Stocks, Joe Biden, Thanksgiving Naps: Your Tuesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Wall Street is liking what it’s seeing.

Stocks rallied to records, buoyed by the news that key states certified President-elect Joe Biden’s victory as well as his selection of Janet Yellen as the next Treasury secretary. The S&P 500 rose 1.6 percent, passing a high reached earlier in the month. The Dow Jones industrial average topped the 30,000 mark for the first time, another record.

President Trump, who has consistently warned that markets would tumble if he lost re-election, took credit for the record. But investors of all political persuasions have said they’re ready to move on from a profitable but politicized period for the markets.

2. The transition to a Biden White House is officially underway.

Teams for President-elect Joe Biden’s transition began reaching out across Washington, free to interact virtually with their counterparts in the government after President Trump’s administration finally cleared the way for an orderly transfer of power.

That means Mr. Biden can finally dispatch what are known as landing teams to key public health agencies to begin his pandemic response. Members of his staff will get up to speed on a planned vaccine rollout and a public education campaign to persuade the public to trust — and take — a vaccine when one becomes available.

Mr. Biden introduced six of the top officials he has selected to serve as part of his national security team, saying his cabinet picks are “ready to lead the world, not retreat from it.”

3. For now, the country appears to have avoided a breakdown of its electoral system. Next time, Americans might not be so lucky.

Even in the absence of a questionable outcome or any evidence of fraud, President Trump managed to freeze the passage of power for most of a month. In attempting to subvert the election, Mr. Trump “exposed deep cracks in the edifice of American democracy and opened the way for future disruption and perhaps disaster,” our politics reporter writes in an analysis.

We also talked to Stacey Abrams, the Georgia Democrat and former state House minority leader, about how Democrats managed to flip Georgia for the first time for the presidency since 1992. She outlined how liberal groups in other Southern states can replicate Georgia’s path.

4. A noncontroversial pardon from President Trump: the turkeys Corn and Cob.

“Thanksgiving is a very special day for turkeys,” Mr. Trump said in the Rose Garden at the annual turkey-sparing ritual. “I guess, probably, not a very good one, if you think about it.” Except, of course, for two fortunate feathered recipients.

Public health officials have been pleading with Americans to stay home this year for Thanksgiving. And, despite busy airports last weekend, most people plan to follow their advice, according to a huge survey of Americans. Out of more than 150,000 survey responses, only around 27 percent of Americans said they planned to dine with people outside their household.

We broke it down by region and political party.

5. New research has convinced many scientists that an early mutation made the coronavirus more contagious and harder to stop.

The mutation, known as 614G, was first spotted in eastern China in January, before it quickly spread throughout Europe, like in in Bergamo, Italy, above, and New York and eventually took over much of the world, edging out other variants of the virus.

For months, many scientists argued that the mutation might have appeared by chance in large epidemics. But a host of new research supports the idea that the mutated virus did in fact have a distinct advantage, acting as a supercharger.

“When all is said and done, it could be that this mutation is what made the pandemic,” one researcher said.

6. As scientists dealing with Covid-19 worry about the rise of the antivaccine movement, South Korea’s response to fighting misinformation may offer the world a model.

South Korea expanded its flu vaccine program to prevent a one-two punch to its health system during the coronavirus pandemic. But as millions of people got injections, reports of deaths rushed in. None proved to be related to the vaccine. To confront the vaccine fears, health officials ramped up communication efforts and disclosed the causes, which were unrelated to the inoculations.

In other vaccine news:

  • Pfizer will ship 6.4 million doses of its vaccine across the U.S. once it receives emergency authorization, around mid-December.

  • Yesterday’s news that AstraZeneca showed its vaccine was effective left many experts wanting to see more data before passing final judgment. Here’s what we know.

  • And in Russia, the makers of a vaccine said that it showed an efficacy rate of 95 percent in preliminary results from a clinical trial. But the figure was based on incomplete data.

7. Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and Dua Lipa dominate the 2021 Grammy Awards nominations.

Beyoncé, with the most nods over all, received nine nominations, including for both record and song of the year for “Black Parade,” a track released during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests this summer. Ms. Swift got six nominations, including five for “Folklore,” the blockbuster album she recorded during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s the full list.

The latest crop of nominations has some puzzling choices and snubs, including a bizarre hodgepodge of headliners and baffling Nashville oversights. Here’s what our critics think.

Trevor Noah will host the ceremony on Jan. 31.

9. Nothing can stop the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, not even a pandemic.

The parade route will be one block long, not two miles. High school bands will not be marching, and instead of some 2,000 balloon handlers to coordinate, there will be only about 130. The giant balloons were cut to 12 from 16, the floats to 18 from 26. But there will be Rockettes (just don’t expect a kickline).

For other holiday entertainment ideas, Ira Glass, the host of “This American Life,” selected seven episodes of the radio show to get you through the week. And while the Thanksgiving film is not that big of a genre, the ones that do exist are uplifting entertainment.

Perhaps a Christmas movie in which Dolly Parton plays a homeless angel with lessons for the town Scrooge, played by Christine Baranski, is more your speed.

10. And finally, the case for napping.

Americans have been programmed to be productive during working hours since the Industrial Revolution. But in 2020, as officeless workers learned to doze off between Zoom calls, our restaurant critic Pete Wells makes the case for destigmatizing what could be the greatest nap of all: the Thanksgiving slumber.

“A great Thanksgiving Day nap can be an inspiration,” he writes, adding, “What if, instead of treating the nap as an unfortunate side effect of the meal, we saw it as a goal we should strive for?”

To ensure a sound nap, consider these six steps, including eating early, holding off on caffeine and sleeping as long as you like.

Have a restful evening.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

Want to catch up on past briefings? You can browse them here.

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