President Donald Trump berated and cajoled Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger Saturday, asking him to recalculate the state’s votes and hand him victory. In an hourlong recording that’s now been publicly released, Trump repeats, “There’s no way I lost Georgia,” despite Raffensperger’s assurance that he did. Legal scholars are calling the tape evidence of an obvious abuse of power and potentially even a criminal act. That might complicate current Republican efforts in the House and Senate to contest Wednesday’s Electoral College tabulation that will cement Trump’s November loss to President-elect Joe Biden.
2. India Approves COVID-19 Vaccines and Ambitious Rollout
Saturday brought emergency approval for not just the AstraZeneca vaccine, but a locally produced shot known as Covaxin, despite critics’ concerns that it hasn’t yet completed phase three clinical trials. India plans to inoculate 300 million people over the next six months using a huge network of vaccination centers that managed to eradicate polio within the country. Meanwhile, scientists were baffled by new British guidelines letting clinics mix-and-match two-dose vaccinations, for example giving patients a first dose of Moderna’s vaccine and a second of Pfizer’s — a plan that’s never been tested in trials.
In the biggest breach yet of the nuclear agreement Iran reached with Western powers in 2015, the republic announced that it has begun enriching uranium to 20 percent purity. Weapons-grade uranium is enriched to 90 percent purity, but this is seen as a step toward returning to the nuclear brinksmanship that was common before the deal was signed. The incoming Biden administration reportedly plans to negotiate with Iran if it complies with the agreement, which President Trump pulled out of two years ago.
First they came for the phones, and we said nothing. Last week, the New York Stock Exchange announced that it will delist multiple Chinese telecom companies over connections to China’s military, and now analysts expect that oil companies Cnooc, Sinopec and PetroChina could be the next giants to go. As for the telecom sector, Beijing said it would step in to protect Chinese firms, while the companies themselves said they hadn’t received any official notice from the NYSE about the delisting.
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And today on The Carlos Watson Show: The legendary star of Cooley High, The Wire and Fargo opens up about his glittering career. Glynn Turman is brought to tears when talking about co-starring with the late Chadwick Boseman, shares candid insights into his regrets and life lessons, and gives a sneak peek of his new movie, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Watch now.
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The traditional inaugural parade stretches from the U.S. Capitol, where the new president is sworn in, to the White House. But given the ongoing public health emergency, the Presidential Inaugural Committee says President-elect Biden’s military escort will just last a couple of blocks, while a televised “virtual parade” involving entertainers and groups from all over the country will be broadcast to replace real-life celebrations. Still, Washington, D.C., hotels have raised rates for the dates surrounding the Jan. 20 ceremony — including the Trump International Hotel.
2. Is Pay-If-You’re-Cured the Future of Health Care?
This might be just what the doctor ordered. U.S. hospitals have struggled during the pandemic in more ways than one, as lucrative elective surgeries were postponed. But hospitals that operated on a “value-based care model” — where they get paid after the patient recovers — were able to weather the storm better, OZY reports. With the Biden administration promising more investment in small care centers, which are least likely to be able to survive in a value-based system because payments for care are often delayed, the pay-if-you’re-cured model is poised to take off around the country.
Even before the pandemic, South Korea had the world’s lowest birth rate, often blamed on poor family leave policies, rising living costs and a cultural lack of work-life balance. Now the country’s population has actually fallen by more than 20,000, with births dropping 10.65 percent last year and deaths rising 3.1 percent. Though the government has launched new family-friendly policies, like a cash bonus of about $1,850 for each new child, births are expected to fall still further in the early months of 2021.
4. TikTok’s 'Ratatouille' Musical Raises $1M for Actors
It was the rat thing to do. Over the last few weeks, Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical has grown from one viral joke to a full-fledged crowdsourced Broadway adaptation of the 2007 Pixar film about a rat chef taking Paris by storm. A New Year’s Day virtual performance starring Titus Burgess, which is still streaming through today, asked actors to film themselves at home and charged $5 for tickets. So far, it’s raised over $1 million for the Actor’s Fund, which has supported out-of-work performers during the pandemic.
“It is obvious we have not been good enough.” So said New York Jets CEO Christopher Johnson as he fired head coach Adam Gase after a lackluster 2-14 season in which the Jets were outscored by a dismal 214 points. The team went 9-23 under Gase, including a franchise record 13-game losing streak in 2020, though admittedly the Jets haven’t seen the playoffs for ten straight seasons. Now Johnson, along with the team president and general manager, will begin the search for a replacement head coach.
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