December 1, 2021
The Good News
- Nanticoke and Lenape tribes buy back ancestral land in Delaware (WaPo, $)
- New Zealand Becomes First Country in the World To Fully Legalise Drug Checking (Vice)
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” — Rosalynn Carter
Swedening The Deal
You’ve probably heard the horror stories from managers and business owners about how hard it is to keep employees. People are quitting after just one shift, knowing they can find a better or more enjoyable job up the street within the hour, sending attrition rates through the roof. It’s gotten so bad that even prime ministers are affected.
Okay, not really. But last Wednesday, Magdalena Andersson was elected at Sweden’s first prime minister about 100 years after Sweden gave women the right to vote. Women in government leadership positions remain rare. About 20% of ministers in governments are women, according to U.N. Women, and of the female heads of state, half of them are in European governments.
Andersson resigned from the position hours later, after a member of the center-left Swedish Green party quit. Lawmakers passed a budget bill supported by three right-wing parties, after Andersson’s Social Democratic Party’s alternative proposal failed, and the lawmaker quit in protest. In a news conference on Monday, Andersson took the position again, and said she hopes to stick around for the next decade, assuming she can survive an election next year and operating in a minority government.
She told reporters that she’ll focus on the environment, tackling the rise in gang crime, repairing the pandemic-ravaged healthcare system, and creating welfare measures for Swedish citizens. She laid out plans for a minority government where Social Democrats hold less than a third of the seats in the country’s parliament. While her party has been in power for seven years now, her predecessor Stefan Lofven was the first head of state in the country’s history to lose a no-confidence vote as the country has become increasingly polarized.
Issues like immigration have pushed the country’s politics to opposite ends of the spectrum, and the far-right, anti-migrant Sweden Democrats (who drafted the resignation-sparking budget) have become one of the country’s most popular parties. Sweden was the last of its Scandinavian neighbors — Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland — to elect a woman head of state, and also one of few European nations to decide against lockdowns in response to the pandemic, which led to a much higher death rate than those of its neighbors. (WaPo, $)
The Verdict Is Not In
- A court in Myanmar has announced their decision to postpone their verdict in the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s ousted leader, to allow for a testimony by a senior member of her political party. Zaw Myint Maung had previously been unable to come to court for health reasons, but the court agreed with a defense motion to allow for their testimony.
- The court had been scheduled to deliver a verdict on Tuesday on charges of incitement and violating coronavirus restrictions. The verdict would have been the first for the 76-year-old Nobel laureate since the army seized power on February 1st, arresting her and blocking her National League for Democracy party from starting a second term in office.
- She is also being tried for four charges of corruption, with two more pending trials that are each punishable by up to fifteen years of imprisonment. Despite the ongoing series of court cases, Suu Kyi remains widely popular and a symbol of the struggle against military rule. (AP)
Vacc-inequality To Blame
- “No one is safe until everyone is safe.” This mantra has been repeated throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and despite warnings from experts, scientists, and academics, new variants continue to mutate and spread across less-developed countries – an issue that scientists believe could have been prevented if wealthy countries had shared their vaccine supplies. The latest example of a deadly mutation is the omicron variant, which was first noted in southern Africa, and which experts believe transmits more easily and potentially reduces existing immunity.
- “No country can vaccinate its way out of the pandemic alone,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more opportunity this virus has to spread and evolve in ways we cannot predict nor prevent. We are all in this together.” Despite efforts by some countries to help curb the global pandemic, experts believe that much more must be done if there is to be any notable difference. (NBC)
Additional World News
- Fears of new omicron Covid variant prompts Israel to ban entry to foreigners (NBC)
- Boris Johnson announces tougher entry rules after 2 cases of omicron detected in the U.K. (WaPo, $)
- Japan adds $6.75 billion to military budget in rush to bolster air and sea defenses (CNN)
- Far-right figure Zemmour announces presidential run to ‘save’ France (Reuters)
- Australia Seeks to Make Social-Media Firms Liable for Users’ Defamatory Comments (WSJ)
- North Korean defector recaptured in China after more than 40 days on the run (CNN)
- Serbian anti-mining activists block bridges, roads (Al Jazeera)
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Make It Rain
- This year’s hurricane season on the East Coast, just like last year’s, was one for the record books. While it wasn’t record-breaking for the exact same reasons as 2020’s stormy season, this year similarly saw powerful storms create billions of dollars of damages in the Southeast.
- 2021 saw 21 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes, significantly higher than the historical average of 14 named storms, 7 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. Hurricane Sam, the strongest hurricane of the season, generated the fifth-highest accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) since such stats were recorded via satellite. Luckily, Sam never made landfall.
- In terms of damage dealt this year, four named storms incurred over $1 billion of damage costs each. Hurricane Ida left behind over $60 billion worth of additional damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), eclipsing the damage costs of all the tropical cyclones that hit last year, and was ranked “among the top-five most costly hurricanes on record for the U.S. since 1980.” (CNN)
Missouri Loves Company
- On Monday, a federal judge in Missouri appointed by former president Donald Trump joined 10 other Trump-appointed judges in halting the Biden administration’s vaccine requirement for health workers at facilities that received Medicare and Medicaid funding. The news came a day after 10 other Trump appointees also blocked the vaccine mandate, which was expected to affect 1.7 million workers at 76,000 facilities nationwide. The mandate was expected to be executed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
- In St. Louis, U.S. District Judge Matthew T. Schelp stated that an injunction to block the vaccine mandate was warranted as the CMS lacked the authority to execute the new rule, stating, “Congress did not clearly authorize CMS to enact this politically and economically vast, federalism-altering, and boundary-pushing mandate, which Supreme Court precedent requires.” Schelp also questioned the data behind the vaccine mandate.
- The Trump appointees’ ruling are far from the last word in the vaccine mandate discussion: the blockers are going through appeals court processes, and the CMS has stated that they “have a special ethical and professional duty to protect their patients.” (WaPo, $)
Additional USA News
- Appeals court to weigh Trump arguments to withhold records (AP)
- With Omicron, Stock Analysts Expecting More Uncertainty (NYT, $)
- Threat of Russian invasion of Ukraine tests Biden administration (WaPo, $)
- US cities working to reduce emissions in the absence of bold action in Washington (Guardian)
- Pennsylvania DA Appeals Bill Cosby Ruling to U.S. Supreme Court (Variety)
- Chris Cuomo coordinated with Andrew Cuomo’s top aide as allegations spiraled, text messages show (CBS)
Only Fraud Can Judge Me
- A Texas man managed to get $1.6 million in coronavirus relief loans, but was sentenced to nine years in prison when it was revealed that he had committed fraud. Lee Price III, 30, will serve for wire fraud and money laundering after pleading guilty in September to the crimes.
- Price got the money through the Paycheck Protection Program, passed in March of last year and intended to help businesses impacted by the pandemic. Price used false businesses, with no employee or payroll records, to dupe the government into sending him the funds.
- Price purchased a Ford F-350, a Rolex watch, and perhaps most importantly, a Lamborghini Urus, which starts at around $200K. Officials have recovered about $700K of the fraudulently-begotten funds. Back in March, the Justice Department said that about 120 people have been charged with fraud relating to the CARES Act. (NBC)
- The Teenagers Getting Six Figures to Quit High School for Basketball (NYT, $)
- Who Owns a Recipe? A Plagiarism Claim Has Cookbook Authors Asking. (NYT, $)
- An AI Finds Superbug-Killing Potential in Human Proteins (Wired)
- Earth’s Ancient Mountains Rose Up With Help From The Ocean’s Tiniest Organisms (ScienceAlert)
- Arctic precipitation will transition from mostly snow to rain earlier than expected, study shows (CNN)
- NASA calls off spacewalk over debris threat (WaPo, $)
- Think Climate Change Is Messy? Wait Until Geoengineering (Wired)
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