As Britain enters its second day of COVID-19 vaccinations, those not among the first recipients await approvals, manufacturing and difficult distribution. In the hard-hit U.S., the government’s vaccine development chief said Tuesday he believed “with all my heart” that inoculations would begin within four days of authorization. But getting shots from Belgium to Britain is already complicated: Shipping across larger distances at minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit promises to be daunting. Meanwhile, a peer-reviewed analysis of trial data confirmed the AstraZeneca vaccine’s 90 percent efficacy, while an Emirati trial reportedly showed China’s vaccine is 86 percent effective.
Without explanation, the Supreme Court last night denied a congressman’s petition to invalidate 2.5 million of Pennsylvania’s mail-in ballots. The decision on the “safe harbor” deadline, which locks in certified state results, signals the high court’s disinterest in intervening in an election President Donald Trump seeks, without evidence, to overturn. Texas is now asking the court to throw out President-elect Joe Biden’s victories in four states, but that’s unlikely to prevent Electoral College members from formally choosing Biden when they meet Dec. 14. Trump allies can still challenge results when Congress convenes to certify the outcome Jan. 6.
He may have the watches, but they’ve got the time. In a first for the Trump administration, Congress is poised to override a presidential veto after the House passed a $731 billion defense bill 335-78, safely above the two-thirds majority required. President Trump wanted the bill to remove liability protections from social media companies, and he objected to a provision letting Confederate names be removed from military bases. In the Senate, where Republicans have expressed support for the bill, it’s expected to pass this week with a similarly ironclad margin, continuing a 59-year streak of successful Pentagon appropriations.
Will their ayes meet? OK, so don’t expect candlelight, but there will be plenty of drama as Prime Minister Boris Johnson sits down in Brussels tonight for a three-course dinner and talks over Britain’s future relationship with the EU with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. They’ll “try and lift substantial impasses” on issues like fishing rights and tariffs, allowing negotiators to resume efforts to secure a deal before the year-end deadline. Britain reportedly already wants to break from Europe by lifting punitive tariffs on U.S. aircraft in hopes of securing a trade deal with Washington.
The U.S. Army has taken disciplinary action against 14 commanders and other supervisors over violence against women, including murdered soldier Vanessa Guillen, at Fort Hood in Texas. Ethiopian troops reportedly fired upon United Nations aid workers attempting to help people caught in fighting over the country’s Tigray region. And victims of a mysterious illness that caused seizures in dozens of people in southern India have elevated amounts of lead and nickel in their blood, a medical official has revealed.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’: He's the billionaire who needs no introduction. Bill Gates talks to Carlos about the pandemic, the future of public health, his take on Black Lives Matter and the most innovative tech companies today. You might be surprised at which celebrity he says is the most interesting person he’s met. Tune in for more.
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Just say “nyet.” Russians grappling with the pandemic are being asked to lay off the sauce for two weeks before and 42 days after getting the Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19. “It’s a strain on the body,” warned Anna Popova, head of the country’s consumer safety agency. It’s unclear if that will discourage participation — beyond global concerns that the world’s first vaccine was hastily approved. President Vladimir Putin ordered vaccinations to begin last week, restricted to high-risk individuals, but medical personnel have reportedly been giving them to anyone who asks because of low demand.
On the archipelago of Zanzibar, traditional healers are the first stop when someone hears voices. While those practitioners have faith they can counteract a jinn, an evil spirit believed to bedevil patients, a new initiative by international aid groups is providing backup, OZY reports. Healers are being trained to recognize mental health symptoms that require more modern intervention, and it’s catching on. They’re starting to refer patients to local psychiatrists, often in hospitals, where the afflicted can get effective treatment. But the healers, who far outnumber psychiatrists, remain crucial first responders when someone is “bewitched.”
3. Russia Blamed for Hack of Top Cybersecurity Firm
Some days the Cozy Bear gets you. The FBI is investigating a breach of FireEye, one of the world’s top cybersecurity firms, after hackers stole tools the company uses to find vulnerabilities in its high-profile customers’ systems. The California firm blamed the hack on “a nation with top-tier offensive capabilities” — and sources told The Washington Post it was Kremlin-linked APT29, aka Cozy Bear, which has also hacked the State Department and the White House. Experts say the hackers may now have a new set of sophisticated weapons to carry out future attacks.
“A sad, sad day.” That’s how Paul McCartney described Tuesday’s anniversary of the assassination of his fellow Beatle, who was shot by a disturbed fan in 1980, while drummer Ringo Starr shared a message of “peace and love.” You can learn about the twisted psychology behind Lennon’s untimely death on The Thread, OZY’s hit podcast. Also coinciding with the anniversary is the ongoing auction of a grim memento: A copy of the Double Fantasy album that killer Mark David Chapman had Lennon autograph hours before shooting him. It’s expected to sell for $1 million.
It’s a game they won’t play. Two of Europe’s top soccer teams walked off en masse Tuesday, protesting a Romanian official’s alleged racial slur. Paris Saint-Germain was hosting a Champions League match against İstanbul Başakşehir when the Turkish team’s Cameroonian assistant coach, Pierre Webo, complained that official Sebastian Coltescu had referred to him using racist terms. The angry Webo was ejected by another referee, prompting demands for explanations from PSG stars Neymar and Kylian Mbappe before both teams left the field in solidarity. The match is scheduled to resume today with new officials.
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