Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Anna Salvatore
Monday, December 7, 2020, 2:08 PM

The United Kingdom is beginning the Western world’s first mass rollout of a coronavirus vaccine, writes the New York Times. Health care workers, volunteers and military officials will start distributing doses of a vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech on Tuesday, with the goal of inoculating 20 million United Kingdom citizens over the course of a few months. The Times observes that both the European Union and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could approve the same vaccine by the week’s end.

According to the Wall Street Journal, American hospitals are preparing to decide which frontline healthcare workers will receive a coronavirus vaccine first. Hospitals are expected to receive 20 million doses this month, a total that falls four million doses short of the amount needed to inoculate all front-line medical professionals and residents of long-term care facilities. The Mayo Clinic will prioritize its most high-risk employees for a vaccine, while hospitals affiliated with the University of Nebraska Medical Center will likely use a lottery system.

The Washington Post reports that Attorney General Bill Barr has privately discussed resigning before Inauguration Day. In recent weeks, Barr has been the target of right-wing criticism for saying that the Justice Department has not found evidence of widespread voter fraud.. The Post notes that it isn’t uncommon for cabinet officials to leave office before the conclusion of a lame-duck term.

Dozens of armed protesters approached the home of Michigan Secretary of State Jodie Benson on Saturday evening, the Post also reports. Benson, the state’s top election official, has repeatedly pushed back against President Trump’s attempts to delegitimize the November election. In a statement yesterday, she said, “those unhappy with the results of this election have perpetuated an unprecedented, dangerous, egregious campaign to erode the public’s confidence in the results of one of the most secure, accessible and transparent elections in our state’s history.”

In a column on Friday, New York Times opinion columnist Nicholas Kristof alleged that Pornhub leaves up videos of child rape, revenge pornography and other sexual acts recorded without the participants’ consent. “Pornhub became my trafficker,” one woman told Kristof, explaining how she had been exploited and filmed when she was nine years old. Mastercard and Visa are now reviewing their business ties with Pornhub, according to the Associated Press.

The U.S. is reportedly weighing sanctions against Hong Kong politicians for ejecting opposition legislators under a controversial national security law, writes the South China Morning Post. The National People’s Congress’s decision to disqualify the four pro-democracy lawmakers sparked a mass walkout by other members of Hong Kong’s opposition party. “Hong Kong affairs are a purely internal affair for China,” said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the foreign ministry, adding that China plans to retaliate if the U.S. imposes further sanctions.

The National Security Agency warned American companies today that certain remote-work platforms are vulnerable to Russian interference, writes WIRED. “It’s one of those things where the messenger is notable as well as the message,” says Ben Read, senior manager of cyberespionage analysis at a threat intelligence firm. “The fact that the NSA wanted to make a big deal about it is likely based on the fact that it was being used by Russia’s folks in the wild and presumably against a target that the NSA is worried about.

The New York Times writes about the increased use of drones in local police departments. The small unmanned drones can fly to the scenes of car accidents, follow specific people or vehicles and send live video feed back to police officers. “Communities should ask hard questions about these programs. As the power and scope of this technology expands, so does the need for privacy protection,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Project on Speech, Privacy and Technology.

Venezuelan dictator Nicholas Maduro’s allies won widely disputed parliamentary elections on Sunday, according to Reuters. The U.S., the European Union and several neighboring South American countries refused to recognize the results, citing a boycott by opposition voters and an elections council designed by Maduro to discourage independent monitors. “The United States, along with numerous other democracies around the world, condemns this charade which failed to meet any minimum standard of credibility,” Sec. of State Mike Pompeo said in a Monday statement.

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