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Dec 07, 2021
Markets rebounded on reports that omicron may be less severe than originally feared. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the country’s first vaccine mandate for private sector employees. Meanwhile, the most recent investigation into the murder of Emmett Till has closed with no new charges. And the U.S. Justice Department announced it will sue the state of Texas over new redistricting that dilutes the voting power of minorities.
1 - Cautious Optimism
Stocks rise on hoped of a milder Covid-19 variant
U.S. stock indexes recouped most of their losses after early reports from researchers in South Africa indicated that omicron may be less severe than initially thought. Though it could be weeks before a clear picture emerges, markets are cautiously optimistic. Cryptocurrencies also stabilized after plummeting over the weekend. Markets have been volatile due to concern over the new variant, inflation and the increasing likelihood that the Federal Reserve will accelerate winding down its stimulus program. On Monday, the Fed indicated it may raise interest rates as soon as March.(Sources: WSJ, CNBC)
2 - A Preemptive Strike
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expands vaccine mandate
Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced sweeping measures requiring all on-site employees of private businesses to be vaccinated. This latest mandate, slated to take effect Dec. 27, aims to stem an alarming citywide rise in the delta variant and curb fears over omicron. Vaccines for city employees and workers in restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues are already mandated. Incoming mayor Eric Adams will be tasked with enforcing the mandate after Mr. de Blasio leaves office at the end of December. De Blasio, who faces certain legal battles over the mandate, said in a news conference, “We cannot let covid back in the door again.” (Sources: WaPo, NYT)
3 - Still No Justice
US shuts latest investigation into Till lynching without charges
Investigations into the murder of Emmet Till, one the most horrific lynchings in U.S. history, came to an end yesterday. The U.S. Justice Department reopened the case in 2017 after Carolyn Bryant Donham, who claimed in 1955 that 14-year-old Till made advances to her, was quoted as saying she'd lied about the incident. The Mississippi killing galvanized the civil rights movement after Till's mother insisted on an open casket and photos were published of the teen's brutalized body. The two white men arrested for Till’s murder were acquitted by an all-white jury but confessed to the crime months later in an interview with Look magazine. (Source: NPR)
4 - Justice for Texas?
Justice Department sues Texas over new redistricting maps
The Justice Department has accused Texas of violating the Voting Rights Act by drawing up arbitrary, bizarrely-shaped districts that weaken the voting power of minorities. The new boundaries particularly affect Latinos, the fastest-growing segment of the state’s population. The lawsuit comes as Republicans and Democrats across the country try to capitalize on a once-in-a-decade redistricting process, putting gerrymandering at an all-time high. A spokesperson for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said the administration is “confident that Texas’ redistricting plans will be upheld by the courts.” The Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that it would stay out of gerrymandering disputes. (Source: AP)
5 - Briefly
Here are some things you should know about today:
Early omicron report suggests new variant is highly contagious but less severe. Researchers in South Africa said the variant appears to cause less serious symptoms but scientists cautioned it is still too early to tell. (Source: NYT) Samsung merges business units in surprise shake-up.The company replaced the heads of its three major business units and merged the company’s mobile and consumer electronics businesses. (Source: The Verge) Securities and Exchange Commission investigates Tesla. After a whistleblower claimed the company failed to notify its shareholders and the public of defects in the car’s solar panel system that could lead to fires. (Source: Reuters)
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Watch Darren Walker
The Man Fighting For Systemic Change
1 - Just Say No
U.S. diplomats to boycott 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing
The White House announced U.S. diplomats will boycott the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing to protest Chinese human rights abuses, though American athletes will still compete with full government backing. The decision drew widespread bipartisan support, but some Republicans said the boycott doesn’t go far enough. New Zealand announced it would follow suit, and several other countries, including Australia and the U.K., are also considering boycotts. China called the move, "a self-directed political farce" and accused the U.S. of "politicizing sports." Chinese authorities have been particularly sensitive since the disappearance of tennis star Peng Shuai in November. (Source: BBC)
2 - Moving On Up
Devin Nunes will resign to head Trump media company
To the surprise of his Republican colleagues, Rep. Devin Nunes announced he will leave congress to become CEO of Trump Media & Technology Group and its new social media platform TRUTH Social. The 10-term California congressman — a controversial figure and vested Trump supporter — was poised to become chairman of the influential Ways and Means Committee in 2022 should Republicans retake the House. Former President Donald Trump released a statement calling for “the end to censorship and political discrimination.” Long at odds with mainstream social media, Trump’s TMTG hopes to take on Big Tech while also turning a profit. (Sources: TheHill, AP)
3 - Smollett Claps Back
Jussie Smollett denies involvement in hate crime hoax
Former Empire star Jussie Smollett is on trial for allegedly staging his own hate crime. In testimony on Monday, Smollett rebutted claims by brothers Bola and Ola Osundairo that he paid them to carry out a sham anti-gay and racist attack to gain sympathetic media coverage. In more than five hours of testimony, Smollett denied orchestrating the attack and said his accusers may have had other motivations. The actor said he learned the police weren’t taking his allegations seriously in a text from CNN anchor Don Lemon. Smollett faces up to three years in prison if found guilty. (Sources: CNN, Deadline)
4 - Scary Threats
Vanessa Bryant reveals trolls threaten to release classified photos
The widow of former NBA All Star Kobe Bryant is suing Los Angeles County for invasion of privacy after being "taunted" online by people threatening to leak photos of her husband and 13-year-old daughter, who both died in a helicopter crash in 2020. According to court documents, the suit alleges that first responders took and shared photos of her husband and daughter’s bodies with at least 20 people within the Sheriff’s department and at a bar following the crash. Bryant says she feels "sick and angry" at the egregious lapse, and lives in “constant fear and anxiety” that the photos will go viral online. (Source: Daily Mail)
5 - End of the Race
Kentucky Derby-winning thoroughbred dies after workout
Medina Spirit, whose 2021 Derby win was disputed after a positive drug test, suffered a fatal heart attack during a morning workout at Santa Anita Park on Monday. The colt’s trainer Bob Baffert, one of the most successful horse trainers in the sport’s history, has been under scrutiny since Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a substance used to treat inflammation. Baffert has been prohibited by both the New York Racing association and Churchill Downs from entering his horses in key races, though he has consistently denied any wrongdoing. (Source: WSJ)
PLEASE WEIGH IN
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