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5 things to know for Dec. 9: Coronavirus, Voting rights, Ukraine, Social media, UK


By AJ Willingham, CNN

America is definitely hiring. Job openings jumped unexpectedly in October to about 11 million, with the leisure and hospitality industries — particularly in hotels and food services — seeing the biggest increase in open positions.

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

Three states have called on the National Guard to help alleviate health systems overwhelmed by rising Covid-19 cases. The New York National Guard has deployed 120 medics to help overtaxed long-term care facilities, and more may be sent to hospitals as well. Maine made a similar decision as it reported a record high number of Covid-19 hospitalizations yesterday. In New Hampshire, Gov. Christopher Sununu is asking both FEMA and the National Guard to help the state prepare for a winter surge. Even as states make plans, a new study shows the world at large is not prepared for the next pandemic. Not a single country scored well on the Global Health Security index — a measure of preparedness for various health emergencies and problems put together by the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

2. Voting rights

Voting rights advocates are sounding alarm bells over a spate of recent redistricting plans across the country that they say could disenfranchise voters of color and underrepresented communities. The North Carolina Supreme Court just delayed the state’s primary elections — now set to take place in May 2022 — due to lawsuits over congressional and state legislative district maps. The groups behind the lawsuits claim the maps are gerrymandering attempts that violate the state constitution. Earlier this week, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit alleging that Texas’ new congressional map illegally discriminates against Hispanic and Black voters. Voting activists in Georgia are preparing for a similar fight as a Republican-backed bill redrawing some district lines could be advanced in the Georgia General Assembly next year.

3. Ukraine

The final elements of a $60 million security assistance package from the US, including small arms, ammo, missiles and nonlethal elements, will arrive in Ukraine this week. So far this year, the US has delivered about $450 million in security assistance to Ukraine, and the Pentagon has also been sending troops abroad to help train the country’s military. All of this comes as Ukraine and its allies brace for possible aggression from Russia. A new security assessment from Ukrainian defense officials says Russia has increased the number of troops near the Ukrainian border to 120,000. The Biden administration is also preparing possible sanctions on Russia if it moves to invade Ukraine. However, energy sanctions likely won’t be on the table due to the impact such a move would have on global markets.

4. Social media

Instagram head Adam Mosseri testified during a Senate subcommittee hearing yesterday about the platform’s potentially harmful impact on younger users. Mosseri is the the most high-profile figure from Meta (formerly Facebook) to testify before Congress since a Facebook whistleblower leaked hundreds of internal documents earlier this year. Mosseri said Instagram is planning to bring back a chronological feed next year, supplanting an algorithmic feed that some worry can send users down damaging rabbit holes of content. He also acknowledged the need for updated regulations to keep people safe online, but did not comment on the possibility of a regulatory body not led by members of Big Tech. Meanwhile, a tech advocacy group claims Instagram is rife with accounts advertising the sale of Xanax, ecstasy, opioids and other drugs, creating an easily-accessible “drug pipeline” for young people.

5. UK

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and members of his administration are embroiled in a thorny controversy concerning claims that two social events were held inside 10 Downing Street in the days leading up to Christmas 2020 — in violation of the country’s strict pandemic restrictions at the time. The scandal reached a head when a video emerged this week that appears to show officials joking about the parties during a rehearsal for televised press briefings. In response, Johnson announced an internal inquiry, and one of the officials in the video — the prime minister’s former spokeswoman Allegra Stratton, resigned as a government adviser yesterday. Aside from the appearance of government hypocrisy, the video and other evidence of the gatherings undermine the UK government’s current efforts to introduce tougher Covid-19 restrictions.


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That’s how many journalists were imprisoned in 2021, according to an annual census by nonprofit group Committee to Protect Journalists. It’s the highest number CPJ has reported since it started keeping track of the data in 1992. CPJ’s report also found at least 24 journalists were killed for their work, as of December 1.


“When somebody’s suffering from substance use disorder or going through an overdose, whether fatal or nonfatal, they’re not Republicans, they’re not Democrats. They’re not living in red states or blue states, or rich or poor, or black or white … they’re human beings that we need to help support.”

Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, who says drug addiction should be treated like a chronic disease.


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Be raisinable

Hey, wanna watch some grapes turn into raisins? It only takes a few seconds! Well, it takes about 50 days, but we have the luxury of time lapse. (Click here to view)

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