were more than 125,370 coronavirus patients in US hospitals. It took 292 days for the United States to reach its first 10 million cases, but only 54 more days to double it, reports CNN. December was the worst month in the country’s pandemic, with more than 6.1 million recorded coronavirus cases and 74,147 people dying from the virus. Public health experts believe this is due to people traveling on vacation and congregating indoors due to the cold weather. [CNN, The Wall Street Journal]

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Early voting in Georgia ended ahead of Tuesday’s Senate second round, with a record 3 million people voting. The previous record for total participation in the second round of elections in Georgia was set in 2008, with the participation of 2.1 million people. Votes for the second round of this year’s elections will not be counted until the polls close at 7 p.m. local time on Tuesday. L’Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that analysis of state election data shows more votes were cast in areas that tend to favor Democrats. Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.) Tries to fend off a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff, while Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) Takes on his Democratic opponent, the Rev. Raphael Warnock. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]


Iran has notified the International Atomic Energy Agency of its plan to enrich uranium at its Fordo underground nuclear facility by up to 20 percent “as soon as possible.” That figure is well above the threshold set in the 2015 nuclear deal, from which the United States withdrew in 2018. The decision comes as tensions escalate between Tehran and Jerusalem and Washington in the wake of the assassination of Iranian nuclear physicist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who founded the country’s military nuclear program two decades ago. Iran blamed Israel for the attack, and its parliament subsequently passed a law calling for the production and storage of 20% enriched uranium, as well as an end to IAEA inspections, which aim to ensure that the country does not develop an atomic bomb. It does not appear that Tehran took this last step, however, The Associated Press reports. [The Associated Press, France 24]


Dr Anthony Fauci, the leading infectious disease specialist in the United States, told CNN on Friday that he would “not be in favor” of postponing second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to increase the number of people who can get their first injection. The UK announced a plan this week to extend the wait time between the first and second vaccines of the two coronavirus vaccines authorized in the country, including the Pfizer jab, to 12 weeks. The idea is that this will give more people at least partial protection until production increases. But the trials for Pfizer and Moderna included a three- and four-week gap, respectively, meaning data is only available for that time frame, and Fauci wants the US to stick with what it is known for. with more certainty rather than following the UK’s lead. [The Guardian, The New York Times]


India has approved the COVID-19 vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca for emergency use, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar told reporters on Saturday. It is the first coronavirus vaccine candidate to get the green light in India, launching a massive vaccination campaign in the world’s second most populous country, which recorded the second highest number of COVID-19 infections after United States. The Oxford-AstraZeneca shot has already been approved in the UK. Although its clinical trials have raised questions about its effectiveness, especially compared to Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, it is considered safe and is also cheaper and easier to distribute than other candidates. India has three more vaccines pending approval, and the country’s health regulator has also received a request for emergency use for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. [Reuters]


A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that a lower court judge had wrongly set aside an execution date for Lisa Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row, resetting her execution date for later this this month. U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss previously ruled that the Justice Department illegally postponed Montgomery’s execution to January 12 because it already delayed it in December after his lawyers contracted COVID-19 during a visit to their client and then asked the judge to extend the filing deadline. a petition for clemency. The appeals court ruling overturns that ruling, although Montgomery’s lawyer Meaghan Vergow has said she will file a petition for reconsideration. Montgomery, whose lawyers claim to be suffering from severe mental illness, was convicted of the murder of 23-year-old pregnant Bobbie Jo Stinnett in 2004. [NBC News, CNN]


A Wisconsin pharmacist was arrested Thursday after police said he intentionally spoiled more than 500 doses of a coronavirus vaccine. Authorities say the incident took place at a hospital in Grafton, outside Milwaukee. The pharmacist, who has not been publicly identified, has been arrested on recommended charges of recklessly endangering first-degree safety, criminal damage to property and tampering with a prescription drug. Authorities say the pharmacist, who worked for Aurora Health Care, wrote that he had removed 57 vials from refrigeration “knowing that if it was not stored properly the vaccine would be ineffective.” This will delay the vaccination of hundreds of people in Wisconsin, which on Thursday reported 3,810 new cases of coronavirus and 42 deaths. [The Washington Post]


The Alabama No.1 and Ohio State No.3 have qualified for the College Football Playoff National Championship, which takes place Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The Crimson Tide clinched a 31-14 victory over No.4 Notre Dame, while the Buckeyes dealt with No.3 Clemson, 49-28. The latter contest consisted of a quarterback duel between two of the country’s top prospects in the NFL. Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, widely regarded as the favorite to be the no. 1 overall pick, threw for 400 yards, but Ohio State’s Justin Fields had an equally impressive 385 yards in the air and took the win. Alabama and the state of Ohio are both undefeated. The two powers have each won titles since the sport launched its four-team playoff format in 2015. The Buckeyes won the inaugural mini-tournament, while Alabama have won in 2016 and 2018. This is the fifth time in seven years since the Tide won the Game title. [ESPN, NCAA]

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