Welcome to Thursday. Two things: 1) Thanksgiving is officially one week away and 2) Today’s email is a doozy.
Prepare to travel from Uganda to Thailand, take a 23-mile trek to save a sick swan, and revisit that old rumor about George Clooney’s friends and suitcases full of cash.
Let’s go. 👇🗞️
“Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.”
-Stephen R. Covey
Presidential Election Update
The deadline to certify the November election results has already passed in 12 states, though none of them featured especially close margins or are currently subjected to legal challenges.
Image via Associated Press
According to the Associated Press, President-elect Joe Biden has won 290 electoral votes compared to 232 for President Trump, with Georgia remaining uncalled per the AP’s policy regarding ongoing recounts.
Counties faced a deadline of midnight last night to finish hand recounts of votes cast in the presidential election before Friday’s state certification deadline.
A state official on Wednesday said Biden’s lead over Trump narrowed by ~1k votes to 12,781 after a batch of previously uncounted ballots were discovered in two counties.
🍫 Pennsylvania(this emoji was a hard one)
Current election tallies show Biden leading by nearly 82k votes in the state, which represents 20 electoral votes.
In an ongoing federal lawsuit, the Trump campaign is attempting to block certification of the state’s results, alleging voters in Democrat-leaning areas were given more of an opportunity to correct mistakes on their mail-in ballots (a process called “curing”). Two other lawsuits are currently pending.
Biden currently leads by over 20k votes in the state, which represents 10 electoral votes.
The Trump campaignfiled for a recount in two counties (Dane & Milwaukee) on Wednesday, wiring $3M to the WI Election Commission to cover the cost.
Current tallies show Biden leading by 146k votes in MI, which represents 16 electoral votes.
The only ongoing lawsuit in the state alleges election challengers (representatives of political parties or candidates) were not permitted to observe election and ballot-counting procedures.
Separately, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers (responsible for an area that includes Detroit) reversed its earlier decision and certified the county’s results ahead of Tuesday’s deadline. Dig deeper.
Biden leads by just over 10k votes according to election officials in AZ, which represents 11 electoral votes.
An ongoing lawsuitfiled by the state’s Republican party is seeking to force a second hand count audit in Maricopa County (which includes Phoenix) ahead of the Nov. 23 deadline for AZ counties to certify election results.
Current tallies show Biden leading by more than 33k in the state, which represents six electoral votes.
Two election lawsuits are currently pending. One suit alleges that over 3k ineligible voters cast ballots in Clark County (which covers Las Vegas), while another ongoing suit questions the integrity of the entire state’s general election.
Electors from each state meet on Dec. 14 to formally nominate the next president. This represents a de-facto deadline for election-related legal challenges, though some remote scenarios exist where cases could continue beyond this date.
So… what are people saying?
Donald Trump’s legal strategy makes no sense for winning the vote count. So what is he doing?
Questions about the rating system we use? Learn more
Share Today’s Dose of Discussion
🇺🇸🇲🇽 Drug Charges Dropped
A U.S. judge agreed to federal prosecutors’ request to dismiss charges of drug-trafficking and corruption against General Salvador Cienfuegos, a former Mexican defense secretary. Prosecutors said the decision to drop the charges was made out of foreign policy concerns and driven by AG William Barr after Mexico threatened to cut off bilateral cooperation with U.S. authorities unless Gen. Cienfuegos was returned.
More: Cienfuegos was originally charged with accepting bribes from the H-2 cartel in exchange for directing military operations away from H-2 and towards rival cartels.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said public schools will temporarily switch to fully remote learning through at least the end of next week. The announcement came as the city surpassed a positive coronavirus test rate of 3% over the past seven days, its set threshold for stopping in-person instruction.
🇺🇬 Ugandan security forces clashed with supporters of Bobi Wine, a popular reggae singer and opposition presidential candidate, after he was arrested on Wednesday. Dozens of protesters were reportedly struck with live rounds by police, with as many as eight deaths.
🇩🇪 Berlin police used water cannons on Wednesday to disperse thousands of anti-lockdown protesters. Lawmakers are currently debating a bill that would allow for coronavirus restrictions.
🇧🇾 Thousands gathered in Minsk, Belarus, for their regular Sunday protest exactly 100 days after demonstrators first took to the streets to denounce the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko.
🇹🇭 More than 10k protestersmarched on police headquarters in Thailand on Wednesday, one day after demonstrators clashed with police (leaving more than 50 people injured — six by gunshot).
💉 Pfizer & BioNTech Stand Trial
Pfizer and BioNTech released more vaccine data from their Phase 3 clinical trial on Wednesday, finding their candidate to be ~95% effective compared with a placebo (a 5% increase in efficacy over last week’s announcement). The companies also revealed plans to apply for FDA emergency use authorization “within days,” putting the vaccine on track to be released by the end of the year, if successful.
📱 Apple Plays Small Ball
Apple announced a reduced commission on paid apps and in-app purchases for small businesses yesterday. The company currently takes a 30% cut from all developers, but starting January 1 that will be reduced to 15% for developers who made less than $1M on its platform the previous year.
More: Separately, Apple agreed to pay $113M to settle allegations the company slowed older iPhone models to increase battery life and sell new products but admitted no wrongdoing or violation of the law.
🥊 Quick Hits:
🛫 The FAAcleared Boeing’s 737 MAX to fly passengers again after an almost two-year ban following two crashes that killed 346 people.
🏦 Googlelaunched a new version of its Google Pay app featuring mobile bank accounts and the ability to send peer-to-peer payments (similar to Venmo or Cash App) starting next year.
📈 The price of bitcoin rose above $18k during trading Wednesday morning for the first time since Dec. 2017. Dig deeper.
⛽ UK PM Boris Johnson said sales of new cars and vans powered wholly by gas or diesel will be banned by 2030.
🏀 The Minnesota Timberwolves selected University of Georgia guard Anthony Edwards with the #1 overall pick in last night’s NBA Draft. The full list of picks.
🦢 The Swan Princess
Ariel Cordova-Rojas was bicycling and birdwatching at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, NY, on November 5th when she spotted a sick swan. Having served for five years as a manager at the Wild Bird Fund rehabilitation facility in Manhattan, Ariel was the perfect person to rescue the ailing avian, scooping the bird up in her coat and walking a mile back to the nature preserve’s entrance.
What followed was a 23-mile trek across three of New York City’s boroughs to deliver the swan to safety.
After reaching the park entrance, Ariel received a ride to the nearby subway station, boarding the train while still carrying the bird and bike. Most of the other subway riders, who have certainly witnessed all manners of strange sights while taking the public transit system, barely noticed the presence of the 17-pound swan. Finally, Ariel successfully transferred the bird to the care of the Wild Bird Fund staff.
🏃️ Amazing Race
Rebel Hays, a fourth-grader from Fayetteville, AR, loves to run – and is good at it too. In 2019, Rebel earned the title of the “Fastest Kid in Fayetteville,” a regional recognition certifying him as a star athlete. Thus, this track season, the young runner took on a new challenge that has him racing with a different class of competitors.
In response to a request from the local high school’s track team, Rebel now serves as a guide runner for ninth-grade cross-country runner Paul Scott, who is blind. Tethered to the older athlete by a rope, Rebel leads Paul through off-road races ranging from 2-mile events to 5Ks, an act of kindness which pushes the younger runner to keep up with the older kids.
“I’ll admit it’s pretty hard, but it’s all for Paul,” Rebel told KFSM. “He inspires me to run faster.”
🌵 From the Ground Up
Earlier this year, 8-year-old Aaron Moreno of Los Angeles began worrying about his family’s future after his mother, Berenice, lost her job due to the pandemic. Down to their last $12, Aaron, his mother, and his younger sister were on the verge of homelessness – out of desperation, they moved into a relative’s shed.
Thus, in June, Aaron decided to save his family by starting his own business.
After setting up a plant nursery outside of the shed, the entrepreneurial young boy created Aaron’s Garden, which sold plants in conjunction with a GoFundMe page that alerted others of the family’s dire living situation. With the support of the earnings from Aaron’s gardening operation, Berenice was able to acquire a car and an apartment for her family and has since secured a part-time job.
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