Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 6, 2021

Longtime GOP leader Bob Dole dies at 98, Myanmar court sentences Suu Kyi to four years in prison, and more

1

Bob Dole dies at 98

Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole died Sunday after months of treatment for Stage IV lung cancer, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation announced. He was 98. Dole grew up in Kansas during the Dust Bowl and suffered severe wounds fighting as an Army lieutenant in Italy during World War II. He went on to become one of the Republican Party's longest-serving leaders, spending a quarter-century in the Senate. He was the GOP's vice-presidential candidate in 1976, and its presidential nominee 20 years later. President Biden called Dole "an American statesman like few in our history. A war hero and among the greatest of the Greatest Generation." After retiring from politics, Dole focused on raising money for the World War II Memorial in Washington and welcomed veterans visiting the memorial on many weekends.

2

Myanmar court sentences Suu Kyi to four years in prison

A Myanmar court on Monday sentenced ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, 76, to four years in prison after finding her guilty of inciting unrest and other charges. The result of Suu Kyi's closed-door trial indicated that the military, which held the pro-democracy champion and Nobel laureate under house arrest for nearly two decades, plans to remove her entirely as a force in politics. Since Suu Kyi's trial wrapped up, the military government has filed a new corruption charge. The military is escalating its crackdown on people protesting the Feb. 1 coup against the civilian government. On Sunday, a military truck plowed into demonstrators in Yangon and soldiers fired on a small crowd, killing at least five people, according to local media.

3

U.S. health officials say Omicron appears less dangerous than Delta variant

U.S. health officials said Sunday that they are still trying to determine the severity of the new Omicron coronavirus strain, but so far it appears to be less virulent than the Delta variant that is driving rising hospitalizations. "Thus far, it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it," President Biden's chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CNN's State of the Union. "But we have really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or it really doesn't cause any severe illness, comparable to Delta." The Biden administration plans to fast-track authorization of COVID-19 vaccines tweaked to fight Omicron, which federal regulators said Sunday had been detected in 16 states.

4

Belgian police clash with crowds protesting COVID restrictions

Police in Brussels used tear gas and water cannons to disperse crowds protesting restrictions imposed by the Belgian government to curb coronavirus infections. Several thousand people marched peacefully through Belgium's capital before the demonstration turned violent, with some protesters throwing cobblestones and fireworks at officers in the neighborhood where many European Union institutions have their headquarters. One protester, martial arts teacher Alain Sienaort, said he was against vaccine passes and restrictions on unvaccinated people. "That's all discrimination, so we have to fight it," he said. "We don't want a dictatorship." The government on Friday announced it was imposing new measures, including mandatory masks for most primary school students, to curb rising infections. 

5

Virginian governor announces removal of Robert E. Lee pedestal

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Sunday that the state would remove the 40-foot granite pedestal that once supported a memorial to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in Richmond. Work to take down the pedestal will start Monday, and be "substantially complete" by Dec. 31, Northam said. After the last part of the monument has been moved to an undisclosed location for storage, the land will be turned over to the city of Richmond. "This land is in the middle of Richmond, and Richmonders will determine the future of this space," Northam said in a statement. The decision came a little more than a month before Northam leaves office and Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, takes office. The statue was removed in September following a legal battle.

6

Ex-senator announces primary challenge against Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

Former Sen. David Perdue plans to announce Monday that he will challenge Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the Republican gubernatorial primary, Politico reported Sunday. Perdue lost his seat to Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff last year. Former President Donald Trump, who has expressed anger toward Perdue and other Georgia Republicans for not helping him overturn his loss to President Biden in the state, reportedly recruited Perdue to run against Kemp. The winner will face Democrat Stacy Abrams, who last week she would challenge Kemp in a rematch after she narrowly lost to him in 2018. Abrams made voting rights her signature issue after that race, so Trump's false claims that voter fraud cost him the election are expected to be a focus in the race.

7

NPR: COVID death rates higher in pro-Trump counties

People living in counties that strongly backed former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election have been nearly three times as likely to die from COVID-19 than their counterparts in counties that voted heavily for President Biden, according to an analysis by NPR. Since May, as vaccines were becoming more widely available, people in counties where Trump got 60 percent of the vote or more had a COVID-19 death rate that was 2.7 times higher than in counties where Biden dominated. In the reddest counties, death rates were six times higher than in the bluest counties. About 59 percent of Republicans are vaccinated, compared to 91 percent of Democrats, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy think tank.

8

Woman accused Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct before CNN fired him

A woman told CNN of a "serious sexual misconduct" allegation against Chris Cuomo days before the cable news channel fired the anchor, attorney Debra Katz said Sunday. Katz said she contacted CNN about her client's allegations Wednesday. CNN suspended Cuomo earlier this week after new details emerged about his efforts to help his brother, Andrew Cuomo, before sexual harassment allegations against him forced him to resign as New York's governor as lawmakers threatened to impeach him. The moves came shortly after the New York attorney general's office released evidence that Chris Cuomo had taken a more active role in his brother's defense than previously known, including using his position and sources to help his brother in what CNN called "a breach of journalistic ethics."

9

New COVID-testing rule for international travelers takes effect

New travel restrictions take effect Monday for people entering the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shortened the window for a pre-departure coronavirus test, with all passengers now required to show a negative result from a test conducted within 24 hours of their flight to the U.S. Previously, vaccinated travelers could get a test any time within three days of departure, although the 24-hour rule already applied to unvaccinated travelers. The narrower window, imposed in response to concerns about the new Omicron variant, "provide[s] less opportunity to develop an infection with the Omicron variant prior to arrival in the United States," according to the updated CDC order. U.S. airlines also have been asked to collect contact-tracing information for arriving passengers.

10

Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, and Cincinnati to compete in college football playoff

The College Football Playoff selection committee announced Sunday that Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, and Cincinnati will compete for this season's national title. On New Year's Eve, No. 1 Alabama will play No. 4 Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl, and No. 2 Michigan will face off against No. 3 Georgia in the Orange Bowl. The winners will play in the title game on Jan. 10. The Crimson Tide took the top ranking by beating Georgia 41-24 to win the SEC crown. Cincinnati went 13-0 and won the American Athletic Conference title to earn the right to face Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. Georgia won its spot in the final four with a 12-1 record. Michigan beat No. 13 Iowa 42-3 to claim their first conference title since 2004. 

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