💉 Vaccine Rollout
The U.S. has administered more than 4.33M doses of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, per Bloomberg. Both vaccines require two shots taken several weeks apart to be fully effective.
South Dakota has the highest vaccination percentage thus far, with 3% of residents receiving an initial dose (27k people). See where your state stands.
Worldwide, more than 12M doses of seven different vaccines have been administered in at least 30 countries.
🦠 New COVID Strain Found in U.S.
Florida on Thursday became the third state to identify a case of the new, more-infectious COVID-19 variant known as “B117” (joining California & Colorado).
The new strain was first detected by UK health officials in October, and is estimated to be 49% to 53% more transmissible than earlier strains (according to an Imperial College London study published last week).
💬 Relevant Quote: “Right now, we have no indication that it is going to hurt our ability to continue vaccinating people or that it is any more dangerous or deadly than the strains that are currently out there that we know about.” –U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams.
🏛️ Legislative Deaths
Representative-elect Luke Letlow (R-LA), 41, died last Tuesday from COVID-19 complications. A memorial service was held in his hometown of Monroe, LA, on Saturday (full video).
Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin, 60, died from COVID-19 complications, state Republicans confirmed on Friday.
We Came All This Way to Let Vaccines Go Bad in the Freezer?
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🇳🇪 Villages Attacked in Niger
On Saturday, one hundred civilians were killed in attacks by suspected militants on two villages in southwest Niger, Prime Minister Brigi Rafini said in remarks broadcast nationally on Sunday. No group has claimed responsibility for the killings.
More: Per the NYT, an eyewitness from one of the villages said the attack, which primarily targeted men and boys, was revenge for an incident last month where three armed men attempted to extort a “tax” from the villagers, who killed the men.
Even More: A separate militant attack in Niger last month – attributed to Boko Haram – left 34 civilians dead, over 100 wounded, and 800+ homes burned.
🇬🇧 A Trip Across the Pond
The UK completed its formal separation from the European Union last Thursday night. Britain officially left the EU on January 31, 2020, but agreed to abide by the EU’s trading laws for an additional 11 months while the two sides negotiated their future economic partnership, which was agreed to on Christmas Eve and became law in the UK Wednesday. Dig deeper.
More: The UK also eliminated its “tampon tax” on Friday, removing the sales tax on women’s sanitary products.
Iran announced plans to enrich uranium up to 20% “as soon as possible” at its underground nuclear plant in Fordo on Saturday, up from its current levels of 4.5%. For context, the 2015 nuclear deal allowed a 3.67% limit.
More: When developing a nuclear weapon, the most laborious part of enrichment is between 0-20% – once this level is reached, enrichment can quickly jump to the 80-90% level considered ‘weapons-grade.’
🎙️ Retired talk-show host Larry King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, sources told CNN.
📣 Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was elected as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 117th Congress in a 216-209 vote Sunday evening. It will be Pelosi’s fourth two-year term as Speaker and, she says, her last.
📝 Eleven GOP Senatorsreleased a joint statement on Saturday committing to vote against the certification of President-elect Biden’s victory when Congress convenes to count the electoral votes on Wednesday unless an emergency 10-day audit is completed in certain states. (Left-Center | Right-Center)
📲 NYSE Makes the Call
Last Thursday, the New York Stock Exchange said it will delist three Chinese telecommunications giants – China Telecom Corp., China Mobile, & China Unicom Hong Kong – under an executive ordersigned by President Trump in November. The order bans Americans from investing in companies the government classifies as connected to the Chinese military, and is set to take effect January 11.
💬 Relevant Quote: “[China] will take the necessary countermeasures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.” -Chinese Commerce Ministry statement published Saturday.
🚘 In the Driver’s Seat
Tesla said it delivered a record 499,550 electric vehicles globally in 2020, just shy of its 500k goal set in January (up from ~367.5k EVs in 2019). The company’s stock rose more than 700% last year, with Tesla expected to post a record annual profit when it reports 2020 fourth-quarter earnings in a few weeks.
More: For context, General Motors – the second largest U.S. automaker by valuation – delivered 665k vehicles in Q3 2020. An estimated 15.9M total vehicles were sold across the entire industry for the quarter.
🚀 Blast from the Past: In September, Tesla CEO Elon Musksaid in a tweetthat he sees the company increasing its vehicle sales volume to 20M annually over the next decade.
🌿 The Loss of an Icahn
Per the WSJ, activist investor Carl Icahn sold more than half of his 16% stake in nutritional supplement company Herbalife for ~$600M and plans to relinquish all five board seats currently held by his representatives. Icahn is estimated to have made well over $1B from his investment in Herbalife where, as its largest shareholder since 2013, he publicly battled rival activist investor and short-seller William Ackman, who denounced the company as a pyramid scheme.
Alessandro Vitale, a 29-year-old Italian tattoo artist living in London, has not gone to the grocery store for fruits or vegetables for eight months thanks to his thriving urban garden.
In his first harvest of the year, Alessandro produced 30 different types of vegetables, including 77lbs of tomatoes.
Originally from Italy, the gardening artist was inspired by his green-thumbed grandfather and ensures all of his produce is 100% organic.
Bonus: Check out Spicy Moustache, Alessandro’s YouTube channel, where he shares tips and techniques for urban gardening.
Need more to smile about?
Doctors once told the parents of Malakai, a three-year-old Canadian boy with cerebral palsy, that he would never be able to talk – let alone sing. Well… witness his astounding progress.
Noel Schoessow of Menomonee Falls, WI, has donated more than 3,000 Build-A-Bears to hospitalized children since 2011 through his organization, The Bear Hug Project.
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🦠 On the Origin of Viruses… an AP investigation found the Chinese government has placed stringent restrictions to control all research into COVID-19’s origins. Inside the CCP’s clampdown.
💻 Tracking the Hack Attack… U.S. officials determined the large-scale hack of government and private networks attributed to Russian intelligence is far broader than first anticipated, taking place from servers within the U.S. and affecting as many as 250 high-profile institutions.
💃🕺 Misbe-Raving… French police broke up an illegal rave on Saturday attended by more than 2,500 people… that had been going on since New Year’s Eve (two days earlier).
👀 Can’t You See… a new visual illusion published in Psychological Science helps explain the limitations of humans’ visual field.
🛣️ A Fine Line
How long are the white dashed lines on U.S. highways?
A) 3 feet
B) 10 feet
C) 5 feet
D) 2 feet
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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