Good morning and Happy Wednesday. We’ll be on pause until Monday morning due to the holiday.
Not to worry – wepacked three days worth of interesting goodies into a single email. If you’re into sounding smart, you’ll love this one.
From our HQ in Austin, stay safe and have a wonderful time. 🦃 🎉
“Don’t be afraid of hard work. Nothing worthwhile comes easily.”
– Gertrude B. Elion
Biden’s Cabinet Picks
The Trump administration formally authorized the transition process late Monday, approving more than $6M in funds and granting President-elect Biden’s team access to federal agencies and high-level classified briefings.
Biden announced two top officials he plans to nominate as part of his Cabinet, which consists of the Secretaries of 14 executive departments along with the Vice President and Attorney General. He also revealed picks for several other key posts within the administration.
They will reportedly join Janet L. Yellen, the first woman to lead the Federal Reserve, whom sources say will be the nominee for Treasury Secretary – though a formal announcement is not expected until at least Nov. 30.
A deeper dive…
Biden’s Cabinet nominees must all undergo a Senate confirmation process consisting of several rounds of investigation, a relevant Senate committee hearing, and a simple majority vote. (🧐 One Thing To Watch: The last five presidential administrations had at least one initial Cabinet pick fail the confirmation process in some fashion.)
🌍 Secretary of State: Antony Blinken
Former Deputy Secretary of State and Deputy National Security Adviser during Obama administration; member of Bill Clinton’s White House staff in the 1990s.
🔒 Secretary of Homeland Security: Alejandro Mayorkas
Former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security (2013-2016); would become the first Latino and first immigrant to lead the department.
Other Notable Picks
🧠 Director of National Intelligence: Avril Haines; former deputy national security adviser to Obama; would become the first woman to fill the position.
🇺🇳 U.S. Ambassador to the UN: Linda Thomas-Greenfield; former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia under George W. Bush and Obama; also Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under Obama and Trump.
🌱 Special Presidential Envoy for Climate: John Kerry; former Secretary of State under Obama; role does not require Senate confirmation.
So… what are people saying?
The Cabinet is a graveyard for presidential dreams. So why do senators want these jobs?
The number of Americans hospitalized with COVID-19 reached a new high on Tuesday, surpassing 88k according to data from the COVID Tracking Project. The U.S. has set a new record each day since hospitalizations first passed 60k on Nov. 10.
A multi-agency report published yesterday revealed what may be “the largest fraud investigation in California history.” The report stated at least 35k fraudulent unemployment claims were filed in the name of California state prison inmates between March and August this year, 20k of which were paid out (totaling over $140M).
More: Investigations have yet to be conducted outside the March-August timeframe, or on California’s large system of county jails, which the report estimates could amount to nearly $1B in ineligible payouts.
Even More: At least 158 claims were filed on behalf of 133 death row inmates, including convicted murderer Scott Peterson.
🗿 Authorities discovereda mysterious10-12 foot tall metal monolith in the Southeastern Utah desert on Monday. The three-sided, stainless steel structure provided no clues as to who might have driven it into the ground or why. (Though officials explicitly stated, “This thing is not from another world”… bummer.)
🏆 The 2021 Grammy nominees were published on Tuesday. Beyoncé became the most-nominated female artist in Grammy history after leading the pack with nine nominations (79 overall). The full list.
🚀 China Rocks the World
China launched a spacecraft to the moon on Monday as part of its Chang’e 5 lunar collection mission. The unmanned craft is expected to collect over four pounds of lunar rock and soil samples (estimated to be ~1.2B years old) before returning to Earth in mid-December.
More: If successful, it would mark the first time lunar samples were returned to Earth since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission in 1976. China would also become the third country ever to demonstrate the technical capacity to pull off such a mission (the other two being the U.S. & Soviet Union).
📈 Market Mania
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.5% on Tuesday to reach (and close) above 30k for the first time in history, while the S&P 500 (+1.6%) and Nasdaq (+1.3%) made similar daily gains. Markets will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving, and will resume with a half-day on Friday.
More: Tuesday’s moves propelled Elon Musk past Bill Gates to become the second-richest person in the world according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index ($), though Forbes disagreed with that claim.
💊 Purdue Takes Their Medicine
Purdue Pharma pled guilty yesterday to three felony charges covering widespread misconduct related to the company’s handling of OxyContin, its addictive prescription painkiller. The plea deal carries more than $6.5B in penalties and forfeitures. (Though the federal government is expected to forego all but $225M, with the rest allocated to state and local governments and other entities suing Purdue over the toll of the opioid epidemic.)
Jake Teitelbaum was a junior at Wake Forest University in 2014 when he was diagnosed with Refractory Hodgkin’s lymphoma – cancer affecting the circulatory and immune systems. Determined to finish his degree despite his diagnosis, Jake felt alone and helpless as he endured chemo, quickly realizing a particular aspect of the hospitalization experience was further dampening his spirits: the socks.
“It always stuck out that you get your gown and these really drab hospital socks,” he told CBS New York.
Thus, during his recovery, Jake founded Resilience Gives, a company that designs colorful cozy socks for pediatric cancer patients. The company donates a pair of socks with every purchase, distributing the appealing apparel to children battling illness with the help of volunteers – many of whom survived childhood cancer themselves.
😁 You Make Me Smile
Jacquez “Jackie” Worthy, a 22-year-old from Columbus, OH, first moved to the area from Chattanooga, TN, as a teenager to escape a tumultuous family life. After moving in with his aunt, the young man quickly settled into his new adult life, finding a sanitation worker’s job. All was going well for Jackie, until he was approached one night by three drunk men who began harassing his girlfriend.
Although Jackie attempted to keep the peace, the men responded with violence, one of them punching Jackie’s mouth hard enough to break his front teeth.
With his own smile shattered – and no insurance to reconstruct the damage – Jackie still decided to bring joy to others along his trash collection route, excitedly greeting customers and dancing for passersby on the street.
The community quickly took note of the good-humored garbage collector and have since launched and contributed to a GoFundMe campaign to pay for the dental work necessary to restore Jackie’s smile.
🐕 A Leg Up
In 2019, a four-year-old Belgian Malinois named Kuno was deployed in Afghanistan as a British Army Working Dog. While on a mission to attack a well-armed Al Qaeda compound, his fellow human troops became trapped by a hail of machine-gun fire from an unseen insurgent. Released by his handler, the courageous Kuno attacked the enemy fighter, allowing the British troops to escape the attack and clear the building.
Kuno had saved his comrades’ lives, but now his own was in danger: when he attacked the insurgent, the fighter had fired a round of bullets into the canine’s hind legs.
Although the heroic dog was able to receive life-saving treatment as he was lifted out of the compound in a helicopter, veterinarians were forced to amputate part of one of his rear paws to prevent the spread of infection.
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🧲 Favorite Hobby: Magnets… researchers at City University of Hong Kong created a novel magnetic spray that can transform inanimate objects into millirobots – tiny robots driven by a magnetic field. (Potential use case: Entering the human body to perform precise biomedical procedures)
🧠 Mental Math… a popular trope in movies and TV shows is that humans only use a fraction of their brain. What do scientists say?
🚀 Solar Opposites… engineers at Johns Hopkins are designing an experimental solar-powered rocket engine up to three times more efficient than its conventional combustion counterpart.
🐛 Hungry, Hungry Caterpillars… new research suggests monarch butterfly caterpillars get ‘hangry’ (hungry + angry) when their food supply runs short, and as a result start headbutting their peers – the first documented example of aggression among groups of caterpillars.
👅 Tongue Twister
Which of these animals has a blue tongue?
B) Chow Chow dog
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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