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Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

An uncomfortable pair of stories for the White House:

  1. "Russia’s dirty tricks ... And why the West’s response is inadequate" — The Economist cover editorial
  2. "A Russian oligarch [who was indicted by Mueller last week and is] believed to control the Russian mercenaries who attacked U.S. troops and their allies in Syria this month was in close touch with Kremlin ... in the days and weeks before and after the assault," according to the Washington Post.

Economist:

  • What happened: Special counsel Robert "Mueller alleges that in 2014 Russia launched a conspiracy against America’s democracy, and he believes he has the evidence to withstand Russian denials and a court’s scrutiny."
  • Trump "should have spoken out against Mr Putin and protected America against Russian hostility. "
  • "Republican leaders in Congress are failing their country: at the least they should hold emergency hearings to protect America from subversion in the mid-term elections."
  • Why it matters: "[W]ith Mr. Trump obsessively blaming the FBI and Democrats, it looks as if America does not believe democracy is worth fighting for."
  • Zing: "Were Mr. Trump to sack [Mueller] now, it would amount to a confession."

WaPo:

  • "In intercepted communications in late January, the oligarch, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, told a senior Syrian official that he had 'secured permission' from an unspecified Russian minister to move forward with a 'fast and strong' initiative that would take place in early February.
  • Why he matters: The oligarch — nicknamed "Putin's chef" — "is known to have close ties to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin, forged when [the oligarch] was a restaurateur in St. Petersburg and expanded through what became Prigozhin’s wide-ranging business empire, including extensive contracts with Russia’s Defense Ministry."
  • Why this news matters: "[T]he attack marked the biggest direct challenge to the U.S. military presence in eastern Syria since U.S. Special Operations forces began deploying there in 2015 in support of their Syrian allies in the fight against the Islamic State."

Go deeper

7 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

9 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.