Without intervention by the Supreme Court and the three conservative justices he'd appointed, President Donald Trump succeeded in starting an unprecedented series of federal executions yesterday. Brandon Bernard, 40 years old, died by lethal injection in an Indiana federal prison for his involvement in the 1999 gang killing of two youth ministers on a military base in Texas. Kim Kardashian West pleaded with Trump for clemency, saying Bernard had reformed, and his new high-profile attorneys, Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr, failed to convince the Supreme Court to delay the execution. Bernard was the first of five Black men slated to die before the new president is inaugurated.
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2. US Brokers Morocco-Israel Normalization
It’s dealmaking on a Biblical level. After receiving a huge U.S. diplomatic concession, Morocco has agreed to normalize relations with Israel, becoming the fourth Arab nation to do so this year. The prize offered by President Trump was U.S. recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, where the Sahrawi people have fought or demonstrated for independence for half a century. Critics of the deals on Israel’s behalf say the tradeoffs risk instability throughout the region, evidenced by the recent sale of some of America’s most sophisticated weaponry to the United Arab Emirates.
“This was a horrible preventable tragedy.” That’s how the Southern Nevada Bicycle Coalition reacted to the news of a truck swerving into a group of cyclists on a Nevada highway Thursday, killing five and injuring two, one critically. Authorities are investigating and don’t suspect driver impairment was involved when a box truck swerved into a group of about 18 cyclists near Boulder City about 25 miles south of Las Vegas. One member of the group, which had made the trip through Nevada and California every year since the early 2000s, said he thought strong winds may have been a factor in the crash.
There was an empty space, and investors moved right in. After suffering a seemingly crushing downturn as the pandemic paralyzed travel, startup Airbnb rode a smoking hot initial public offering market to crush its own stock market debut Thursday. After recently contemplating offering shares as low as $56 each, the company opened on the Nasdaq at $146, and finally settled at $144.71. That put the company’s valuation above $100 billion, eclipsing three of the world’s biggest hotel chains — combined. Not so fortunate were American workers, who filed 853,000 unemployment claims last week, the highest since Sept. 19 and well above expectations for yesterday’s report.
Acclaimed author, journalist and thinker Ta-Nehisi Coates joins Carlos and opens up about how fatherhood has impacted his life and work — and why he still admires President Obama, despite their disagreements. Tune in for an exclusive reading from Between the World and Me, his award-winning 2015 book and soon-to-be HBO special.
GM is adding fuel to racial justice efforts by designating $10 million for organizations that support inclusion and diversity, and appointing a new Inclusion Advisory Board that aims to boost diversity from within. This comes at a crucial time: 41 percent of Black-owned U.S. businesses were shuttered for good between February and April of this year owing to the pandemic, compared to 17 percent of white-owned companies, exacerbating long-running racial disparities. GM’s efforts are why OZY, with its editorial mission to help #ResetAmerica and stamp out racism, is excited to team with the auto and tech giant.
The vote was 17-4. As more Americans are dying from COVID-19 every day than did during the 9/11 attacks, independent experts advising the Food and Drug Administration overwhelmingly approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use. Panelists discussed this week’s severe allergic reactions suffered by two recipients in Britain, along with advice for pregnant women, who were excluded from Pfizer trials. The panel determined that the benefits of approval outweighed the risks, clearing the way for FDA approval within days. In Australia, a trial of another COVID-19 vaccine was halted for causing false positives on HIV tests in the first acknowledged vaccine development failure.
The President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris once again gained something coveted by Donald Trump: Time’s “Person of the Year” designation. All but three U.S. presidents have received the honor, including Trump before he took office in 2016, but Harris is the first vice president to be named. The story’s author, Charlotte Alter, praised Biden’s conciliatory campaign message, “while Hurricane Trump was … chewing up norms and spitting them out.” The magazine, which named K-pop sensation BTS and L.A. Laker LeBron James as entertainer and athlete of the year, revealed that Trump was on the shortlist, along with frontline health workers and pandemic expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.
They’re not R2-D2, but they’re still adorable. As Muscovites try to stay off streets wafting with contagion, technology is whirring into action to keep them fed. Yandex, a major web-based firm, has deployed a fleet of 20 six-wheeled vacuum-cleaner-resembling autonomous vehicles to fulfill restaurant delivery orders. Dmitry Polishchuk, CEO of the company’s self-driving group, predicts the diminutive helpers will “slowly but steadily become a normal part of city life.” When they arrive, customers enter a pin and the rover coughs up dinner, or actually won’t cough like a human courier might, which makes the robots that much more welcome.
She aims to restructure society one structure at a time. Kimberly Dowdell knew she wanted to be an architect when she was 11, but the odds were long, OZY reports. Black women make up only 0.4 percent of the profession, and adding Black men still totals just 2 percent. As the president of the National Organization of Minority Architects, the Detroit native is determined: With Black Americans living in urban spaces, it makes sense that they should design them. The solution? That’s simple: Spark the next generation’s 11-year-olds with the fire that burned within Dowdell.
It was a black day for Fuzhou University’s women’s soccer squad. That’s because one of the southwestern Chinese institution’s players hadn't dyed her hair black enough to avoid disqualification and a forfeited match. Both Fuzhou and opponent Jimei University were called out for having players with colorfully dyed hair, which they quickly remedied with black dye, but referees found Fuzhou’s player insufficiently black. It’s indicative of a trend where social norms are tightening under President Xi Jinping — even to the point of blurring images of foreign pop stars wearing earrings and making male athletes wear long sleeves to cover tattoos.