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Pfizer, Stimulus, Kwanzaa: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Pfizer could provide tens of millions of additional coronavirus vaccine doses to the U.S. under a deal that would give it priority access to manufacturing supplies.

The deal would help the country begin to address a looming shortage that could leave as many as 110 million adults unvaccinated in the first half of 2021. The agreement comes as virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths soar to new heights in the U.S., where the number of confirmed cases reached 18 million on Monday.

Tennessee has become one of the worst-hit states. The state is logging cases at the highest per capita rate in the nation by a wide margin. Over the last week, it averaged 8,953 cases per day — an increase of about 90 percent from the average two weeks earlier. Above, a testing site in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Lee blamed Thanksgiving gatherings for a “record level of sickness,” and urged residents not to gather with anyone outside of their household over the upcoming holidays.

And with 36 new positive coronavirus tests in Antarctica, no continent on Earth is free from the virus.

2. President-elect Joe Biden insisted that more relief is coming after his inauguration next month, calling the latest stimulus legislation a “down payment” on a bigger bill.

“Congress did its job this week,” he said, adding, “I can and I must ask them to do it again next year.”

Mr. Biden said he planned to put forward to Congress in the new year a plan that would include more funding to distribute the coronavirus vaccine to 300 million people, expand testing and send a new round of stimulus checks to Americans. But he said the details would be a matter of negotiation.

Will you get a stimulus check? For how much? And when? We’ve answered your questions.


3. The European Commission said bloc members should move swiftly to lift blanket travel bans and restore essential links with Britain.

More than 50 governments have put in place measures to isolate Britain because of a newly discovered variant of the coronavirus that is spreading there. Some experts say the latest travel bans may again be too little, too late. Nevertheless, New York and other state and local leaders called for similar measures to limit travel during the peak holiday season.

4. Despite $54 billion in new stimulus aid, public schools are headed for a financial cliff as the pandemic drives up costs while driving down enrollment.

School officials say the new federal money is not nearly enough to stem enormous shortfalls in state and local budgets during the pandemic, or cover the costs of both remote learning and attempts to bring students back to classrooms.

Solving these knotty problems will now most likely fall to Miguel Cardona, who President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate as his education secretary. Mr. Cardona, Connecticut’s education commissioner, pictured last January, has two decades of experience as a public school educator.

Separately, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California chose Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state, to replace Kamala Harris in the Senate. He will be the first Latino senator to represent the state.

5. Israel is heading for its fourth early election in two years after a fresh political crisis.

The Israeli Parliament dissolved itself at midnight local time after failing to meet the deadline for approving a new budget, forcing a new election, set for March 23.

At the heart of the crisis lies deep, mutual distrust in the so-called unity government, an uneasy coalition sworn in just seven months ago that pairs Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party with his main rival, Benny Gantz of the centrist Blue and White party.

Mr. Gantz and Mr. Netanyahu, whose corruption trial is scheduled to move into an intensive stage in early 2021, have blamed each other for the crisis.


6. Amid calls for police reform, Times reporters found that deeply ingrained systems going back decades are shielding officers from scrutiny and removal.

That groundwork can be traced to Detroit in the 1960s, partly as a backlash to the civil rights movement, when police officers around the country felt vulnerable to citizen complaints and newly formed police unions leveraged fears of lawlessness and an era of high crime to win concessions on disciplinary matters.

In August, Eric Melancon, chief of staff to the Baltimore police commissioner, drew a direct line between the laws from decades ago and the difficulties today: “If George Floyd were to happen in Baltimore city,” he said, “we would not be able to terminate those officers.”


7. We’re in the homestretch of 2020. What will 2021 bring?

The dressing room may come to you. Retailers are increasingly using augmented reality to help customers try on products by displaying goods as a phone filter: stitching shoes onto customers’ feet, adding makeup to their faces and dropping furniture into their apartments.

In the food world, expect meal kits from your favorite restaurants, snacks that help you sleep, and new delivery systems, among other trends to watch. Look out for the Basque burnt cheesecake as a potential “flavor of the year.”

8. And just like that, the N.B.A. season is back.

Most arenas won’t have fans in the stands because of the pandemic. At the same time, several top stars who missed most or all of last season will be returning, shifting the balance of power in the N.B.A. Here is a look at some of our highly unscientific picks and prognostications for the season ahead.

First up: The Lakers, 72 days off the franchise’s 17th championship, will face the Clippers, another team with big goals. And the Nets, with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant finally able to play together after injuries, take on the Warriors. Here’s how the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference are shaping up.

From bubbles, empty stands and canceled games, these are the sports moments that stood out in 2020.


9. “I want to make sure we never lose our family’s language of food and love.”

Kerry Coddett is one of many Black Americans for whom Kwanzaa is a time for bonding, joy and repose. The holiday, which starts Dec. 26, has a particular resonance in a year of racial upheaval and the Covid-19 pandemic. The Times visited five households to see how people cook, gather and reflect.

Kwanzaa was founded in 1966, modeled after harvest festivals on the African continent. Every day of the holiday a candle is lit to celebrate one of seven principles, including unity and creativity.


10. And finally, where the snow lights up even the darkest nights.

After his foreign assignments were canceled during the pandemic, the photographer Marcus Westberg refocused on his homeland and found mesmerizing beauty in Northern Sweden.

It was there that he found frozen bogs, lakes and rivers; gangly moose and curious reindeer; endless snow shoveling; and a never-waning excitement whenever the sky was clear and the northern lights made an appearance. He also captured the ancient boreal forests that have been ruthlessly clear-cut for biofuel and paper. Take a look.

Have a breathtaking night.


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