With COVID-19 having become America’s leading cause of death and one vaccine’s short supplies igniting conflict, the Food and Drug Administration yesterday approved a second inoculation for emergency use. Developed by Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, the shot effectively doubles supplies and ships easily because it doesn’t require ultra-low-temperature storage. Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence and House and Senate leaders got injected with the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine that more than 128,000 Americans, mostly medical staff, have received out of 2.9 million doses reportedly shipped. California’s Stanford University has apologized after senior medical staff working from home were selected for immunization over some 1,300 high-risk resident physicians, who staged a protest.
Aside from bizarre notions like declaring martial law to rerun the election, fielded by hardcore Trumpists, official Washington has moved on from unfounded “massive fraud” claims that President Donald Trump still insists tainted President-elect Joe Biden’s Nov. 3 victory. Top Republican leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have accepted the outcome, and the president has remained relatively silent, skipping a White House holiday party and ignoring ongoing cyberespoinage at government agencies. But for fundraising efforts, he’s still vocal, soliciting some $250 million variously couched as fraud-fighting or a “Georgia Election Fund” that doesn’t help that state’s GOP Senators fight for their jobs.
It’s a different kind of Zoom bomb. The teleconferencing platform says it’s cooperating with the U.S. Justice Department, which has charged one of Zoom’s China-based executives, Xinjiang Jin, with conspiring with Beijing officials to disrupt group calls in June commemorating the anniversary of China’s brutal 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. The federal complaint alleges that Jin, a “security technical leader,” identified forbidden political or religious discussion, collected data on participants and cut their access. The allegations “lay bare the Faustian bargain,” the charging document claims, that China requires of U.S. tech firms. China banned Zoom in 2019 and has since re-authorized its use.
Ruling 6-3 against a challenge of the Trump administration’s policy of excluding undocumented immigrants from Census counts, the high court nonetheless left the issue open to be considered later. The problem, said the majority, is that it isn’t clear which types of immigrants might be excluded and how that would impact next year’s reapportionment of congressional districts. During oral arguments last month, conservative justices expressed skepticism of such exclusions, and it’s even possible that the Census won’t be complete until after President-elect Biden takes office Jan. 20 and likely reverses his predecessor’s policy.
In the Week Ahead: British and European Union negotiators are racing to bridge differences on issues such as fishing rights and trade rules before Sunday’s EU-imposed deadline for cementing a post-Brexit deal its members can approve by year’s end. Monday at one minute past midnight is the latest U.S. government shutdown deadline after President Trump signed a two-day funding bill Friday, allowing time for congressional leaders to negotiate a federal budget that could include pandemic relief. And on Thursday, Italy, with surging pandemic hospitalizations and Europe’s highest death toll, will begin a four-day Christmas lockdown.
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.
It’s the outgoing president's triumph. But getting Sudan and Morocco, along with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to recognize Israel came at a cost. That’s the assessment of OZY’s Butterfly Effect, which argues that this has created some Saharan quicksand for Trump’s successor. In Sudan, the deal’s success requires convincing Congress to give Osama bin Laden’s 1990s host immunity from U.S. terror survivors’ lawsuits. President-elect Biden may also have to tolerate Trump’s legitimization of Morocco’s globally rejected Western Sahara occupation. The alternative? More policy flip-flops, devaluing any agreement signed by Washington.
If you were president, would you back away from Israeli-Arab diplomatic deals or fight for more? Respond to this email with your first name, last initial and city or state and we may include your viewpoint in the PDB.
2. Together Again: Cotton and Slavery
There’s a common thread. An exhaustive investigation by the BBC has determined that the Chinese government is engaged in an extensive program forcing hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other minorities to work in cotton fields feeding China’s textile industry. The alleged practice is eerily evocative of America’s antebellum South, where Black slaves were forced to pick cotton. The practice, which Beijing says is an effort to alleviate rural poverty, targets often Muslim minorities in the western Xinjiang region, where more than 1 million people of similar background are believed to be detained in camps that reportedly force inmates into factory work.
They couldn't remember landing the plane. Spirit Airlines Flight 708’s pilots were almost overcome by toxic fumes, but donned oxygen masks just in time to land. But their 2015 experience isn’t unique: The air circulating in jetliner cabins comes through jet engines, which can be contaminated by engine oil. Airlines and regulators say the risk is minimal. But the Los Angeles Times has found that “fume events” are alarmingly frequent, sickening or impairing 400 passengers and crew in one year. Something as simple as a carbon monoxide detector might provide an early warning, but so far the devices are more common in homes than jetliners.
It was a mesmerizing yarn. But the core elements of star journalist Rukmini Callimachi’s award-winning Caliphate podcast were unsubstantiated, the paper announced Friday. Editors “fell in love” with the fact that a purported ISIS member, Canadian Shehroze Chaudhry, had agreed to describe his experiences, explained Executive Editor Dean Baquet, and “didn’t listen hard enough” when contradictory evidence emerged. Canadian authorities charged Chaudhry in September with perpetrating a terrorist hoax, and Friday’s announcement resulted from the Times’ two-month internal probe. But the podcast wasn’t retracted. Rather it comes with a disclaimer that parts of the podcast didn’t adhere to the paper’s journalistic standards, while Callimachi is being reassigned.
They look positively international. For a U.S. men’s national soccer club that was booted from 2018 World Cup contention by Trinidad and Tobago, that may be a good thing. The USMNT has a stable of players like Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna. One standout is Sergiño Dest, who last month became the first American to score a goal for Barcelona, arguably Europe’s strongest pro team. The son of a U.S. serviceman, Dest grew up in the Netherlands and seems the embodiment of U.S. soccer’s future, with its farm teams being Continental powerhouses.