“Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
🗳️ Georgia’s Senate Elections
In-person voting takes place today in Georgia’s two runoff elections that will decide which political party controls a majority in the U.S. Senate over the next two years.
🤿 A deeper dive… Early voting for both runoff elections began December 14, featuring incumbent GOP Sens. David Perdue & Kelly Loeffler against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
The two elections were triggered by state law after no candidate received more than 50% of the vote in November’s general election.
A record 3M GA voters cast their ballots before early voting ended on January 1, 2021.
🏛️ What’s at Stake The 117th Congress convened on Sunday to begin the new two-year term with Republicans sporting a majority in the Senate (50 Republicans – 46 Democrats – 2 Independents who caucus with Democrats).
However, if both Democratic candidates win today’s election, the party would technically flip the Senate majority since Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (D) would be the deciding vote in the event of a 50-50 tie.
Both Democratic candidates hold slight leads in pre-election polling according to RealClearPolitics’ aggregatepolling averages.
Nearly $500M has been spent on advertising between the two races since the November election, per NPR. With outside groups included, Republicans reportedly outspent Democrats $271M to $218M.
⏭️ What’s Next? In November’s presidential contest in Georgia, the results were so close it took ten days before the first network projected Biden as the winner, with the state taking another week to officially certify the election results.
Since GA’s runoff elections are expected to be just as tight, results will likely take days – or weeks – to become official.
Questions about the rating system we use? Learn more
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🇬🇧 UK Enters Third Lockdown
British PM Boris Johnson announced a third national lockdown on Monday in an effort to contain the spread of ‘B117,’ a recently-discovered COVID-19 variant. Under the level 5 alert, people can only leave their homes only for essential purposes until mid-February, with primary schools, secondary schools, and colleges moving to remote learning.
More: Johnson said people can only leave their homes to shop for essentials, work if they can’t from home, exercise, go to the doctor’s, and escape domestic abuse.
A UK judge on Monday denied the U.S. government’s request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face espionage charges. The judge rejected arguments from the defense that Assange faces a politically-motivated U.S. prosecution, but said his distressed mental health would likely further deteriorate under harsh American prison conditions. The U.S. plans to appeal the decision.
💬 Relevant Quote: “I find that the mental condition of Mr. Assange is such that it would be oppressive to extradite him to the United States of America.” –UK District Judge Vanessa Baraitser
More: Assange was indicted in 2019 on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act for his role in obtaining and publishing classified government documents.
Saudi Arabia reached a U.S.-and-Kuwait-brokered agreement with Qatar Monday night, ending three-and-a-half years of diplomatic conflict between the countries.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia – along with the UAE, Bahrain, & Egypt – accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and aligning with Iran. The four countries enacted a joint air-and-sea blockade, which Saudi Arabia agreed to drop on Monday.
U.S. officials said the initial deal could be followed by a broader agreement to end Qatar’s isolation from the other three countries as soon as today.
🎖️ President Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) on Monday. (Left-Center | Right-Center)
🗣️ The premier of Alberta, Canada, disciplined seven government officials for vacationing outside of Canada over the holidays despite guidelines urging the public to refrain from nonessential travel.
📞 In an hour-long phone call recorded this Saturday, President Trump spoke with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberg regarding President-elect Biden’s certified victory in the state. (Full audio | Transcript)
🏀 The Indianapolis 68
The city of Indianapolis, IN, reached an agreement with the NCAA to host the entire 2021 men’s basketball tournament. Games will be played across six NBA, NFL, and college arenas in the area.
More: NCAA officials said family members will be able to attend the games, but a decision on general fan attendance will be made at a later date.
EvenMore: March Madness was canceled in 2020 less than one week before it was scheduled to begin.
📺 Hulu Changes the Channel
Hulu reached an agreement with ViacomCBS to add 14 cable channels to its live-TV offering, including Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, MTV, and Paramount Network (home of Yellowstone). The two companies also renewed the deal that allows Hulu to carry CBS broadcast stations and Showtime.
More: With the deal, ViacomCBS’ channel lineup is now available on both of the top live TV streaming services in the U.S.: Hulu + Live TV (4.1M subscribers) and YoutubeTV (3M subscribers).
🥤 In the Mood for Food
🍗 McDonald’s will launch three new chicken sandwiches – the Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Spicy Chicken Sandwich, and Deluxe Chicken Sandwich – on February 24.
🌯 Chipotlebegan offering cauliflower rice at restaurants nationwide yesterday (a limited-time option costing an additional $2).
🍩 Donut Holes:
🚗 Shareholders of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Groupeoverwhelmingly voted yesterday to merge their companies to create Stellantis – the fourth-largest automaker in the world.
🏥 Haven, the joint health care venture formed three years ago by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase, began informing employees yesterday it will be shutting down. Each firm plans to push forward individually in the industry.
In October, Gail Barnes – executive director of South Plains Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (SPWRC) in Lubbock, TX – discovered an abandoned 4-month-old opossum outside the facility’s doors. Underweight and freezing, the feeble marsupial was determined to have alopecia – a condition that causes hair loss.
Since opossumsrely on their fur to regulate body temperature, the staff at SPWRC put out a call to the community asking for donations of garments small enough for the tiny animal.
Local knittersresponded by crafting a wardrobe of unique sweaters and pouches to keep the rescued opossum cozy during the cold winter.
Thanks to the care of the volunteers at SPWRC, the rescued animal has more than doubled its bodyweight, enjoying a healthy diet of crickets and applesauce.
Craving More Sweetness?
Ahmed Muhammad, a high school senior from Oakland, CA, founded Kits Cubed, a non-profit to boost young learners’ confidence and interest in science after babysitting his niece and nephew.
After closing his oncology practice in March, Dr. Omar Atiq of Pine Bluff, AR, erased the debt owed by 200 of his patients for Christmas –totaling $650,000.
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💎 Ace of Diamonds… jeweler Harshit Bansal of Meerut, India, set the Guinness World Record for most diamonds in a single ring with… *drumroll*… 12,638 sparkling gemstones.
☀️ The Solar Express… introducing Arachne, the Air Force’s new solar-beaming spacecraft designed to harness the power of solar panels above Earth’s atmosphere.
🚚 American Truck Simulator… San Diego-based startup TuSimple is planning to deploy entirely autonomous trucks that drive themselves from pickup to delivery by the end of 2021 (that’s this year, in case you’ve already forgotten 😉).
🚆 Train to Busan… yesterday, South Korea President Moon Jae-in unveiled the KTX-Eum – South Korea’s new low-carbon, high-speed train consisting of electric self-propelled carriages.
🚀🌕 Shoot for the Moon
How many crewed missions have landed on the Moon?
A) Four B) Seven C) Five D) Six
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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