Georgia, Vaccine, U.K. Lockdown: Your Monday Evening Briefing

Georgia, Vaccine, U.K. Lockdown: Your Monday Evening
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Georgia, Vaccine, U.K. Lockdown: Your Monday Evening Briefing

Here’s what you need to know at the end of the day.

  • Jan. 4, 2021Updated 6:08 p.m. ET

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

Credit…Erik S Lesser/EPA, via Shutterstock

1. President Trump goes down to Georgia a day after the stunning revelation that he had asked its Republican secretary of state to “find” more than 11,000 votes to reverse the results of the election.

Georgia elections officials have received at least two requests for investigations into whether Mr. Trump has violated state laws on election interference. As of this afternoon, it appeared no such investigation had been opened. Above, Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, who was told by Mr. Trump that he should change the vote count.

The president will appear tonight at a rally in Dalton, Ga., with two incumbent Republicans, Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, ahead of the state’s two runoff races on Tuesday, which will determine which party controls the Senate. Here’s what we know about the vote in Georgia so far.

Mr. Trump’s relentless effort to overturn the result of the election that he lost has become the most serious stress test of American democracy in generations, our White House correspondent writes in an analysis.

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Credit…Oli Scarff/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

2. As the vaccine rollout falters, scientists are considering whether to delay second doses to give more people an inoculation now.

Officials in Britain have opted to delay second doses of vaccines made by AstraZeneca and by Pfizer as a way to more widely distribute the partial protection afforded by a single dose. Many health experts in the U.S. have been adamantly opposed to the idea. Above, a drive-in vaccination center in Hyde, Greater Manchester, which is in northwest England.

As New York lags behind other large states in distributing the vaccine, its governor, Andrew Cuomo, warned that hospitals in New York State will now face fines and potentially lose the opportunity to distribute the vaccine if they do not step up the pace of inoculations. The first case of a more contagious variant of the virus was also confirmed in the state.

And a pharmacist who was arrested for sabotaging more than 500 vaccine doses at a Wisconsin hospital was “an admitted conspiracy theorist” who believed the vaccine could harm people and “change their DNA,” according to the police. The pharmacist, Steven Brandenburg, 46, was charged with reckless endangerment and property damage, though prosecutors said the charges could be reduced to a single misdemeanor.

Credit…Paul Ellis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

3. Britain re-entered lockdown as the new coronavirus variant spread quickly.

After several days of frighteningly high case numbers, Prime Minister Boris Johnson closed schools and declared a national lockdown in England, following on the heels of Scotland.

In recent weeks, a highly transmissible variant of the virus has taken hold in London and southeast England, prompting an alarming spike in case numbers there.

In Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that the central government would consider declaring a state of emergency in Tokyo and in three surrounding prefectures for the first time since April. The authorities in Tokyo requested that restaurants and bars close by 8 p.m., after the city last week hit a record number of 1,337 cases in one day.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

4. More than 170 business leaders urged Congress to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.

“Attempts to thwart or delay this process run counter to the essential tenets of our democracy,” they said in a statement as Congress prepares to meet on Wednesday to certify the results of the presidential election.

Included in the list of signers were chief executives from many of America’s largest businesses including Microsoft, Pfizer, BlackRock, Lyft and Apollo Global Management.

The challenge to Mr. Biden’s decisive victory in the Electoral College, undertaken by dozens of Republicans in the House and Senate, has sowed deep divisions in the party’s ranks, even though it has no chance of succeeding.

Credit…Damien Maloney for The New York Times

5. Hundreds of Google employees have formed a union.

The Alphabet Workers Union, a new union named after Google’s parent company, Alphabet, was organized in secret for the better part of a year. It elected its leadership last month.

More than 225 engineers and other workers have joined, the group said, creating a rare beachhead for labor organizers in Silicon Valley.

The union represents a fraction of the company’s more than 260,000 full-time employees and contractors. Workers said it was primarily an effort to give structure and longevity to activism at Google, rather than to negotiate for a contract.

And many employees in the U.S. who returned to work after the holidays ran into problems after Slack, the popular messaging platform, experienced a major outage.

Credit…DigitalGlobe, via Getty Images

6. Iran announced that it had increased its uranium enrichment levels, bringing it closer to developing the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon within six months.

A spokesman for the Iranian government, Ali Rabiei, told the state-run IRNA news agency that “the process of producing 20 percent enriched uranium has started” at the Fordow complex, above, Iran’s newest nuclear center, embedded deep inside a mountain at a well-protected military base.

The announcement was the latest in a series of escalations that have come after President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from a 2015 nuclear agreement that had limited Iran to enrichment levels of 4 percent to 5 percent. Iran also seized a South Korean chemical tanker, as it pressures Seoul to release $7 billion in funds frozen because of U.S. sanctions.

Credit…Daniel Leal-Olivas/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

7. A British judge ruled that the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cannot be extradited to the U.S. to face trial, saying he would be at extreme risk of suicide.

U.S. authorities have charged him with violating the Espionage Act over his role in obtaining and publishing secret military and diplomatic documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

8. The coronavirus may not make the office obsolete. If anything, workplaces could be more dynamic than ever.

It seems very likely that total demand for offices will diminish, at least to a moderate degree. Offices will remain important for most companies, but fewer employees will be expected to be there all day, every day. Some work spaces in central employment districts may become housing, and some housing in residential areas may become work spaces.

One safe bet: It’s not hard to imagine that many will once again prefer to work within walking or biking distance of home.


9. This year in space: Moon, Mars and beyond.

2021 is shaping up as a busy year of space exploration, launches and astronomical events. Next month, the first of three spacecraft will pull into the vicinity of Mars. Later in the year, robotic landers built by private companies in partnership with NASA will head to the moon’s surface.

The most scientifically important mission of 2021 has been a long time coming: the often-delayed launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, effectively a successor to the Hubble telescope. NASA and the world’s astronomers and planetary scientists are eager to see it get off the ground at the end of October. Here’s what else to expect in space and astronomy this year.

Credit…Emily Simms for The New York Times

10. And finally, “Beard On!”

Stuck at home during the pandemic and craving an outlet for self-expression, Andrew Peterka decided on a beard. Like many other aspirational beard growers, he visited a website, Jeff’s Beard Board, that offers advice. (Pro tip: Wait 13 weeks to see how much hair you can grow.)

Although many corners of the internet breed trolls and leave bad behavior unchecked, the users of Beard Board present a counternarrative to those often male-dominated spaces with their positivity. Men celebrate and compliment one another, using expressions like “Grow on!” and “Beard on!”

The site’s founder, Jeff Falberg, 56, of Bridgeport, Conn., spent three to four hours per day maintaining its forums when he started Beard Board in 2001. Now, he has 10 moderators and four administrators who review every post and write encouraging responses.

Have an encouraging evening.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Want to catch up on past briefings? You can browse them here.

What did you like? What do you want to see here? Let us know at [email protected].

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