World breaking news today (December 9): New White House offer adds $600 checks to COVID-19 relief
|The Trump administration offered a $916 billion package to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Photo: Daily Herald)|
New White House offer adds $600 checks to COVID-19 relief
The Trump administration dove back into Capitol Hill’s confusing COVID-19 negotiations on Tuesday, offering a $916 billion package to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would send a $600 direct payment to most Americans, as reported by AP.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made the offer to Pelosi late Tuesday afternoon, he said in a statement. He offered few details, though House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said it proposes the $600 direct payment for individuals and $1,200 for couples, which is half the payment delivered by the March pandemic relief bill.
Mnuchin reached out to Pelosi after a call with top congressional GOP leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who remains at odds with Democratic leaders over COVID-19 relief.
McConnell had earlier proposed shelving a top Democratic priority — aid to state and local governments — in exchange for dropping his own pet provision, a shield against lawsuits for COVID-related negligence. Democrats angrily rejected the idea, saying McConnell was undermining the efforts of a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators and reneging on earlier statements that state and local aid would likely have to be an element of a COVID-19 relief agreement given Democratic control of the House.
Top Republicans dislike the direct payments, saying they are costly and send too much aid to people who do not need it. Democrats generally embrace the idea.
The $916 billion Mnuchin offer, the separate ongoing talks among key rank-and-file senators, and the shifting demands by the White House all add up to muddled, confusing prospects for a long-delayed COVID-19 aid package. The pressure to deliver is intense — all sides say failure isn’t an option.
Georgia recertifies election results, confirming Biden's victory
Georgia has re-certified the state’s results in the 3 November presidential election after two recounts, confirming again that the Democratic president-elect, Joe Biden, won the state.
Governor Brian Kemp late Monday rubber-stamped the recertification issued earlier in the day by the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, despite he and other senior Republicans in the state coming under pressure from Donald Trump to take action to overturn the result.
“It’s been a long 34 days since the election on November 3,” Raffensperger, a Republican, said in a press release on Monday. “We have now counted legally cast ballots three times, and the results remain unchanged.” He added: “Continuing to make debunked claims about a stolen election is hurting our state.
Georgia conducted a full hand recount shortly after the election, which showed Biden still leading by about 13,000 votes. Despite that hand recount, Donald Trump’s campaign requested another recount because of the narrow margin of Biden’s victory.
That recount has now confirmed Biden’s victory in Georgia, making the president-elect the first Democrat since Bill Clinton to carry the state, according to Guardian.
|Georgia has re-certified the state’s results in the 3 November presidential election after two recounts, confirming again that the Democratic president-elect, Joe Biden, won the state.(Photo: Philadelphia inquirer)|
Chinese Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine is 97% effective
The coronavirus vaccine developed by Chinese company Sinovac is up to 97% effective, according to interim data from tests by Indonesia’s state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma.
“Our clinical trial team found, within one month, that the interim data shows up to 97% for its efficacy,” Bio Farma spokesperson Iwan Setiawan said at a news conference, reports Reuters. Some 1,600 people participated in the clinical trials.
However, the exact efficacy of the vaccine will not be determined until January, according to a Sinovac spokesperson, as these are interim data, as the company is still gathering data on efficacy from the ongoing Phase 3 trial.
According to him, the 97% refers to the seroconversion ratio, which is not necessarily the same as efficiency, as a high seroconversion rate does not necessarily mean that the vaccine effectively protects people against Covid-19.
Unlike Western vaccine manufacturers, the Chinese have so far not released efficiency percentages for the final stage tests, Brussel Times reported.
|Sinovac is up to 97% effective (Photo: Bloomberg)|
Gold price prediction – prices rise on declining unit labor costs
Gold prices moved higher on Tuesday for the second consecutive trading session testing resistance levels. This comes as the dollar was nearly unchanged, and US yields remained stable. Bitcoin prices, which have been on a tear and been experiencing a safe-haven bid instead of gold, eased. The labor Department reported that US productivity increased at a less than expected rate while unit labor costs plunged.
Gold prices rebounded continued to trend higher, testing resistance near the 50-day moving average at 1,879. Support is seen near the 10-day moving average at 1,824. Short-term momentum has turned positive as the fast stochastic generated a crossover buy signal and continues to accelerate higher. Medium-term momentum has turned positive as the MACD (moving average convergence divergence) index is poised to create a crossover buy signal. This occurs as the MACD line (the 12-day moving average minus the 26-day moving average) crosses above the MACD signal line (the 9-day moving average of the MACD line).
|(Photo: The Balance)|
The Labor Department reported that nonfarm productivity increased at a 4.6% annualized rate last quarter. The slight downward revision from the 4.9% pace estimated last month followed a 10.6% growth rate in Q2, which was the fastest since the first quarter of 1971. Expectations had been for productivity growth to be unrevised at a 4.9% rate in Q3. Hours worked rebounded at a 37.1% rate, rather than the 36.8% rate estimated in November. That followed a record 42.9% pace of decline in Q2. As previously reported, unit labor costs plunged at a 6.6% rate instead of an 8.9% rate. Unit labor costs rose at a 12.3% pace in Q2. They increased at a 4.0% rate from a year ago, FX Empire said.
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