Republican and Democratic attorneys general in the states of Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have urged the US supreme court to reject a lawsuit filed by Texas that aims to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory. Pennsylvania’s Democratic attorney general, Josh Shapiro, said the lawsuit contained a “mass of baseless claims” that had already been widely rejected by the courts, and said it was adding to a “cacophony of ” about the election. But the lawsuit still has some support; more than 100 Republican members of the House filed an amicus brief with the court in support of the Texas lawsuit on Thursday.
Time magazine has named Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as its person of the year, following precedent set by Barack Obama’s nomination in 2012 and Trump’s in 2016. The pair are continuing to press on with the formation of their top team, tapping Susan Rice to run the administration’s domestic policy council, which has strong sway over issues including immigration, healthcare and racial inequality. The hiring marks a shift for Rice, who is usually looking beyond US borders rather than within them; she is a foreign policy expert who served as Obama’s national security adviser and UN ambassador.
But Biden and Harris have also ruffled feathers with rumours that Rahm Emanuel might join the cabinet. Emanuel has been accused by many in his home town of Chicago, where he served two terms as mayor, of exacerbating the city’s inequality levels and “covering up” the murder of a young black man. He is also unpopular with progressives over his discouragement of Obama pushing forward affordable healthcare, when he served as the president’s chief of staff.
Campaigners are handwriting letters to voters ahead of the senate runoffs in Georgia, as an alternative to having tricky conversations on the doorstep. The programme, run by the non-profit Vote Forward, resulted in 17m being letters sent this year, and they’re now turning their attention to Georgia.
The US edges closer to coronavirus vaccine approval
An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that the body give emergency approval to the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Their recommendation, which Biden called “a bright light in a needlessly dark time”, is expected to lead to swift approval from the FDA, which would mark first coronavirus vaccine approval in the US. Further data released on Thursday said the vaccine was 95% effective in a randomized controlled trial of more than 43,000 people.
Ellen DeGeneres has tested positive for coronavirus, meaning her show will be paused until the new year. The TV host said she was “feeling fine right now” and following CDC guidelines.
Wuhan, then and now, in pictures: Almost a year after China alerted the World Health Organization to cases of “viral pneumonia” in the city of Wuhan, life there there is largely going back to normal. These photographs map the change.
It’s the fifth anniversary of the Paris climate agreement, and things aren’t looking good
Planet Earth is “speeding in the wrong direction” over the climate crisis, the youth activist Greta Thunberg has warned on the fifth anniversary of the Paris agreement. In the five years since the agreement, the world has recorded its hottest temperatures on record and emitted more than 200bn tonnes of CO2, Thunberg said. What’s more, greenhouse gas emissions are expected to rebound next year after dropping dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Distant hypothetical targets are being set, and big speeches are being given. Yet, when it comes to the immediate action we need, we are still in a state of complete denial, as we waste our time, creating new loopholes with empty words and creative accounting.
However, there is some cause for optimism, if not complacency. Fifty-four cities are on track to meet the targets set in the Paris agreement including keep global heating below 1.5C, a new report has found. Cities around the world are launching initiatives to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and together, will prevent at least 1.9 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions being released into the atmosphere between 2020 and 2030. In Europe, leaders have also reached a deal to cut the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% compared with 1990 levels by the end of the decade.
In other news …
The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee will not impose sanctions on athletes for protesting at next year’s Tokyo Games. The move is a snub to the International Olympic Committee charter that bans demonstrations like raising fists or kneeling.
An under-nines football coach has been banned for life after hitting a child twice during a game in Florida, sending the child to the ground. The victim’s mother did not want to press charges and said that “none of these coaches would harm [the] kids”.
Israel and Morocco have agreed to “full diplomatic relations”, according to Donald Trump, marking the fourth agreement between an Arab government and Israel this year. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, described the deal as “another great light of peace”.
Stat of the day: Trump orders first execution during a lame-duck period in 130 years
The Trump administration has executed Brandon Bernard, following the supreme court’s denial of a last hour request to delay his killing. Bernard’s death is one of five executions being rushed through by the administration before Biden’s inauguration in January, and marked the first execution during a presidential lame-duck period in 130 years. Petitions had been launched against the execution, including one spearheaded by the reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, who spoke to Bernard shortly before his death.
Don’t miss this: son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen speaks out
Moses Farrow was adopted by Mia Farrow and Woody Allen from South Korea aged two. In his first newspaper interview, he discusses life growing up amid a very public family conflict, the problems with transracial adoption, and his defence of his father against allegations of child molestation.
Last Thing: the nativity scene gets the 2020 treatment
The baby Jesus has been immortalised in many ways, but it may have taken until 2020 for him to be depicted as a slice of apple, miniature jar of raspberry jam, or a grape. With traditional nativities and Christmas services closed to the public, social media users have taken it upon themselves to fill the gap with their own nativity designs, and in keeping with this very unusual year, many really are odd. The wave of creation came after “minimal” nativity sets were widely shared on Twitter, and others were encouraged to share their own. Not everyone was impressed, with one user complaining: “We’ve Marie Kondo’d the birth of Christ.”
First Thing is delivered to thousands of inboxes every weekday. If you’re not already signed up, subscribe now.