Start your day smarter with a dossier on the most important world news, rounded off with a shot of intriguing and offbeat stories. Like the president, you deserve no less.
Dec 29, 2021
COVID set new records in the U.S. and around the world, but the CDC said it had overestimated how much of the recent surge was due to Omicron. Two legends passed away – one in sports and one in politics. The S&P is going to beat the tech heavy NASDAQ for the first time in five years. And a pair of innovative sisters could put Kansas on the map again with a bold new invention. All this and more in today’s Presidential Daily Brief.
Watch Dr. Fauci
As He Weighs in on the COVID Crisis in India, the Racial Disparity in Health, and an HIV Vaccine
1 - Harry Reid, former Senate Majority Leader, dies
Small town boy grew up to become the King of the Senate
Harry Reid, the 82-year old former boxer and policeman, passed away this week. Reid was a talented and pugnacious politician who served in Congress for more than three decades. The Democrat famously encouraged a young Barack Obama to run for president and helped him pass Obamacare. “You’re the reason I’m here,” Obama told Reid in a thank you call. The son of Searchlight, Nevada squabbled with many a Republican during his time in office including former President George W. Bush. But Reid did not only fight in politics, he once squared up with his future father in law. Reid got the best of that fight – he married and stayed married to his wife Landra for more than 60 years. "I am a blessed man to have this 5-foot tall woman with me all these years," said Reid. (Sources: CNN, Las Vegas Sun)
2 - Jackson becomes nation’s deadliest major city
More than 98 murders per 100,000 residents
Like most major cities around the country, Jackson, Mississippi has seen the number of homicides skyrocket over the last two years as COVID increased tensions, cut off many outlets, stretched the police force and impacted the economy. Jackson also has suffered from a surge in handgun ownership under the state’s permissive open carry law. Said CNN: “The killings, like so many in another record-setting year of American gun violence, are not the kind that receive national attention. A local business owner was shot outside a barbershop while sitting in his car. A few days later, a man was killed in a shooting that also wounded a 13-year-old boy. A 22-year-old inside a car was sprayed with gunfire at a gas station. A 63-year-old man whose death by gunfire is still largely unexplained.” (Source: CNN)
3 - COVID infections break new daily records
But CDC now says it overestimated omicron infections
The number of people infected with COVID reached another time all-high – more than 1.44M globally and 256K in the U.S.. But in the U.S., the CDC said it had substantially overestimated how much of the recent surge was due to omicron – often by 50% – and thus revised its estimates. According to former FDA head Scott Gottlieb that means that the delta variant is still likely a key driver of new infections alongside omicron. Whatever the cause of the recent infection surge, two things have remained true – those who are unvaccinated are much more likely to contract COVID and hospitals in the U.S. are beginning to report significant overcrowding. (Source: Bloomberg, The Hill)
4 - S&P poised to beat NASDAQ, a first since 2016
Tech stocks have performed less well as vaccines have rolled out
The tech heavy NASDAQ has had a good year – up 23% at the moment. But the more old school S&P is up 28% so far this year and is likely to beat the NASDAQ for the first time in 5 years. “All the stay-at-home, play-at-home, work-from-home stocks were DOA in 2021, like the pandemic didn’t exist anymore,” said Jake Dollarhide, CEO of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Okla. That included Peloton, Zoom and Spotify, who experienced double digit declines this year after a record 2020. (Source: CNBC)
5 - Briefly
Here are some things you should know about today:
Alaska hit record high temperatures for December at 67 degrees – up to 45 degrees above average.(Source: Seattle Times) Google Maps may have led Tahoe travelers astray during a snowstorm. A professor pointed out on Twitter that some of the short cuts suggested by Google Maps may have dangerously led travelers to poorly maintained roads and closed off highways. (Source: SF Gate)
1 - Polyamory is on the rise
Once looked down upon, polyamory is becoming more mainstream
A new BBC profile highlights the rise of open relationships. Indeed, in 2016, a survey of nearly 9,000 single US adults showed that one in five had previously been in a consensually non-monogamous relationship. A Canadian survey came up with roughly the same numbers a year later. And even more recently, the actor Will Smith has spoken about his longtime open relationship, while dating apps have nearly exploded with references to Ethical Non-Monogamy or ENM. Google has also seen searches for polyamory and open relationships skyrocket and poly couples are increasingly being approved for adoption. (Source: BBC)
2 - Trump judge rejects Capitol Rioters
Accused Proud Boys tried to claim First Amendment protection
A Trump-appointed federal judge rejected a motion to dismiss Capitol riot charges against several accused Proud Boys who sought to claim First Amendment protection for their actions. Judge Tim Kelly said that the defendants had many more peaceful ways to protest and exercise their First Amendment rights. Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, and Charles Donohoe are charged with trespassing, destruction of property, and interference with law enforcement during the deadly insurrection. (Source: Business Insider)
3 - Adele loses her crown
New album sales down 82% from her previous high of 8M
Super star British singer Adele had a good 2021 selling 1.4M copies of her new album “30”, but canceled country music star Morgan Wallen did even better. Wallen’s “Dangerous: The Double Album” sold more than 3M copies this year despite Wallen being canceled from awards shows after he was heard using the n-word. Taylor Swift dropped multiple albums this year on the way to a cumulative 4M copies sold. But her one-time nemesis Kanye West could not get to 1M albums sold with his latest release, Donda. Amazingly, Fleetwood Mac sold nearly 1M copies including of their 1977 album Rumours! (Source: Showbiz 411)
4 - Innovative sisters break new ground in Kansas
Raise $1M to launch “Tinder for jobs”
Sisters Angela Muhwezi-Hall and Deborah Gladney from Wichita have become the first black women to raise $1M to launch a new business in Kansas. They created a compelling new app called QuickHire to help frontline workers find jobs more easily. So far, they say that more than 12K jobseekers have used the app along with 70 businesses. The sisters who grew up in small Kansas towns have focused on helping frontline workers in the retail, restaurant and hospitality industries to start. “We sat on it for quite some time, but we’d always go back to it. Like, it would be so great if people could apply by swiping,’” recalls Muhwezi-Hall. Added Gladney: “We pride ourselves on being underserved founders who are serving underserved workers in an underserved geographic region.” (Source: The Guardian)
5 - John Madden passed away
Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster died at 85
John Madden who led the Oakland Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI died on Tuesday. He was a bright, lively, and ebullient broadcaster who made watching football fun. In addition to his coaching and broadcasting success, Madden also had one of the most popular video games in history named after him – Madden NFL. When he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006, he said: "I have never worked a day in my life. I went from player to coach to a broadcaster and I am the luckiest guy in the world.” (Source: ESPN, CNN)
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