5 things to know for December 15: Covid-19, White House, stimulus, China, Turkey

Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Coronavirus 

2. White House transition 

As expected, President-elect Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election when the Electoral College voted yesterday. There were no surprises, and the process led more reluctant GOP allies to recognize Biden’s victory. However, other Republicans still refusing to acknowledge reality could have one more opportunity to disrupt — yet almost certainly not change the outcome of — the process when Congress formally counts the votes on January 6. Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr announced he will resign next week. Barr has been a strong defender of President Trump during his time with the administration by carrying out its “law and order” message. But he also dealt the most credible blow to Trump’s ongoing election denial when he said early this month that the Justice Department had seen no evidence of widespread voter fraud. 

3. Stimulus 

Congressional lawmakers today are set to unveil a $1.4 trillion spending bill to fund federal agencies until the end of September 2021. Both sides want to jam the bill through the chambers by Friday to avoid another government shutdown, but there’s still a question of what, if any, coronavirus relief measures will be attached to it. Democrats may have to abandon a push for roughly $160 billion in state and local aid in order to get a bipartisan agreement to which some relief provisions could be added. Congress may also decide to pass another short-term stopgap funding bill, like it did last week, to keep government agencies afloat while relief negotiations continue.

4. China 

The International Criminal Court has decided it will not prosecute China over its treatment of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, despite accusations of crimes including mass detention and forced labor, plus claims of genocide and human rights abuses. However, the international legal body says it will keep the matter on the table in case more evidence against Beijing comes to light. The problem is, China is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, so it would be extremely difficult to bring charges against the country. While the ICC’s decision may seem like a win for China, it underscores growing international pressure for the country to be held accountable for its treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minority groups. 

5. Turkey

The Trump administration will sanction Turkey for its purchase of a Russian surface-to-air missile system more than a year after the weapons were delivered. Lawmakers required the administration to carry out the sanctions as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021. President Trump has been reluctant to sanction Turkey over the purchase, much to the frustration of Congress, which tried several times to get the administration to take Turkey to task for the weapons spending. US officials have said the S-400 air defense system could pose a threat to the US and NATO. Trump has reportedly dug in his heels on any disciplinary measures because he does not want to upset his relationship with Turkish President Recep Erdogan.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Dolly Parton’s day starts with 3 a.m. wake-ups and heels in the kitchen

Kids are still having fun with socially distanced Santas 

They get to see the man in red, he gets to stay in his cozy safety snow globe-type enclosure. It’s a win-win. 

Wisconsin Department of Health warns against eating the ‘cannibal sandwich,’ a holiday tradition in the state 

A company is offering football fans a chance to win $500 while eating and watching football

Popeyes adds chocolate beignets to its menu

Great, now we’re going to be thinking about chocolate beignets all day

TODAY’S NUMBER

39,000

That’s how many Australians — at least — are still stranded overseas due to Australia’s international arrival caps. For the past five months, Australia has limited the number of international arrivals as part of a series of stringent border controls to protect against Covid-19. The country is now accepting just over 7,000 arrivals per week. 

TODAY’S QUOTE

“This is embarrassing us. It’s an affront to our democratic process and it’s diminishing the presidency. I think it’s bad for our party, bad for the country, and it weakens our position in the world.”

Maryland GOP Gov. Larry Hogan, who told CNN’s Jake Tapper that Republicans who still refuse to accept Joe Biden’s election win are damaging the party and the presidency

TODAY’S WEATHER

AND FINALLY

How glass Christmas ornaments are made 

I do love a good “How ‘x’ is made” video, and this one is just magical. (Click here to view.)

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