5 things to know for December 11: Pandemic, transition, government hack, El Salvador, Hungary

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1. Coronavirus

2. White House transition

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election for the first time yesterday during remarks from the Senate floor. Many other Senate Republicans have still refused to publicly accept the election results, and McConnell has reportedly dissuaded his GOP colleagues from objecting to state electoral results when Congress officially counts the votes on January 6. While President Donald Trump has not officially conceded the election, his campaign sent some mixed messages in a recent funding email to supporters, asking them if Trump should run again in 2024. Meanwhile, Biden will nominate Pete Buttigieg to be his transportation secretary. The former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate served as a fierce ally to Biden after the President-elect’s nomination, and is slated to be the first Senate-confirmed LGBTQ Cabinet secretary in history.

3. Government hack

US officials are still trying to make sense of a serious data breach that has affected multiple federal agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security, Agriculture and Commerce. While the investigation is ongoing, officials suspect it was carried out by a group of Russian hackers through SolarWinds, a technology company whose products are used by a number of federal civilian agencies for network management. The National Security Council and the Cyber Response Group are meeting daily to determine the scope of the hack, what data may have been exposed, and just how dangerous the effects may be. However, Russia’s suspected involvement in the hack raises questions about previous security breaches, and of course calls to mind Russian efforts to infiltrate the 2020 US electoral process. Moscow has so far denied any “offensive operations in the cyber domain.”

4. El Salvador

An asylum agreement between the United States and El Salvador is ready to go into effect, and would send some migrants requesting asylum at the US border to El Salvador to seek protection instead. The so-called Asylum Cooperative Agreement is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s ongoing effort to reroute asylum seekers to Central American countries. The US had struck agreements with Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, but only the agreement with Guatemala ever really got off the ground until now. Immigration advocates have criticized these policies, saying they put migrants in further danger.

5. Hungary

Hungary’s parliament has passed a law narrowing the definition of “family” in the country’s constitution, effectively barring same-sex couples from adopting children. The new law defines marriage as between a man and a woman and says that, in a relationship with children, “the mother is a woman, the father is a man.” LGBTQ rights groups and the EU community at large have decried the decision, which is the latest in a line of anti-LGBTQ decisions made under the administration of Prime Minister Victor Orban. In May, Hungary made it illegal for transgender and intersex people to change their gender on identity documents, and Orban and his ruling Fidesz party are notably against the legalization of same-sex marriage. Human rights organization Transgender Europe has called on the EU to address Hungary’s recent anti-LGBTQ motions.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

The University of Florida basketball player who collapsed mid-game over the weekend is breathing on his own and talking 

‘The Voice’ has crowned a new winner 

Fake eggs are being used to track turtle poaching

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on these decoy eggs

Gmail suffers another email outage 

A man played the same numbers on the same day on 160 lottery tickets. He won $800,000

TODAY’S NUMBER

256,000

That’s how many children, young people and vulnerable adults are estimated to have been abused in New Zealand’s faith-based and state care institutions between 1950 and 2019, according to a report by the country’s Royal Commission of Inquiry. 

TODAY’S QUOTE

“She sees the mailbox continue to fill up with bills. Bills that have never stopped coming. The bills are as unrelenting as a shark that smells blood in the water. The end is near.”

Business owner Steven Klein, who wrote an emotional obituary for his beloved Michigan bowling alley. Because of the ups and downs of the pandemic, Klein says he’s not sure if the bowling alley will recover.

TODAY’S WEATHER

AND FINALLY

How much excellence can you fit in one room?

Today and tomorrow mark the observation of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 250th birthday. Let’s celebrate with some fireworks in the form of legendary pianist Krystian Zimerman taking on Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, with none other than Leonard Bernstein at the helm. (Click here to view

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, 2020-12-16 11:34:29

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