CORONAVIRUS UPDATES… The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached 22,613,310 and the nation’s death toll stands at 376,060, according to figures released last night by Johns Hopkins University… The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said nearly 9 million Americans have received their first vaccinations as of yesterday. The figure represents less than one-third of the 25 million total doses distributed to states by the federal government. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is seeking permission from the Trump administration to purchase 100,000 doses of the Pfizer directly to speed up vaccinations. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio warned that the city could run out of vaccine doses if the federal government does not send more. He has pledged to inoculate 1 million New Yorkers by the end of the month.
DEMS UNVEIL IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES… House Democrats yesterday unveiled articles of impeachment against President Trump in response to last Wednesday’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building. Democrats accuse Trump of “high crimes and misdemeanors” for “willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States.” The articles claim Trump encouraged his supporters to storm the Capitol in a speech the day before. Democrats plan to vote on impeachment as early as tomorrow if Vice President Mike Pence fails to “do his duty and invoke the 25th Amendment” today, according to Virginia Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger.
FBI WARNS OF INAUGURATION VIOLENCE… An FBI warning issued yesterday confirmed that possible armed protests are being planned for Washington, D.C., and at all 50 U.S. state capitals prior to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. The National Guard is sending as many as 15,000 troops to the nation’s capital. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has urged Americans not to travel to the event. Biden’s inaugural committee announced yesterday the theme of the ceremony will be “America United.”
BIDEN PICKS CIA DIRECTOR… President-elect Joe Biden announced yesterday that he has picked State Department veteran William Burns as Central Intelligence Agency director. Burns has served in the State Department under five different administrations during his 33-year diplomatic career. His service includes U.S. ambassador to Jordan under former President Bill Clinton and ambassador to Russia under former President George W. Bush. Burns retired from the U.S. Foreign Service in 2014 and is currently president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY STEPS DOWN… Acting U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced yesterday that he was stepping down effective last night. Wolf was never confirmed by the Senate to his post, even though it is a Cabinet-level position. Several rulings have invalidated the department’s policy decisions based on Wolf not being lawfully appointed. Trump withdrew Wolf’s nomination last week after Wolf called on the president to denounce the riot in the U.S. Capitol. FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor will direct the department for the remaining nine days of Trump’s term.
AMAZON CASTING FOR ‘BEING THE RICARDOS’… Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem are in talks to play Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in the upcoming Amazon film, “Being the Ricardos.” Aaron Sorkin wrote the screenplay and is set to direct the film about the relationship between the “I Love Lucy” stars. The story is set during one production week of “I Love Lucy” as Lucy and Desi face one crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage. A production start date hasn’t been announced. Kidman most recently starred in the HBO drama series “The Undoing,” alongside Hugh Grant. She was also featured in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix musical “The Prom.” This year, she will star in Hulu’s star-studded “Nine Little Strangers” and Robert Eggers’ “The Northman.” Bardem will star in Deni Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic “Dune” and was most recently seen in “The Roads Not Taken.” He’ll also play Ariel’s father King Triton in Disney’s live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid.”
CNN, MSNBC PULL AHEAD IN CABLE NEWS RACE… Cable news viewers flocked to CNN and MSNBC for live coverage of the riots and fallout, according to figures released by the Nielsen Company. Both networks trounced Fox News for three state days following the storming of the U.S. Capitol. On Wednesday, CNN averaged 5.941 million total viewers and 2.074 million in the key 25-54 demographic for the entire day, compared with MSNBC’s 4.543 million viewers overall and 1.106 million demo audience and Fox News’ total audience of 3.464 million and 852,000 in the demo. The disparity increased on Thursday and Friday.
ALABAMA IS COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S NATIONAL CHAMPION… Alabama rolled past Ohio State 52-24 in last night’s college football national championship game in Miami. Heisman Trophy-winning receiver DeVonta Smith caught 12 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns before sitting out the second half with a right hand injury. The victory gave Alabama head coach Nick Saban his seventh championship, moving him past Bear Bryant for the most all-time.
CHARLOTTE 109 – New York 88… Gordon Hayward scored a game-high 34 points to lead the Hornets in their rout of the Knicks. Five other players scored in double figures for Charlotte.
Memphis 101 – CLEVELAND 91… Dillon Brooks scored 21 points to lead a balanced scoring attack and the Grizzlies fought off the Cavaliers.
Milwaukee 121 – ORLANDO 99… The Bucks used a big fourth fourth quarter to put away the Magic. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 22 points. Kris Middleton put up 20 points and 10 rebounds. Bobby Portis added 21 points off the bench.
WASHINGTON 128 – Phoenix 107… The Wizards built a 25-point halftime lead and never looked back in their thrashing of the Suns. Bradley Beal pumped in 34 points to lead all scorers. Robin Lopez grabbed 11 boards to go with his 11 points.
ATLANTA 112 – Philadelphia 94… The Hawks took control with a big second quarter and coasted past the shorthanded 76ers to snap their four-game skid. Trae Young led all scorers with 26 points.
PORTLAND 112 – Toronto 111… CJ McCollum knocked down a go-ahead jumper with 9.9 seconds remaining and the Trail Blazers hung on to edge the Raptors. McCollum finished with a game-high 30 points. Damian Lillard added 23 points. Carmelo Anthony delivered 20 points off the bench.
SACRAMENTO 127 – Indiana 122… The Kings were too much down the stretch in downing the Pacers. Harrison Barnes lit it up for 30 points. De’Aaron Fox tossed in 21 points.
DALLAS – New Orleans (ppd)… The Mavericks had to postpone their game with the Pelicans after they had fewer than eight players available for the contest.
TODAY’S NBA SCHEDULE…
Miami is at Philadelphia…
Brooklyn hosts Denver…
Utah is at Cleveland…
Houston hosts the L.A. Lakers…
San Antonio is at Oklahoma City…
Golden State hosts Indiana
TOP 25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL SCOREBOARD…
No. 25 Connecticut 60, DePAUL 53
NFL NEWS… The Philadelphia Eagles fired coach Doug Pederson yesterday in the wake of a 4-11-1 season. Pederson led the Eagles to their only Super Bowl title in 2018 and the team went 42-37 (.531) in his five seasons. Philadelphia reached the playoffs three times under Pederson.