Friday, December 4, 2020

The AM Rundown: Biden Wants Masks Worn For 100 Days

President-elect Joe Biden will ask all Americans to wear masks for the first 100 days after he takes office in order to curb COVID-19 for good, he said in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper yesterday. Masks will be required where he has the authority to do so, including in federal buildings and on interstate planes and buses. Otherwise, only states and local governments can require rather than request mask wearing.

Biden also said he has asked Dr. Anthony Fauci to be a chief medical adviser to the new administration.

➤THREE PRESIDENTS LINE UP FOR VACCINE: Three former presidents have volunteered to get vaccinated for coronavirus and tape it for television. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all said they are confident that the vaccine will be safe and effective. A Gallup poll in November showed 42 percent of Americans would not be willing to get vaccinated, even for free.

➤TRUMP REBUKES HIS OWN ATTORNEY GENERAL: President Donald Trump yesterday publicly rebuked his own attorney general, Bill Barr, for admitting in an interview that the Department of Justice and FBI had found no evidence of fraud on a scale that would have changed the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. "He hasn't done anything. He hasn't looked," Trump said at a White House event. In a statement, the Department of Justice did not dispute the report from The Associated Press but said that the Department is continuing its investigation into allegations of election fraud.

➤IT'S GETTING COMPLICATED IN GEORGIA: Two conservative activists named Lin Wood and Sidney Powell are accusing the top Republican Party officials in Georgia of being involved in a conspiracy to steal the election from President Donald Trump, who lost to Joe Biden in the state. Moreover, Wood and Powell are recommending that Republicans boycott the upcoming Senate runoff election. 

And that is a big problem for Republicans in general. Georgia has two runoff elections for U.S. Senate seats coming up, and they couldn't be more important nationally. Republican incumbent Senator David Perdue is running against Democrat Jon Ossoff, while incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler is opposed by the Reverend Raphael Warnock. The outcome could keep the Senate majority in Republican hands or flip it to the Democratic Party.

President Trump is expected at a rally for the Republican candidates tomorrow. Even some of his loyal supporters in the party are worried he'll veer off script and talk too much about election fraud and not enough about Perdue and Loeffler.

Wall Street Journal 12/04/20

➤FIRE BURNING IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Bond fire is burning out of control in Southern California and, with strong winds in the forecast, is expected to burn through the weekend at least. About 25,000 residents of several hillside communities in east Orange County had been evacuated by yesterday evening. The fire started Wednesday night in Silverado Canyon, about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

➤IS CHINA CREATING 'SUPER-SOLDIERS?': China has conducted human testing on members of the People's Liberation Army with the goal of developing super-soldiers with "biologically enhanced capabilities," the director of U.S. national intelligence alleged in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. The message conveyed by John Ratcliffe was that China is a dangerous adversary and "intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically." Gene-editing technology is currently being used to develop treatments for human diseases and to enhance food crops, but scientists consider it unethical for use in enhancing human performance.

➤WATCH FOR THE 'CHRISTMAS STAR': If you look up at the sky any night from now until almost Christmas, you'll see Jupiter and Saturn moving closer and closer to each other. On December 21st, the date of the winter solstice, they will get so close that they will appear almost to collide or to merge into one body. That is a rare phenomenon known as a "Christmas star." And it hasn't happened since March 4, 1226. The Christmas star can best be seen through binoculars or a small telescope, scientists at NASA say.

➤FIREBALL CAUSES BOOM, UNNERVING UPSTATE NEW YORK: A big fireball caused a loud boom that rattled windows and was felt from southern Ontario to Virginia midday on Wednesday (December 2nd). According to the American Meteor Society (AMS) in Geneseo, New York, the disturbance resulted in at least 150 reports, seen in wide swaths of the eastern part of North America. There were multiple 9-1-1 calls in central New York after the boom shook windows, though clouds prevented sightings of the fireball. It’s largely believed the fireball was an asteroid.

➤HAAGEN-DAZS CLAIMS THIS IS AMERICA’S FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR: Häagen-Dazs has released its Flavor of 2020 report, and the brand says that vanilla is their most popular flavor this year. Rounding out the top-three most-popular flavors are coffee and strawberry, but in fourth is the brand’s vanilla milk chocolate almond bar. They also say that people searched for “ice cream delivery” 202 percent more this year compared to previous years, and reported doubling their growth during the pandemic. This makes sense as a survey done in July found that 60 percent of Americans chose ice cream as their ultimate comfort food during a troubling year.

➤HERE ARE THE ‘MOST POPULAR’ COSMETIC PROCEDURES AROUND THE WORLD FOR 2020, SAYS MEDICAL TRAVEL COMPANY:  Despite largely staying home, people were still thinking about getting cosmetic procedures in 2020. German-based health consultation resource Qunomedical analyzed internal search data and found that in the U.S., the top 14 searches for cosmetic procedures in 2020 are: Botox injections, liposuction, tummy ticks, Brazilian butt lifts, rhinoplasties, breast enlargement surgeries, hair transplants, lip fillers, mommy makeovers, breast reduction surgeries, facelifts, butt implants, gynecomastia surgeries (breast reduction for men), and beard transplants. The same procedures were the most popular in 11 other countries, but the order of them varied. For example in Canada, Botox was the top searched-for procedure followed by rhinoplasty and hair transplants, while in the U.K., Ireland, and Germany lip fillers topped the list followed by Botox and hair transplants. Qunomedical’s CEO Dr. Sophie Chung says, “Qunomedical has also seen a surge in interest in surgery abroad during lockdown. Along with cheaper flights more people are discovering they can get the same high-quality treatment for a lower price and more privacy away from home.”

➤IS YOUR RESTAURANT’S ‘OUTDOOR’ SETUP SAFE? AN AEROSOL SCIENTIST WEIGHS IN: Data shows that the coronavirus is less-likely to spread in outdoor spaces, due to the ventilation. As a result restaurants were eventually able to open with outdoor dining, but as temperatures have started dropping in many areas of the country lots of restaurants have moved their outdoor dining experiences into tents, or other, more substantial structures than they utilized during the summer months. Dr. Alex Huffman is an aerosol scientist at the University of Denver, and says that when outdoor dining is a viable option (meaning when case numbers are down, so not right now in most of the country), it’s important to consider which kinds of dining setups most effectively minimize risk. The issue when dining out is people are talking and when we do so we exhale tiny droplets that have the potential to infect other people if we happen to have COVID-19. So, the closer we sit to others, and the worse the ventilation in a closed space, the more likely we are to breathe in the droplets of others. Huffman says when it comes to outdoor dining, “[If] you have umbrellas and a heater, I would feel much more comfortable with that.” He adds that with one or two walls there’s a possibility of a crosswind, but three walls make things too risky for his liking, and he notes that fans are not a perfect solution, as they could end up blowing infected air past some patrons. The take-home message: dining in a structure with three or four walls (even tent walls) could be just as risky as dining indoors at a restaurant.

🏀BIG DEAL FOR ANTHONY DAVIS: All-Star forward Anthony Davis is finalizing a new five-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to ESPN. The deal is said to be worth $190 million. Davis spent seven seasons with New Orleans before moving to the Lakers in 2019.

🏈JOSH GORDON IS ON AGAIN: Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Josh Gordon, currently on suspension, has been reinstated by the NFL and will be allowed to play in the final two weeks of the regular season, according to Fox Sports. Gordon, who is 29, is considered to be a promising player but he has been suspended no fewer than five times for substance abuse violations.

⚾59 PLAYERS DROPPED: A total 59 players have been cut loose by their teams, apparently as fallout from the pandemic. All became free agents when their teams did not offer them contracts for the 2021 season by Wednesday's deadline. They include Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Junior of the Chicago Cubs, Archie Bradley of the Cincinnati Reds, Adam Duvall of the Atlanta Braves, David Dahl of the Colorado Rockies and Eddie Rosario of the Minnesota Twins. Many of the teams are trying to cut their expenses after a season with no fans in the stands.

🏈NFL DOUBLE-HEADER ON MONDAY: We'd like to explain why there was no Thursday Night Football last night, but it's just so darned complicated. Suffice it to say it's due to the schedule-shuffling made necessary by the pandemic. The good news is that there's a Monday double-header coming up. Washington is scheduled to play the Pittsburgh Steelers starting at 5 PM ET on Fox. And, the Buffalo Bills play the San Francisco 49ers at 8:15 PM ET on ESPN, but they actually will be playing in Glendale, Arizona, home of the Cardinals, because Levi Stadium is out of bounds right now, also due to the pandemic.

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