More Americans died of COVID-19 Wednesday than in the first wave’s peak on April 15. And it’s unlikely to stop there: CDC Director Robert Redfield warned the coming months promise to be “the most difficult in the public health history of this nation.” Many Americans are anxiously awaiting approval of Pfizer’s vaccine, one of several reporting successful trials, after British regulators greenlighted it yesterday. But while some health care workers who’d be first in line for immunization are reportedly hesitant due to the “politicized nature of the vaccine development,” CDC officials are trying to reassure them “there weren't any steps that were skipped.”
Critical mass may have been reached — at least politically. Furious over last week’s reportedly remote-controlled assassination of its top nuclear scientist, Iran ordered its nuclear energy agency to begin enriching uranium to 20 percent, a level prohibited under the 2015 nuclear agreement with the U.S. and other nations. That will complicate President-elect Joe Biden’s effort to revive the deal, which President Donald Trump ditched. While no one’s claimed the bomb-and-gunfire killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a senior U.S. official attributed it to Israel, without revealing whether the U.S. was informed or involved.
He’s not going quietly. President Trump released a 46-minute video Wednesday, saying it “may be the most important speech I’ve ever made.” What followed were the same unsupported election fraud claims rejected by every court where his attorneys have pushed them. Meanwhile, Trump’s reportedly furious at another lawyer, Attorney General William Barr, after he admitted he’d seen no evidence of outcome-altering ballot fraud. For that and for failing to discredit the FBI investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russian election meddling, an administration source suggested Barr may become Trump’s second AG to be fired.
Republicans and Democrats can agree on this: Yesterday Congress passed a bill requiring Chinese firms to adhere to U.S. accounting rules or stop trading on American stock exchanges. The law could affect online retail giant Alibaba and other companies Beijing prohibits from opening their books to the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. Companies would also have to prove they aren’t being controlled by a foreign government. Speaking of which, major players on Wall Street have reportedly been offered a chance to expand their Chinese operations if they help improve Beijing’s position in Washington.
Coronavirus Update: Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have agreed to roll up their sleeves and publicly receive COVID-19 vaccinations to boost currently low public confidence in immunization efforts.
You Said It! We asked you about your online holiday shopping, and Monica C. responded: “I will never shop on Amazon. They are not a good citizen, looking to avoid paying taxes. I frequent Mom n Pop stores in my little town.”
Meet the boss mom. Fashion designer, entrepreneur and mom of five Kimora Lee Simmons joins Carlos to talk about how she does it all. Discover how she’s rebuilding her fashion brand, Baby Phat, for the next generation with the help of her daughters, and why “Blasians” are having a moment. Watch now.
No one could have foreseen a crisis like the pandemic. But businesses — particularly Black-owned firms that are traditionally undercapitalized — can prepare for the next one now. The road to financial health includes revisiting your spending priorities, saving money into emergency funds and mapping out expenses in a budget, says Tosh Ernest, head of Wealth at JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways Program.
Emotional support in an airliner? You’ll need a dog for that. That was Wednesday’s ruling from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which issued new regulations on what service animals airlines must allow. The old rules gave travelers the benefit of the doubt if they claimed their miniature horse or capuchin monkey provided emotional support, saving pet owners hundreds of dollars in animal transport fees. Now only dogs will get guaranteed federal protection (sorry, Mr. Whiskers). Those other critters aren’t prohibited — but you’ll have beg your airline to take your comfort capybara to your seat.
2. Taylor Swift Re-Recording Helps Satan Find Love
It’s a match made in 2020. Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds got some major league talent for what may be the ad of the year. His Maximum Effort production company’s new spot for the Match dating app features Swift’s updated version of 2008’s “Love Story” — the first of many songs she’s vowed to re-record after losing multiple fights to buy the rights to her back catalog. But the ad may be remembered more for its plot: Match introduces Satan to “two-zero-two-zero,” who corrects him: “Call me 2020.” The rest is dumpster fire selfies and burning meteorite shower history.
“Now is no time to relax.” So went the grave warning of Mayor Steve Adler on Nov. 9 in a Facebook video urging Austinites to “stay home if you can.” Apparently he couldn’t: It emerged Wednesday that he made the video during a beach vacation in Cabo San Lucas, flying there in a private jet after hosting his daughter’s 20-person wedding in Texas, where rules only allowed gatherings of 10. Adler’s among many officials exhibiting double standards, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who’s inviting hundreds of guests to holiday gatherings while department underlings must hold events virtually.
Not many hip-hop compositions have a chorus of “Find the root over 2a.” But this is a problem 26-year-old Dajae Williams has solved, OZY reports. The quality engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is using her musical talent to encourage Black children to excel in STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and math. The St. Louis native has racked up hundreds of thousands of views with her “Unit Conversions” rap on YouTube and two singles on Spotify, and at a time when only 3 percent of STEM bachelor’s degrees go to Black women, Williams’ music may be a winning formula.
It was in the cards. Sure, superstar Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 750th career goal last night, helping Italy’s Juventus win 3-0 over Dynamo Kyiv. But he did it under the steely gaze of Stéphanie Frappart, the first woman to referee a men’s Champions League game. The French official previously made history officiating the men’s UEFA Super Cup final last year. In another milestone for women’s soccer, on Tuesday the World Cup champion U.S. Women’s National Team settled its gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, which agreed to gender parity in working conditions. The team’s pay dispute remains unresolved.