with Mariana Alfaro

November was the slowest month of growth since the pandemic shut down the economy in the spring.

The Labor Department said Friday morning that the U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, which is below expectations and a red flag as coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths shatter records.

The official November unemployment rate ticked down to 6.7 percent from 6.9 percent, but a closer look at recent data illustrates the extent to which the recovery is bifurcated. The already well-to-do are bouncing back strong, and those who were already struggling to get by are getting creamed. 

The leisure and hospitality sector has 3.4 million fewer jobs than in February. Only 31,000 jobs were added back in those industries last month, and there are mounting anecdotal reports of layoffs amid the worsening wave of covid-19.

The Transportation Department said Thursday that U.S. airlines employ 81,749 fewer Americans than in March, per Reuters. Southwest Airlines warned Thursday it could soon furlough another 6,800 employees, or about 12 percent of its workforce, per CNBC

A recovery tracker from Opportunity Insights shows that the employment rate for people making more than $60,000 a year is up compared to the start of the year, while low-wage jobs are down nearly 20 percent.

The Dow topped 30,000 for the first time ever last week. But lines of cars at food banks stretch for miles.

“Data from the scheduling software company Homebase shows the number of hours worked by employees, the number of employees clocking in and the number of open businesses falling beginning in late October, reaching its lowest levels since the spring,” Eli Rosenberg reports. “Mobility, measured in from cellphone data according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas began falling nationally in mid-November. Consumer spending, measured by credit card and debit card data compiled by Opportunity Insights, began to fall at the end of October … The number of Americans reporting trouble getting enough to eat has been creeping up, according to Census Bureau data. About 13 percent of households with children reported being sometimes or often not having enough food to eat. More than one in three people surveyed recently said that they are having difficulty paying for household expenses.”

“There’s increasing evidence it is a K,” David Berson, the chief economist at Nationwide Insurance, told Rosenberg. “We had the big drop and for much of the country who are on the up part of the K, things are pretty good. Good job growth, good income growth, low interest rates. But the down part of the K, a substantial portion of the population is hurting significantly.” 

The weak jobs report will put additional pressure on Congress to pass some form of relief before the end of the year, when unemployment benefits are scheduled to expire for an estimated 12 million people. 

Momentum has been growing this week on Capitol Hill for a bipartisan $908 billion stimulus proposal. The plan includes $180 billion for unemployment benefits. Americans on unemployment would receive $300 per week from the federal government on top of their existing state unemployment benefits, assuming those have not been exhausted. Also in the proposal:

  • $288 billion in assistance for U.S. businesses, including another round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • $160 billion to state and local governments to help them through the next several months without further cuts to staff and services.
  • A temporary liability shield to protect companies against coronavirus-related lawsuits.
  • $82 billion for schools; $45 billion for hard-hit transit agencies, including airlines, airports and Amtrak; $25 billion in housing and rental assistance; $10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service; and $10 billion for child care. 
  • The bill does not include a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks.

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spoke Thursday,” Jeff Stein, Mike DeBonis and Seung Min Kim report. “They also discussed reaching a deal on a spending bill to avert a government shutdown on Dec. 11. ‘We had a good conversation,’ McConnell said after his discussion with Pelosi. … Their talks — the first since the Nov. 3 election — came shortly after a growing number of lawmakers have rallied behind a $908 billion spending bill … While some of these lawmakers stopped short of endorsing every part of the proposal, many said the offer was solid enough that it should be used as the basis for negotiations … Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) signaled their openness to the package, which had been unveiled by a group of moderate Republican and Democratic senators on Tuesday. … 

“President Trump on Thursday also backed quick approval of a stimulus package. A White House spokesman clarified that the president was speaking in support of a narrower measure introduced by McConnell, not the bipartisan stimulus plan. … It remains an incomplete legislative proposal that has not been drafted as a formal piece of legislation. Still, the rapid mobilization of support shows how lawmakers from both parties are trying to come up with a compromise quickly after months of inaction.”

The latest on the contagion

While vaccines offer hope, this remains a dismal slog.

“This is a split-screen moment: Progress on vaccines means people can now plausibly talk about what they will do when the pandemic is over. But with new infections topping 212,000 Thursday — another daily record, topping one set Wednesday — it won’t be over in a snap,” Joel Achenbach and Jose Del Real report. “To date, at least 275,000 people in the United States have died of the virus, a toll that includes more than 2,700 deaths reported Thursday … A new national ensemble forecast — an aggregation of 37 models sent to the CDC — projected that 9,500 to 19,500 people would die of covid-19 … in the week encompassing Christmas."

Quote of the day

“We cannot get beds cleaned fast enough by the time we have another patient coming in. On the night shift we have two doctors for 50 ventilated patients. We can have three patients crashing at the same,” said Emily Allen, a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., where the night shift has become a “revolving door” of increasingly sick covid-19 patients. “It’s every single shift that is overwhelming. It doesn’t shut off.”

Burnout is stalking the country’s nursing homes. 

“The people in the community have no idea what we are going through,” said Rebecca Rufial, a licensed vocational nurse in Paris, Tex., who works a 12-hour shift every night, in charge of two halls with 40 to 50 patients, helped by two nursing assistants. “And no one cares, either.” Staffers everywhere tell of fellow employees who have left their jobs out of anger, fear or illness and the number of facilities reporting a shortage of nursing aides has risen, to nearly 18 percent, or about 3,000 nursing homes. (Will Englund)

American compliance with social distancing recommendations sank to new lows in October. A study from the Covid States Project documents a notable uptick in risky behavior. The number of Americans who said they had been in a room with people from outside their households in the past 24 hours grew from 26 percent in April to 45 percent in October. The number of people saying they spent time in a group of 11 to 100 people in that period more than tripled. (Antonia Farzan)

The pandemic has pushed America’s 911 system and emergency responders to a breaking point. “Ambulance providers from New York to Iowa to Georgia say the situation is increasingly dire. Desperate for a financial infusion to keep such operations afloat, the American Ambulance Association recently begged the Department of Health and Human Services for $2.6 billion in emergency funding,” William Wan reports.

Doctors and nurses plead for more action by governors. 

In Connecticut, Tennessee, Missouri and Mississippi, physicians have issued unusually public pleas for their governors to impose new restrictions. The number of hospitalized covid patients surpassed 100,000 on Wednesday, placing enormous strain on the nation’s acute care hospitals. (Lenny Bernstein

  • Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R), who has refused to issue a mask mandate, drew scathing criticism for declaring a “day of prayer and fasting” for those affected by the pandemic. A Tulsa religious leader, the Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, was unimpressed. “Many of us are going to be praying that our governor will see the light of listening to our scientists and our doctors and the experts,” he said. (Hannah Knowles)
  • The Supreme Court sided with a California church protesting restrictions on indoor worship services by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. (Robert Barnes)
  • A maskless Trump bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon former college football coach Lou Holtz, who is recovering from covid and also was not wearing a mask. (Matt Bonesteel)
  • The obituary for an 81-year-old Kansas father who died of the coronavirus slammed anti-maskers in his rural town who have downplayed the virus. Marvin James Farr “died in a world where many of his fellow Americans refuse to wear a piece of cloth on their face to protect one another,” wrote his daughter Courtney Farr. (Katie Shepherd)
IBM warns that sophisticated hackers are trying to penetrate the vaccine “cold chain.”

“The IBM team said the ‘precision targeting of executives and key global organizations hold[s] the potential hallmarks of nation-state tradecraft,’” William Booth reports. “The hackers took measures to hide their tracks, and the cyber-sleuths did not name which state might be behind the campaign. The IBM team … suggested that the intruders might want to steal information, glean details about technology or contracts, create confusion and distrust, or disrupt the vaccine supply chains. … The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency on Thursday alerted organizations involved with the storage and transport of vaccines to be on the lookout for the type of phishing operations described in the IBM advisory."

  • Pfizer slashed its original vaccine rollout target due to supply-chain obstacles. The pharmaceutical giant expects to ship half the doses it originally planned after finding that raw materials in early production did not meet standards. Pfizer still expects to roll out more than a billion dozes in 2021. (WSJ)
  • The U.S. deployed operatives to Estonia in the weeks before the election to learn more about defending against Russian hackers. (NYT)
  • Throughout the pandemic, athletes, politicians and other well-connected and wealthy people have managed to get special treatment, including preferential access to testing and unapproved therapies. This will likely happen again with the vaccine, too – whether by fudging the definition of “essential workers” or “high-risk” conditions, by lobbying influential industries and even through outright bribery or theft. (Stat)
  • D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) escalated efforts to obtain more vaccine doses for the city's health-care workers, arguing that the Trump administration’s planned rollout of doses for a first cohort of high-priority recipients is unfairly based on where people live instead of where they work. (Antonio Olivo, Fenit NIrappil and Ovetta Wiggins)
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs expects to distribute vaccines within a week or two of approval, with a focus on inoculating high-risk veterans and staff members. Physicians and doctors treating veterans in covid-19 wards will be a priority. (Alex Horton)
  • Warner Bros. shocked the entertainment world by announcing plans to put all of its 2021 movies – a 17-title list that includes highly awaited films as “Dune,” “In the Heights” and “The Matrix 4” – on HBO Max at the same time they play in theaters, upending a well-established business model in the hope of redeeming a flagging streaming device. (Steven Zeitchik)
President-elect Biden offered Tony Fauci the role of “chief medical adviser.”

“Vivek H. Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general, has been asked to reprise the role in an expanded version in the new administration,” Toluse Olorunnipa and Amy Goldstein report. “Biden told CNN that Fauci ... would serve as a chief medical adviser and help his administration with its coronavirus response plan. … Biden also said Thursday that he would ask Americans on the first day of his presidency to commit to wearing a mask for a limited period in an effort to bring the transmission rates down from their current record levels. ‘Just 100 days to mask, not forever — 100 days,’ he told CNN. ‘And I think we’ll see a significant reduction.’ …

“Other officials who have been advising Biden on the coronavirus and could potentially take key roles in the White House include Jeff Zients, who served as a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, and Marcella Nunez-Smith, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine who specializes in health-care inequities. Politico reported Thursday that Zients was expected to become coronavirus coordinator and Nunez-Smith would also take a senior position in Biden’s White House." 

  • Zients’s Wikipedia page was scrubbed of politically damaging material. It said he was “in love with” the culture at Bain & Co. and that he had joined the board of Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. But Democratic consulting firm Saguaro Strategies scrubbed the page, correcting some inaccuracies but also adding new language to portray Zients as a liberal figure. (Politico)
  • Zients is also a co-owner of one of Washington’s most popular bagel shops. Zients, who long dreamed of opening a Jewish deli, is a partner and investor of Call Your Mother, which has fared quite well during the pandemic. (Washingtonian)
  • “Harris’s longtime aide Rohini Kosoglu will serve as domestic policy advisor, and former ambassador to Bulgaria Nancy McEldowney will advise her on national security,” Chelsea Janes reports.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says a pandemic loan to a Trump donor’s company was “not the spirit and the intent” of the program. Wellshire Financial Services received a 3 percent Main Street loan but sells title loans at 350 percent. (Todd Frankel)

The Trump agenda

Tensions flare along Trump’s border wall, as construction accelerates during his final days.

“An Arizona rancher said construction crews recently detonated explosives that sent ‘car-sized boulders’ tumbling onto his property. Municipal water officials in El Paso said they deployed dump trucks last week to block wall-builders from cutting off their only road to a vital canal along the Rio Grande. And landowners in Laredo, Tex., are urging elected officials to pressure the incoming Biden administration to make clear that their private property will be safe from construction crews eager to finish the job,” Maria Sacchetti reports. “The feuds demonstrate the impact that Trump’s final push to expand his $15 billion border wall is having on a region that has been the focal point of his four-year term, even though Biden has pledged to stop construction immediately upon taking office. Federal officials say Trump has built 415 miles of new barriers — and that they expect to reach 450 miles by the end of the year while working at breakneck pace … But critics say the wall is a political boondoggle and that the administration is trampling landowners’ rights in the process of building it.”

The final draft of a bipartisan defense bill includes several rebukes of Trump.

“Topping the list is a prohibition on reducing the number of troops stationed in Germany and South Korea below current levels unless Congress receives certain guarantees that it is strategically safe and lawmakers are given ample time to consider the drawdown. The proscription against troop movements was written in response to the Trump administration’s summer announcement that it planned to move about 12,000 U.S. troops out of Germany,” Karoun Demirjian reports. “In the past several weeks, only a couple of the disputes between Congress and the White House over the defense bill have played out publicly, as the GOP-led Senate and Democratic-led House tried to hammer out a compromise version of the defense bill. The elements that received the most attention became focal points in large part because of Trump’s threats to veto the legislation. Earlier this week, the president tweeted that he would scuttle the defense bill if it did not include a repeal of unrelated liability protections for technology companies. … The final bill does not mention the piece of law regarding Silicon Valley, and instructs the Defense Department to change the names of the Confederate-titled installations within three years. …

"Several provisions of the 4,500-plus-page bipartisan bill suggest that GOP lawmakers have had complaints to get off their chests about more of Trump’s actions — and want to ensure no future president repeats them. The defense bill directs the president within 30 days to impose sanctions against Turkey for its purchase of S-400 missile systems from Russia, a reflection of how both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been frustrated by the administration’s reluctant approach to addressing Ankara’s challenges to NATO. It also orders the defense secretary to submit an annual report about any Russian-sponsored bounties for attacks against U.S. military personnel. … 

“The bill contains several repudiations of Trump’s use of the military on the home front as well. It limits the amount of military construction funding that can be diverted to domestic projects via a national emergency order to an annual $100 million — a far cry from the $3.6 billion Trump attempted to divert to his border wall project in 2019. … The defense bill demands that federal law enforcement officers and members of the U.S. armed forces and National Guard ‘visibly display’ the name of their agency and their own name when participating in a response to a civil disturbance. It also prohibits the Pentagon from transferring certain weapons of war to state and local law enforcement agencies, an apparent response to complaints about the militarization of police forces.”

Dozens of Trump loyalists will stay in government after he leaves.

The burrowing continues. There are at least 32 political appointees whom the administration has sought to hire into civil service positions, ProPublica reports. “The Trump administration list includes a former chief of staff to conservative firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and a lawyer for energy and mining companies who got his start at a property rights think tank. … Conversion requests are typically most common at the DOJ and Department of Homeland Security, and the Trump administration has made plenty of those as well. Among them: Prerak Shah, a member of the right-leaning Federalist Society who served as a counselor to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.”

A Trump aide placed at DOJ is banned from entering the building.

“Heidi Stirrup, an ally of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller, was quietly installed at the Justice Department as a White House liaison a few months ago. She was told within the last two weeks to vacate the building after top Justice officials learned of her efforts to collect insider information about ongoing cases and the department’s work on election fraud,” the AP reports. “Stirrup is accused of approaching staffers in the department demanding they give her information about investigations, including election fraud matters … Stirrup had also extended job offers to political allies for positions at some of the highest levels of the Justice Department without consulting any senior department officials or the White House counsel’s office and also attempted to interfere in the hiring process for career staffers, a violation of the government’s human resources policies … On Thursday, Trump appointed Stirrup to be a member of the board of visitors of the U.S. Air Force Academy."

Trump keeps losing in court, but he is cashing in on his refusal to concede.

“In Wisconsin, the state Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the election results filed by Trump’s campaign, finding that under state law, the campaign should have gone first to a lower-level court,” Rosalind Helderman, Emma Brown and Elise Viebeck report. “In Arizona, a judge dismissed a key part of a suit seeking to overturn the election filed by the state’s Republican Party chairwoman. And in Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court had previously dismissed a Republican lawsuit challenging universal mail voting, the court Thursday issued a one-sentence order unanimously refusing to stay the dismissal. … 

Rudy Giuliani continues his traveling roadshow: "On Thursday, he was at the Georgia Capitol, where he encouraged GOP legislators to reject Biden’s victory … Ray Smith, legal counsel for Trump in the state, said the campaign will be filing a new lawsuit asking the Fulton County Superior Court for a new election and urged Georgia state legislators to select electors independently.”

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) appeared to tacitly acknowledge Biden’s victory in an appearance before the Republican Jewish Coalition, speaking before Trump plans to travel to Georgia on Saturday to campaign for Perdue and fellow senator Kelly Loeffler. “Neither Loeffler (R-Ga.) nor Perdue has acknowledged Biden’s victory in public, and both have supported the president’s unfounded claims that fraud tainted the election,” Amy Gardner reports

In a nod to Trump's defeat, White House communications director Alyssa Farah resigned. She plans to start a consulting firm, per Ashley Parker.

Yet Trump continues to raise eye-popping sums by trying to subvert democracy: He has taken in $495 million since mid-October. “The sum raised since Oct. 15 far exceeds fundraising records set by the Trump operation in roughly comparable time periods at the height of the 2020 presidential campaign and is an unusually large amount to raise after the election,” Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy report. “That means between Oct. 15 and Nov. 23, Trump raised an average of nearly $13 million per day — a massive amount fueled by a deluge of email and text fundraising appeals sent out by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee that raises money for the president’s campaign, the Republican Party and Trump’s new leadership PAC, Save America."

Trump associates were scrutinized in a suspected donation-for-pardon scheme.

“The Justice Department investigated as recently as this summer the roles of a top fund-raiser for Trump and a lawyer for his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in a suspected scheme to offer a bribe in exchange for clemency for a tax crimes convict,” the New York Times reports. “The people said it concerned efforts by the lawyer for Mr. Kushner, Abbe Lowell, and the fund-raiser, Elliott Broidy, who pleaded guilty in October to a charge related to a different scheme to lobby the Trump administration. A billionaire real estate developer from the San Francisco area, Sanford Diller, enlisted their help in securing clemency for a Berkeley psychologist, Hugh L. Baras, who had received a 30-month prison sentence on a conviction of tax evasion and improperly claiming Social Security benefits … As part of the effort, someone approached the White House Counsel’s Office to ‘ensure’ that the ‘clemency petition reached the targeted officials,’ according to the court documents. … Baras did not receive clemency. No bribe was paid, said Reid H. Weingarten, a friend of and lawyer for Mr. Lowell … No one has been charged in the inquiry. No government officials are ‘currently a subject or target of the investigation disclosed in this filing,’ a Justice Department official said.”

  • “Roughly 20 top aides and associates are on tap for a potential pardon, though the list is evolving,” Politico reports. “The list includes Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who run the family’s namesake business, and Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.” A source who spoke to Trump this week told the site that the president is hesitant to pardon his kids, and Giuliani, because it may appear that they are criminals.
  • Ivanka Trump confirmed she was deposed by the D.C. attorney general for more than five hours as part of an investigation into whether Trump’s Inaugural Committee wasted donor money on an overpriced ballroom at the president’s D.C. hotel, where she was an executive at the time. (Jacqueline Alemany and David Fahrenthold)
  • The Justice Department sued Facebook over allegations that it discriminated against Americans in the way it hired temporary foreign workers for thousands of well-paid positions. The lawsuit contends that Facebook failed to properly advertise at least 2,600 jobs — and consider applications from U.S. citizens — before it offered the spots to foreign workers for whom the company was sponsoring for green cards granting permanent residence. (Tony Romm and Abigail Hauslohner)
  • Federal prosecutors are calling for an up to six-month prison term for the former FBI lawyer who altered an email that the bureau relied on to seek court authorization to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page during the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Spencer Hsu)
  • House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) assailed the Commerce Department over its failure to respond to questions about anomalies in the 2020 Census. Maloney threatened to subpoena Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over the issue and call him and the Census Bureau’s director to appear next week to answer questions on the matter. (Tara Bahrampour)
Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis exaggerates her experience and credentials.

“Ellis broke into the legal profession in 2012 as a deputy district attorney in Weld County, Colo., a largely rural area that would soon make headlines for a failed attempt to secede from the rest of the state because some residents resented the growing dominance of more liberal communities to the south like Denver. Ms. Ellis prosecuted crimes like theft and assault,” the Times reports. “A review of her professional history, as well as interviews with more than a half-dozen lawyers who have worked with her, show that Ms. Ellis, 36, is not the seasoned constitutional law expert she plays on TV. … Since she graduated law school in 2011, nothing in her record in the courtroom … shows any time spent litigating election law cases. … 

“She has never appeared in federal district or circuit court … and does not appear to have played a major role in any cases beyond her criminal and civil work in Colorado. … The Trump campaign provided the name of one federal case in which it said Ms. Ellis had participated, in 2012, when she was a year out of law school. But her name is not among the lawyers listed in the decision, and the case was not heard in a regular federal court, but rather in an administrative tribunal. … Lawyers who worked with Ms. Ellis said that she was not the kind of attorney they believed would be particularly helpful to this or any president in these endeavors, given her background. … In 2015 she joined Colorado Christian University as an affiliate faculty member … Colorado Christian does not have a law school or a program in constitutional law. … Eventually she was made an assistant professor of legal studies — but never a ‘professor of constitutional law,’ which is how she identified herself in pieces for The Washington Examiner.” 

“I’m the Cinderella story of the legal world,” Ellis told the Wall Street Journal.

Black lawmakers are set to helm the House Foreign Affairs and Agriculture committees for the first time. 

Democrats elected Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.) to chair Foreign Affairs and Rep. David Scott (Ga.) to lead the House Agriculture Committee. They also chose Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) to succeed retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) as chair of the House Appropriations Committee and Rep. Sean Maloney (N.Y.) to lead the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Maloney is the first openly gay person to chair the DCCC. On the Republican side, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) will be the ranking member of Energy and Commerce. Other Republicans getting ranking member posts include Reps. Glenn Thompson (Pa.) for Agriculture; Jason Smith (Mo.) for Budget; and Mike Bost (Ill.) for Veterans Affairs. (Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner)

The new world order

  • More than 79,000 people have disappeared in Mexico, most of them since 2006. Mexicans are discovering two clandestine graves a day, on average. It’s the worst crisis of the disappeared in Latin America since the Cold War, when military-backed governments kidnapped and killed their leftist opponents. (Mary Beth Sheridan)
  • Days after the assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, competing camps in Iran are wielding his memory in a battle over the country's political future and how Tehran should deal with the United States. (Kareem Fahim and Miriam Berger)
  • Three Egyptian human rights activists were released from detention after a wave of international condemnation against the Arab nation's authoritarian government that included U.S. politicians and Hollywood celebrities. The trio — Gasser Abdel-Razek, Karim Ennarah and Mohamed Basheer — work for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, one of the few remaining rights groups in the country. (Sudarsan Raghavan)
  • Maj. Naiem Asadi, a legendary Afghan pilot, is in hiding after the U.S. reversed a decision to help him flee the Taliban. Asadi, one of the most experienced pilots in the Afghan air force, is known for killing attackers who were raining down mortars near the Afghan presidential compound in 2018. (Alex Horton)
  • Denmark has become the first major oil-producing nation to effectively end state-approved oil and gas exploration in the North Sea with the aim of phasing out all extraction by 2050. (Florian Elabdi and Rick Noack)
  • The State Department imposed tighter visa regulations for Chinese Communist Party members in a move that puts limits on U.S. travel for tens of millions of Chinese working in government and other prominent roles. (Gerry Shih)
  • The Justice Department is in talks with lawyers for Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer for Huawei Technologies who is under house arrest in Canada, to resolve U.S. criminal fraud charges in a case that has strained Beijing’s relations with Ottawa and Washington. (Ellen Nakashima and Amanda Coletta)
  • Venezuelans head to the polls on Sunday to elect a new National Assembly – and Juan Guaidó’s name will be missing from the ballot. The opposition leader and the legislature’s current president, recognized by the U.S. and more than 50 other countries as Venezuela’s rightful leader, is boycotting the election. He said there is no way authoritarian President Nicolás Maduro will allow a free and fair vote. (Ana Vanessa Herrero and Karen DeYoung)
  • In Namibia, a man named Adolf Hitler Uunona won a local election with 85 percent of the vote, becoming a councilor in the Ompundja Constituency. He says he isn’t seeking “world domination.” (Jennifer Hassan)

Social media speed read

A macabre, dystopian reminder of the tragic nightmare that America is living daily: 

A Trump adviser said the Trump children have been “through enough” after four years promoting their family brand by attaching it to the presidency. Other presidential children have made bigger sacrifices: 

Biden’s potential pick for CIA director has been to Westeros:

Videos of the day

Stephen Colbert invited Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to get their vaccines live on his show:

Jimmy Kimmel criticized Mike Pompeo for planning a 900-person party: 

And Trump campaign witness Melissa Carone was deemed "not credible" after her testimony during the Wednesday Michigan state House hearing on the 2020 election:

Trump campaign witness Melissa Carone was deemed "not credible" by a judge before she spoke during the Dec. 2 Michigan state House hearing on the 2020 election. (The Washington Post)