The Rundown for December 11, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 15,599,122 and the nation’s death toll stands at 292,001, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 217,779 new cases and more than 2,974 deaths… The Food and Drug Administration’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee yesterday recommended the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for emergency use authorization. The FDA hasn’t said when it will decide on approving the vaccine. Should it get FDA approval, the vaccine would then be approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control. The vaccine, which showed to have about 95-percent efficacy in late-stage clinical trials, has already been approved for emergency use in Britain and Canada.

BIDEN HIRINGS… President-elect Joe Biden continued to fill out positions in his new White House yesterday with the selections of Susan Rice to lead the White House Domestic Policy Council and Denis McDonough as Veterans Affairs secretary. Rice, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President Obama, will coordinate Biden’s domestic policy agenda. McDonough served the Obama administration as White House chief of staff, deputy national security adviser and chief of staff of the National Security Council. Biden asked former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack to return as agriculture secretary and also announced the naming of Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge as housing and urban development secretary and attorney Katherine Tai as U.S. trade representative.

REPUBLICAN MEMBERS OF CONGRESS SUPPORT TEXAS SUIT… 106 Republican members of Congress joined yesterday in filing a brief in support of Texas’ highly-criticized Supreme Court lawsuit aiming to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. The lawsuit targeting four swing states claims that they changed their voting systems in a way that facilitated fraud. Legal experts expect the suit to be dismissed, since Texas has no authority over other states’ laws and GOP claims of election fraud have been shot down to the tune of 55-1 in post-election challenges. Prominent members of the Republican caucus who signed on to the letter included House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee Jim Jordan, ranking member of the powerful Ways & Means Committee Kevin Brady, Senator-elect Roger Marshall of Kansas and Governor-elect Greg Gianforte of Montana. Republicans who refused to sign on included Senate GOP Whip John Thune, who noted, “I just don’t know why a state like Texas, which never wants anybody telling them what to do, now wants to tell a bunch of other states how to run their elections.”

MUSLIM TRAVELERS CAN SUE FBI AGENTS… The Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday that a group of Muslims can sue the FBI agents who placed them on the No-Fly List in retaliation for refusing to inform on their communities. Justice Clarence Thomas found that the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act plainly provides a right to seek financial damages against government officials that impede their freedom of worship. An attorney for the civil-rights group said the ruling affirms that American Muslims can fight against injustice.

FEDERAL INMATE EXECUTED… The federal government last night executed a man convicted of killing a married couple in 1999. 40-year-old Brandon Bernard was administered a lethal injection at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. The federal execution was the first during a presidential lame-duck period in 130 years and came after the Supreme Court denied a plea by Bernard’s attorneys to appeal the case based on allegations that prosecutors withheld evidence they said may have spared their client the death penalty. Bernard was 18 when he and four other teenagers abducted and robbed Todd and Stacie Bagley on their way from a Sunday church service in Killeen, Texas.

ENTERTAINMENT
ACTOR TOMMY LISTER DIES
… Actor Tommy “Tiny” Lister, who appeared in the films “Friday,” “Austin Powers in Goldmember” and “The Fifth Element” died at his Los Angeles-area apartment yesterday after displaying symptoms of COVID-19 in recent days. He was 62. Lister also spent time in World Championship Wrestling, using the name Z-Gangsta. His television credits included “Matlock” and on “In the Heat of the Night.”

CHADWICK BOSEMAN CHARACTER NOT RECAST IN ‘BP2’… Marvel Studios announced yesterday that Chadwick Boseman’s character won’t be recast in the new “Black Panther” movie. The actor, who died of colon cancer in August, played T’Challa in the original film and the sequel will honor his legacy. “Black Panther 2” is set to be released July 8, 2022.

SPORTS
NFL SCORE

L.A. RAMS 24 – New England 3
… Jared Goff capped the game’s opening with a 1-yard touchdown run and threw a -yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter as the Rams (9-4) rolled past the Patriots (6-7). Linebacker Kenny Young returned an interception 79 yards for a second-quarter touchdown. Running back Cam Akers gained 171 yards on 29 carries.

SUNDAY’S NFL SCHEDULE
Houston (4-8) is at Chicago (5-7)….
Cincinnati (2-9-1) hosts Dallas (3-9)…
Kansas City (11-1) is at Miami (8-4)…
the N.Y. Giants (5-7) host Arizona (6-6)…
Minnesota (6-6) is at Tampa Bay (7-5)…
Carolina (4-8) hosts Denver (4-8)…
Tennessee (8-4) is at Jacksonville (1-11)…
Las Vegas (7-5) hosts Indianapolis (8-4)…
the N.Y. Jets (0-12) are at Seattle (8-4)…
Detroit (5-7) hosts Green Bay (9-3)…
New Orleans (10-2) is at Philadelphia (3-8-1)…
the L.A. Chargers (3-9) host Atlanta (4-8)…
Washington (5-7) is at San Francisco (5-7)…
Buffalo (9-3) hosts Pittsburgh (11-1)

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Baltimore (7-5) is at Cleveland (9-3)

TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORE
No. 24. San Diego State 80, No. 23 ARIZONA STATE 68

SATURDAY’S TOP 25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
No. 1 Alabama is at Arkansas…
No. 6 Florida hosts LSU…
No. 9 Georgia is at No. 25 Missouri…
No. 10 Miami hosts No. 17 North Carolina…
No. 13 Coastal Carolina is at Troy…
No. 14 Northwestern hosts Illinois…
No. 15 USC is at UCLA…
No. 16 Iowa hosts Wisconsin…
No. 18 BYU hosts San Diego State…
No. 21 Colorado hosts Utah…
No. 22 Oklahoma State is at Baylor…
(*six games involving seven ranked teams were canceled due to COVID)

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