Bold start. Smooth finish. The newsletter that interesting people love.
Good morning! Take a deep breath and let it out. We’re finally here, at the end of a year we would probably all rather forget. But there’s plenty to remember too — if just to learn the right lessons. Of compassion. Of determination. Of love. In the year’s final Whiskey in Your Coffee, you’ll meet some of the best visual chroniclers of our times, learn about the health innovations that promise hope in 2021, marvel at public figures who lived double lives and prepare for a relaxed evening at home. We’ve made it. Allow yourself a smile 😊
Despite pressure from Democrats, some Republicans and even President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell nixed talk of any quick vote on sending Americans $2,000 relief checks, saying there was “no realistic path” to do so. Meanwhile, GOP Sen. Josh Hawley says he’ll contest the certification of the Electoral College vote confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s win, meaning senators are likely in for a lengthy floor debate over Trump’s false assertions of election fraud. (Sources: Washington Post, NYT)
2. Deadly Explosion
At least 26 people died and scores more were injured when explosions and gunfire erupted at Yemen’s Aden airport shortly after a plane carrying members of the newly formed government landed. Another explosion struck near the presidential palace shortly afterward. It’s not clear who is responsible for either blast and Houthi rebels have denied responsibility. (Sources: The Guardian, Al Jazeera)
3. Messy Breakup
With Brexit set to come into effect at 11 p.m. tonight London time, U.K. lawmakers approved the EU trade deal negotiated by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Holdouts who voted against the deal included members of parties from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, pointing up longstanding predictions that Brexit could lead to tensions or even a breakup of the United Kingdom. (Sources: BBC, FT)
4. Tech Tax
After a nearly yearlong pause in taxes on the digital revenue of big tech companies, France has started collecting again, sparking a fight with the U.S. — which is retaliating with high tariffs on $1.3 billion in French imports starting Jan. 6. Italy and the U.K. are expected to follow France’s lead, which could put the squeeze on huge multinationals used to taking advantage of tax structures. (Source: WSJ)
Fragments of wood from the 5,000-year-old Great Pyramid in Giza have been missing for a century. Now an Egyptian curator has found them in a cigar box in Aberdeen, Scotland. These are historic treasures. I guess it’s good no one mistook them for cigars. The pharaohs might have had a problem.
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A man in a bright pink tuxedo and matching tie stands with a shopping cart, watching with a half-smile as a mob lynches a pro-democracy protester. The classic image is a part of the “Pink Man” series that Sriwanichpoom, Thailand’s most prominent photographer, uses to underscore the apathy bred by consumerism — which he argues allows democracy to be weakened. Now, with his country on the boil again, he’s protesting against general-turned-Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha’s authoritarian rule through photo art, which he and his colleagues exhibited in Bangkok in July.
2. Joana Choumali
There was a moment after her grandmother passed, seemingly taking her family’s history with her, when Choumali questioned her African identity. After all, the Abidjan-born Ivorian photographer knew nothing of rural African life. Today, she’s the continent’s leading photo artist using images to bring alive African identities — and challenges from scarification to terrorism. The 46-year-old started out in advertising, but photography pulled her in. Last year, Choumali became the first African winner of the prestigious Prix Pictet photography prize.
3. Leysis Quesada Vera
She’ll immerse you in the beautiful colors of Cuba — and remind you of the country’s decline from an outpost of hope and resilience for many around the world to a state where most places, things and people look like they’ve seen their best years. The deep blue sea and the wrinkles on the faces of the elderly in black and white coexist in this 47-year-old Cuban genius’s world — as they do in reality.
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A dramatic new blood test developed by a team of British, German, Russian and Austrian scientists could help predict whether a patient is likely to need critical caresoon after they develop COVID-19 symptoms. If it clears tests in the U.K., Germany and the U.S., it could allow hospitals to identify complex cases early and treat them before they turn serious.
2. Warm Vaccine
A key limitation of the most effective vaccines so far is the need for them to be kept at ultra-low temperatures, making it hard to transport and store them in tropical developing nations. Now a team of Indian scientists is creating a vaccine that will remain stable at as high as 212 degrees F — the boiling point of water. If successful, it could fundamentally alter global access to vaccines.
3. $1 Test
When the coronavirus hit Africa earlier this year, the continent of 1.3 billion people had only two labs that could test for it. Virologist Amadou Sall and his team at Senegal’s prestigious Institut Pasteur got to work and have developed a $1 test that shows results in 10 minutes. It’s now undergoing regulatory clearances. If approved, it could offer a vital lifeline to public health services across the developing world.
Binge on Reset America
At the end of one of the most turbulent years in recent history, one poignant and lasting impact of 2020 may be the racial awakening that followed the murder of George Floyd in May. As we continue our campaign to host the bold conversations the country needs going into 2021, binge on our Reset America playlist here to dive into meaningful discussions with everyone from Ava DuVernay and Ta-Nehisi Coates to Megyn Kelly and Malcolm Gladwell.
Secret Double Lives
If you’re one for looking back at the past year, why restrict it to that? Check out these crazy true stories of public figures who — unknown to most — lived double lives.
Famously played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film Catch Me If You Can, Abagnale donned a series of fake identities starting at age 16, from airline pilot to doctor to sociology professor. What made Abagnale’s double-living so impressive was its multiple dividends: Impersonating an airline pilot not only provided a steady salary and flow of friendly flight attendants but also a means for Abagnale to criss-cross the country and cash phony checks before skipping town.
2. Charles Lindbergh
To his adoring American fans, he was Lucky Lindy and, later, a devoted husband and father to six children. But to Lindbergh’s seven other children — the ones living in Germany — he was mild-mannered American writer Careu Kent. That’s right, it turns out the globe-trotting Lindbergh’s most daring trans-Atlantic feat in his later years was the two-decade round-trip voyage between his American and German families. Read more on OZY.
3. Brian Myerson
This South African turned London tycoon kept his second family much closer — just around the corner, in fact. Myerson installed his mistress Claire and their son in a Hampstead house just a stone’s throw from where he lived with his wife and family in the early 2000s. Despite the daring proximity, he managed to keep his second family a secret for a decade, but eventually had to pay his wife a multimillion-dollar divorce settlement.
Home Party: Films to Watch
Stay away from parties that might be superspreader events. Party at home instead. Try out one of the myriad recipes we’ve shared in the past few days, snuggle under a blanket and watch these New Year’s Eve films.