The Rundown for December 18, 2020

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 17,179,180 and the nation’s death toll stands at 310,325, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University. There were 250,160 new cases and 3,561 deaths… The Federal Drug Administration’s advisory panel has approved the coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna for emergency use. Formal approval could come as early as today, clearing the way for nearly 6 million doses to be shipped.

HACK TARGETED ENERGY, NUCLEAR AGENCIES… The Energy Department and National Nuclear Security Administration say they have evidence that hackers accessed their networks as part of an extensive espionage operation that has affected at least half a dozen federal agencies. They found suspicious activity in networks belonging to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories in New Mexico and Washington, the Office of Secure Transportation at NNSA, and the Richland Field Office of the DOE. According to officials, hackers have been able to do more damage at FERC than the other agencies, and officials there have evidence of highly malicious activity.

BIDEN PICKS HAALAND AS INTERIOR SECRETARY… President-elect Joe Biden has reportedly picked Democratic congresswoman Deb Haaland of New Mexico to be interior secretary. Haaland has been serving as vice chair of the House Natural Resources Committee. If confirmed, she would become the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary and oversee U.S. tribal lands and natural resources. Biden also plans to nominate North Carolina’s top environmental official, Michael Regan, to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The 44-year-old Regan was an air quality specialist with the EPA during the Clinton and Bush administrations.

JOBLESS CLAIMS RISE… The Labor Department said in its weekly report released yesterday that the 885,000 American workers who filed new unemployment claims last week were the most since early September. The number of new claims was 9,000 more than the previous week. There are more than 9 million continuing claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits and 5 million for those under Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. Both programs are due to expire at the end of the month without an extension from Congress.

STORM POUNDS NORTHEAST… Much of the East is digging out from the storm that brought heavy snow from the central Appalachians to New England. Central Pennsylvania and south-central New York state got more than 3 feet of new snow and major cities were brought to a crawl. Snow was expected to continue falling in New England last night. More than a hundred flights were cancelled at Boston’s Logan Airport. Flights were also grounded at Newark-Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

ENTERTAINMENT
ACTOR JEREMY BULLOCH DIES
… British actor Jeremy Bulloch, who was best-known for playing Boba Fett in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” has died following an extended illness. He was 75. Bulloch was a mainstay on British television and appeared the James Bond films “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Octopussy.” Bulloch had a small cameo in “Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith” as Captain Jeremoch Colton.

FRANCES McDORMAND TO ADAPT ‘WOMEN TALKING’… Frances McDormand will star in and produce an adaptation of “Women Talking,” the best-selling novel by Miriam Toews. The story follows a group of women in an isolated religious colony as they struggle to reconcile their faith with a series of sexual assaults committed by the colony’s men. McDormand, whose awards include two Oscars, two Primetime Emmys and a Tony, appears in the upcoming films “Nomadland” and “French Dispatch.”

SPORTS
NFL SCORE

L.A. Chargers 30 – LAS VEGAS 27 (OT)… Justin Hebert’s touchdown plunge with less than 2 minutes remaining in overtime lifted the Chargers (5-9) over the Raiders (7-7). Herbert passed for 314 yards and two scores.

SATURDAY’S NFL SCHEDULE
Buffalo (10-3) is at Denver (5-8)…
Green Bay (10-3) hosts Carolina (4-9)

SUNDAY’S NFL SCHEDULE
Tampa Bay (8-5) is at Atlanta (4-9)…
Dallas (4-9) hosts San Francisco (5-8)…
Detroit (5-8) is at Tennessee (9-4)…
Indianapolis (9-4) hosts Houston (4-9)…
New England (6-7) is at Miami (8-5)…
Minnesota (6-7) hosts Chicago (6-7)…
Washington (6-7) hosts Seattle (9-4)…
Jacksonville (1-12) is at Baltimore (8-5)…
the L.A. Rams () host the N.Y. Jets ()…
Philadelphia (4-8-1) is at Arizona (7-6)…
New Orleans (10-3) hosts Kansas City (12-1)…
Cleveland (9-4) is at the N.Y. Giants (5-8)

MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Pittsburgh (11-2) is at Cincinnati (2-10-1)

TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCORES
No. 5 Kansas 58, No. 14 TEXAS TECH 57…
No. 9 Creighton 94, ST. JOHN’S 76

TONIGHT’S TOP 25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCORES
No. 13 USC hosts Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game

SATURDAY’S TOP 25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
No. 1 Alabama plays No. 7 Florida in the SEC Championship Game at Atlanta…
No. 2 Notre Dame plays No. 3 Clemson in the ACC Championship Game at Charlotte…
No. 4 Ohio State plays No. 14 Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game at Indianapolis…
No. 5 Texas A&M is at Tennessee…
No. 6 Iowa State plays No. 10 Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championshp Game at Arlington, Texas…
No. 9 Cincinnati hosts No. 23 Tulsa in the AAC Championship Game…
No. 24 San José State plays Boise State in the Mountain West Championship Game at Las Vegas

NBA PRESEASON SCORES
Charlotte 123, ORLANDO 115…
Detroit 97, WASHINGTON 86…
HOUSTON 128, San Antonio 106…
MEMPHIS 128, Atlanta 106…
Minnesota 129, DALLAS 127 (OT)…
Golden State 113, SACRAMENTO 109…
Utah 125, L.A. CLIPPERS 105

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