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5 things to know for December 8: Coronavirus, White House, immigration, Brexit, China

President-elect Joe Biden has selected retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the former commander of US Central Command, to be his secretary of defense, two sources familiar with the decision told CNN.

Posted: Dec 8, 2020 12:00 PM
Updated: Dec 8, 2020 12:00 PM

The editor behind the "The Yale Book of Quotations" has named 2020's top quotes, and they call to mind the year's biggest struggles: "Wear a mask," and "I can't breathe." Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On With Your Day. Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

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1. Coronavirus

The UK has started administering the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, making it the first Western country to start vaccinating its citizens outside of clinical trials. The UK has ordered enough of the vaccine to inoculate a third of its population, but for right now, it's available by invitation only for those age 80 and over, care homes staff and front line health and social care workers. In the US, President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order today prioritizing the shipment of a coronavirus vaccine to Americans before other nations, according to senior administration officials. The US just had its deadliest week for the coronavirus since April, with 15,658 reported deaths over the last seven days.  Across the world, South Korea and Japan aren't taking any chances with their pandemic strategies. Both countries have deployed their respective militaries to assist medical staff and help with contact tracing.

2. White House transition

President-elect Joe Biden has selected retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the former commander of US Central Command, to be his secretary of defense, sources tell CNN. If confirmed, Austin would be the first Black man to lead the Department of Defense, the nation's largest government agency. Biden will likely make the announcement official today, and will select more Cabinet members, including attorney general, at the end of the week. Meanwhile, President Trump's window for acting on baseless accusations of voter fraud to contest the election results is closing. Today is the federal election "safe harbor" date, and any state that has finalized its Electoral College voters by this day -- six days before the Electoral College officially votes -- is final and presumptively cannot be challenged.

3. Immigration

The US Department of Homeland Security has extended Temporary Protected Status -- a form of humanitarian relief -- for Hondurans living in the US, according to Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez. TPS applies to people who would face extreme hardship if forced to return to home countries affected by armed conflict or natural disasters. In the case of Honduras,  Category 4 hurricanes Eta and Iota devastated the country in November, and officials worry that major health risks and poverty could sweep the nation as it recovers. According to an online announcement from US Citizenship and Immigration Services, TPS has also been extended for eligible people from El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan until October 2021. The Department of Homeland Security will also begin to accept new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.

4. Brexit

The UK has mere weeks left to reach a trade deal with the European Union unless it wants to tumble out of the last phase of Brexit in the most economically damaging way possible. If the UK's government doesn't reach a deal by the new year, it will have to trade on World Trade Organization terms, which means more tariffs and barriers on goods and services. The UK Office for Budget Responsibility has already predicted a 4% loss of output even if a trade deal is reached. If it's not, that loss could balloon by another 2% in 2021 and send more than 300,000 people to the unemployment line by the second half of next year. Right now, negotiations between the UK and the EU are caught up on fishing rights, government aid for companies, and how disputes are settled.

5. China

The US State Department has announced new sanctions against 14 officials in China's top legislature over their involvement in creating a controversial national security law imposed on Hong Kong. All of them will be banned from traveling to the US, along with their families, and any assets they hold in the US will be blocked. Despite the latest round of economic and diplomatic acrimony, China's foreign minister Wang Yi says Beijing is open to restarting its relationship with the US. Speaking from the US-China Business Council, Wang said the two countries should learn to respect each other again, and blamed their frayed relations on some Americans with "outdated Cold War mentality and ideological prejudices."


Breakdancing to make its Olympic debut at Paris 2024

Gymnastics, but make it funky.

These lonely otters found love in lockdown just in time for the holidays

Because no one otter be alone this year. (Yes, I'm sorry.)

An invasive species of giant lizard has been making its way through the Southeast

We've ALMOST made it through the year of scary bugs, and now we get scary reptiles?!

A French man has left money to 50 cats who live in Russia's Hermitage Museum

The epitome of life goals.

KFC and Lifetime team up for a 'steamy' holiday mini-movie

Sure, we like our chicken hot and spicy, but not like this ... or ...?


Tripadvisor, and more than 100 other apps, have just been blocked in China

The Cyberspace Administration of China says it's removed 105 apps it considered to be "illegal" in the government's wide-ranging attempt to "clean-up" online content. Most of the platforms belonged to local Chinese firms, and it was not immediately clear why Tripadvisor was caught in the fray.



That's the proportion of firefighters in the Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) who said they wouldn't get a Covid-19 vaccine if the department offered one, according to a poll.


"I've seen a lot of coffins in the last seven months."

NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns, who says he's lost seven family members to Covid-19, including his mother, who passed away in April.


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Come on down the maple syrup farm!

In the world of winter flavors, maple syrup -- real, rich maple syrup -- is too often forgotten. We need to right this wrong. (Click here to view)

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