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Today’s top stories
Arizona and Wisconsin officials confirmed the presidential election results in their states, formalizing President-elect Joe Biden's victories in the key battlegrounds.
Why it matters: The moves deal yet another blow to President Trump's efforts to block or delay certification in key swing states that he lost.
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Scott Atlas, a controversial member of the White House coronavirus task force, handed in his resignation on Monday, according to three administration officials who discussed Atlas' resignation with Axios.
Why it matters: President Trump brought in Atlas as a counterpoint to NIAID director Anthony Fauci, whose warnings about the pandemic were dismissed by the Trump administration. With Trump now fixated on election fraud conspiracy theories, Atlas' detail comes to a natural end.
Iranian leaders are weighing their response to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, known as the father of Iran’s military nuclear program, who was given a state funeral Monday in Tehran.
The big picture: Iran has accused Israel of carrying out Friday’s attack, but senior leaders have suggested that they’ll choose patience over an immediate escalation that could play into the hands of the Israelis and the outgoing Trump administration.
- Health: Hospital crisis deepens as holiday season nears.
- Vaccine: Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorization — Vaccinating rural America won't be easy — Being last in the vaccine queue is young people's next big COVID test.
- Politics: Bipartisan group of senators seeks stimulus deal — Chuck Grassley returns to Senate after recovering from COVID-19.
- States: Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as COVID capacity dwindles.
- Economy: Wall Street wonders how bad economy has to get for Congress to act.
- 🎧 Podcast: The state of play of the top vaccines.
A non-COVID medical breakthrough: People over 60 now have access to a blood test for Alzheimer's disease.
Why it matters: The existing PET brain scan test costs some people about $5,000 and often isn't covered by insurance, AP reports.
The future of U.S. politics, and all that flows from it, is in the hands of Georgia voters when they vote in two Senate runoffs on January 5.
Axios Re:Cap digs into the election dynamics with former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat who served between 1999 and 2003.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that struggling state hospital systems must transfer patients to sites that are not nearing capacity, as rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations strain medical resources.
Why it matters: New York does not expect to get the same kind of help from thousands of out-of-state doctors and nurses that it got this spring, Cuomo acknowledged, as most of the country battles skyrocketing COVID hospitalizations and infections.
At least nine Republican and Democratic senators have formed an informal working group aimed at securing new coronavirus spending during the lame-duck session, a move favored by President-elect Biden, two sources familiar with the group tell Axios.
Why it matters: It may be the most significant bipartisan step toward COVID relief in months.
Ajit Pai will leave his post as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Jan. 20, the agency said today.
Why it matters: Pai's Inauguration Day departure is in keeping with agency tradition, and could set up the Biden administration with a 2-1 Democratic majority at the FCC if the Senate fails to confirm another Trump nominee during the lame-duck period.
General Motors will no longer take an equity stake in Nikola Corp. or build its pickup truck, under a revised deal that still envisions GM as a key tech supplier for Nikola's planned line of electric and fuel cell heavy trucks.
Driving the news: The revised agreement Monday is smaller in scope than a draft partnership rolled out in September that had included a $2 billion stake in the startup and an agreement to build its Badger pickup.
Americans saw more political ads on Facebook in the week before the 2020 election than they did the prior week despite the company's blackout on new political ads during that period, according to Global Witness, a human rights group that espouses tech regulation.
Why it matters: The presidential election was a key stress test for Facebook and other leading online platforms looking to prove that they can curb misinformation. Critics contend measures like the new-ad blackout barely made a dent.
Wall Street is working out how bad the economy will have to get for Congress to feel motivated to move on economic support.
Why it matters: A pre-Thanksgiving data dump showed more evidence of a floundering economic recovery. But the slow drip of crumbling economic data may not be enough to push Washington past a gridlock to halt the economic backslide.
Moderna announced that it plans to file with the FDA Monday for an emergency use authorization for its coronavirus vaccine, which the company said has an efficacy rate of 94.1%.
Why it matters: Moderna will become the second company to file for a vaccine EUA after Pfizer did the same earlier this month, potentially paving the way for the U.S. to have two COVID-19 vaccines in distribution by the end of the year. The company said its vaccine has a 100% efficacy rate against severe COVID cases.
Right now, everyone from Senate leaders to the makers of Netflix's popular "Social Dilemma" is promoting the idea that Facebook is addictive.
Yes, but: Human beings have raised fears about the addictive nature of every new media technology since the 18th century brought us the novel, yet the species has always seemed to recover its balance once the initial infatuation wears off.
Young, healthy people will be at the back of the line for coronavirus vaccines, and they'll have to maintain their sense of urgency as they wait their turn — otherwise, vaccinations won't be as effective in bringing the pandemic to a close.
The big picture: "It’s great young people are anticipating the vaccine," said Jewel Mullen, associate dean for health equity at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. But the prospect of that enthusiasm waning is "a cause for concern," she said.
New Zealand authorities laid safety violation charges Monday against 10 organizations and three individuals over the fatal Whakaari/White Island volcanic disaster last December, per a statement from the agency WorksSafe.
Details: WorksSafe declined to name those charged as they may seek name suppression in court. But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said government agencies GNS Science, which monitors volcanic activity, and the National Emergency Management Agency were among those charged over the "horrific tragedy" that killed 22 people.
Former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency director Chris Krebs criticized Rudy Giuliani Sunday for making baseless claims about the 2020 presidential election at a Nov. 20 news conference.
Driving the news: When asked in an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" what he thought of the news conference, Krebs responded: "It was upsetting because what I saw was [an] apparent attempt to undermine confidence in the election, to confuse people, to scare people."
President-elect Biden is strongly considering Rahm Emanuel to run the Department of Transportation, weighing the former Chicago mayor’s experience on infrastructure spending against concerns from progressives over his policing record.
Why it matters: The DOT could effectively become the new Commerce Department, as infrastructure spending, smart cities construction and the rollout of drone-delivery programs take on increasing economic weight.