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5 things to know for January 6: Senate runoffs, Congress, Covid, Jacob Blake, Qatar

Break out the king cakes! It’s Epiphany, also known as Twelfth Night or Three Kings’ Day, which marks the start of Carnival season.

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

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1. Senate runoffs 

The Rev. Raphael Warnock has defeated GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler in one of two critical Senate runoff races in Georgia, CNN projects. Fellow Democrat Jon Ossoff early today is leading Sen. David Perdue in the other race. If Ossoff wins, Democrats will claim control of the Senate with a 50/50 divide, plus a tiebreaking vote from Kamala Harris once she is sworn in as vice president. Warnock is the first Georgia Democrat elected to the Senate in 20 years and will be the state’s first Black senator. In the intense run-up to yesterday’s elections, Republicans framed the races as a check on Washington, hoping voters would keep the Senate in GOP control at the start of the Biden administration. However, some politicians expressed concern that President Trump’s unwillingness to concede the presidential race and his continued claims of voter fraud may have tamped down GOP turnout. Perdue and Loeffler have both sided with the President in his calls to object to today’s congressional count of Electoral College results.

2. Electoral College count

The House and the Senate will meet today to formally count the Electoral College votes from the 2020 presidential election. But what is usually a routine part of American democracy could turn ugly because of President Trump and his most ardent supporters’ ongoing refusal to accept the results. Here’s what will happen: Some Republicans in both chambers have pledged to object to some results, which are counted state-by-state, meaning there may be debate when certain states come up. All objections will be voted on — and are expected to fail. So in the end, GOP objections will most likely serve as a marker of loyalty to the President, rather than actually affect the results. They could also cast a shadow over future democratic processes and maintain the seed of doubt among Trump supporters who believe his false claims that the election was stolen from him. We could also see unrest, as Trump has encouraged supporters to come to the Capitol as the votes are counted.

3. Coronavirus 

The US hit a new daily high coronavirus death toll yesterday, with 3,775 new deaths reported across the country. The fresh tragedy comes as US governors take new steps to get vaccines administered faster, including mobilizing National Guard members and training more volunteers to vaccinate people. Germany, Ireland, the Czech Republic and other countries are also seeing cases, hospitalizations and deaths spike. Meantime, the World Health Organization has issued a rare rebuke after a team of its scientists were prevented from entering China to study the origins of the novel coronavirus.

4. Jacob Blake 

The police officer who shot and seriously wounded Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August will not face charges, county District Attorney Michael Graveley announced yesterday. Rusten Sheskey, a White officer, shot Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, seven times from behind while responding to a domestic incident. He said he used deadly force because he thought Blake was trying to kidnap a child in the back seat of a vehicle. Blake’s family says they are disappointed in the decision but felt it was coming when they heard Wisconsin was bringing in the National Guard to respond to possible unrest following the announcement. Now, Blake’s family and supporters are vowing to take their case to Washington DC.

5. Qatar

Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies have agreed to restore diplomatic relations with the tiny gas-rich nation of Qatar. The agreement ends a three-year boycott of the nation that has divided the Gulf states ever since. In 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and took issue with the country’s friendly relations with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. Under the boycott, Qatar’s only land border — with Saudi Arabia — was sealed shut, and boycotting nations closed their airspace to Qatar. Though the countries’ leaders appeared optimistic at the signing of the deal in the Saudi city of al-Ula, it’s unclear what provisions it entails and which have been met.


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Article Topic Follows: National & World

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