12.20.2021

Joe Manchin, Typhoon Rai, and the Official Christmas Flower Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Monday, Dec. 20, and we're covering the fate of the Biden administration's sweeping social spending plan, a devastating typhoon in Asia, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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NEED TO KNOW

 

Build Back Better Blocked

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said yesterday he would not support the Biden administration's $1.75T social and climate spending plan. The statements likely doom the current version of the bill, which was expected to be a party-line vote requiring the support of all 50 Democrats in the evenly divided chamber.  

 

Framed as an investment in soft infrastructure, the package included $585B for universal pre-K and paid family leave, $555B in clean energy investments, and more (see details). Manchin, along with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), has long raised concerns about the bill, most notably that the estimates did not reflect the bill's true cost, as many key provisions have expiration dates that may ultimately be extended. 

 

It's unclear whether the administration will continue negotiating with Manchin on the package in the new year. In related news, an enhanced child tax credit is set to expire in January.

 

Watch Manchin reveal his decision here.

Toddler Vaccine Data

Biopharmaceutical giant Pfizer is exploring the benefits and risks of a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine in children aged two to five, after early results showed a two-shot regimen of reduced dosages failed to stimulate sufficient immune response. The company said it still plans to seek emergency use authorization in the age group in the first half of 2022.

 

The doses in the trials are one-tenth of the amount given to adults. Children aged five to 11 receive one-third of the amount of an adult dose; an estimated 20% of that age group has received at least one shot.

 

Separately, US health officials recommended unvaccinated students remain in school after exposure if they test negative for the virus. Vaccinated students are not recommended to self-isolate. 

 

The news comes as new US cases have risen to an average of 125,000 per day, with hospitalizations near 63,000 current patients (see data). The surge appears primarily driven by the delta variant at the moment—as of last week, the omicron variant only accounted for around 3% of new infections, though officials expect it to rapidly become the dominant strain. 

Super Typhoon Rai

At least 208 people were killed and dozens more injured after Super Typhoon Rai slammed into the Philippines over the weekend. The death toll is expected to rise in the coming days, as a large number of people remain missing and many city leaders have been unable to report casualties due to downed communication lines. 

 

The storm unexpectedly intensified into the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane just before making landfall on the island of Siargao—it marked the sixth storm worldwide this year to reach such strength. An estimated 13 million people are reported to have been impacted by the storm. As of this writing, the system had weakened and is projected to curve eastward into the open South China Sea. 

 

See photos of the aftermath here.

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> "SNL" removes live audience and cancels Charli XCX's musical performance over omicron variant fears (More) | NFL postpones three Week 15 games due to COVID-19 surge (More)

 

> "Spider-Man: No Way Home" projected for more than $240M opening weekend, one of the top domestic openings ever (More) | Eve Babitz, author and chronicler of Hollywood lifestyles, dies at 78 (More)

 

> Miss Alaska Emma Broyles becomes first Korean American and Alaskan to be crowned Miss America in event's 100-year history (More)

Science & Technology

> Astrophysicists snap clearest-ever image of the Small Magellanic Cloud, the Milky Way's closest satellite galaxy; expected to shed light on the role of hydrogen in galaxy evolution (More)

 

> Genetic analysis suggests a wide range of bacteria is evolving to consume plastics; study found more than 30,000 different enzymes capable of breaking down 10 common types of plastics (More)

 

> Scientists discover the first true millipede; eyeless insect, discovered in Australia, has a reported 1,306 legs (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets fall Friday (S&P 500 -1.0%, Dow -1.5%, Nasdaq -0.1%) in volatile session as markets end down for the week (More)

 

> Istanbul’s stock market trading halted twice Friday as markets fall nearly 10%; the country’s currency—the lira—also lost 8% against the US dollar after the country’s central bank recently cut interest rates (More)

 

> Shares of electric vehicle maker Rivian fall 10% as company warns of potential production struggles (More)

Politics & World Affairs

In partnership with Tangle

> Sen. Johnny Isakson (R), longtime Georgia politician, passes away at age 76; Isakson was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2013 and retired from Congress in 2019 (More)

 

> Senate passes Uyghur forced labor bill, banning most imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang; the government has been accused of forcing more than a million Muslim residents into reeducation and labor camps (More) | See background here (More)

 

> Chilean voters cast ballots in presidential runoff election; 55-year-old conservative populist Jose Antonio Kast concedes to 35-year-old progressive Gabriel Boric (More

From our partners: What's the other side saying? Tangle knows. Tangle is an independent, ad-free, non-partisan politics newsletter that summarizes the leading arguments from the right, left, and center on the news of the day. Sign up for free to get a 360-degree political read.

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ETCETERA

 

How the poinsettia became the official flower of Christmas.

 

The world's most-admired people.

 

The 50 best photographs from 2021.

 

Professor hides clue to cash prize in class syllabus.

 

An ultrarare footballfish washes up on a California beach.

 

Reddit ponders the world's greatest historical mysteries. (warning: occasional strong language)

 

Colleagues honor a fallen ice cream vendor.

 

Berlin's metro offers riders edible hemp tickets.

 

Clickbait: Australian news conference interrupted by a Huntsman spider

 

Historybook: Louisiana Purchase finalized (1803); RIP Sacagawea (1812); "It’s a Wonderful Life" released (1946); RIP astronomer Carl Sagan (1996); Space Force becomes sixth US armed forces branch (2019).

 

"We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever."

- Carl Sagan

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