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Photo: Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. donors have given 90% of the cash behind the first $4.1 million restoration payment for Paris' fire-ravaged Notre Dame cathedral, the AP reports.

Why it matters: French billionaires pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to rebuild the cathedral after the April fire, but their donations have yet to materialize as squabbles continue over the direction of the cathedral's reconstruction and the contracts to support it.

  • Reconstruction and cleanup efforts — some of it focused on the release of toxic lead dust — are occurring at Notre Dame even as the rebuilding's ultimate scope is figured out. This first payment, which comes from the charity Friends of Notre Dame de Paris, is needed to pay the employees doing that work.
  • "The big donors haven’t paid. Not a cent. ... They want to know what exactly their money is being spent on and if they agree to it before they hand it over, and not just to pay employees’ salaries," Andre Finot, a senior press official at Notre Dame, told the AP.

The other side: "It’s not as brutal as it sounds, but it’s a voluntary donation so the companies are waiting for the government’s vision to see what precisely they want to fund. It's our function as the intermediary to know that the money is directed in line with the donor’s wishes," Heritage Foundation Director General Celia Verot told the AP. The foundation is the intermediary for French oil and gas giant Total's promised $112 million donation.

Go deeper: The miracle at Notre Dame

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
7 mins ago - Economy & Business

The fragile recovery

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
27 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.

U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market continues to recover even as coronavirus cases surge— though it's still millions of jobs short of the pre-pandemic level. The problem is that the rate of recovery is slowing significantly.