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Jobs, C.D.C., Hanukkah: Your Friday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

And on Capitol Hill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi flashed fresh optimism on Friday that the House and Senate could soon reach a bipartisan deal on an elusive pandemic stimulus plan as part of an enormous year-end spending package. The government funding deadline is Dec. 11.

2. Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that while the coronavirus vaccine is on the way, the pandemic remains a devastating threat. Above, a hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“Hospitalizations are still rising and it’s a real problem,” said Dr. Henry Walke, who directs the agency’s Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections. “Health care providers are overstressed, beds are full.”

His comments came during a visit by Vice President Mike Pence to the C.D.C.’s offices in Atlanta, where Mr. Pence, seeking to put a more upbeat spin on the situation, declared that America is in a “challenging time,” but also “a season of hope.”

Cases are surging, especially in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States where, in many places, the virus caseload is exceeding peaks seen in the spring. And in California, the San Francisco Bay Area will proceed with a stay-at-home order this weekend and will not wait for the state to order the region to close.

3. Europeans were desperate for a break from the coronavirus pandemic and headed off for their summer vacations. They paid dearly for it.

The second wave hitting Europe is now deadlier than the first, forcing reluctant governments back into lockdowns and inflicting new scars on the European economy. Research shows swift internal reopenings with few restrictions, coupled with cross-border travel, were at the root of the second wave.

4. The House passed sweeping legislation that would decriminalize marijuana and expunge nonviolent marijuana-related convictions, a watershed moment decades in the making for advocates of marijuana legislation.

The bill passed 228-164, marking the first time either chamber of Congress has ever endorsed the legalization of cannabis, but it is almost certainly doomed in the Republican-led Senate.

The vote was the first time since June that Congress has taken up a major bill aimed at addressing racial disparities in the criminal justice system. After nationwide protests over the summer, the House passed a behemoth policing overhaul bill, which ultimately stalled.

5. Native Americans helped flip Arizona, above. Can they mobilize in Georgia?

Very few of Georgia’s more than 100,000 voting-age Native Americans cast ballots in November. Even a small increase can make a difference in two runoff elections next month that will decide which party controls the Senate.

Buoyed by remarkable Native American turnout in other states last month, advocates are trying to make that happen at breakneck speed. Here’s a guide to registering and voting in the Georgia runoffs. Monday is the registration deadline.

Both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are campaigning this weekend on behalf of the state’s two embattled Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. The Democratic candidates, Jon Ossof and Dr. Raphael Warnock, held a virtual rally with former President Barack Obama.

6. Crippled by the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, Central America is confronting another catastrophe: The mass destruction caused by two hurricanes that hit the region in quick succession last month.

The destruction is only now becoming clear. Infrastructure, cropland and tens of thousands of homes are gone. The repercussions of the ruin are likely to spread far beyond the region. The hurricanes affected more than five million people, creating a new class of refugees with more reason than ever to migrate.

“There are some estimates of up to a decade just to recover,” said Adm. Craig S. Faller, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, which has been delivering aid to survivors.

7. A recent video of a Black man being beaten by the French police thrust him into the spotlight. He spoke to us about the attack and its aftermath.

The footage, which shows police officers gratuitously beating Michel Zecler, 41, a producer well known in the world of French rap, has prompted a national uproar and forced President Emmanuel Macron’s government to scrap and rewrite part of a security bill that would have restricted the filming of police officers.

“What shocks me most is not that there are racist elements in the police,” Mr. Zecler said, adding that without security camera footage he would have probably been arrested. “What amazes me is that they felt confident enough to go that far, in their actions, in their words.”

8. He’s making a list (disinfecting it twice).

Not even Santa Claus can escape the pandemic — and the men who play him every year are trying to get through the season safely.

Many pandemic-related innovations for Santa’s work have come out of 2020, including video calls and drive-through greetings. But one Santa Claus has another idea: Place Father Christmas in a vinyl dome.

“If parents don’t want to explain virus transmission, they can say Santa got trapped in a snow globe by an elf magician and you have to come visit him at the globe,” said Ric Erwin, the chairman of the board of the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, a national association for men who play Santa Claus at holiday events.

9. The complex relationship between food and the pandemic.

Most of us have spent a lot more time at home this year than usual — and for some people, this has meant more cooking. After all, food can nourish our souls as much as our bodies. The Times’s Opinion section asked six people who know about the power of food to talk about the flavors dear to their hearts. From Pandan cake to wild blueberries, here are their responses.

Something else that may feed the soul? Latkes. Joan Nathan has found the crisp potato pancakes of her dreams, inspired by Swiss rösti, just in time for Hanukkah next week.

There’s a flip-side to all of this time at home and in the kitchen: Many people are stress-eating and gaining weight as a result, according to a new study.

10. And lastly, farewell to a champion.

Betsy Wade arrived in The Times’s newsroom in 1956, four years after being fired as a reporter for The New York Herald for being pregnant. She instantly broke a 105-year-old practice of male copy editing in The Times’s news department, where women were rare, relatively underpaid and relegated largely to reporting on “women’s news” or secretarial jobs.

In a 45-year Times career, Ms. Wade, pictured in 1975, fought a landmark sex discrimination case against the paper that was one of the industry’s earliest fights over women’s rights to equal treatment in hiring practices. She also became the first woman to lead the Newspaper Guild of New York, among other firsts. She walked so many of us could run.

Ms. Wade died at her home in Manhattan on Thursday. She was 91.

Have a groundbreaking weekend.

Claire Moses contributed to the Briefing.

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

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