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Good evening. Here’s the latest.
1. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, backed President Trump in his refusal to concede.
In his first comments since Joe Biden was declared the winner, the top Republican in Congress declined to recognize the victory, arguing on the Senate floor that Mr. Trump was “100 percent within his rights” to challenge the election outcome.
As the president continued to claim the election was stolen from him and vowed to pursue lawsuits in key swing states, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, broke ranks and became only the fourth senator in her party to recognize Mr. Biden’s “apparent victory.”
At Jones Day, the most prominent law firm backing Mr. Trump and the Republican Party in their election fight, some senior lawyers are worried that they may be helping to undermine the integrity of American elections.
2. Pfizer’s early data shows its vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing Covid-19.
Independent scientists have cautioned against hyping early results from late-stage trials. Still, the development makes Pfizer the first to announce positive results from an advanced coronavirus vaccine trial amid a pandemic that has killed more than 1.2 million people.
Pfizer plans to ask for emergency authorization of the two-dose vaccine later this month, after it has collected two months of safety data.
At the same time, President-elect Joe Biden made an urgent plea for Americans to wear masks to slow the spread of the virus and named a 13-member Covid-19 task force to advise him during the transition.
In other virus developments:
At least three people who attended an election party at the White House last week, including the housing secretary and President Trump’s chief of staff, have tested positive for the coronavirus.
New Jersey laid out new restrictions, calling for restaurants and nightclubs to shut down indoor service at 10 p.m., and New York City’s mayor called the spike in the virus positivity rate there “dangerous.”
3. President Trump fired Mark Esper as defense secretary.
Mr. Esper disagreed with his boss in June about sending active-duty military troops to control demonstrations against police brutality. Christopher Miller, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, will be acting secretary, the fourth official to lead the Pentagon under Mr. Trump.
Mr. Esper had taken pains to hew to the Trump line during his nearly four-month tenure. But concern over invoking the Insurrection Act to send troops to battle protesters across the country is deep in the Pentagon, and Mr. Esper ultimately opposed the move.
4. Global markets soared in a relief-fueled rally.
The S&P 500 jumped 1.2 percent — but closed short of a record high — as clarity emerged on the U.S. presidential election and the rampaging coronavirus. The Dow added 834 points, or 3 percent, and stocks in Europe and Asia gained. The Nasdaq fell.
Though markets were already ahead before Pfizer’s vaccine announcement, shares surged for companies like airlines and cruise operators that would benefit from a post-pandemic normalcy.
Since President Trump took office, Big Business has been thrust into political issues as never before. But with Joe Biden now president-elect, corporate America may be in line for a breather.
5. Burying “America First.”
In a statement to The Times, Joe Biden said he wanted to bring an end to a foreign policy slogan that represents building walls and making cooperation with allies an afterthought.
He says he will re-enter the Iran nuclear deal, sign up for another five years of the only surviving nuclear arms treaty with Russia and double down on American commitments to NATO.
But allies concede they may never fully trust that the U.S. will not lurch back to building walls.
In other foreign policy spheres:
Many in Beijing believe that the U.S. will remain hostile to China’s rise, regardless of who is president.
Mr. Biden’s win means less focus on Israel and a demotion for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Both Russia and China have painted American democracy as volatile and vulnerable.
Mr. Trump’s defeat weakens Boris Johnson in Brexit talks.
6. Tropical Storm Eta soaked South Florida, dumping 13 inches of rain in some areas.
A rare storm to make landfall at the end of the six-month hurricane season, Eta brought a storm surge to the coast and left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity. Above, a flooded neighborhood in Plantation, Fla., today.
Eta came ashore at 11 p.m. Sunday in the middle Florida Keys, but the strongest winds and thunderstorms were northeast of its center, lashing the upper keys and Miami-Dade and Broward Counties overnight.
7. “Lawn and Order!”
We still don’t know for sure how a Rudy Giuliani news conference on Saturday ended up in the parking lot of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a Philadelphia business next door to an adult bookshop and a crematory, and not at the Four Seasons Hotel.
But after finding itself the subject of merciless mocking, the landscaping company is now capitalizing on it, selling patriotic-themed merchandise on its website.
The family-owned company reported on Twitter that the merchandise business — including a $5 sticker with the phrases “Make America Rake Again” and “Lawn and Order!” — was booming.
8. Did the founding father celebrated as an abolitionist in the musical “Hamilton” actually own slaves?
New research out of the Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site in Albany, N.Y., argues that our first Treasury secretary did indeed. Above, an entry in Alexander Hamilton’s cash book from March 23, 1793, listing a payment to Philip Schuyler, his father-in-law, for “2 Negro servants purchased by him for me.”
“Not only did Alexander Hamilton enslave people, but his involvement in the institution of slavery was essential to his identity, both personally and professionally,” Jessie Serfilippi, a historical interpreter, concluded.
While the evidence isn’t new, the argument is forceful, experts say. “It just shows that the founders were nearly all implicated in slavery in some way,” according to a Harvard history professor.
9. Old dogs and new research.
Scientists increasingly believe that our canine companions are good models for human aging and that studying the process in dogs may help us learn more about how to age better.
Their research shows that dogs are similar to us in important ways, like how they act as seniors and what happens in their aging DNA. They also share many of the same old-age ailments, like obesity, arthritis, hypothyroidism and diabetes. Above, the Border collies Miley and Tiara, who were part of a study of older dogs at Vienna’s University of Veterinary Medicine.
“One of the things that we’re really interested in is figuring out, first of all, whether there are things in the DNA of dogs that you can find that actually explain why some of them live a remarkably long time,” one of the researchers said.
10. And finally, these two drummers make a joyful sound.
If you’re a rock ’n’ roller in Los Angeles, and a 10-year-old prodigy in Ipswich, England, challenges you to a drum-off on social media, whatcha gonna do?
Dave Grohl, the Foo Fighters frontman and former Nirvana drummer, accepted that call to battle this summer from Nandi Bushell, who took up percussion at age 5.
Grohl conceded defeat after their epic online encounter, and since then the two have continued playing music for each other. “There’s something about seeing the joy and energy of a kid in love with an instrument. She just seemed like a force of nature,” Grohl said.
Have a loud and energetic evening.
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