“It’s a wonderful thing to be optimistic. It keeps you healthy and it keeps you resilient.”
COVID Vaccine Side Effects
The first Americans received Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine Monday morning after the FDA granted emergency use authorization on Friday.
The FDA’s vaccine advisory panel meets today from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. ET to discuss the results of Moderna’s Phase 3 trial and vote on a recommendation to the agency. (Watch live)
Cause & Effect The FDA released data Tuesday showing Moderna’s vaccine is 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19.
Most side effects from both vaccines – which require two doses to be effective – were reported as mild or moderate.
The data also showed about twice as many volunteers experienced side effects after receiving the second of two doses compared to those injected with a placebo, similar to results found in Pfizer/BioNTech’s 42k-volunteer Phase 3 trial.
Two of the first people receiving Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine in the UK last week had an allergic reaction following the injection, but recovered after receiving treatment.
The UK’s medical regulator then issued a warning advising those with a history of allergic reactions not to receive Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine (for the time-being).
The FDA earlier this week advised monitoring people who receive either Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine for potential cases of Bell’s palsy. Seven people out of 73k trial participants developed the condition.
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🇫🇷 Charlie Hebdo Verdict
A Paris court on Wednesday convicted 14 suspects accused of helping plan and carry out deadly terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters, police officers, and a kosher market in January 2015, claiming 17 lives over three days. The attacks stemmed from satirical cartoons Charlie Hebdo published over several years depicting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
More: The trial began in September, one month before French teacher Samuel Paty was killed by an Islamist extremist after showing his class the same Charlie Hebdo cartoons that inspired the 2015 attacks.
Unrelated Random France News: The city government of Paris was fined $110K for violating France’s gender-equality laws by hiring too many women.
⚖️ SCOTUS & the NCAA
The Supreme Court agreed on Wednesday to hear a case regarding allegations the NCAA violated federal antitrust law by putting limits on college athletes’ compensation. The NCAA is appealing lower court rulings that allow athletes to receive an expanded range of education-related benefits – including laptops, learning equipment, internships, and cost-covered graduate programs.
More: The rulings didn’t address the NCAA’s restrictions on athlete compensation unrelated to education.
Even More: SCOTUS is expected to hear arguments in the spring and publish a decision by the end of June.
President-elect Biden announced several more nominees for his incoming Cabinet, including ex-presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation, OH Congresswoman Marcia Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and ex-MI Gov. Jennifer Granholm as Secretary of Energy. All of Biden’s Cabinet picks must be confirmed by the Senate. The full list of nominees thus far.
More: A Biden spokesperson confirmed the president-elect plans to publicly receive Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine as early as next week, while Vice President Pence said he will publicly receive the vaccine at the White House this Friday.
🏛️ Congressional leaders are reportedly close to compromise on a COVID-19 stimulus package, and could soon announce a ~$900B relief bill with a second round of direct payments as low as $600. (Learn more: Left Center | Right Center)
☝️ 1 Last Thing…
💉 U.S. officialsquarantined several thousand doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine in Alabama and California this week after a transit “anomaly” caused the storage temperature to fall too low (from the required -94ºF to -134ºF).
🔍 Google Has (Anti)Trust Issues
The attorneys general of ten Republican states, led by TX AG Ken Paxton, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Wednesday. The suit accuses the tech giant of maintaining an illegal digital-advertising monopoly and reaching a secret agreement with rival Facebook to avoid competing with each other’s ad-tech businesses in exchange for guaranteed special treatment in Google-run ad auctions.
More: A separate, bipartisan group of state attorneys general is expected to file another antitrust case against Google as soon as today targeting its search business.
Unrelated Facebook News: The social giant rolled out a new ad campaign Wednesday targeting Apple’s upcoming iPhone privacy changes, which it claims will hurt small businesses reliant on targeted ads.
📡 Keep Up With Kuiper
Amazon revealed the design for antennas used by customers to connect to Project Kuiper, its upcoming satellite constellation designed to provide global internet coverage from space (similar to SpaceX’s Starlink). The company said its antenna design is capable of streaming 4K video from geostationary satellites 22k miles above the earth’s surface.
More: Amazon received FCC approval in July to launch a constellation of 3,236 satellites but has not yet begun to do so. The company said Project Kuiper would be online once 578 satellites are placed into orbit.
🍩 DONUT Holes
⚾ The MLB announced yesterday it will retroactively elevate the Negro Leagues to “Major League” status, updating MLB records to include the achievements of Negro League players.
🌨️ Winter Storm Gail, one of the East Coast’s largest snowstorms in years, caused the cancellation of 700 airline flights on Wednesday and an additional 560 today (so far).
💵 The U.S. Treasury Departmentofficially designated Switzerland and Vietnam as currency manipulators yesterday due to alleged intervention in foreign markets, placing ten other countries on a watch list.
📈 The price of Bitcoin rose above $20k for the first time ever, reaching $20,600 according to market data from Coin Metrics.
🚗 Inner Drive
Renee Dixson, a preschool director at Lynhurst Baptist Church in Indianapolis, IN, is incredibly invested in her 50 students’ lives. With many of her young learners’ families relying on food banks due to the pandemic’s economic impacts, Renee is pursuing extracurricular methods to care for her pupils ahead of the holidays.
Each weekend, the benevolent educator works a second job driving for Uber, using the additional income to buy Christmas gifts for all of her students and staff members.
🐕 You’ve Got a Friend in Me
A black Labrador retriever named Dexter was deemed “too friendly” to serve as an anti-drug dog for England’s Metropolitan Police earlier this year. Despite completing all of the necessary training, Dexter was just not cut out for the job’s stress.
Confident the playful pup could still be an asset to the force, Officer Mike Sheather enlisted Dexter as Scotland Yard’s first “Wellbeing Dog.” Now, the black lab serves his country by comforting first responders and health care workers dealing with trauma.
👶 See You Soon
Nathan Edge, a 26-year-old father-to-be from Mansfield, England, has been visually impaired since he was six years old. Following a recent prenatal checkup, Nathan’s partner, Emma Fotheringham, became upset that Nathan could not view an ultrasound of their child, who is due in May 2021.
After hearing of the couple’s predicament, local guide dog trainer Deb Fisher embroidered a replica of the scan – despite having no embroidery experience – so Nathan could ‘see’ the tactile image of his baby. Check it out.
Are you too busy with the daily “fire drills” to tackle your to-do list?
Prowess Project helps companies get stuff done by harnessing the skills of women. We have tapped into a pool of 3+ million “MBA moms” who have taken time off to raise a family and want to get back into the workforce. Prowess Project certifies this educated, experienced talent in project management, the latest technology and emotional intelligence. The untapped (wo)manpower then is matched with companies to provide skilled, vetted talent at a lower cost.
🚤 I’d Do Anything For Love… a lovestruck Scottish man was arrested earlier this week after jet-skiing across the Irish Sea in breach of COVID restrictions to visit his girlfriend on the Isle of Man.
💰 Served a Nickel… a former deep-sea treasure hunter is entering his fifth year in jail. What is he in for, you ask? Contempt of court… for refusing to divulge the location of 500 missing gold coins found in a 19th-century shipwreck.
✈️ Patient Zero… ZeroAvia, an aviation startup promising to make zero-carbon flight a reality, announced a $21.4M round of funding from investors including Amazon, Shell, and a Bill Gates-backed company.
Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun, and completes one orbit every 88 Earth days. The planet spins so slowly on its axis that one Mercury solar day (a full night-day cycle) takes 176 Earth days – just over two years on Mercury.