He congratulated President-elect Joe Biden. But that wasn’t the Senate majority leader’s only defiance of President Donald Trump, who continues to baselessly question the results of the Nov. 3 election. In a call to Republican senators Tuesday, McConnell urged them not to join Trump-supporting House members in challenging the Jan. 6 congressional certification of the Electoral College’s 306-232 vote that made Biden’s victory official. A challenge requires at least one senator’s signature, but even die-hard Trump loyalist Sen. Ron Johnson acknowledged the election’s legitimacy — though he still plans to hold a hearing on election “irregularities” today.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration documents released Tuesday indicate that Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is expected to be given emergency authorization Friday, doesn’t just prevent symptomatic coronavirus infections with 94 percent efficacy: It also reduces asymptomatic infections by 63 percent after only the first of two injections needed for full protection. But even combined with Pfizer’s shot that’s already being administered, vaccines won’t help those already stricken. U.S. hospitalizations and deaths are surging, and California has bought 5,000 more body bags and is keeping dozens of refrigerated trucks on standby to store the deceased.
Ask Fauci: Later this week, OZY’s co-founder will be interviewing America’s most trusted immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, on The Carlos Watson Show. What would you like Carlos to ask him? Tell us by replying to this email.
3. Clerics Urge ‘Gay Conversion Therapy’ Ban
South Africa’s renowned Archbishop Desmond Tutu was among more than 370 global religious leaders to urge a ban on so-called gay conversion therapy. Those signing yesterday’s declaration against the practice, which can range from psychotherapy to electric shocks and other forms of torture, represented all major faiths. Some professionals, though, expressed concern that bans might also prohibit such things as hormone therapy for gender reassignment. Tuesday also saw Hungary’s Parliament pass laws restricting gay citizens’ rights by blocking same-sex couples from adopting children — as well as cementing Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s grip on power.
Now they’re serious: Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senate Majority Leader McConnell have said they’re closer to a new pandemic relief bill and won’t adjourn for the holidays until they agree on one. The potential $1 trillion deal has been held up by GOP demands to shield employers from liability for worker illness, which now appears to be off the table, and Democrats’ demands for aid for local governments. They say the need is acute, especially among communities of color, because the previous relief package’s federal eviction ban expires at the end of the month.
MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has donated $4.2 billion to charities to counter the “wrecking ball” of the pandemic, which she noted has helped enrich billionaires. The European Union’s top official said there was a “very narrow” path to a post-Brexit trade agreement with Britain. And having previously escaped the worst of the pandemic, Germany is imposing new lockdown rules today, closing schools and many businesses, including retailers laden with Christmas merchandise.
Listen Up! In OZY's final hump day playlist of 2020, end the year right with a sweet medley of old favorites and exciting new artists to vault you ahead into the new year. Check it out now.
Carlos is joined by the fiery and fearless Rep. Maxine Waters, who is exasperated. Waters gives insight into the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, voices her struggles to understand those holding their desire for power over America’s democratic system, and speaks boldly about the need to end poverty. Who does she say is the best politician she’s ever met? Watch now to find out.
General Motors and OZY are helping to drive change, and we’re inviting others to join us on the journey. GM has ranked among the top 50 U.S. companies for diversity for five years running according to DiversityInc. It is also a proud member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable, a group of 28 companies that spend $1 billion annually in support of minority and women-owned businesses. The innovative auto and tech giant is teaming up with OZY to #ResetAmerica by advocating for social and economic justice and tackling the tough challenges and persistent inequities that Black entrepreneurs face across the U.S.
They know when you’ve been naughty — allegedly. ’Tis the season for law enforcement officers to don the apparel of Kris Kringle and his elfish lieutenants. Peruvian police with Santa suits concealing body armor jumped out of a van Sunday and burst into the Lima home of a man suspected of peddling dope near a school, finding suspected drugs and a revolver. And last week officers working a "Santa's Intervention" shoplifting detail at a Riverside, California, mall stopped a carjacking, with a green-clad elf arresting one suspect while his jolly colleague chased another and a passerby yelled, “Get him, Santa!”
With President Trump’s help, U.S. coal producers went big on exports, and it paid off: They rose 60 percent and coal was back. But that growth hinged on new power plants in the developing world financed by investors in Japan and South Korea, OZY reports. Climate concerns are shifting investments toward cleaner energy, though, and in 2019, U.S. coal exports dropped 30 percent as financiers in Tokyo and Seoul pulled back on soot-spewing energy plants. Now American moves to develop Pacific coal terminals seem shortsighted, especially as the U.S. itself begins heading in the other direction.
3. Jolly Old St. Nick Is COVID-19-Positive in Georgia
The rosy cheeks should have been a red flag. The chairman of southeastern Georgia’s Long County Commission is now trying to explain to concerned parents how a coronavirus-infected Santa and Mrs. Claus cozied up to 50 of their children last week. “They were not displaying any symptoms at the time,” said Robert Parker, whose fellow commissioners are determined to continue holiday events to provide “some sense of normalcy.” The season is a big risk for Santa actors, according to the International Brotherhood of Real Bearded Santas, which has already lost three of its members to COVID-19.
4. Fashion Mogul Peter Nygård Nabbed in Trafficking Case
It’s not just financial bankruptcy. Acting on sex trafficking and racketeering charges leveled by U.S. authorities, Canadian police have arrested the Nygård International founder, who fostered off-the-rack fashion labels over a half-century. His indictment alleges he used his personal and professional resources to recruit victims for “sexual gratification” for himself and his associates. The business went under in March after initial sex crime allegations surfaced, leading to a class-action lawsuit by 57 women accusing Nygård of sexual assault, intimidation and bribery. Lawsuits have also accused a talent agency and an Instagram model of helping ensnare victims.
We’ve hit peak “Greek Freak.” Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo signed the fattest contract in NBA history Tuesday, opting to stay with the Milwaukee Bucks for five years. The salary cap-busting $228 million deal is enabled by the “supermax” clause in the collective bargaining agreement, which helps teams retain established superstar players. The record extension offers proof that it works, giving smaller markets hope that they can keep local stars from leaving for the coasts. “This is my home, this is my city,” Antetokounmpo tweeted, saying he was “blessed” to stay with the Bucks. “Let’s make these years count.”