Monday morning news – December 14, 2020

Americans could receive first coronavirus vaccine shots today » AUDIO: [Sound of forklift]

That could be the sound of lives being saved. Forklifts loading pallets full of coronavirus vaccine supplies into FedEx and UPS tracks in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

The FDA gave the thumbs up for emergency use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Friday. 

And healthcare workers and nursing home residents could begin receiving the shots today

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that’s great news for the most vulnerable Americans. 

AZAR: We could have every nursing home patient in the United States vaccinated by Christmas. It’s really a remarkable, remarkable prospect for all of us who have loved ones in nursing homes that we may approach Christmas with that level of comfort that our loved ones have gotten some initial protection already. 

When tractor trailers loaded with vaccine doses hit the highways, it marked the start of the biggest vaccination effort in U.S. history. 

Director of the National Institutes for Health Dr. Francis Collins says this is a historic moment. 

COLLINS: It is indeed astounding that in just the space of 11 months we have gone from a recognition of a new pathogen to a vaccine that we know is safe and effective. 

About 3 million initial doses are shipping out. 

The FDA could also green light the Moderna vaccine by the end of this week. 

Manchin: Bipartisan group will produce relief bill today » Senator Joe Manchin  of West Virginia told Fox News Sunday that a bipartisan group of lawmakers will produce a new coronavirus relief bill today. 

Lawmakers recently introduced the framework of the measure—$908 billion. It will include funds to help those who are unemployed. But Manchin said President Trump’s proposal to send a $600 stimulus check to most Americans is a “bad idea.” 

MANCHIN: You’re sending it to people who still have a paycheck and still have a job. If you send a check to an unemployed person, you’re sending it to a person who has no lifeline. It’s done at the end of this month. They’ve got nothing. We’re going with $300 extended for 16 weeks. I think that’s much more reasonable, practical, and much needed. 

Manchin noted that millions of Americans are poised to lose COVID unemployment benefits the day after Christmas. 

The blue dog Democrat disputed reports that bipartisan talks on a new relief bill were falling apart. He said “the plan is alive and well.” 

Electoral College meets today to officially elect president » President-elect Joe Biden is set to officially collect the votes he needs to become president today. 

While voters cast their ballots more than a month ago, constitutionally, it is the electors representing each state who cast the deciding votes. And that’s exactly what they’ll do today as the Electoral College meets. 

Republican Senator Lamar Alexander said there’s nothing unprecedented about President Trump legally challenging the election results. But he feels today should mark the end of that effort. 

ALEXANDER: Al Gore took 37 days, I believe, to contest before he finally conceded. And then he made the best speech of his life respecting the result, which is what I hope the president will do when the electors vote for Joe Biden on Monday, which it is apparent they will. 

A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the White House. Biden is expected to secure 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.

UK, EU continue talks amid dimming hopes of trade deal » Trade negotiators from the U.K. and the European Union are not walking away from the table just yet. 

They’re both clinging to fading hopes of striking a new post-Brexit trade deal. Their current arrangement ends on January 1st, and that could prove very costly for both sides. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters…

LEYEN: We both think that it is responsible at this point in time to go the extra mile. We have accordingly mandated our negotiators to continue the talks, and to see whether an agreement can be reached, even at this late stage. 

The U.K. exited the EU in January but its trade arrangement with the bloc remained unchanged during the transition period through the end of this year.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the two sides are still very far apart on key issues, but—his words, “where there’s life, there is hope.” 

U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Sunday…

RAAB: We want to be treated like any other independent self-respecting democracy. If the EU can accept that at a political level then there is every reason to be confident, but there is still, I think, a long way to go. 

Hundreds of thousands of jobs could hang in the balance along with tens of billions of trade dollars. 

If they can’t reach a last-minute deal, the U.K. and EU would trade on World Trade Organization terms, which would mean new tariffs and barriers.

Country Music Hall of Famer Charlie Pride dies » MUSIC: [Kiss An Angel Good Morning]

Charley Pride, the first black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, died over the weekend due to complications from COVID-19. He was 86 years old. 

Pride sold millions of records with hits like “Kiss an Angel Good Morning.” 

MUSIC: [Kiss An Angel Good Morning]

Pride sold more than 25 million records while scoring more than 30 No. 1 hits.

Report: Cleveland Indians changing team name » Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians are reportedly changing their name after 105 years.

The New York Times reported the decision on Sunday citing several unnamed sources. The Times said team officials have been discussing a potential name change for months, as some consider the “Indians” moniker to be racially offensive. 

The move follows a similar decision earlier this year by the NFL’s Washington Football Team, which was previously known as the Redskins.

(AP Photo/Morry Gash, Pool) Boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at the Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant in Portage, Mich., Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. 

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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