Humanity’s hopes for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic leapt following positive news from U.S. company Moderna yesterday: Its vaccine appears to be almost 95 percent effective and requires less intense deep freezing than the promising inoculation from Pfizer, meaning it’ll be more feasible for developing nations to use. Meanwhile, a new poll found that just 52 percent of Americans say they’d get a COVID-19 vaccine, an increase of 3 percent in a week. Moderna will apply to the Food and Drug Administration for approval — but while the world waits for it to be OK’d, manufactured and shipped, states are struggling, with California and Iowa instituting new restrictions after their daily case numbers doubled.
As the presidential vote recount continues in the Peach State, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham implied that he should look for ways to toss out legally cast ballots — a claim Graham immediately denied. The recount is expected to finish this week without changing the final results. State Republicans are reportedly weighing the costs and benefits of loyalty to President Donald Trump when it comes to the two Senate runoff elections scheduled for January, which could determine which party controls the upper house of Congress next year. Meanwhile, President-elect Joe Biden said yesterday that the Trump administration’s reluctance to facilitate a transition to the new administration risks hampering the effort to get a COVID-19 vaccine out quickly.
3. Strongest Atlantic Hurricane of the Year Hits Nicaragua
Hurricane Iota slammed into land as a Category 4 storm, just two weeks after Hurricane Eta killed scores in its rampage through Central America. Iota has brought winds of 160 mph and is expected to do catastrophic damage to the already devastated area. It’s the third storm in two months to intensify by 100 mph within 36 hours — something that only eight storms did in the 169 years prior to 2020. Nicaragua and Honduras are expected to see as much as 30 inches of rain in the next few days as the storm makes its way through the region.
After 17 years, the electric car company’s four straight quarters of profit despite the pandemic have landed it a spot in the benchmark index used to measure the U.S. stock market. The company’s share price surged 14 percent following the news, increasing Chief Executive Elon Musk’s personal fortune by more than $15 billion. Musk, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, has seen his wealth increase by $90 billion in 2020. Tesla will officially join the index on Dec. 21, though some still believe its success is a temporary bubble and that it could destabilize the index as a whole.
Where does America go from here? That's what the BBC’s Katty Kay and OZY’s Carlos Watson discuss in the latest episode of When Katty Met Carlos, the new podcast from OZY and the BBC. Find out why The Guardian called it "one of the top political podcasts of 2020" by subscribing now on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever else you get your podcasts.
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Well, this is a fine howl do you do. After an uptick in bear sightings in the area this year and two fatal attacks in October — possibly because deforestation is leading bears in search of food into contact with humans — the small Japanese city of Takikawa bought two large wolf robots to scare off predators. Living wolves have been extinct in Japan for at least 100 years. When the four-foot wolf’s motion sensor is tripped, it howls as its eyes glow red and head swivels. Bear sightings have ceased since the installation.
Are we sure they’re not just looking for Narnia? The rise of remote work in 2020 has meant that people who share living spaces with family or roommates are looking for a quiet place to get work done. And 15 percent of them often work from their closet, OZY reports. While less popular than a home office or dining room table, closets may offer the quiet and privacy that people need to be productive while working remotely.
3. Tens of Thousands File Abuse Claims Against Boy Scouts
After the Boy Scouts of America declared bankruptcy in February, people had until yesterday afternoon to file claims against the organization. And 90,000 did, in what’s thought to be the largest sex abuse case ever filed against one entity. Most of the claims are against individuals within the institution who weren’t known to be predators, raising concerns that problems were even more widespread than previously feared. The organization issued an apology as lawyer Paul Mones, who’s been working on the case for decades, called for a congressional investigation.
4. Taylor Swift to Rerecord Old Songs After Masters Sold
Controversial record executive Scooter Braun has sold the master recordings of Swift’s first six albums to private equity firm Shamrock Holdings in a deal thought to be worth as much as $450 million. Braun, whom Swift has described as “the definition of toxic male privilege in our industry,” reportedly refused to consider selling them to Swift herself unless she agreed to never speak negatively about him again. Swift now says she’s recording new versions of her old songs, to which she’ll own the masters.
5. Former Harvard Fencing Coach Arrested in Bribery Scandal
Curses, foiled again. Harvard’s ex-fencing coach Peter Brand and tycoon Jie “Jack” Zhao have been arrested under suspicion of a college admissions scandal. Zhao’s sons, one of whom is still at Harvard, were both admitted to the university and on the fencing team, while Zhao bought Brand’s house for nearly double what it was worth in 2016. Zhao, who also allegedly paid some of Brand’s bills and laundered a bribe to him through a charity, maintains that he was just doing a favor for a friend. Brand was fired last year after the Boston Globe reported his fishy history with Zhao.
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