President-elect Joe Biden has laid out his first steps come inauguration: Institute a robust federal response to the worsening pandemic, rejoin the Paris climate accord and reestablish environmental regulations, and end the travel ban on Muslim countries. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump still has not conceded the election, instead filing legal challenges that experts say aren’t expected to impact the outcome of the vote. But as a result, the Trump-appointed official whose signature is required to release funds and authorize government access for the transition is thus far refusing to do so.
2. World Response Divided Over US Administration Change
While many world leaders were swift to congratulate President-elect Biden, Trump allies including the leaders of Russia and Brazil have stayed silent, as has Chinese President Xi Jinping, despite President Trump’s hostility toward China. Also potentially out in the cold: U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose Trump-like leadership style and racist comments about former President Barack Obama could alienate the Biden administration. Meanwhile, OZY reports that after Armenia lost crucial ground in its ongoing bloody conflict with Azerbaijan Sunday, President Armen Sarkissian is likely hoping for more attention — and possibly aid — from the new president.
3. Ruling Party Claims Victory in Myanmar Election
In the country’s second general election since emerging from military rule less than a decade ago, Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy says it’s won a majority in Parliament, though no results have officially been announced. Masked people waited in long lines to vote Sunday, but polls in conflict-ridden areas were canceled and hundreds of thousands of Myanmar’s marginalized Rohingya minority — many stripped of citizenship and driven into refugee camps — were disenfranchised altogether. Suu Kyi saw her reputation as a human rights icon crumble in 2017 when she defended what many called the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.
4. Pandemic Intensifies as World Pins Hope on Vaccine
Global coronavirus cases have hit 50 million, with one-fifth of those in the U.S. — which added 1 million cases in just the past 10 days. An outbreak in the Navajo Nation across the U.S. Southwest is at its worst since June’s peak, and many communities are under curfew. With the holiday season approaching, the White House coronavirus task force is expected to meet today for the first time in weeks. Meanwhile, investors hoping a vaccine is imminent and will spark consumer confidence have begun snapping up banking and industrial stocks in the hope of an economy roaring back to life.
Conservative activists will go up against UNC-Chapel Hill in the latest legal challenge to affirmative action in the United States. Democratic candidates in two run-off races in Georgia that will decide control of the U.S. Senate raised $3.6 million in two days. And the FDA has approved an Apple Watch app that says it can treat PTSD-spurred nightmares.
Coronavirus Update: Faced with a COVID-19 surge — 1 in 5 tests are now positive — Utah’s governor has ordered a statewide mask mandate.
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When the iconic TV host told fans in March 2019 that he’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he joked that he’d have to survive three years to fulfill his contractual obligations on Jeopardy! But Trebek didn’t make it that long, passing away Sunday and leaving viewers grieving a man who’d been a nightly presence on TV screens for 36 years. Former contestants and others remembered the Canadian-born host as a “lovely and deeply decent man.” His pretaped episodes will continue to air through Christmas, but it’s unclear who’ll step into his shoes to host the show.
Is your refrigerator running … for president? With President Trump still making unsubstantiated claims of mail ballot fraud in last week’s election, his campaign set up a hotline for people to call and report instances of illegal voting. But prank calling the hotline has become a viral joke on TikTok and elsewhere, with people posing as concerned citizens and then recounting the plot of Diff’rentStrokes, describing the Hamburglar stealing votes, or pasting the whole script of Bee Movie into the online form for reporting fraud. The Trump campaign maintains that the hotline is “very effective.”
3. Trump Campaign Boosts Small Landscaping Business
Not with a bang but a trimmer. Minutes after Joe Biden’s win was announced Saturday, Rudy Giuliani and other Trump surrogates held a press conference at the Four Seasons. Not the luxury hotel, but Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a small business outside Philadelphia. There, in a parking lot between a crematorium and an adult bookstore, Giuliani railed against what he called widespread voter fraud. The business explained via Facebook yesterday that it felt honored by the event, and would have hosted any candidate. It’s now cashing in on its 15 minutes of fame with a line of store-branded merchandise.
4. Virgin Hyperloop Conducts First Human Passenger Test
For something so fast, it’s moving quite slowly. Six years after Virgin Hyperloop was founded, it conducted its first test with human passengers Sunday, using the company’s co-founder and another executive as guinea pigs at its Nevada test track. The pair only hit 100 mph, below the Hyperloop’s record of 240 mph and far less than its projected top speed of 670 mph. The fastest existing train can go about 300 mph. While no government is officially working on a hyperloop system yet, the U.S. Transportation Department recently released a potential regulatory framework, an important step in the process.
5. Authentic Beats Expectations to Win Breeders Cup
Call it a gallop poll. With his win this weekend in the Breeder’s Cup Classic, Authentic is just the fourth horse ever to win both that and the Kentucky Derby in a single year, coming first in five of his seven 2020 starts. Despite his Derby win, the 3-year-old was at 4-1 odds for the Classic after his recent second-place finish at Preakness. But he won the $6 million race by more than two lengths, edging out runner-up Improbable, while the odds-on favorite, Tiz the Law, came in sixth. It’s unclear if Authentic will get another racing season or be retired to breed more champions.
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