Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The AM Confidential: GA Runoff Election Today

USAToday 1/5/21

➤TWO GEORGIA RUNOFF RACES TODAY WILL DECIDE CONTROL OF THE SENATE: The two runoff races in Georgia that will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate are being held today, with the two Republican incumbents, Senators David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler, facing Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock, respectively. Republicans need to win just one of the two races to retain Senate control, while Democrats must win both to have a 50-50 tied Senate, in which Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be the tiebreaker. The runoffs are being held because no candidate in the two Senate races got a majority in the November election. 

The Wall Street Journal 1/5/21

President Trump and President-elect Joe Biden both held rallies in Georgia yesterday ahead of the runoffs. Trump spent part of his time repeating unfounded allegations of fraud in the November election and attacking Georgia election officials, but nevertheless encouraged his supporters to vote for Purdue and Loeffler, saying, "You've got to swarm it tomorrow." Biden said at his earlier rally, "The power is literally in your hands. One state can chart the course, not just for the next four years, but for the next generation." Biden also took a swipe at Trump over his ongoing attempts to overturn the election results, something Biden has not often publicly addressed, charging the president, quote, "spends more time whining and complaining" than he does working on solving the pandemic.

➤MORE CONTAGIOUS MUTATED CORONAVIRUS FOUND IN FOURTH STATE, NEW YORK: The mutated version of the coronavirus that is more contagious that was first discovered in the U.K. has now been found in someone in a fourth U.S. state, with New York announcing its first known case Monday in a man in his 60s in upstate Saratoga Springs. 

Colorado, California and Florida had previously reported finding people infected with the mutated version. The mutant version has made the race to get people vaccinated, which has started slowly in the U.S., even more urgent. Some people in the U.S. who've already gotten their first vaccine shot began to get the second required one yesterday. Britain, which has had a soaring infection rate because of the mutated coronavirus, had a new lockdown announced yesterday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that will last until at least mid-February and will include the shutdown of nonessential stories, mostly virtual schooling, and restaurants only able to offer takeout. 

POLL: 75 PERCENT SAYS STIMULUS CHECKS TOO LITTLE: You may have already had deposited into your bank account in the past few days the new $600 coronavirus relief payments approved by Congress. But a new Hill-HarrisX poll found that three-fourths of voters surveyed, including wide majorities from both political parties, said that amount is too little. Fifteen percent said it was the right amount and eight percent said it's actually too much money. There had been conflict in Congress over making the payments $2,000, which President Trump and Democrats both wanted, but it was blocked by Senate Republicans. In the poll, 57 percent of voters said $2,000 was "about the right amount." Dritan Nesho, the CEO and chief pollster at HarrisX, suggested that because a "strong majority" agree that $2,000 is the right amount, it, quote, "could lead to another round of COVID relief and stimulus" after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

➤IRAN SEIZES SOUTH KOREAN TANKER, BEGINS ENRICHING URANIUM TO 20 PERCENT: Iran seized a South Korean tanker near the Strait of Hormuz on Monday, with armed Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops storming the vessel and forcing it to change course and travel to Iran. Tehran claimed it stopped the tanker for polluting the Strait and the Persian Gulf, but AP said it appeared the country was trying to increase its leverage ahead of negotiations with Seoul over billions of dollars in Iranian assets frozen in South Korean banks amid a U.S. pressure campaign against Tehran. Meanwhile, Iran also began enriching uranium yesterday to 20 percent, levels it hasn't reached since the 2015 nuclear deal that President Trump withdrew the U.S. from in 2018.

➤PHARMACIST WHO RUINED CORONAVIRUS VACCINE DOSES BELIEVED THEY'D MUTATE DNA: Court documents released yesterday said that a Wisconsin pharmacist who ruined more than 500 doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine by taking them out of refrigeration overnight did so because he formed a belief that they would mutate people's DNA. Advocate Aurora Health Steven Brandenburg was arrested last week by police in Grafton, and charges are pending. A detective wrote in the documents that Brandenburg is an admitted conspiracy theorist. Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol said during a virtual hearing that the 46-year-old Brandenburg was also upset because he and his wife are divorcing, and that another Aurora employee said Brandenburg had taken a gun to work twice.

 ➤NEW US DIETARY GUIDELINES SAY NO CANDY, CAKE FOR KIDS UNDER 2:  The U.S. government has new dietary guidelines that ruin all the fun for kids under the age of two. This is the first time the government has released dietary guidelines for infants and toddlers, and last Tuesday they recommended feeding only breast milk for at least six months, and noted that children under age two should not consume added sugar. The dietary guidelines are re-issued every five years by the Agriculture Department and the Department of Health and Human Services. Specifically, the recommendation says babies should only have breast milk at least until they reach six months, and if breast milk isn’t available they should get iron-fortified infant formula during the first year. They should also get supplemental vitamin D beginning soon after birth, and can start eating real food at about six months--- they should be introduced to potential allergenic foods along with other foods. As for adults—the guidelines echo previous ones: adults should limit their sugar intake to less than ten percent of the calories per day, and men should stick to no more than two alcoholic beverages per day, while women should have no more than one per day.

➤SCIENCE: DRINKING YOUR COFFEE THIS WAY EVERY DAY CAN EXTEND YOUR LIFE: It turns out having a strong cup of coffee in the morning could be a good way to extend your life. Researchers looked at over 20,000 people who drank espresso each day, and found none of them had cardiovascular disease or cancer at the beginning of the experiment and each drank about one shot or more of espresso each day for over eight years. The scientists found that compared to those who did not drink coffee, having three to four espresso shots of “Italian style coffee was associated with lower risks of all-cause, and specifically of [cardiovascular disease] mortality.” They believe this is due to the protective effect of a specific compound found in espresso called “NTproBNP.”

🏀ALL MEN'S MARCH MADNESS GAMES TO BE PLAYED IN INDIANA: The NCAA announced Monday that all games of its "March Madness" Division I men's basketball tournament will be played in Indiana this year. The 67 games will take place at venues either in or near Indianapolis, which was already scheduled to host the Final Four. The goal is to reduce the possibility that March Madness could be canceled by the coronavirus pandemic for a second straight year. An announcement about the women's tournament is expected soon, but AP reports that San Antonio, Texas, which is scheduled to host the Final Four, is believed to be frontrunner for a potentially similar one-city format.

🏈JAGUARS, CHARGERS FIRE HEAD COACHES: One day after the end of the NFL's regular season, two teams that didn't make the playoffs, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Los Angeles Chargers, fired their head coaches on Monday. The Jaguars, who ended the season at 1-15, fired Doug Marrone, and the Chargers, whose record was 7-9, dismissed Anthony Lynn, both after four seasons.

🏈ELWAY STEPPING DOWN AS BRONCOS GM: The Denver Broncos announced Monday that John Elway is stepping down as general manager after a decade and will become president of football operations. A new GM will be hired to make all football decisions with head coach Vic Fangio. The move by the Hall of Fame former Denver quarterback came after a 5-11 season, the fifth straight that the the Broncos haven't made the playoffs.

🏀VILLANOVA POSTPONES THREE GAMES DUE TO CORONAVIRUS: All men's basketball activities at Villanova have been paused and the team's next three games have been postponed due to coronavirus issues in the program. Villanova had paused team activities last week after head coach Jay Wright and another staff member tested positive and their January 2nd game against Xavier was postponed. They'd returned to practice Sunday, but team activities were again paused one day later yesterday. 

🏀ESPN: NETS' DURANT SET TO MISS FOUR GAMES DUE TO QUARANTINE: Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant will have to quarantine for seven days, missing four games starting today, after being exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, ESPN reported yesterday. The soonest Durant can return will be on January 12th if he continues to test negative. Durant, who had Covid-19 last May, has continued to test positive for antibodies and tested negative for the virus three times in recent days, according to the report. However, the NBA's protocols don't exempt players who have antibodies.

🏀NBA IMPOSES STRICTER FACE MASK POLICY: The NBA told teams yesterday that it's imposing a stricter face mask policy to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Under the tougher guidelines, which take effect today, players who are dressed for games and eligible to participate will have to wear masks in the bench area until they enter games. Additionally, players and coaches must wear masks outside the team environment if they are around other players and coaches, and players must report the names of any private trainer, therapist, chiropractor or other specialist they work with outside of the team facility.

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