Friday morning news – December 18, 2020

Cyberattack could be “worst hacking case in the history of America” » Cyberhackers may have broken into systems at the U.S. agency that manages the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal. 

That according to officials at the Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration. 

The U.S. government’s cybersecurity agency also sounded alarms on Thursday, warning of a “grave” threat to both government and private networks across the country. 

It’s all part of a massive recently uncovered cyber-spying operation. 

GOP Sen. Rick Scott serves on the Senate Homeland Security committee. He said the intelligence points to Russia. 

SCOTT: If Russia’s going to do these type of things against our system, then we ought to be very aggressive to make sure that, one, they get no benefit out of it and actually, they’re harmed out of it. 

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said the hack compromised federal agencies and “critical infrastructure.” 

Experts there said the attack was sophisticated, hard to detect and will be difficult to undo. 

One official told the Associated Press—quote—“This is looking like it’s the worst hacking case in the history of America,” adding, “They got into everything.”

While the evidence reportedly points to Russia, neither the FBI nor the CISA has publicly assigned blame. The unnamed official said that’s because it is not yet “100 percent confirmed.”

FDA advisory panel endorses Moderna vaccine » The FDA could give the Moderna coronavirus vaccine a thumbs up as soon as today. 

On Thursday, a panel of FDA advisers reviewed Moderna’s emergency use application. The company’s chief medical officer, Dr. Tal Zaks made his case to the panel. He said late stage trials were thorough and successful.  

ZAKS: It enrolled over 30,000 participants, and we believe the results support emergency use authorization. 

And the panel agreed—voting 20-to-0 to recommend that the FDA approve the vaccine for Americans age 18 and up as soon as possible. 

Last Thursday, the same panel recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and top FDA officials approved it the following day. 

Winter storm buries Northeast, delays vaccine deliveries » The first huge snowstorm of the season in the Northeast has slowed down delivery of the Pfizer vaccine. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday…

MURPHY: This storm did disrupt some amount of delivery of the vaccine. I’m not aware of anyplace that was expecting it that won’t get it. It might just be a little bit later than otherwise expected. 

The nor’easter buried parts of the region in as much as three feet of snow, breaking records in some places. 

And tragedy struck in multiple states. 

Frozen roads triggered a massive pileup on a Pennsylvania highway. And Corporal State Trooper Michael Miller told reporters…

MILLER: There was one confirmed fatality from a passenger vehicle, and at the very end of the pileup, another fatality occurred in a passenger vehicle. 

And another person died after suffering a medical emergency while stuck in the gridlocked traffic.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the storm is to blame for two deaths in his state and more than 600 accidents.

Biden names picks for interior secretary, EPA administrator » President-elect Joe Biden continues to build out his administration, naming two more nominees on Thursday. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Biden has picked North Carolina regulator Michael S. Regan to head the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Regan previously spent almost a decade at the EPA, including managing a national program for air-pollution issues.

Biden also plans to nominate New Mexico Congresswoman as Interior secretary.

Both nominees must win confirmation in the U.S. Senate. 

The president-elect on Thursday also officially announced former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg as his pick for Transportation secretary. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Macron tests positive for COVID-19 » French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19. Macron announced the test result after a week full of meetings with European leaders, some of whom are now in quarantine. 

They include the prime ministers of France and Spain as well as the EU Council president.

Macron’s office said he took a test “as soon as the first symptoms appeared.” The statement did not detail what symptoms he experienced. 

It said Macron will isolate for seven days and continue working from home.

(AP Photo/Francois Mori) French President Emmanuel Macron listen to Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa before a working lunch at the Elysee Palace Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020 in Paris. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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