- 1. Trump hints at 2024 run, calls November election 'rigged'
- 2. New U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 3,000
- 3. CDC shortens quarantine recommendation, discourages holiday travel
- 4. Iran moves to increase uranium enrichment, ban inspectors
- 5. Mnuchin: Trump will sign McConnell's limited coronavirus relief plan
- 6. Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly sworn in, narrowing GOP majority
- 7. U.N. chief: Report shows planet 'broken' by climate change
- 8. S&P 500 sets 2nd straight record
- 9. Obama says he would get coronavirus vaccine on TV to boost confidence
- 10. Ivanka Trump deposed in lawsuit over inauguration funds
1. Trump hints at 2024 run, calls November election 'rigged'
President Trump is hinting that he intends to run for another presidential term in 2024, Reuters reported Wednesday. Trump has refused to concede. He is seeking to overturn President-elect Joe Biden's victory, making false claims that widespread mail-in ballot fraud cost him the election. "We are trying to do another four years," Trump said at a White House holiday reception Tuesday night, according to a Republican source who was there. "Otherwise, I'll see you in four years." Trump also posted a 45-minute video speech on Wednesday, repeating baseless allegations that "corrupt forces" had "rigged" the election in favor of Biden with a "massive" effort to cast fraudulent votes. The allegations came a day after Trump's attorney general, William Barr, said the Justice Department had not found evidence of voting fraud that could have changed the election's outcome.
2. New U.S. coronavirus deaths surpass 3,000
The U.S. daily coronavirus death toll reached a record 3,157 on Wednesday, and coronavirus hospitalizations across the country surpassed 100,000, also a record. The number of people in the U.S. hospitalized with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, has more than tripled since Oct. 1. South Dakota, Nevada, and Indiana have the nation's highest number of hospitalizations per capita. California has the highest total, with 9,365 hospitalizations. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said California's hospital system's intensive care facilities are at an unsustainable 75 percent of capacity, and will run out of ICU beds before Christmas. More than 1,000 U.S. hospitals already face critical staffing shortages.
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3. CDC shortens quarantine recommendation, discourages holiday travel
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday released new recommendations for shortening the quarantine period for people exposed to the coronavirus from 14 days to 10, provided they show no symptoms, or seven for those who test negative for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. The CDC also called on Americans to avoid travel during the holiday season to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. CDC Director Robert Redfield said at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event that December through February is "going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation," as the country's health-care system is strained by increasing coronavirus infections, record hospitalizations, and a rising death toll. More than 272,000 people have died of coronavirus in the U.S.
4. Iran moves to increase uranium enrichment, ban inspectors
Iran's Guardian Council watchdog body on Wednesday approved a law allowing the country to immediately start enriching uranium to a level closer to weapons grade levels. The law also clears the way to suspend access to its nuclear facilities for international inspectors unless sanctions are lifted by February, right after President Trump leaves office and President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated. The passing of the legislation was seen as Tehran's first concrete response to the assassination of its top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was killed in an ambush Friday. Iran has blamed Israel for the attack. The speaker of Iran's Parliament, former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf, said the move was intended to signal to the West that following the assassination the "one-way game is over."
5. Mnuchin: Trump will sign McConnell's limited coronavirus relief plan
President Trump will sign Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) coronavirus stimulus proposal if Congress passes it, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Wednesday. McConnell hasn't revealed many details on his Tuesday proposal, but has insisted on a targeted $500 billion deal in the past. Mnuchin made no mention of the $908 billion proposal a group of bipartisan senators unveiled Tuesday. Leading Democrats said Wednesday that plan should serve as the starting point for negotiations, backing off demands for a larger package. The bipartisan bill had a price tag similar to the package McConnell shot down in July, but repurposed funds from the CARES Act, meaning only half the figure is new money. McConnell's package meanwhile included proposals from GOP senators, and came just hours after the bipartisan bill in what seemed like a blatant rejection of it.
6. Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly sworn in, narrowing GOP majority
Former astronaut Mark Kelly, a Democrat, was sworn in as a U.S. senator representing Arizona on Wednesday, narrowing the Republican majority during the lame-duck session to 52 seats out of 100. Other new senators elected in November won't take office until January, but Kelly gets an early start because he beat Republican Sen. Martha McSally in a special election to fill the late Republican Sen. John McCain's seat. Kelly was sworn in with his wife, former Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords, and his two children by his side. Kelly joins Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) to give the state two Democrats in the Senate for the first time since the 1950s. Kelly will have to run for re-election at the end of McCain's term in two years.
7. U.N. chief: Report shows planet 'broken' by climate change
As the world's oceans heat up and long-frigid Siberia experiences triple-digit heat, 2020 is on track to be one of the three hottest years on record, according to the United Nations' State of the Climate report published Wednesday. "The state of the planet is broken," U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a speech at Columbia University. "Dear friends, humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal." The climate report, produced by the World Meteorological Organization and other U.N. agencies, concluded that 2020 and the five previous years will probably be the six warmest on record. This year could even beat out 2016 once December data is factored in and become the warmest on record.
8. S&P 500 sets 2nd straight record
The S&P 500 made modest gains on Wednesday, rising by 0.2 percent to its second straight record high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also rose by about 0.2 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq edged down by less than 0.1 percent. The mood on Wall Street was buoyed by positive developments on coronavirus vaccines, including the emergency approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the United Kingdom, and by signs that lawmakers in Washington are eager to work out a deal on a new coronavirus relief package. Both rising coronavirus infections and weakening economic data underscored the need for a new stimulus spending bill. Stock index futures were mixed early Thursday as investors awaited news on how stimulus negotiations are going.
9. Obama says he would get coronavirus vaccine on TV to boost confidence
Former President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he was confident that coronavirus vaccines would be safe, and that he would take one as soon as possible. "I will be taking it and I may take it on TV or have it filmed so people know that I trust this science," Obama said in an interview on SiriusXM's The Joe Madison Show due to air on Thursday. "What I don't trust is getting COVID." Polls indicate that many Americans are not eager to get one of the COVID-19 vaccines. Medical experts blame some of the skepticism on fears that regulators will let drug makers cut corners under pressure from President Trump to develop and distribute a vaccine quickly. People of color, who face elevated risks of severe COVID-19 symptoms, were particularly wary in a recent Gallup poll.
10. Ivanka Trump deposed in lawsuit over inauguration funds
A court filing revealed Wednesday that Ivanka Trump, President Trump's eldest daughter and senior adviser, was interviewed Tuesday by lawyers in a civil lawsuit alleging that the president's 2017 inauguration committee misused donor funds. The Washington, D.C., attorney general's office is accusing the committee of improperly paying Trump's Washington, D.C., hotel more than $1 million during inauguration week. "District law requires nonprofits to use their funds for their stated public purpose, not to benefit private individuals or companies," District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine said earlier this year. Under the lawsuit, the D.C. lawyers also have subpoenaed records from Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump, and Thomas Barrack Jr., a close Trump friend who chaired the inaugural committee.
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