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Evan Vucci / AP

The annual black-tie dinner of the Alfalfa Club is the board meeting of America's establishment: The 750 guests tonight include Warren Buffett, Tim Cook, Jamie Dimon, Bill Gates, Bob Gates, Vernon Jordan, Charlie Rose, Jeb Bush, James Baker and plenty more moguls and grandees. The head table, stretching across a giant ballroom, includes the Cabinet, the congressional leadership and the cream of the diplomatic corps.

President Trump's name is in the program, seated between Michael Bloomberg and Chief Justice Roberts.

But in a shot at the swamp, Trump isn't coming. The White House says he'll be working, and never committed to going. Vice President Pence is still expected and some West Wing officials, including Kellyanne Conway, plan to attend. Chief strategist Steve Bannon was going, but now will be with the president in some briefings.

Others from the Trump inner circle who are expected: Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, Gary Cohn, Hope Hicks, deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, incoming Sec. of State Rex Tillerson, incoming Sec. of Defense James Mattis and incoming Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross. Dina Powell, Trump's senior counselor for economic initiatives, is a "sprout" – an inductee to Alfalfa.

The evening includes funny speeches, with plenty of barbs aimed at the president. During the debate over whether Trump should go, some aides worried that a zinger might rankle the boss. Now they won't have to fret about the piercing comedy stylings of Mayor Bloomberg and Erskine Bowles.

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Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

1 hour ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

2 hours ago - Health

Africa CDC: Vaccines likely won't be available until Q2 of 2021

Africa CDC director Dr. John Nkengasong. Photo: Mohammed Abdu Abdulbaqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Africa may have to wait until the second quarter of 2021 to roll out vaccines, Africa CDC director John Nkengasong said Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: “I have seen how Africa is neglected when drugs are available,” Nkengasong said.