Directly contradicting President Donald Trump’s continued evidence-free claims that he was robbed of reelection, a bipartisan group of federal, state and local election officials, including the national head of electoral cybersecurity efforts, has deemed the 2020 contest “the most secure in American history.” While many top Republicans have supported Trump’s quest to overturn Joe Biden’s win, or simply kept silent, others are beginning to support the president-elect, who was announced as the narrow winner of Arizona’s 11 electoral votes late last night. Meanwhile, Beijing finally congratulated Biden on his win after nearly a week of silence.
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2. Pandemic Hits New Heights in US as Cities Lock Down
California became the second state to hit 1 million coronavirus cases yesterday, overwhelming hospitals in the Upper Midwest as schools in Detroit closed and Chicago issued a monthlong stay-at-home order. The daily average of American COVID-19 cases has jumped by 70 percent in just two weeks and experts are now predicting that the U.S. could see another 160,000 COVID-19 deaths by Feb. 1. While positive news about a potential vaccine has lifted spirits (and stocks), Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said it’s unlikely to be available to ordinary citizens before May.
Typhoon Vamco, as strong as a Category 2 hurricane, swept through areas north of Manila Wednesday night, causing flooding and storm surges that saw citizens taking shelter on their rooftops. An estimated 39 people have died and 32 are missing after more than 350,000 were evacuated. Waters have now largely receded but the military is rescuing people around the country, which was still reeling from Typhoon Goni, one of the year’s strongest storms. Vamco is next projected to move on to Vietnam by tomorrow.
Jack Ma, China’s richest man, suffered a blow Nov. 3 when the IPO of his Ant Group stalled at the last minute. Now insiders say the power behind the action was President Xi Jinping himself, who was incensed at a speech Ma, 56, gave in late October criticizing government regulation of the financial sector. Ma’s remarks, which accused Chinese banks of a “pawnshop mentality,” went viral online. Meanwhile, President Trump continued to hammer Beijing economically with a new executive order banning Americans from investing in 31 Chinese companies with ties to the nation’s military.
Mark Zuckerberg says former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon’s call to behead senior U.S. officials doesn’t merit him being banned from Facebook. At least 74 people drowned yesterday off the coast of Libya as a boat filled with refugees attempted to cross the Mediterranean Sea. And authorities in Belarus have ordered banks to seize funds raised by protesters.
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If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em. Mi’kmaq First Nations tribal communities in Canada have treaty-granted rights to fish outside the federally regulated season, but have in recent months been harassed, apparently by non-Indigenous fishing operations upset by the dual standard. Now the tribal coalition has scored a crushing blow, purchasing fishing giant Clearwater Seafoods for $760 million, said to be the largest seafood investment made by any Indigenous group in Canadian history. That includes all of Clearwater’s fishing licenses, in what’s seen as a coup for the Mi’kmaq.
Is it time to rearrange the deck chairs? After months of hiatus for the entire cruise industry, the SeaDream 1 set sail from Barbados on Saturday, with the ship’s doctor administering tests on the dock before anyone boarded. But within days, a passenger had fallen ill, and the ship returned to harbor for testing — only to find at least 5 on board were positive for the coronavirus. Cruise Lines International Association, which represents all but 5 percent of the industry, has already said its members will stay off the water through the end of 2020.
3. Most Americans Think Climate Change Won’t Touch Them
Heeding scientific consensus, 72 percent of people in the U.S. believe climate change is happening, according to Yale Climate Opinion Maps. But after an extra-long hurricane season and skies turned orange by wildfires all over the West Coast, just 43 percent said global warming would impact them directly, OZY reports. That could be a problem, because the number tracks almost exactly with the percentage of Americans who said climate change is influencing how they vote. Still, some scientists are hopeful that with Joe Biden in the White House, the battle for public opinion will get a little easier.
Hamlet would’ve loved this. While Netflix has built its empire on letting people choose what they want to watch at any time, that’s failed to capture those paralyzed by all the options, who just want the TV to choose for them. Now Netflix is testing out that model with some French subscribers under the name Netflix Direct, a 24-hour linear “channel” that’ll roll out across France early next month. Some are already speculating that this could be a way for Netflix to sneak ads into its famously ad-free business model.
They’re staying ahead of the curve. The Ivy League was the first Division 1 conference to cancel sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March, and again in the fall. Now it’s again ahead of other athletic consortiums with the announcement that winter sports — including swimming, fencing and basketball — are off the table, while spring sports like baseball and lacrosse will have to delay normal start times until March at the earliest. While other conferences have kept playing, they’re increasingly having to cancel games due to player infections.
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