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 06, 2021
New data suggesting that the recently detected omicron variant spreads twice as fast as delta caused Bitcoin to plunge more than 20% over the weekend. Republican stalwart Bob Dole has died at the age of 98. The number of U.S. households with a married couple and children has fallen to a record low, according to census data. And on the other side of the world, border tensions continue to escalate between China and Taiwan and Russia and Ukraine.
1 - Like Wildfire
New data shows omicron spreading twice as fast as delta in South Africa
A mathematical analysis by researchers in South Africa suggests that the omicron variant is spreading more than twice as fast as delta, which till now has been the most contagious coronavirus variant. Researchers believe that omicron’s rapid spread is fueled by a combination of the variant’s contagiousness and its ability to circumvent the body’s immune defenses. In response to concerns over the variant’s rapid spread, Rio de Janeiro canceled its famous New Year’s Eve party and Germany’s incoming transport minister advised the country against Christmas travel. (Sources: NYT, AP, Bloomberg)
2 - Crypto Plunges
Bitcoin tumbles due to omicron fears in a volatile week
Capping off a volatile week for financial markets, cryptocurrencies took a hit over the weekend. Bitcoin plunged more than 20% and ether, the coin linked to the ethereum blockchain network, fell more than 10%, as a combination of profit-taking and macroeconomic concerns triggered nearly a billion dollars worth of sales. Global equities and benchmark U.S. bond yields also took a tumble on Friday after data showed that U.S. job growth had slowed in November, while the omicron variant of the coronavirus kept investors on edge. (Source: Business Insider)
3 - RIP Bob Dole
War hero and seven-decade statesman Bob Dole dies at 98
Bob Dole, a Republican stalwart and one of the most recognizable political figures throughout the latter half of the 20th century, died Sunday at the age of 98. Dole served for 27 years as a U.S. senator from Kansas and ran for president three times (most famously against Bill Clinton in 1996). Dole, who was seriously wounded during World War II, had battled a number of ailments over the years: surgery for prostate cancer in 1991, abdominal aortic aneurysm surgery in 2001 and was treated for a leg infection in 2009. (Source: CNN)
4 - War Games
Border tensions mount as superpowers flex military might
Border tensions are heating up between two of the world’s top three nuclear powers. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that China’s recent and more regular incursions into Taiwanese airspace are raising serious concerns that the country may be rehearsing for a military attack on Taiwan. At the same time, tensions are mounting between Washington and Moscow over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine. U.S. intelligence indicates that the Kremlin is planning a multi-front offensive involving up to 175,000 troops as soon as early next year. (Sources: WaPo, FT)
5 - Not Again
Congress reconsiders outdated law to avoid another insurrection
Members of the special House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol are among those arguing for an overhaul of the Electoral Count Act, a more than century-old statute that former President Donald Trump and his team exploited in their futile bid to overturn election results. The law defines the process by which Congress finalizes the results of presidential elections and allows members of the House and Senate to object to election results in writing. It’s not clear if changes to the law will gain any traction, but an overhaul has the support of several leading conservative groups. (Source: NYT)
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Watch Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla
On Keeping Vaccines Safe From Politics
1 - Heed the Warning Signs
More than half of young adults believe democracy is in big trouble
The word is out: young adults profess to having little confidence in American democracy, according to a recent Harvard poll. The Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School asked 2,109 Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 to weigh in and found that 52% believe the United States’ democracy is “in trouble,” if not already “failing.” A meager 7% of respondents view America as a “healthy democracy,” and 27% called the government “somewhat functioning.” Democratic voters were evenly split on the topic, while Republicans (70%) were far more likely to believe the U.S. is a troubled or failed democracy. (Source: Fox)
2 - Move Over Huxtables
Number of households with married couples and children falls to record low
The share of U.S. homes with a married couple and kids fell to a record low this year, according to the Census Bureau, to 17.8% in 2021 from 18.6% last year and more than 40% in 1970. By absolute numbers, there are just 23.1 million homes with nuclear families, the fewest since 1959. Experts attribute the most recent decline in part to the pandemic, which delayed weddings and pushed women’s average marriage age up to 28.5 years, but noted that the birth rate in America has been steadily falling, as adults in general marry later in life and many choose to remain childless. (Source: Bloomberg)
3 - One Last Ride
Pals yank dead man out of coffin for final motorcycle ride
In a grotesque display of camaraderie, a group of men in Ecuador seized the corpse of a dead friend from its coffin and wedged it on the back of a motorcycle for one last ride, cheering and taking photos and videos along the way. The men claim the family of their deceased friend, Erick Cedeno, was onboard with the bizarre ritual, meant as a final farewell. Cedeno, 21, was shot dead last weekend on the way to a loved one’s funeral. Police called the spooky stunt “an aberrant and unhealthy activity” but declined to investigate since no one complained. (Source: New York Post)
4 - Best of Frenemies
China and Musk may need each other but it’s complicated
The Chinese government openly courted Tesla and Elon Musk — showering him with cheap land, low-interest loans and tax incentives — and has significantly impacted the company’s success. Experts estimate that Tesla likely makes more than half its vehicles in China and sales there have helped propel the company to its first full year of profitability. But Tesla has angered domestic rivals over what looks a lot like preferential treatment, and the carmaker has also suffered criticism of its vehicle quality from both drivers and Chinese officials. Despite the coziness, Tesla is not immune from China’s crackdown on big tech. (Source: WSJ)
5 - Blustery Rally Fizzles
White supremacists left stranded after march in downtown Washington
More than 100 members of a militant white supremacist group marched through downtown Washington, D.C. on Saturday evening, bearing American flags and chanting aggressively about their plans to “reclaim America.” The rally, hosted just blocks from the White House, sparked fear and outrage among many bystanders and gained the attention of law enforcement, who followed the group to avoid any conflict. The rally was organized by Patriot Front, a group formerly known as Vanguard America, which changed its name after one of its members murdered a woman at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. (Source: The Daily Beast)
PLEASE WEIGH IN
What are the best TV shows of the year?
If you’re anything like us, you feel like you ran out of great TV shows after rewatching This is Us for the third time. We’re on the lookout for some excellent new shows to binge and would love your suggestions! Please send us your ideas at OzyCommunity@Ozy.com. (For reference, a few things our staff has loved: Godfather of Harlem, The Americans and Insecure).
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