While U.S. COVID-19 deaths topped 250,000 Wednesday, results of a large-scale trial for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech showed it to be 95 percent effective. It also demonstrated the safety of the shot, which Pfizer plans to submit to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval within days. The trial sped to completion as surging contagion infected participants. One expert called it a “home run” indicating “an end date” for the pandemic, but with approvals and distribution hurdles, that date remains months away as hospitals overflow and authorities struggle to stop the spread.
Providing no help for President Donald Trump’s fraud claims, Georgia election authorities are expected to announce today that hand recounting the state’s 5 million ballots didn’t overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory there. Trump’s campaign yesterday requested a recount in two Democratic-majority counties in Wisconsin, where Biden also narrowly won. In Pennsylvania, Trump lawyers asked a federal judge to discard the state’s results and let the Republican-controlled state legislature assign electoral votes, though legislators have said they won’t get involved. Meanwhile, some current and former Trump administration officials are reportedly contacting Biden’s team to help the stalled transition.
3. Australian Probe Finds ‘Credible’ War Crimes Evidence
“Those people should go to jail.” That’s the verdict of one Australian special forces member who testified about comrades committing war crimes in Afghanistan. The country’s military released results of a four-year investigation today that showed “credible evidence” that the elite troops had illegally killed 39 people, including innocent civilians, between 2009 and 2013. The report, which advocates further investigation of 19 current and former soldiers, blamed a “warrior culture” that included practices such as murdering prisoners as an initiation for new soldiers. The revelations have spurred Afghan human rights campaigners to demand compensation for survivors.
In case flying in an airtight tube of contagion isn’t exciting enough, you’ll soon get a chance to do that in a Boeing 737 Max. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration yesterday cleared the troubled aircraft to carry passengers again, satisfied that airlines can operate the jet without its automated stall prevention system causing it to nosedive into the ground. That’s apparently what happened when two of the planes crashed in Indonesia in 2018 and Ethiopia in 2019, killing 346 people and prompting the aircraft’s grounding by regulators worldwide. Now flyers must ask themselves: Can they face their fear?
Listen up: Voting may be the cornerstone of our democracy, but the reality of how voting works in America is not as fair or clear-cut as we like to think. In a new limited-series podcast, Turnout, award-winning journalist and KCM co-founder Katie Couric explores America’s voting record with the help of activists, historians, politicians and luminaries. On this week’s episode, she gets a peek behind the curtain at Georgia’s manual recount of nearly 5 million ballots with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Listen now.
In Ghana, there’s a farmer. In Paris, there’s an investor who’ll finance seed, fertilizer, machinery and labor. That’s where Desmond Koney’s Complete Farmer comes in: His “crowdfarming” platform connects farmers, investors and buyers, and the eventual crops, from soybeans to ginger to tigernuts, get shipped around the world, OZY reports. It’s a big boost for Koney, a “city boy” who “failed woefully” at running his own farm. Now he aims to take his “Airbnb land model” global. And that guy in Paris? He thinks it’s the best return-for-risk investment he’s ever seen.
With Americans at each other’s throats over masking and social distancing, California Gov. Gavin Newsom isn’t helping. He apologized this week after photos surfaced of him dining in Napa Valley at one of the state’s poshest restaurants — with California Medical Association honchos. Now everyone’s zooming in on the images to fact-check Newsom’s claim that he was eating “outdoors,” which carries less risk of infection, or in a fully enclosed patio. As the nation experiences its highest hospitalization rate and stopping contagion is a priority, perhaps other elected officials will take the governor’s bad example as a lesson.
3. Apple Peels Off $113M to Settle States’ iPhone Suit
Would you like your update to begin now? The tech titan has reached an agreement with 34 U.S. states over its policy of not informing iPhone owners that their batteries were degrading and Apple was throttling performance to mask the problem. The company is not admitting fault or compensating consumers, as it did with $25 payouts from a $500 million class action suit over the same issue this spring. The money will instead recoup state agencies’ costs of dealing with the issue — and helping assist consumers the next time a trusted product lets them down.
Police in eastern Uganda claiming to be enforcing COVID-19 rules arrested presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as popular singer Bobi Wine, during a campaign rally Wednesday, igniting clashes in Kampala that killed three. The 38-year-old has been detained several times since he announced his campaign to replace 76-year-old President Yoweri Museveni, who’s ruled since 1986 and is seeking a sixth term in January. In a demonstration of Museveni’s control, the government shut down a radio station that announced Kyagulanyi’s arrest. “The price of freedom is high,” his Twitter account declared, “but we shall certainly overcome.”
5. Hornets Snap Up LaMelo Ball as No. 3 in NBA Draft
He’s got to be the Ball. First in the minds of sportswriters in last night’s NBA Draft was LaMelo Ball, baby brother of Lonzo Ball, the No. 2 overall pick in 2017 and current New Orleans Pelicans point guard. LaMelo went third overall, nabbed by the Charlotte Hornets after the Timberwolves grabbed Anthony Edwards and the Golden State Warriors claimed James Wiseman. Unlike Lonzo, LaMelo comes via Australia’s pro league, where he outperformed his brother’s UCLA assists record, but wasn’t quite the 3-point shooter. He’s nonetheless expected to wow Hornets fans with layups and floaters from the free-throw line.
The effects of climate change are already being felt and are likely to persist for decades to come, but OZY and Goldman Sachs can show you how we can tackle it. Smaller-scale innovations being proven in one part of the world, for instance, could lead to breakthroughs for others. Learn more about strategies for protecting the planet for future generations.