“Nurture your mind with great thoughts. To believe in the heroic makes heroes.”
🏛️ Congress Counts the Votes
A joint session of Congress convenes today to count and certify the votes cast by the Electoral College on December 14, which gave President-elect Joe Biden a 306-232 victory.
A group of Republican lawmakersplan to formally object to the certification of electoral vote counts in certain states since an emergency audit was not conducted (likely AZ, GA, & PA).
Both a House member and senator need to object to a state’s results in writing to trigger a debate that lasts “not more than two hours,” followed by a vote to potentially undo results from that individual state.
🤿 A deeper dive…
Since November, President Trump has claimed he lost the election due to voter fraud.
To affect the election result, the Trump campaign needed to prove in court that widespread fraud occurred on a large enough scale to change the outcome – for which there appears to be no official evidence uncovered (per former AG William Barr).
The Trump campaign has filed – and lost – dozens of lawsuits across several battleground states since the November election.
Today’s challenges represent a last-ditch attempt to challenge the election result before Inauguration Day (January 20).
For the objections to be sustained, a majority in both the Democrat-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate – where party leaders have voiced opposition to the effort – must vote in favor.
🧐 What if the Objections Succeed?
Although it’s highly unlikely any state’s vote will be rejected, some Trump allies are hoping multiple states’ electors will be tossed out, bringing Biden below the 270 electoral votes needed to secure victory.
In that scenario, each state’s constitutional delegation would receive one presidential vote under the 12th Amendment. The GOP controls the majority of state delegations, which could theoretically open the door for Trump to be ‘elected.’
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🍑 Preliminary Georgia Senate Results
Georgia’s two Senate runoff elections pitted incumbent GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue against Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
Election #1: Warnock leads Loeffler by a little more than 50,000 votes (1.2%) with 98% of votes totaled (as of 6:15 am ET). The AP called the race for Warnock early this morning, though Loeffler has not yet conceded.
Election #2: Ossoff leads Perdue by ~16,000 votes (0.38%) with 98% of the votes totaled (as of 6:15 am ET) – too close to call, per the AP. If the margin is less than 0.5%, candidates can request a recount.
Authorities in Kenosha, WI, announced on Tuesday that the police officers involved in the August shooting of Jacob Blake that left him paralyzed from the waist down will not face charges. Kenosha DA Michael Graveley said the officers in question would have had a strong case for self-defense. (Left-Center| Right-Center)
Kyle Rittenhouse, now 18, pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges stemming from the killing of two men and the serious injury of a third this summer at protests in Kenosha, WI, that broke out following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. (Left-Center | Right-Center)
🔒 Worldwide COVID-19 Lockdowns
🇩🇪 The German government extended its ongoing lockdown by three weeks until January 31, in part due to the presence of B117. Officials also imposed new travel restrictions for all residents, who can only venture 15 km (~10 miles) outside their hometown unless they have a good reason to go further.
🇮🇱 Israel’s government agreed to a third national lockdown beginning Friday. It closes schools and nonessential businesses, and orders residents to stay within a 1 km radius of their homes (0.6 miles).
🍩 DONUT Holes:
🎭 Tanya Roberts, an American actress, producer, & model, officially died Monday night at 61, according to her partner Lance O’Brien. The news comes after media outlets previously reported Roberts’ death Sunday evening, citing her longtime publicist.
💰 The U.S. has lostmore than $36B in unemployment benefits to improper payments – largely from fraud – since the CARES Act was passed in March, according to the Labor Department Inspector General.
Per CNBC, Alibaba and Ant Group founder Jack Ma is not missing, but instead “laying low for the time being.” Multiple news outlets, including the WSJ, reported earlier this week that Ma had not been seen in public since he spoke at a forum in late October, where he appeared to criticize Chinese regulators.
More: Shortly after Ma’s speech, Ant Group had its record-setting IPO suspended by stock exchanges in Shanghai and Hong Kong, with Ma and two other company executives summoned and interviewed by CCP regulators.
⏪ NYSE De-delists Chinese Companies
The New York Stock Exchange reversed its December 31 decision to delist three Chinese telecommunications giants on Monday. The original decision followed an executive order signed by President Trump in November banning Americans from investing in companies the government classifies as connected to the Chinese military.
More: The NYSE said the decision came “in light of further consultation with relevant regulatory authorities” and that it “will continue to evaluate the applicability of [the] Executive Order.”
🪒 A Close Shave
Procter & Gamble will not acquire women’s direct-to-consumer beauty startup Billie as previously announced in early January 2020 after the Federal Trade Commission took legal action against the deal, both companies said on Tuesday. The commission sued in December to block the acquisition on the grounds that the merger would eliminate competition in the wet shave razor market.
More: The FTC filed a similar lawsuit in February 2020 blocking the proposed $1.37B sale of direct-to-consumer razor company Harry’s to Edgewell Personal Care (owner of Schick razors).
🍩 DONUT Holes:
🏬 Macy’sannounced plans to close about 45 of its department stores by the middle of this year as part of its previously announced plan to cut 125 locations by 2023.
📝 A U.S. task force responsible for investigating the massive cyberattack that breached several government agencies issued a joint statement identifying the hack as “likely Russian in origin” – the first such official statement.
🛢️ Saudi Arabia said it will cut 1M barrels per day of crude production starting next month, causing oil to rise past $50 per barrel in U.S. markets for the first time since February.
☝️ 1 Last Thing…
🏈🏆 Alabama WR Devonta Smith won the Heisman Trophy last night, becoming the first wide receiver to win the award since 1991.
Before the pandemic, third-grade teacher Mary Schulz of Rockwell, IA, liked to greet her students as they entered the classroom each morning with hugs, high-fives, and handshakes – a practice she was unwilling to give up entirely.
A week into the new school year, Mary asked her students to spend the weekend coming up with a socially distanced greeting that could be performed at the start of each day. She has since memorized all 20 of her students’ personalized salutations.
“We’re just trying to have some normalcy with some fun things,” Mary told Good Morning America. “It’s brought me joy too.”
In other news to cure the blues…
Ben Berman, a graduate student from Philadelphia, has raised $30,000 throughout the pandemic to help fight food insecurity and homelessness through his nonprofit Good Pizza PHL by delivering pizza to strangers from his second-story apartment window (check out his homemade pizza pulley system).
Ramu Dosapati, an HR executive from Hyderabad, India, has spent $61,000 – including his retirement savings – to establish a ‘Rice ATM’ that distributes food rations 24 hours a day, seven days a week for free to local migrant workers in need.
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👩🚀 (Space)Suit Up… with their astronauts preparing to return to the Moon, NASA realized current spacesuits won’t cut it on the lunar surface – so they made xEMU, the eXploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit.
🏭 Emission Remission… scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy are collaborating with private industry to research and develop future zero-emissions power plants using commercial fusion energy.
🔥 Hot in Herre… last week, South Korea’s Institute of Fusion Energy turned on its artificial sun nuclear fusion reactor, generating 212M ºF of heat for 20 seconds – hotter than the core of the real Sun.
🤖🎨 Vincent van Gogh-bot… machine learning company OpenAI is developing new AI models that can produce original images based on a given text prompt.
🍊 Orange You Glad…
Which came first: the color orange or the fruit?
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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The ancestor to today’s word “orange” – the Sanskrit ‘nāranga’ – was initially used to describe the tree that the fruit grows on. As the word evolved, it began to refer to the fruit itself, not just the tree. It wasn’t until 1512 that the first description of color using the word “orange” appeared.