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Dec 14, 2021
Tornadoes in Kentucky have left thousands without shelter or power for the foreseeable future. Victims of former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar can finally begin to turn the page in one of the largest child molestation cases in history. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld New York’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. And scientists detected cracks in Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier, signaling yet another possible environmental disaster. All this and more in today’s Presidential Daily Brief.
1 - The Fallout Continues
Damage from this weekend’s storms leave many homeless and in the dark
The loss of home … and of life … endured by communities in the Midwest and South this weekend have pushed local governments to the edge as they struggle to provide basic supplies and shelter while repairing homes, businesses and power grids. In Kentucky, the state hardest hit, many residents may end up without heat, water or electricity for weeks, officials said. All this, along with colder winter temperatures, could add up to a crisis for the state. Nearly 26,000 homes and businesses are currently without electricity, 10,000 lack water and another 17,000 are under boil-water advisories. (Source: AP)
2 - Justice Served at Last
Settlement awards $380 million to hundreds of victims of doctor’s sexual abuse
Larry Nassar, doctor for the U.S. national gymnastics team, was sentenced to over 300 years in prison in 2018 for molesting hundreds of gymnasts under his care. Yesterday, those victims gained closure after a $380 million settlement was reached with USA Gymnastics, one of the largest ever for a sexual abuse case. Nassar was accused of sexual abuse by 330 women and girls while working for both USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, which paid out $500 million in 2018. USA Gymnastics filed for bankruptcy in 2018 as the scandal broke. (Source: BBC)
3 - Mandate Stands
The Supreme Court weighs in on New York’s vaccine mandate
The high court ruled Monday to deny two requests to delay New York state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers on religious grounds. The mandate, enacted last summer, was meant to curb rising infection rates as the delta variant tore across the state. The nine justices turned the cases away, although Justices Gorsuch, Alito and Thomas — the court’s three most conservative judges — indicated they would have ruled in favor of the stay. The new ruling comes on the heels of an October decision on a vaccine mandate in Maine that the court also let stand. (Source: TheHill)
4 - Past the Tipping Point?
Cracks in a key Antarctica glacier could spell disaster for the globe
In a worrying development, scientists have found new cracks in Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier that could signal a collapse in the next five years. The Thwaites Glacier, about the size of Florida, is also known as the “doomsday glacier,” as its shrinking could indicate we’re already past the tipping point where a melt might be halted. Already the massive ice shelf’s meltwater accounts for 4% of the global rise in sea levels. If the shelf breaks off, it will likely accelerate the flow of ice off the continent of Antarctica and end up raising global sea levels by a disastrous several feet. (Source: Axios)
5 - Briefly
Here are some things you should know about today:
Shooting at a candlelight vigil outside Houston leaves one dead and 13 injured. An unidentified gunman fired shots into a crowd of around 50 people on Monday at a funeral for a homicide victim. (Source: ABC News) Derek Chauvin may change his plea in federal civil rights case for the death of George Floyd. The police officer who murdered George Floyd is scheduled to submit a guilty plea Wednesday, after an original plea of not guilty. (Source: CNN) Trial of Harvard professor with ties to the Chinese government begins today. Dr. Charles Lieber, former chemistry department chair at Harvard, was charged nearly two years ago with lying about research funding he received from China. (Source: NPR)
Watch IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath
As She Discusses the Global Covid Recession
1 - Air Force Gets Tough
Vaccine refusals lead Air Force to discharge 27
The U.S. Air Force has discharged 27 members for failing to meet a November 2 vaccination deadline. In what officials believe is a first of the pandemic, the airmen — none of whom pursued a medical, administrative or religious exemption — have been administratively discharged for vaccine-related reasons. An Air Force spokesperson confirmed that all of the service members are first-term, lower-ranking personnel. While the Pentagon introduced a vaccine mandate earlier this year for the entire military, the Air Force chose the earliest deadline for vaccination and is the first to begin enforcing the move. (Source: AP)
2 - It’s Electric!
Vice President Kamala Harris announces plan for national charging network
In a bid to encourage the switchover to electric vehicles, the Biden administration announced an ambitious federal program yesterday for the construction of a nationwide network of 500,000 electric charging stations. The strategy will use $5 billion earmarked from the administration’s trillion dollar infrastructure plan to decrease the cost of electric cars and push the U.S. auto industry toward electric. An additional $2.5 billion will provide grants to support changing stations in rural areas and disadvantaged communities. While EV sales make up only 2.6% of all automobiles sold, the Biden administration aims to push that to 12% by 2025. (Source: AP)
3 - Whoopsy Daisy
NFT sells for one-hundredth of its market value due to typing error
Non-fungible tokens are all the rage, but the new craze clearly has some kinks to work out. An NFT valued at around $300,000 sold yesterday for $3,000 when the seller accidentally left off a zero before hitting send. The NFT, called Bored Ape number 3,547, is part of a wildly popular edition of 10,000 original pieces of digital art called The Bored Ape Yacht Club. Though the seller immediately realized his error, it was too late, a buyer instantaneously snapped up the undervalued NFT. In traditional transactions the bank could reverse the mistaken charge, but in the unregulated crypto market no such safeguard exists. (Source: BBC)
4 - Kim K Makes the Grade
The reality TV star has passed the “baby bar” law exam
News flash for those living under a rock: Kim Kardashian has been attending law school. The fashion icon and entrepreneurannounced yesterday that after two years of study and three failed attempts, she has finally passed California’s First-Year Law Students’ exam, also known as the “baby bar.” The 41-year-old may not have completed college, but she discovered a passion for law while championing the case of Alice Marie Johnson, a grandmother serving a life sentence in Alabama for a nonviolent offense until Kardashian helped secure her release. Kardashian’s advice: “don’t ever give up.” (Source: NBC News)
5 - Not-So-Golden Globes
Nominees for the 79th annual Golden Globes announced amid controversy
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, hosts of the Golden Globes TV awards ceremony, announced the nominees for its 79th annual awards yesterday to almost zero fanfare. The Golden Globes were discredited last year after a Los Angeles Times expose revealed both unethical conduct and that none of the association’s 87 voting members were Black, leading to a boycott of the Globes. Despite widespread criticism, Snoop Dogg read this year’s nominees yesterday in a toned-down meeting conspicuously lacking the usual fanfare. Though the HFPA hopes to regain its status, some critics would prefer to see the Globes gone for good. (Source: NPR)
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