Putin Can’t Take Russia’s ‘Safe’ Covid-19 Vaccine, Kremlin Says

Live Updates: Use of absentee ballot drop boxes extended for Georgia Senate races

How will Georgia Senate runoffs impact Joe Biden’s presidential agenda?

Washington Times opinion editor Charlie Hurt and Former Tenn. Rep., Harold Ford Jr. join the panel on ‘The Daily Briefing.’

Georgia election officials are extending the use of secure ballot drop boxes for use in the state’s twin Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5, where the Republican majority in the Senate is at stake.

The five-member Georgia State Election Board, chaired by Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, voted on Monday to extend the use of the 24/7 monitored drop boxes for use through the runoffs. Use of the boxes was originally set to expire in late December.

Just two Senate races in Georgia could determine the balance of power in the upper chamber of Congress and ultimately impact whether the Supreme Court will retain the conservative majority established under President Trump.

The move comes amid a surge in absentee ballot requests in the runoff elections. Officials said that as of Monday morning 762,000 requests for absentee ballots had been submitted.

Follow below for more updates on the Georgia Senate races. Mobile users click here.

Twitter Users Mock Melania Trump’s ‘Who Gives A F**k About Christmas’ Tree

First lady Melania Trump welcomed the arrival of her final White House Christmas tree on Monday, a gesture likely greeted with a sigh of relief given her antipathy toward holiday decor. 

President Donald Trump did not attend.

In a 2018 conversation recorded by former friend and aide Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who released the audio last month, the first lady griped about decorating the White House for the holiday. 

“I’m working like a, my ass off at Christmas stuff,” she said. “You know, who gives a fuck about Christmas stuff and decoration but I need to do it, right?”

Twitter users were quick to deliver some reminders of those comments. 

Comedy legend Eric Idle of Monty Python fame suggested that the first lady can duet with him on “Fuck Christmas.”

He’s referring, of course, to this holiday classic, from a 2014 performance at Brian Cox and Robin Ince’s “Christmas Compendium of Reason.”

Others also noted the first lady’s personal war on Christmas:

Caledonia Investments HY Pre-tax Profit Increases

Caledonia Investments Plc (CLDN.L) reported that its profit before tax for the six months ended 30 September 2020 increased to 195.8 million pounds from 100.7 million pounds in the prior year.

Profit for the period was 195.7 million pounds or 352.4 pence per share up from 101.4 million pounds or 180.9 pence per share in the previous year.

Total revenue rose to 210.1 million pounds from 116.8 million pounds last year.

NAV total return for the six months to 30 September 2020 was 10.4%. NAV per share increased 9.0% to 3527p and net assets at 30 September 2020 were 1.96 billion pounds.

The company has declared an interim dividend of 17.0 pence per share, an increase of 2.4% on last year’s interim, at a total value of 9.3 million pounds. This will be paid to shareholders on 7 January 2021.

Saudi Aramco says customers unaffected by Houthi attack on Jeddah facility

  • Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi forces on Monday said they fired a missile at and struck the Jeddah facility. Saudi authorities later confirmed the attack.

An official from the Saudi Aramco oil company on Tuesday said customers were unaffected by an attack that came from Yemen's Houthi group at a petroleum products distribution plant in the north of Jeddah city.

Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi forces on Monday said they fired a missile at and struck the Jeddah facility. Saudi authorities later confirmed the attack.

One of the 13 tanks at Aramco's North Jeddah Bulk Plant is currently out of action, the official told journalists on a tour.

He described the site as a "critical facility" which distributes more than 120,000 barrels of products per day domestically to Jeddah, Mecca and the al-Baha region.

A fire caused in the incident was extinguished in around 40 minutes with no casualties, the official said.

The projectile struck the storage tank from the top, causing "major damage" to the tanks' roof, with a hole around 2 meters (6.5 feet) square, the official said. Black marks and some damage around its top rim were visible.

Putin Can’t Take Russia’s ‘Safe’ Covid-19 Vaccine, Kremlin Says

President Vladimir Putin told fellow world leaders last week that both of Russia’s Covid-19 vaccines, including one he championed as the world’s first inoculation against the disease, are safe and effective. That doesn’t mean he’s taken a jab.

“We have not yet begun widespread vaccination and the head of state can’t take part in vaccination as a volunteer. It’s impossible,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday, in response to a question on whether Putin had been inoculated. “The president can’t use an uncertified vaccine.”

Russia has the world’s fifth-highest number of cases globally, passing 2 million last week. Putin announced the registration in August of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and a second inoculation wasapproved in October, even as Phase 3 trials to establish safety and efficacy are still taking place.

Sputnik V’s developers said Tuesday that initial testing showed it was 91% effective in preventing infections, although it has not yet published final results in a peer-reviewed journal.

Russia has already begun vaccinating medical workers, teachers and officials. By the end of the year, producers aim to make about 2.9 million doses, according to Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova.