Welcome to Wednesday. Today is Veterans Day, a public holiday held on the anniversary of the end of World War I to honor U.S. veterans and victims of all wars. Thank you for your service. 🇺🇸
“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”
SCOTUS & the ACA
The Supreme Court heard roughly two hours of oral arguments yesterday in a legal challenge against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought by Texas and other Republican-governed states. (Full recording)
A deeper dive… The lawsuit, which is also backed by the Trump administration, contends the ACA became unconstitutional and should fall due to a 2017 tax law passed by Congress. The law zeroed-out the ACA’s penalty for failing to have insurance (called the individual mandate), and the case argues it eliminates the constitutional justification for the provision.
The Supreme Court upheld the ACA’s individual mandate in a 2012 ruling, citing Congress’s taxing power.
Tuesday’s challengewas defended by California and a coalition of Democrat-led states joined by the Democratic House, which argued that a mandate without a penalty made carrying insurance a personal choice rather than a legal command.
Proponents of the ACA also asserted that, even if the mandate should prove unconstitutional, the rest of the ~1,000-page law should stand.
What Did The Justices Say? During questioning, the Court’s three-justice liberal bloc voiced skepticism that the entire ACA should be annulled after Congress removed the penalty associated with its individual mandate.
They were joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who seemed to agree with the other three conservative justices that the mandate had become unconstitutional, but suggested that the Court may cast it aside while leaving the rest of the legislation in place.
“It does seem fairly clear that the proper remedy would be to sever the mandate provision and leave the rest of the law in place.” –Justice Kavanaugh
“I think it’s hard for you to argue that Congress intended the entire act to fall if the mandate was struck down when the same Congress that lowered the penalty to zero did not even try to repeal the rest of the act.” –Chief Justice Roberts
What’s Next? No further arguments are scheduled before the Supreme Court, which is expected to publish a ruling by late spring.
So… what are people saying?
If Obamacare survives Supreme Court challenge, GOP should finally accept it
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U.S. Election Update
🏛️ Senate Races The 97th U.S. Senate seat was decided on Tuesday after NC Democrat Cal Cunningham conceded defeat to incumbent GOP Senator Thom Tillis. The race was the most expensive Senate election of 2020, with ~$287M spent as of late October.
Image via Politico: AK is yet to be determined, while runoffs were called in both GA races.
🏠 House Races The AP has called 419 out of 435 House races, with the eight victors declared since our last coverage propelling Democrats to an overall House majority (5 R, 3 D).
Image via Politico: Current ratio: 232 D to 197 R.
Vatican Releases McCarrick Report
The Vatican released a 461-page report yesterday detailing its knowledge and decision-making process in promoting former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was dismissed from the clergy in 2019 after Vatican officials found him guilty of sexual crimes. The report revealed that former Pope John Paul II was aware of multiple anonymous letters regarding sexual misconduct allegations against McCarrick before appointing him to serve as Archbishop of Washington D.C. in 2001.
Peru’s Congress voted to impeach President Martín Vizcarra late Monday (105-19), citing alleged acts of corruption and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Manuel Merino, Peru’s head of Congress, was sworn in as Vizcarra’s replacement on Tuesday, while mass protests broke out in the capital of Lima as demonstrators and local media accused the government of staging a coup.
More: Former President Vizcarra previously said no fewer than 68 members of Congress seeking his impeachment were facing criminal investigations themselves.
🚨Breaking: All of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers will resign together after China’s top legislative body passed a resolution early Wednesday giving local authorities power to unseat politicians without having to go through the city’s courts, and used it to disqualify four of their members. Dig deeper.
Last But Not Least
Apple hosted its “One Last Thing” event on Tuesday, debuting a new line of laptop computers that will – for the first time – feature the company’s self-made M1 chips instead of Intel processors. Apple revealed the MacBook Pro ($1,299), fanless MacBook Air ($999), and Mac Mini ($699), which all feature designs similar to previous versions along with the new M1 chip, which the company says will improve performance (by up to 3.5x) and battery life.
More:All iOS apps will be compatible with the new Macs.
Breach of (Anti)Trust
The European Commission formally charged Amazon on Tuesday with using the data of third-party sellers on the platform to inform its strategic business decisions, capping a 17-month investigation. The commission also announced a second formal antitrust investigation into Amazon’s e-commerce practices, with a focus on how the company identifies which vendor is the default seller for a given product.
More: A decision on Tuesday’s charges is expected next year. If Amazon is found to be in violation of competition laws, the commission could force the company to change its business practices and levy a fine of up to 10% of annual global revenue (~$28B in 2019).
Ulta’s Target Market
Cosmetics retailer Ulta reached an agreement to sell products on Target’s website and open shops in more than 100 existing Target stores starting next year, both companies announced Tuesday. A roughly 1k-square-foot section at select Target locations will be set aside for Ulta products sold by Target workers who received training from Ulta. The companies said they plan to expand the partnership to hundreds more stores over time.
👑 🐝 🚲Beyonce & Peloton announced a multi-year partnership to produce exclusive content featuring the singer-songwriter’s music for Peloton’s streamed workout classes.
✉️ You’ve Got Mail
Not only has the pandemic caused many people to lose loved ones, livelihoods, and financial stability, it has also stolen the simple pleasure of receiving a reassuring hug from a friend. Aware of the emotional toll the COVID-19 crisis has taken on his neighbors in Brooklyn, NY, performance artist Brandon Woolf recently took to the streets to bring people closer together – in a socially-distanced way.
Equipped with a vintage typewriter, Brandon – who is also an English professor at New York University – sat on the sidewalk in a folding chair next to a USPS mailbox and offered to write consolation letters to the friends of passersby throughout the month of October. With each stranger sitting on a small, wooden stool Brandon provided, the selfless scribe would toil away on his typewriter as each participant dictated a kind message to a friend in need.
Bonus:Read the poem Brandon wrote about his project, titled “Free Letters for Friends Feeling Blue.”
🤖 A Helping Hand
In October 2017, Ian Davis of Medford, OR, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma – cancer that weakens the immune system and makes it easier for bones to break. As a mechanical engineer, Ian quickly noticed the disease’s effects, breaking several bones in one hand while working in his shop. After doctors informed Ian that four of his fingers would have to be amputated, the engineer’s insurance company hit him with more bad news:
His plan would not cover the cost of a prosthesis unless he was missing the entire hand.
Luckily, Ian had a trick up his sleeve: 25 years ago, at age 17, he built a fully functioning prosthetic arm in shop class. While recuperating from the amputation surgery this January, the inspired inventor modified his high-school design to construct four custom mechanical fingers for himself, which can pinch and splay according to his wrist’s simple movements. (Video)
🐕🦺 Dog Day Afternoon
Chad McManus, a 63-year-old from Conroe, TX, started to worry one October evening when his dog Sadie was nowhere to be found. At 15 years old, the golden retriever is entirely deaf and experiences issues with her hip, making her susceptible to falling into a deep ravine located on Chad’s rural property. On Sunday, after Sadie had been missing for two days, Chad checked to see if his dog was trapped in the ravine.
She was, and soon Chad was too.
After tumbling down the eroded slope to the base of the chasm, Chad discovered that – although Sadie was still alive – she had a broken leg and was seriously dehydrated. The stranded pet owner called the local Needham Fire Department, insisting they save his pup first upon the rescue crew’s arrival. Following a rescue operation that involved the firemen rappelling into the small canyon, Chad and Sadie were both delivered from their predicament safely. (Photos)
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🌀 My Name Is… Subtropical Storm Theta developed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on Monday, setting the record for most named storms in one hurricane season (29).
🤖 Introducing: See-3PO… after years of struggling with eyecare, a Florida man invented the CLIARA Lens Robot, which helps people with dexterity issues remove their contact lenses.
🦠 On The Origin Of Species… using a technique called metagenomics, an international team of scientists discovered more than 12k new species of bacteria and archaea that have never been grown in a lab.
🥬 Romaine Recall… the FDA issued a voluntary recall in 19 states and Puerto Rico for packages of single head romaine lettuce sold at Walmart under the name Tanimura and Antle with a “packed on” date of 10/15/2020 or 10/16/2020.
My Fair Lady
Who is Uncle Sam’s female equivalent?
A) Liberty B) Columbia C) Beauty D) Samantha
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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Washington, D.C. (District of Columbia), was named in honor of the older sister of Uncle Sam: Columbia. From the 18th century until the early 20th, the spirit of America was portrayed as a majestic and proud woman, clad in breast-plates and stars-and-stripes skirts.
Fun Fact #2: The lady Columbia appears in the opening credits of films produced by Columbia Pictures.