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VOL. 44 | NO. 51 | Friday, December 18, 2020

Bracing for a blue Christmas

Lives lost to pandemic weighing heavily as holidays approach

Some of the hardest moments of Dawn Stultz Kingsley’s life were a stretch of nine days in October as her father, Vader Stultz, lay inside Sumner Regional Medical Center on a ventilator, dying from COVID-19.

RICHARD COURTNEY: REALTY CHECK

No relief from real estate heat in mountain retreats

Many Nashville-area families are headed to the mountains as COVID-19 has changed long-distance travel plans. Prices in Highlands and nearby Cheshire, North Carolina, have increased by as much as 40% since February, and Monteagle and Sewanee are seeing similar activity.

REAL ESTATE

Top Davidson County commercial sales for November 2020

Top commercial real estate sales, November 2020, for Davidson County, as compiled by Chandler Reports.

Local Weather
Currently
Nashville, TN
40.0°F
Mostly Cloudy
Wind: from the West at 12.7 gusting to 24.2 mph
Humidity: 53%

EVENTS

Hermitage Haunted Holiday Tour. This distinctly spooky exploration of the mansion, grounds and cemetery by lantern light will recount the strange encounters recorded (and even recently witnessed) on our site, including the ghosts of the Battle of New Orleans, sounds of children running in the upstairs hallway and Jackson’s infamous meeting with Tennessee’s Bell Witch. Guides will share with guests the somber atmosphere at The Hermitage during Jackson’s time due to his dear wife Rachel’s death just three days before Christmas in 1828. Dec. 17-21, 26-28. 6-7:30 p.m. The Hermitage, 4580 Rachel’s Lane. Fee: $35 Information

more events »

US long-term mortgage rates fall; 30-year at 2.67%

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates declined this week to record low levels for the 15th time this year against the backdrop of an economy ravaged by the pandemic.

TENNESSEE TITANS

Titans bringing balance to QB-dominated NFL

Approching numbers not seen since 2006

There was a time when offensive balance was a trendy thing in the NFL. It was the way you built a team to operate with equal parts run and pass, and using them to complement each other.

BRIEFS

Picasso exhibit coming to Frist in February

The Frist Art Museum has announced an exhibition of art by Pablo Picasso will make its sole U.S. appearance in Nashville.

BEHIND THE WHEEL

All-wheel-drive SUV alternatives for winter

Winter is coming, as is the unpleasantness of driving on wet, snowy or icy roads. A vehicle with all-wheel drive can help maximize traction in these conditions.

PERSONAL FINANCE

You might have life insurance, but is it enough?

You probably need life insurance if your death would cause financial hardship to someone else. If the only coverage you have is through your job, though, you may not have enough.

CAREER CORNER

Reach out to co-workers in need this holiday season

We’re all ready for this year to be over. Most days have been painful as we watch the news and wait for things to change. It’s felt helpless and, at times, hopeless.

MILLENNIAL MONEY

De-stress holiday debt with plan to pay off presents

In a holiday season that many of us will spend apart from loved ones, gift-giving might feel even more important than usual. After all, if you can’t travel to see family, at least you can see them unwrap gifts over a video call, right?

PREDATORS

Predators bring back Mikael Granlund on 1-year contract

NASHVILLE (AP) — The Nashville Predators have signed forward Mikael Granlund to a one-year, $3.75 million contract, bringing him back to the team that traded for him in February 2019.

STATEWIDE

Tennessee expects to receive 90K COVID-19 vaccines a week

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee expects to start receiving 90,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines a week going forward, Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey said Tuesday, as the state continued to try to fend off one of the biggest surges in new coronavirus cases per capita in the country.

COURTS

Tennessee stops most in-person court hearings until Jan. 29

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee is halting most in-person state and local court proceedings for a month while the state battles one of the worst recent COVID-19 surges in the country.

VIRUS OUTBREAK

'Mom's worth it': US holiday travel surges despite outbreak

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Some are elderly and figure they don't have many Christmases left. Others are trying to keep long-distance romance alive. Some just yearn for the human connection that's been absent for the past nine months.

Politicians and vaccines: Set an example or cut in line?

WASHINGTON (AP) — As the first round of COVID-19 vaccinations trickled out across the United States, many members of Congress lined up at the Capitol physician's office to get inoculated.

Pfizer to supply US with additional 100M vaccines doses

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pfizer and BioNTech will supply the U.S. with an additional 100 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine under a second agreement.

A season of fear, not cheer, as virus changes Christmas

Montserrat Parello lost her husband eight years ago, and Christmas gatherings with children and grandchildren had helped her deal with her loneliness. But this year, the 83-year-old will be alone for the holiday at her home in Barcelona, due to the risk of infection from the coronavirus.

Global virus rules for Christmas: Tough, mild or none at all

In Peru, you can't drive your car on Christmas. In Lebanon, you can go to a nightclub, but you can't dance. In South Africa, roadblocks instead of beach parties will mark this year's festive season.

California health system buckling under COVID-19 pandemic

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California's health care system is buckling under the strain of the nation's largest coronavirus outbreak and may fracture in weeks if people ignore holiday social distancing, health officials warned as the number of people needing beds and specialized care soared to previously unimagined levels.

France relaxes its ban on trucks entering from Britain

LONDON (AP) — France relaxed its coronavirus-related ban on trucks from Britain on Tuesday after a two-day standoff that had stranded thousands of drivers and raised fears of Christmastime food shortages in the U.K.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

S&P 500 index ticks higher, breaking a 3-day losing streak

Stocks managed small gains on Wall Street Wednesday following a mixed set of reports on the economy.

Safety a higher priority than sales for many small retailers

NEW YORK (AP) — Dan Marshall's toy store should be crowded this time of the year with parents and grandparents buying gifts and children trying out games. Instead, only a handful of customers are in Mischief Toy Store at any time, and their visits are short and efficient.

Insurance shoppers: Plan now to trim next spring's tax bill

An unpleasant tax surprise may be lurking next spring for some people who bought health insurance this year on the Affordable Care Act's coverage marketplaces.

Consumer spending drops 0.4%, first decline since April

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer spending fell 0.4% in November, the first decline since April, as Americans confronted a newly resurgent virus.

US layoffs remain elevated as 803,000 seek jobless aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell by 89,000 last week to a still-elevated 803,000, evidence that the job market remains under stress nine months after the coronavirus outbreak sent the U.S. economy into recession and caused millions of layoffs.

Orders for big-ticket manufactured goods up 0.9% in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticketed manufactured goods rose a moderate 0.9% in November with a key category that tracks business investment plans showing a gain.

COVID relief bill morphs into a test of GOP loyalty to Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — Threatening to tank Congress' massive COVID relief and government funding package, President Donald Trump's demand for bigger aid checks for Americans confronts Republicans traditionally leery of such spending with an uncomfortable test of allegiance.

Report: March turbulence shows need for financial reforms

WASHINGTON (AP) — A top government financial oversight panel says that the turbulence in financial markets last spring has exposed problems in the operation of money market funds that will need to be corrected before the next crisis hits.

Writing off more of that 3-martini lunch is causing a stir

WASHINGTON (AP) — Stuffed into the new emergency relief package is a morsel that President Donald Trump has long had on the buffet of his economic wish list: restoring full tax breaks for restaurant business meals.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

Trump vetoes defense bill, setting up possible override vote

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Wednesday vetoed the annual defense policy bill, following through on threats to veto a measure that has broad bipartisan support in Congress and potentially setting up the first override vote of his presidency.

In final weeks, Trump keeps sowing chaos, hamstringing GOP

WASHINGTON (AP) — The video message that plunged Washington into chaos was filmed in secret.

Trump's presidential legacy, by the numbers

WASHINGTON (AP) — Words matter. But numbers tell stories, too. Presidential historians and others will plumb them as they assess President Donald Trump's legacy,

Biden: Reversing Trump border policies will take months

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden says it will take months to roll back some of President Donald Trump's actions on immigration, tempering expectations he generated during his campaign and one that may rile advocates pushing for speedy action on the issue.

Trump pardons 15, commutes 5 sentences, including GOP allies

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has pardoned 15 people, including a pair of congressional Republicans who were strong and early supporters, a 2016 campaign official ensnared in the Russia probe and former government contractors convicted in a 2007 massacre in Baghdad.

Trump: Classified material can be used in Durham probe

WASHINGTON (AP) — The special counsel investigating the origins of the FBI's probe into the 2016 election now has the authority to use classified information indefinitely in his investigation, a procedural step following his earlier appointment, according to a memorandum issued by President Donald Trump.


TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22
STATEWIDE

TennCare: Health info of up to 3300 people mailed elsewhere

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee's Medicaid program says health information of up to 3,300 patients were mailed to incorrect addresses.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Urging mask use, Lee says mandate 'controversial'

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Monday he delivered a weekend address on the pandemic to "cut through the politics" and implore those who shun masks to wear them without him imposing a "controversial" state requirement, bidding to end the nation's worst new COVID-19 infection surge per capita.

HEALTH CARE

Consumer relief: COVID bill to end 'surprise' medical bills

WASHINGTON (AP) — People with private health insurance will see the nasty shock of "surprise" medical bills virtually gone, thanks to the coronavirus compromise passed by Congress.

ENVIRONMENT

Congress takes aim at climate change in massive relief bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The huge pandemic relief and spending bill includes billions of dollars to promote clean energy such as wind and solar power while sharply reducing over time the use of potent coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators that are considered a major driver of global warming.

EDUCATION

US public school enrollment dips as virus disrupts education

Fearful of sending her two children back to school as the coronavirus pandemic raged in Mississippi, Angela Atkins decided to give virtual learning a chance this fall.

REAL ESTATE

Nov. existing home sales fall 2.5%, following record summer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The market for existing homes cooled slightly in November, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday, after climbing through the late spring, summer and early fall despite the pandemic.

COURTS

Feds sue Walmart over role in opioid crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department sued Walmart, alleging the company unlawfully dispensed controlled substances through its pharmacies, helping to fuel the opioid crisis in America.

VIRUS OUTBREAK

WH virus coordinator Birx says she will retire

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus response, said Tuesday she plans to retire, but is willing to first help President-elect Joe Biden's team with its coronavirus response as needed.

Britain finds itself isolated over new version of the virus

LONDON (AP) — Over 2,800 stranded truck drivers hoped to get the green light Tuesday to leave Britain and get back home for Christmas as the country found itself increasingly isolated and its trade bottled up, cut off by neighbors afraid of a new version of the coronavirus circulating in England.

Vaccine injury claims could face bureaucratic 'black hole'

Lost in the U.S. launch of the coronavirus vaccine is a fact most don't know when they roll up their sleeves: In rare cases of serious illness from the shots, the injured are blocked from suing and steered instead to an obscure federal bureaucracy with a record of seldom paying claims.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

Stocks drift mostly lower, even as Nasdaq sets another high

Stocks drifted to a mostly lower close on Wall Street Tuesday, even as more gains for technology companies pushed the Nasdaq to another all-time high.

As small businesses await new US aid, it's too late for some

NEW YORK (AP) — Sarah Trubnick is starting to make peace with a gut-wrenching reality: She may never reopen The Barrel Room, her beloved 5-year-old restaurant in San Francisco's financial district.

During crucial holiday season, US consumer confidence slumps

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — A closely-watched gauge of U.S. consumer confidence tumbled in December as rising coronavirus cases dragged American optimism to its lowest level since the summer.

$900B COVID relief bill passed by Congress, sent to Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress passed a $900 billion pandemic relief package that would finally deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Too big to read: Giant bill a leap of faith for Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — The $900 billion pandemic relief package that was rushed through Congress Monday created a familiar year-end conundrum for lawmakers: It was a bill too big to fail, and also too big to read.

Senator: Treasury Dept. email accounts compromised in hack

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dozens of email accounts at the Treasury Department were compromised in a massive breach of U.S. government agencies being blamed on Russia, with hackers breaking into systems used by the department's highest-ranking officials.

Q3 GDP estimate gets a slight upgrade to 33.4% growth

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy expanded at a record 33.4% annual pace from July through September, the Commerce Department said Tuesday, delivering the last of three estimates on the economy's third-quarter performance. But it's likely that a resurgence in coronavirus cases slowed growth sharply during the last three months of 2020.

EU-UK leaders seek way out of Brexit trade impasse

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union and the United Kingdom kicked efforts into higher gear on Tuesday to settle a fight over fishing quotas in British waters, the main dispute standing in the way of a trade deal that would avoid a chaotic New Year's Day economic divorce between the two.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

Biden picks Connecticut schools chief as education secretary

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Miguel Cardona, Connecticut's education chief and a lifelong champion of public schools, to serve as education secretary.

Trump, House lawmakers plot futile effort to block Biden win

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump hosted several House Republican lawmakers at the White House on Monday to discuss an ultimately futile effort to block Congress from affirming President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the November election.


MONDAY, DECEMBER 21
MUSIC INDUSTRY

K.T. Oslin, country singer of '80's Ladies,' dies at 78

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Country singer K.T. Oslin, who hit it big with the 1987 hit "80's Ladies" and won three Grammy awards, has died. She was 78.

UT SPORTS

Tennessee withdraws from Liberty Bowl due to COVID testing

KNOXVILLE (AP) — Tennessee has withdrawn from the Liberty Bowl because of COVID-19 test results, becoming the first team to back out since bowl berths were announced.

TENNESSEE TITANS

Chasing AFC South title, 10 wins not enough for Titans

NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Titans insist they aren't satisfied with much bigger goals than simply winning 10 games for the first time in 12 seasons.

Tannehill has 5 TDs, Titans rout Lions 46-25

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee is clicking on offense at a rate unseen in franchise history chasing the franchise's first AFC South title since 2008.

STATEWIDE

Lee limits gatherings, resists mask mandate

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee on Sunday announced new social gathering restrictions while still refusing to implement a mask mandate despite pleas from front-line health care workers in a state experiencing the highest new cases per capita in the country.

NASHVILLE AREA

Ex-Nashville TV reporter, campaign staffer joins Biden team

NASHVILLE (AP) — A former Nashville TV reporter and one-time spokesperson for Karl Dean's campaign for governor has joined President-elect Joe Biden's White House communications team.

Biotech firm plans move to Nashville with new 150 jobs

NASHVILLE (AP) — A Silicon Valley biotech company is planning to invest $10 million and create 150 new jobs over five year by moving its headquarters to Nashville.

AUTO INDUSTRY

High-flying Tesla stock takes a hit on 1st day in S&P 500

DETROIT (AP) — In the middle of last year, Tesla's losses were piling up, sales weren't enough to cover expenses and big debt payments loomed. The situation was so bad that one influential Wall Street analyst raised the possibility that Tesla wouldn't be able to pay its bills and would have to be restructured financially.

COURTS

Justice Dept. charges bombmaker in 1988 Pan Am explosion

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department announced new charges Monday against a Libyan bombmaker in the 1988 explosion of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, an attack that killed 259 people in the air and 11 on the ground.

VIRUS OUTBREAK

Russia, AstraZeneca to test combination of COVID-19 shots

MOSCOW (AP) — Developers of the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V on Monday announced signing an agreement with AstraZeneca to test a combination of the British drugmaker's COVID-19 shots and a component of the vaccine created in Moscow.

Cut off: Britain hit with travel bans over new virus strain

LONDON (AP) — Trucks waiting to get out of Britain backed up for miles and people were left stranded at airports Monday as dozens of countries around the world slapped tough travel restrictions on the U.K. because of a new and seemingly more contagious strain of the coronavirus in England.

Probe: Trump officials attacked CDC virus reports

WASHINGTON (AP) — Trump administration political appointees tried to block or change more than a dozen government reports that detailed scientific findings about the spread of the coronavirus, a House panel investigating the alleged interference said Monday.

AP-NORC poll: Virus-weary Americans less festive this year

WASHINGTON (AP) — Maureen Brennan will spend Christmas with her daughter at their Nashua, New Hampshire, home after declining invitations from other relatives to celebrate with them. Michael Smith will mark the holidays alone in Elko, Nevada, unwilling to risk being infected with the coronavirus before he can be vaccinated.

Biden gets COVID-19 vaccine, says 'nothing to worry about'

NEWARK, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden on Monday received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on live television as part of a growing effort to convince the American public the inoculations are safe.

With winter at hand, the virus whips up winds of uncertainty

Coronavirus cases spiking nationwide. A chill, existential and literal, setting in once more. And now: a winter likely to be streaked by a soundtrack of sirens instead of silver bells.

EXPLAINER: Are new coronavirus strains cause for concern?

Reports from Britain and South Africa of new coronavirus strains that seem to spread more easily are causing alarm, but virus experts say it's unclear if that's the case or whether they pose any concern for vaccines or cause more severe disease.

Panel: People over 75, essential workers next for vaccines

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal advisory panel recommended Sunday that people 75 and older and essential workers like firefighters, teachers and grocery store workers should be next in line for COVID-19 shots, while a second vaccine began rolling out to hospitals as the nation works to get the coronavirus pandemic under control.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

Stocks fall on worries about virus' spread, but pare losses

Stocks fell on Wall Street Monday, giving back some of their recent gains, as a new, potentially more infectious strain of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom raised worries that the global economy could be in for even more punishment.

The holidays could make or break struggling stores

NEW YORK (AP) — Clothing stores and specialty retailers are offering big discounts and heavily promoting curbside pickup in hopes of rescuing a lackluster holiday shopping season in which surging coronavirus cases have kept many shoppers at home.

Congress rushes toward vote on $900B COVID relief bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — After months of Washington gridlock, Congress is set to vote on a $900 billion pandemic relief package, finally delivering long-sought cash to businesses and individuals as well as resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Congress' rescue aid: A dose of support, but is it enough?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The $900 billion economic relief package that emerged from Congress over the weekend will deliver vital aid to millions of households and businesses that have struggled for months to survive. Yet with the economy still in the grip of a pandemic that has increasingly tightened curbs on business activity, more federal help will likely be needed soon.

Highlights of $900 billion COVID-19 relief, wrapup bills

Congressional leaders have hashed out a massive, year-end catchall bill that combines $900 billion in COVID-19 aid with a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill and reams of other unfinished legislation on taxes, energy, education and health care. The huge, still-unreleased bill is slated for votes on Monday — with lawmakers having only a few hours to read it before casting their votes.

EU-UK trade talks slog on past another Brexit deadline

BRUSSELS (AP) — Problems increased Monday in the bid to put a trade deal between the European Union and the United Kingdom on the rails before a Brexit transition period ends on New Year's Day, with the EU legislature insisting ever more it will not have time to vet and approve an agreement in time.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

Barr undercuts Trump on election and Hunter Biden inquiries

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General William Barr used his final public appearance to undercut President Donald Trump on multiple fronts Monday, saying he saw no reason to appoint a special counsel to look into the president's claims about the 2020 election or to name one for the tax investigation of President-elect Joe Biden's son.

Virginia's Lee statue has been removed from the US Capitol

WASHINGTON (AP) — A statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that has represented Virginia in the U.S. Capitol for 111 years has been removed.

Aide: Biden won't talk about son Hunter with AG candidates

WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden's incoming press secretary said Sunday that Biden would not discuss the investigation of his son with any prospective candidates for attorney general.

Trump's legacy: He changed the presidency, but will it last?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The most improbable of presidents, Donald Trump reshaped the office and shattered its centuries-old norms and traditions while dominating the national discourse like no one before.


FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18
TENNESSEE TITANS

Lions' Stafford questionable for matchup with Titans

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) — Matthew Stafford is questionable for Detroit's game Sunday at Tennessee.

Henry not worried about workload for Titans

NASHVILLE (AP) — Derrick Henry sees his job as being very simple. Take care of his body through the week so he can play on Sundays.

No time for letdown vs. outmanned Detroit

First down: Don’t let up now. The Titans showed what they were capable of against a bad Jacksonville team, not allowing the lowly Jaguars much sign of life in Sunday’s win. The Lions, too, are a non-contender, but the Titans can’t allow them to find life early and stick around to be in position to pull an upset.

STATE GOVERNMENT

Lawmakers question state officials over virus contract flop

NASHVILLE (AP) — Tennessee officials have drawn questions from Republican and Democratic lawmakers for entering into a $26.5 million state contract for faulty coronavirus testing and other services before nixing the deal, still having spent $5.9 million on the services provided.

Tennessee developing rapid field test for livestock diseases

NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Department of Agriculture announced on Thursday that it has received a $250,000 federal grant to help develop a rapid field test for two highly contagious livestock diseases.

STATEWIDE

Demand for deliveries pushes FedEx 2Q profit to $1.2 billion

FedEx Corp. more than doubled its profit in the latest quarter, as holiday packages were being stuffed into delivery trucks alongside everyday goods that people buy online to avoid visiting stores during the pandemic.

COURTS

Google's antitrust case won't go to trial until Sept. 2023

SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — The U.S. government's attempt to prove Google has been using its dominance of online search to stifle competition and innovation at the expense of consumers and advertisers won't go to trial for nearly three years.

High court rules challenge to Trump census plan is premature

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court has dismissed as premature a challenge to President Donald Trump's plan to exclude people living in the country illegally from the population count used to allot states seats in the House of Representatives.

States making bold new legal claims in 2 Google lawsuits

WASHINGTON (AP) — As a wave of antitrust actions surges against Google and Facebook, states in two lawsuits are stretching beyond the cases made by federal competition enforcers to level bold new claims. The states are taking new legal approaches as they join the widening siege against the two once seemingly untouchable behemoths.

Senate confirms 2nd East Tennessee federal judge this week

KNOXVILLE (AP) — The U.S. Senate has confirmed a second district judge for East Tennessee this week.

High court denies Kentucky religious school's plea to reopen

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to block an order by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear that bars in-person K-12 education until early January in areas hard hit by COVID-19, rejecting a plea from a private religious school.

MEDIA

New York Times: 'Caliphate' podcast didn't meet standards

NEW YORK (AP) — After an internal investigation, The New York Times said Friday it was wrong to trust a Canadian man whose account of Islamic State atrocities was a central part of its 2018 podcast "Caliphate" but could not be verified.

AUTO INDUSTRY

Volkswagen facing 'massive' shortage of electronic parts

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Volkswagen said Thursday it was facing production slowdowns due to a "massive" supply bottleneck caused by a shortage of semiconductor components for car electronics as global automobile markets bounce back from the pandemic sales slump.

VIRUS OUTBREAK

US awaits word on 2nd vaccine as COVID-19 outbreak worsens

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. stood on the verge of adding a second COVID-19 vaccine to its arsenal Friday as the outbreak passes through its most lethal phase yet, with the nation regularly recording over 3,000 deaths per day.

US experts debate: Who should be next in line for vaccine?

NEW YORK (AP) — Deciding that health care workers and nursing home residents should be first in line for the initial, limited supplies of COVID-19 shots wasn't that hard a call. Now U.S. health officials have to determine who should be next.

COVID-19 vaccine starts rolling out to members of Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — The legislative branch of government is rapidly moving to receive the coronavirus vaccine, with top leaders of the U.S. House and Senate getting the shots this week and the top Capitol doctor urging all members of Congress to join them.

1 in 5 prisoners in the US has had COVID-19, 1,700 have died

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — One in every five state and federal prisoners in the United States has tested positive for the coronavirus, a rate more than four times as high as the general population. In some states, more than half of prisoners have been infected, according to data collected by The Associated Press and The Marshall Project.

Winter travel raises more fears of viral spread

Tens of millions of people are expected to travel to family gatherings or winter vacations over Christmas, despite pleas by public health experts who fear the result could be another surge in COVID-19 cases.

Pence, wife Karen, get COVID-19 vaccine injections

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence became the highest ranking U.S. official to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday in a live-television event aimed at reassuring Americans the shot is safe. He celebrated the milestone as "a medical miracle" that could eventually contain the raging pandemic.

Pelosi, McConnell to get vaccine, urge members to do same

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top leaders of the U.S. House and Senate will be receiving the coronavirus vaccine this week, and Congress' attending physician has informed members that they are all eligible for the shots under "government continuity" guidelines.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

US stocks slide from records as wait continues for Congress

Wall Street capped a solid week of gains on a down note Friday as the wait drags on to see if Congress can reach a deal to send more cash to struggling workers and businesses.

EU says EU-UK face weekend 'last attempt' to get trade deal

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union and the United Kingdom are heading into the weekend on a "last attempt" to clinch a post-Brexit trade deal, with EU fishing rights in British waters the most notable remaining obstacle to avoid a chaotic and costly changeover in the new year.

Fed finds big US banks in solid shape; keeps dividend limits

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve said Friday that the 33 largest U.S. banks are in strong shape despite the pandemic's economic shock.

China's leaders say tech growth top priority amid US tension

BEIJING (AP) — China's ruling Communist Party called Friday for faster technology development to increase the country's economic independence amid tensions with Washington that have disrupted access to computer chips and other high-tech components.

Shutdown deadline looms over COVID-19 relief talks

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a key issue proving difficult to resolve, a midnight government shutdown loomed ominously closer Friday though congressional negotiators seemed tantalizingly close to agreement on an almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package. An air of exhausted frustration infused the Capitol.

Coca-Cola laying off 2,200 workers as it cuts brands by half

The Coca-Cola Co. said Thursday it's laying off 2,200 workers, or 17% of its global workforce, as part of a larger restructuring aimed at paring down its business units and brands.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

With Trump silent, reprisals for hacks may fall to Biden

WASHINGTON (AP) — All fingers are pointing to Russia as the source of the worst-ever hack of U.S. government agencies. But President Donald Trump, long wary of blaming Moscow for cyberattacks, has been silent.


THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17
STATE GOVERNMENT

Tennessee Higher Education Commission leader to leave post

NASHVILLE (AP) — The Tennessee Higher Education Commission's leader plans to leave his post for a job with a law firm.

COURTS

Tennessee among states filing anti-trust lawsuit against Google

DENVER (AP) — Dozens of states filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Google on Thursday, alleging that the search giant has an illegal monopoly over the online search market that hurts consumers and advertisers.

REAL ESTATE

Building permits rise 6.2% in November, despite pandemic

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The number of newly issued permits to build fresh housing rose 6.2% in November on a seasonally adjusted basis.

TECHNOLOGY

US cybersecurity agency warns of 'grave' threat from hack

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities expressed increased alarm Thursday about an intrusion into U.S. and other computer systems around the globe that officials suspect was carried out by Russian hackers. The nation's cybersecurity agency warned of a "grave" risk to government and private networks.

VIRUS OUTBREAK

As US rushes to give shots, Tennessee builds vaccine reserve

NASHVILLE (AP) — As states rush to inoculate health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, only Tennessee has prioritized building its own emergency reserve of the coveted vaccine.

Debunked COVID-19 myths survive online, despite facts

CHICAGO (AP) — From speculation that the coronavirus was created in a lab to hoax cures, an overwhelming amount of false information clung to COVID-19 as it circled the globe in 2020.

2nd COVID-19 vaccine gets public review ahead of US decision

WASHINGTON (AP) — A second COVID-19 vaccine moved closer to joining the U.S. fight against the pandemic Thursday as government advisers convened for a public review of its safety and effectiveness.

French President Macron tests positive for COVID-19

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday following a week in which he met with numerous European leaders. The French and Spanish prime ministers and EU Council president were among many top officials self-isolating because they had recent contact with him.

Will children be able to get COVID-19 vaccines?

Will children be able to get COVID-19 vaccines?

Toughest COVID-19 rules extended to much of south England

LONDON (AP) — Large parts of southern England will be placed under the country's strictest coronavirus restrictions from this weekend, Britain's health secretary said Thursday, as infections and hospital admissions continue to surge in those areas.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

Stocks reach record highs as investors hope for stimulus

Stocks rose on Wall Street, reaching more record highs, as investors remain optimistic that Washington will deliver another round of financial support for the economy and as vaccines continue to roll out to the public.

Final stretch on COVID-19 economic relief, but no deal yet

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional negotiators on the long-delayed $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package worked through a handful of remaining holdups Thursday as they labored to seal a final agreement for more help to businesses and the unemployed and new stimulus payments to most Americans.

States grapple with next steps on evictions as crisis grows

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Ryan Bowser looked somber as he sat in his cramped Oregon apartment, worried whether he, his pregnant girlfriend and her 10-year-old daughter would have a roof over their heads in the new year. It may well depend on state lawmakers.

Home Depot to pay $20.8M fine for lax contractor oversight

Home Depot Inc. will pay a $20.8 million fine for failing to ensure that its contractors follow lead paint rules. The civil penalty announced Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency is the largest such penalty to date under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

US jobless claims rise to 885,000 amid resurgence of virus

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose again last week to 885,000, the highest weekly total since September, as a resurgence of coronavirus cases threatens the economy's recovery from its springtime collapse.

Robinhood agrees to pay $65 million to settle SEC charges

NEW YORK (AP) — Robinhood Financial agreed to pay $65 million to settle government charges that it failed to disclose the full details of its dealings with high-speed traders and didn't get the best prices for customers trading on its app, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday.

NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL POLITICS

Biden to pick Rep. Haaland as interior secretary

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as interior secretary, according to two people familiar with the decision, a historic pick that would make her the first Native American to lead the powerful federal agency that has wielded influence over the nation's tribes for generations.

Biden picks North Carolina environmental chief to lead EPA

President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday offered the leadership of the Environmental Protection Agency to Michael S. Regan, a North Carolina regulator who has made a name pursuing cleanups of industrial toxins and helping low-income and minority communities hit hardest by pollution. Biden also plans to nominate New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland as interior secretary, making her the first Native American to head that agency.

Family behind OxyContin attests to its role in opioid crisis

Two of the owners of the company that makes OxyContin acknowledged to a congressional committee on Thursday that the powerful prescription painkiller has played a role in the national opioid crisis but stopped short of apologizing or admitting wrongdoing.

FAA seeks fines against passengers for rows over face masks

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal officials said Friday they are seeking civil fines of $15,000 and $7,500 against two airline passengers accused of assaulting flight attendants for telling them to wear face masks.

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