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California, Vaccines, Georgia: Your Monday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Hospitals across California are filling rapidly to dangerous levels.

Southern California, the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area are now under stay-at-home orders after available I.C.U. capacity fell below a crucial 15 percent threshold. Dining venues like the Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles, above, have been closed.

More than 10,000 Covid-19 patients are now hospitalized in the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom said, a 72 percent increase from two weeks ago. The number of patients in intensive care rose by 69 percent over that time.

California’s stay-home directives have run into resistance, as residents’ sense of exhaustion and frustration worsens.

2. The United Kingdom will become the first Western nation to begin a coronavirus vaccine drive.

Hospitals across Britain like the local NHS Royal Victoria Infirmary hospital in Newcastle, above, readied for the start of the largest mass vaccination effort in the nation’s history, part of a global campaign without precedent.

An army of health care workers — assisted by tens of thousands of volunteers and the military — will begin administering Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine on Tuesday, aiming to vaccinate more than 20 million citizens in just a few months’ time.

In other vaccine developments:

  • A lack of trust is hobbling Russia’s vaccine rollout, which began over the weekend. Doubts about the Kremlin are so widespread that 59 percent of Russians said they had no intention of getting a shot.


3. “We have now counted legally cast ballots three times, and the results remain unchanged.”

That was Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, above, at a news conference to recertify Joe Biden’s presidential election victory there.

The move came less than 48 hours after President Trump appeared in the state at a rally at which he again claimed the election had been stolen from him by fraudulent voting.

Mr. Trump’s rally was intended to support the candidacies of Georgia’s two Republican senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are locked in high-stakes runoff races. Our reporter says the Democratic challengers need more than just disaffected Republicans seeking to give Mr. Trump one final defeat.

4. The Trump administration decided not to tighten controls on industrial soot emissions.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to retain the existing standard on tiny, lung-damaging industrial particles defies many of the agency’s own scientists, who concluded that a slightly tighter restriction could save more than 10,000 American lives a year.

The Biden administration, however, is expected to move forward quickly next year to strengthen many of the environmental rules stalled or rolled back by President Trump.

President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to run the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra of California, is the first state attorney general to create an environmental justice bureau.


5. It’s a big week for tech I.P.O.s., and venture capital is flowing. Is Silicon Valley back?

Airbnb, led by CEO and cofounder Brian Chesky, above, just raised the price range for its initial public offering, increasing its potential valuation to almost $42 billion. DoorDash, the food-delivery service, made a similar move a week ago, for a valuation target above $35 billion. Both are poised to begin trading this week.

Are boom times here again for Silicon Valley? Tech start-ups are raising more money at sky-high valuations, and then getting inundated with new funding offers. “Almost every hot company right now is being pursued like mad,” said one venture capitalist.


6. The inaugural committee is under scrutiny. The 2016 committee, that is.

A civil case being pursued by the attorney general for the District of Columbia argues that President Trump’s inaugural committee illegally overpaid his family business by as much as $1.1 million for events held at his hotel in Washington in January 2017.

At the heart of the case is a question — whether Mr. Trump and his family have profited from his presidency — that has been a persistent theme of his tenure in the White House.

But for all the attention focused on the issue, Mr. Trump is set to leave office without a clear resolution of what limits there should be on a president’s ability to make money from his public role.


7. Uber is offloading its self-driving car project.

Uber will hand the effort over to a Silicon Valley start-up called Aurora and will invest $400 million in the new company — essentially paying Aurora to take over the operation, which had become a financial and legal headache.

Uber spent hundreds of millions of dollars on its autonomous car project, which executives once believed was a key to becoming profitable.

The move signals the challenges facing other autonomous vehicle projects, which have received billions in investments from Silicon Valley and automakers but have not produced the fleets of robotic vehicles some thought would be on the streets by now.


8. The Nobel laureate Bob Dylan sold his entire songwriting catalog, one of the music world’s ultimate jewels.

Universal Music Publishing Group acquired the collection, which includes songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’” and “Like a Rolling Stone” that reshaped folk, rock and pop and inspired countless artists.

The price was not disclosed, but is estimated at more than $300 million. The deal includes both the income Dylan receives as a songwriter and his control of each song’s copyright.

The sale is the latest and most high-profile in this year’s buzzing market for music catalogs, which has been lifted by the growing income from streaming. Music publishers and writers collect royalties and licensing fees any time their work is sold, streamed or broadcast.


9. It’s not your imagination: Last month was unusually warm.

In fact, it was the hottest November on record, researchers said. And the entire year, barring a significant drop in global temperatures in December, is likely to remain tied with 2016 — or surpass it — for the warmest on record.

Warm conditions persisted over large swaths of the planet, with temperatures the furthest above average across Northern Europe and Siberia, as well as the Arctic Ocean. Much of the U.S. was warmer as well.

“All policymakers who prioritize mitigating climate risks should see these records as alarm bells,” said the director of the European Union’s Earth observation program.


10. And finally, it’s a new Great Backyard Bird Count — except this one is for bees, not birds.

The decline among bees native to the U.S. is a known problem, and a variety of efforts to save them exists, but the full extent of the problem is not well understood.

A new project, supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will train members of the public to look for and track wild bees, which are important pollinators, and partner them with experts who will identify photos and data from the contributors.

“The data we collect will identify which conservation efforts are working,” said one of the project’s organizers.

Have a buzzy evening.


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