5 things to know for Dec. 6: Presidential race, Israel, Floods, Actors strike, Drug shortages

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Snowstorms are bearing down on parts of the US weeks before the official start of winter, which falls on December 21 in the Northern Hemisphere. But on the heels of several scorching months, scientists confirmed that 2023 will still officially be the hottest year on record.

Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.

1. Presidential race

Republican presidential candidates will face off tonight in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in the fourth primary debate of the 2024 election cycle. The candidates set to take the stage are Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Former President Donald Trump, the dominant front-runner in national and early-state primary polling, will be skipping the event. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden told Democratic donors Tuesday he wasn’t confident he’d be seeking another term if Trump wasn’t running for the White House. The comment offered perhaps the starkest rationale to date for Biden’s reelection decision-making and, according to sources, took senior Biden campaign officials and advisers by surprise.

2. Israel

Israel’s military is reporting intense fighting in southern Gaza as it surrounds the strip’s second-largest city of Khan Younis. Israeli forces on Tuesday also encircled the Jabalya refugee camp, which Israel claims is a Hamas stronghold. The crowded camp has been hit by renewed Israeli strikes in recent days following the end of a weeklong pause in the conflict. US officials expect the current phase of Israel’s ground operation to last several weeks before Israel transitions, possibly by January, to a lower-intensity strategy that narrowly targets specific Hamas militants and leaders. Nearly 16,000 people have been killed in Gaza and more than 60% of homes have been destroyed in the region since October 7, according to the strip’s Hamas-run government.

3. Floods

Around 16 million people were under flood alerts in the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday night as a strong atmospheric river soaked the region. In Portland, Oregon, at least one person died after being swept away in floodwaters, authorities said. The powerful system pummeling the Northwest has already dumped more than 8 inches of rain this week and forecasts show more is on the way: An additional 2 to 4 inches are possible today. The treacherous travel conditions also prompted Amtrak to temporarily suspend all train service between Portland and Seattle due to a landslide.

4. Actors strike

Members of SAG-AFTRA, the Hollywood actors union, ratified a new contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents major studios and streamers, the union said on Tuesday. The contract caps a monthslong saga, which included a nearly four-month strike that had paralyzed the industry and raised existential questions over the future of the entertainment business. Hollywood actors and producers reached the tentative deal on November 8 after tumultuous negotiations throughout the year. SAG-AFTRA members voted to ratify the contract this week with about 78% in favor. The union said about 38% of members turned out to vote.

5. Drug shortages

Drug shortages in the US are forcing “impossible choices” for Americans, medical experts told a Senate committee at a hearing Tuesday. The majority of the nearly 200 ongoing shortages — 84% — don’t involve new or novel drugs but rather generics that have been on the market for decades, said Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho. Generics make up 9 out of every 10 prescriptions filled in the US, so shortages have a big impact on the country’s health. Many of these generics treat cancer. Fludarabine, a reliable drug used as a part of CAR T-cell therapy, is in shortage now, according to the FDA. As with many cancer drugs, it has been on and off the list for years. This forces consumers to “scramble for viable alternatives or they’ll forgo treatment entirely,” Crapo said.

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President Joe Biden participates in an episode of Anderson Cooper's podcast "All There Is" in the White House Library. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz) - Adam Schultz/White House
President Joe Biden participates in an episode of Anderson Cooper's podcast "All There Is" in the White House Library. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz) - Adam Schultz/White House

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