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Minneapolis residents protest the police shooting of Dolal Idd.
Minneapolis residents protest the police shooting of Dolal Idd. Getty Images / Stephen Maturen

Happy New Year, dear reader! We at the Mercury have been hibernating the past ten days to cleanse ourselves from 2020 and to prepare for a new 12 months of unknowns. Which means: We have some catching up to do in this morning's news roundup! Let's jump right in to make sure you (and we) start this new year off somewhat informed:

- Alas, COVID-19 didn't disappear at the strike of midnight on Dec. 31, 2020. Instead, countries like the UK, Japan, Scotland, Thailand, Israel, and South Korea are ramping up regulations as COVID-19 cases surge into the new year.

- Of course, the US hasn't been spared from this uptick. While holiday health department closures have delayed reporting on the current number of US cases, the national outlook is grim. To help the COVID-19 vaccine catch up with the continuing case count, some health officials are proposing halving vaccine doses or even holding off on distributing the second dose of the vaccine to stretch the vaccine across more Americans. (Dr. Fauci isn't on board).

- In a Saturday phone call, Donald Trump urged Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" more votes the flip the state's presidential race results in Trump's favor. In the recording obtained by the Washington Post, Trump cited baseless conspiracy theories as to why he believes he still won the state—all rejected by Republican Raffensperger, who put it this way: “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.”

- This incredibly shady, probably illegal move comes days before Georgia is set to hold its much-anticipated runoff elections for its two US Senate seats. The Tuesday election will determine which party will have political majority over the Senate in president-elect Joe Biden's first years in office, a sure way to predict how difficult (or easy!) it will be for him to pass progressive policies through our deeply partisan legislative branch. Here's what you need to know about tomorrow's dual races.

- Some good news:

- A UK judge has denied the US' request to extradite Wikileaks' Julian Assange to face charges of espionage and government hacking, citing concerns about the threats to Assange's mental health in US prison. Another opportunity to discuss the US' incredibly fucked-up incarceration system wasted on the privileged, white, and wealthy.

- At least one person has died from a COVID-19 outbreak in a San Jose hospital that might have been spurred by a staffer who "wore an inflatable holiday costume to lift spirits," according to the Los Angeles Times. Investigators believed the staffer's fan-powered Christmas Tree costume spread the infection across the medical facility.

- In Minneapolis, 2021 began with a scene reminiscent of 2020: Hundreds of people in the streets protesting the police killing of a Black man. On December 30, Minneapolis police fatally shot 23-year-old Dolal Idd during a traffic stop, where police say Idd had fired a gun. Information about the case remains predictably hazy, but the way local law enforcement have responded to the case—including conducting a raid on Idd's family home before telling Idd's family members he had been killed—has been enough to spark outrage.

- In Oregon, the last week of the year was also defined by protests. On New Year's Eve, some 100 Portlanders gathered downtown to demonstrate against police violence, a gathering that ended with looting, vandalism, and small fires. Mayor Ted Wheeler called the protest "selfish," and led largely by young white men associated with “violent antifa and anarchists” (Editor's note: cringe). Wheeler vowed to increase penalties for people repeatedly arrested for protest-related vandalism. The following day, about 200 right-wing protesters met in Salem to oppose the state government's COVID-19 safety restrictions and spread false information about the virus' spread in Oregon. Three were arrested.

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- Multnomah County District Attorney will finally be sworn-in today, where he'll hopefully unveil some hints of how he'll fulfill his bold campaign promises of criminal justice reform. Watch the 1 pm ceremony here.

- A weather check: Expect rain to continue throughout the day with some bonus wind. Fun!

-Finally, the most meaningful thing I watched on my time off: