In our news wrap Monday: Holiday travel fueled concerns in the U.S. as officials worldwide enacted more restrictions to stem the spread of the new, more contagious mutation of the coronavirus. Meanwhile, President-elect Biden said national security officials were limiting access to his transition teams.
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In the day's other news: Health officials sounded new warnings about surging COVID-19 infections. That's due in part to the rise of new, more contagious mutations of the virus in Britain and South Africa.
In Geneva, the World Health Organization called this moment a wakeup call for a weary public.
Maria Van Kerhove:
I know everyone is tired. I know that we're all kind of fed up with this and we want this to be over. But this should push us even further to have even more resolve to end this pandemic.
Meanwhile, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa reimposed a ban on alcohol sales and ordered all bars closed. As of Sunday, the country has topped one million infections.
Across the U.S., holiday travel fueled concerns, as nearly 1.3 million people passed through U.S. airports on Sunday. That's the most since March. Logan Airport in Boston was one of many still packed this morning.
A Chinese court handed down a four-year prison sentence today for a citizen journalist who reported on the initial COVID-19 outbreak. Zhang Zhan posted videos from Wuhan disputing the government narrative that the situation was under control. China has denied covering up the initial outbreak and delaying release of vital information.
President-elect Joe Biden charged today that President Trump's administration has damaged national security agencies. In a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, he said many have agencies been — quote — "hollowed out." And he said political appointees at the Pentagon and the Budget Office refuse to give a clear picture of the situation.
President-Elect Joseph Biden:
Right now, we just aren't getting all the information that we need for the ongoing, outgoing and — from the outgoing administration in key national security areas. It's nothing short, in my view, of irresponsibility.
Pentagon officials have denied earlier complaints from the Biden team that they were not getting cooperation.
The U.S. House of Representatives moved this evening to try to override President Trump's veto of the annual defense policy bill. It totals $740 billion in spending, including pay raises for the military. Mr. Trump had demanded an unrelated provision that would strip social media companies of liability protection. The Senate votes tomorrow on overriding the veto.
In Saudi Arabia, a criminal court has sentenced a leading women's rights activist to nearly six years in prison. Loujain Alhathloul was charged with undermining the kingdom. She protested the ban on women driving and called for repealing male guardianship laws. She had been jailed since 2018. And today's verdict suspended part of her sentence and backdated her term, meaning she could be released in March.
A white policeman in Columbus, Ohio, was fired today after body-cam footage showed him killing a Black man and then refusing to give first aid for several minutes. The victim, Andre Hill, was fatally shot last Tuesday as he came out of a garage holding a cell phone. A police union official says the officer was fired after a disciplinary hearing.
Back in this country, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized the first regulations of greenhouse gas emissions from airliners and large business jets. They apply immediately to planes of new designs and to earlier models starting in 2028. The rules don't apply to military aircraft.
Some environmental groups, plus 11 states and the District of Columbia, have said the rule does not go far enough.
And on Wall Street, major indexes all finished at record highs, after President Trump signed the COVID relief bill. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 204 points to close near 30404. The Nasdaq rose 94 points, and the S&P 500 added 32.