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5 things to know for December 18: Covid-19, cyberattack, economy, Nigeria, Taliban

The impressive snowfall in the Northeast has ended just in time for the weekend, but the Pacific Northwest will continue to see rain and snow.. CNN meteorologist Karen Magginis has the forecast.

Posted: Dec 20, 2020 11:01 AM
Updated: Dec 20, 2020 11:01 AM

There's traffic, and then there's TRAFFIC. About 1,000 motorists in Japan were caught in the latter when a snowstorm blew in, stranding them overnight in a nine-mile backup.

Here's what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

(You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. Coronavirus

The FDA is on its way to granting emergency use authorization to Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine after the agency's advisers voted yesterday to recommend it. If it's authorized, officials expect nearly 8 million more vaccine doses will reach US states by next week. Vice President Mike Pence is set to get a first shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine today, making him the highest-ranking US official to be vaccinated against the virus. Other countries are getting ready for their own vaccine rollouts: India is preparing task forces in anticipation of an emergency use authorization for at least one vaccine candidate. South Korea plans to vaccinate more than 80% of its population -- about 44 million people -- by next November. Meanwhile, Germany and Japan have reported new record case numbers, and in the US, Covid-19 deaths have already topped 40,000 this month.

2. US cyberattack

The Department of Homeland Security's cyber arm has warned that the recent cyberattack affecting government agencies is far broader than officials had thought. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said the compromised software program, SolarWinds, isn't the only way hackers infiltrated networks, and those responsible may have used "tactics, techniques and procedures that have not yet been discovered." This news just escalates already growing concern about the scale and scope of the breach, which the agency says "poses a grave risk" to the federal government and other areas of the public and private sectors. Questions are also lingering about how long the breach went undetected by the US government and when President Trump, who has stayed silent on the matter, may address it.

3. Economy 

There's more bad news on the job front. Another 885,000 people filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week, marking an increase in claims far above what economists expected. Unemployment numbers have been increasing for weeks now, and about 14 million people are relying on government coronavirus aid programs that are set to expire at the end of the year unless Congress acts. To make matters worse, it looks like Congress may not get any sort of bill done by the end of the week, meaning there could be a brief government shutdown this weekend, one GOP senator said. Remember, government funding and pandemic stimulus measures are tied together because Congress hopes the combination will get two critical tasks done at once and increase bipartisan support. So far ... it really hasn't.

4. Nigeria

More than 300 boys kidnapped during an attack on a Nigerian school last week have been freed, the country's government said. Hundreds of students were feared missing after the attack, and the Nigerian army says it's been able to rescue 344 of them. Some suspected the abductions were carried out by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, but the governor of Nigeria's Katsina state says it was actually bandits masquerading as members of the terrorist organization. Cases of kidnapping for ransom have increased in Katsina state, but never at this scale. With hundreds of children involved, the incident recalls the brutal kidnapping of 276 girls from Chibok in 2014. More than 100 of those girls never returned home.

5. Taliban

America's top military officer met with representatives of the Taliban in Qatar this week during an unannounced trip to the Middle East. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley discussed the need for a reduction of violence in the area, which was a major condition of the agreement struck between the US and the Taliban in February that could pave the way to ending America's longest-fought war. Still, the insurgent group's attacks against the Afghan government have continued, and US officials say it hasn't broken with al Qaeda either -- another big condition of the deal. All this comes amid an ongoing reduction of US military forces in Afghanistan ordered by the Trump administration following the President's election defeat.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

'The Masked Singer' has crowned a new winner

No spoilers, but this celebrity reveal definitely makes sense.

Atlantic City is blowing up an abandoned Trump casino, and for the right price, you could be the one to push the button 

Truly a gift for the person who has everything.

A small town in North Carolina is installing a cannon to get rid of vultures

To be clear, it will not SHOOT the vultures. That would be ... overkill. It's just supposed to scare them.

The NFL plans to honor health care workers by inviting some who've been vaccinated to Super Bowl LV

They deserve it. 

Papa John's brings stuffed crust to the pizza wars

Pizza: The unofficial food of quarantine. 

TODAY'S NUMBER

10

That's how many people the US government has executed this year, more than all 50 states combined. It's the highest number of federal executions since 1896.

TODAY'S QUOTE

"We need your actions to show that you are different than those who pay lip-service to our losses while doing nothing to show that our loved ones' lives mattered."

Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, in an open letter to President-elect Joe Biden. Taylor was killed by police during a botched raid in March, and Palmer is calling on Biden to keep his promises of holding police accountable for their actions.

TODAY'S WEATHER

Check your local forecast here>>>

AND FINALLY

I'm weary with my former toil, here I will sit and rest awhile 

Let's close the week out with a carol -- but not just any carol! This version of "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree," performed by Seraphic Fire, was composed by British musician and writer Elizabeth Poston. Poston was an all-around Renaissance woman who's said to have worked as a secret agent during WWII. It's a lovely listen, no matter where you find yourself this December morning. (Click here to view.)

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A few showers, then much warmer weather is ahead...
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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1097128

Reported Deaths: 17438
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1437882222
Lake712531225
Allen65537867
Hamilton50147482
St. Joseph48760639
Elkhart39461538
Vanderburgh34221495
Tippecanoe30237271
Johnson27179463
Hendricks25845379
Porter25014381
Madison20656444
Clark19898275
Vigo18764308
LaPorte16857260
Delaware16425291
Howard16408311
Monroe16379217
Kosciusko13936163
Hancock12841185
Bartholomew12686188
Warrick11995189
Wayne11879265
Floyd11869225
Grant11701235
Morgan10252188
Boone9675120
Noble9069121
Henry9002165
Marshall8907146
Dearborn881799
Dubois8710139
Shelby8054128
Cass8014127
Lawrence7922182
DeKalb7591106
Huntington7448108
Jackson743893
Gibson7002118
Montgomery6910123
Harrison685296
Knox6827113
Steuben654186
Miami6477107
Whitley642260
Putnam631982
Clinton618976
Wabash6060108
Jasper601791
Jefferson5689103
Ripley549192
Adams532381
Daviess5003116
Scott480378
Wells471799
White468767
Greene461799
Clay457462
Decatur4529109
Jennings439666
Fayette435694
LaGrange419290
Posey403244
Washington384154
Randolph3818107
Fountain368362
Spencer355846
Fulton355572
Starke348772
Owen346276
Sullivan344954
Orange324470
Jay318650
Rush298332
Carroll289438
Franklin286744
Perry283253
Vermillion280458
Tipton247365
Parke246330
Pike244144
Blackford218044
Pulaski205658
Newton179052
Brown171850
Crawford167929
Benton163217
Martin150819
Switzerland145112
Warren132216
Union117816
Ohio91413
Unassigned0585

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

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