Chicago Sun-Times: Lightfoot plans free vaccinations next year for all adults living, working in Chicago by Fran Spielman
Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday outlined plans to distribute free coronavirus vaccines next year to all adults who live and work in Chicago, beginning with front-line health care workers and employees of long-term care facilities, many of whom are minorities.
If Federal Drug Administration approval goes as planned — Pfizer’s vaccine Thursday, Moderna’s next week — the Chicago Department of Public Health expects to receive 23,000 doses later this month, with additional doses every week after that.
“We’re anticipating in the month of December somewhere in the 100,000-to-150,000 range. We’re ready for twice that. We’re ready for half that,” Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady told reporters.
During the first week, the vaccine will be distributed to Chicago’s 34 hospitals to begin vaccinating “highest-risk” health care workers. That includes those treating COVID patients or working in intensive care units.
Philadelphia Inquirer: Sen. Bob Casey cites shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. in pushing bills to divert 911 calls for mental health crises by Jonathan Tamari
Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) introduced two bills Wednesday aimed at steering some emergency calls away from law enforcement and toward social-service providers, hoping to avert encounters like the one that ended with Philadelphia police shooting and killing Walter Wallace Jr.
The proposals, Casey said, would divert “non-criminal, non-fire, non-medical emergency” calls from 911 systems and into state and regional 211 systems, which offer a range of social services, including help for people facing mental health crises or those with disabilities. The bills, which are likely to face a difficult route to passage in a closely divided Congress, would also provide grants to strengthen those 211 systems and train law enforcement officers for encounters with people with disabilities.
“The problem is this: Protecting people with disabilities to connect them with the resources that they need and also to reduce demands on police, on law enforcement, to address non-criminal complaints,” Casey said in a virtual news conference. “It’s easy to describe this problem. It’s exceedingly more difficult to solve it, but we’ve got to try.”
AL.com: U.S. Department of Justice sues Alabama over unsafe prison conditions by Mike Cason
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Corrections today for failure to protect prisoners from inmate-on-inmate violence and sexual abuse, failure to protect them from excessive force by staff, and failure to provide safe conditions of confinement.
The DOJ first made most of the allegations in April 2019 and said today the state has failed to address the problems since. The DOJ said some problems have gotten worse since it started an investigation four years ago.
“The United States Constitution requires Alabama to make sure that its prisons are safe and humane,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division said in a press release. “The Department of Justice conducted a thorough investigation of Alabama’s prisons for men and determined that Alabama violated and is continuing to violate the Constitution because its prisons are riddled with prisoner-on-prisoner and guard-on-prisoner violence. The violations have led to homicides, rapes, and serious injuries. The Department of Justice looks forward to proving its case in an Alabama federal courtroom.”
Wisconsin State Journal: 3 more Wisconsin prisoners die from COVID-19; federal prison also faces outbreak by Emily Hamer
The state Department of Corrections reported three more COVID-19-related inmate deaths Wednesday as the coronavirus continues to infect state, county and federal inmates in Wisconsin.
A total of 19 inmates have now died from COVID-19 in the Wisconsin prison system, according to DOC’s data dashboard. Across DOC’s more than 36 adult facilities and three juvenile facilities, there were 9,470 total cases and 1,155 active cases Wednesday.
DOC reports inmate deaths as COVID-19-related after a medical examiner or coroner confirms that the virus was an underlying cause or death or a significant condition that contributed to death — a determination that can take weeks or months.
Those who died in a county jail or federal prison in Wisconsin are not included in DOC’s count.
No deaths have occurred so far in a COVID-19 outbreak at a federal prison in central Wisconsin, which has nearly 150 active cases.
Idaho Statesman: Idaho Anne Frank Memorial vandalized with Nazi stickers; Boise police investigating by Jacob Scholl
An Idaho landmark was defiled sometime Monday night or early Tuesday, as stickers donning Nazi insignia were placed throughout the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise.
The Wassmuth Center for Human Rights, which maintains the Anne Frank memorial, posted photos on Facebook on Wednesday morning showing the stickers.
The stickers consisted of a swastika and read, “we are everywhere.” There were nine swastika stickers in all, and they were removed once they were found.
In one Facebook post, the human rights center wrote that the stickers were placed throughout the memorial sometime Tuesday. The caption also read, “I fear for what is happening to our community.”
Another Facebook post included the following caption: “The Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial was built as a physical statement of our shared values. One of those values includes standing up to confront hate.”
Mother Jones: How Kelly Loeffler’s Firm Facilitated an Enron-Like Scandal by David Corn
At a debate on Sunday night, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the Republican vying in one of the two critical January 5 Senate run-offs in Georgia, declared that she has been using her “private sector experience to make sure that Georgians get back to work.” But one of her private sector experiences was an episode in which her company provided a platform for highly speculative unregulated energy trading that ended up causing an Enron-like scandal and costing residents of Georgia millions of dollars.
Before she was appointed in late 2019 to fill a Senate vacancy, Loeffler, a prominent Republican donor, had spent 16 years working in the corporate management of Intercontinental Exchange, a Fortune 500 company that owns the New York Stock Exchange and other financial markets, as well as other businesses, including digital mortgage services. The CEO of the company, Jeffrey Sprecher, is her husband, and together they are worth $800 million. (Loeffler, who has been dogged by questions about her controversial stock trading, is the wealthiest member of Congress.) When she left Intercontinental—which is known as ICE—in 2018, a press release noted that Loeffler had led “all aspects of ICE’s investor relations, communications, marketing strategy, brand, digital platforms and sustainability efforts, among many other contributions.” She still holds between $5 million and $25 million in ICE stock, according to her most recent financial disclosure.
Reuters: Facebook faces U.S. lawsuits that could force sale of Instagram, WhatsApp by Diane Bartz, Nandita Bose and Katie Paul
WASHINGTON/PALO ALTO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc could be forced to sell its prized assets WhatsApp and Instagram after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and nearly every U.S. state filed lawsuits against the social media company, saying it used a “buy or bury” strategy to snap up rivals and keep smaller competitors at bay.
With the filing of the twin lawsuits on Wednesday, Facebook becomes the second big tech company to face a major legal challenge this year after the U.S. Justice Department sued Alphabet Inc’s Google in October, accusing the $1 trillion company of using its market power to fend off rivals.
The lawsuits highlight the growing bipartisan consensus to hold Big Tech accountable for its business practices and mark a rare moment of agreement between the Trump administration and Democrats, some of whom have advocated breaking up both Google and Facebook.
The complaints on Wednesday accuse Facebook of buying up rivals, focusing specifically on its previous acquisitions of photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 and messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014.
New York Times: U.S., Breaking a Record, Tops the 3,000 Daily Death Mark
Just one week after the United States broke a daily record for coronavirus deaths, it did so again on Wednesday, when officials across the country reported at least 3,011 new fatalities.
Last week’s record — 2,885 deaths reported in a single day — was a milestone because not since the pandemic’s first peak, in spring, had so many deaths been reported. The high point then was 2,752 deaths, on April 15.
As a brutal surge gathers speed across the country, the country went on last week to record its most coronavirus-related deaths over a seven-day period.
With a seven-day average of 2,249 deaths, the U.S. broke the previous mark of 2,232, set on April 17. Seven-day averages can provide a more accurate picture of the virus’s progression than daily death counts, which can fluctuate.
And all the while, the United States is speeding toward another stunning total: 300,000 total deaths since the coronavirus slipped into the country at the beginning of the year and began laying siege. At least 288,000 deaths have been recorded, according to a New York Times database.
Washington Post: “God be with us’: A rural community in S.D. ignored the virus for months. Then people started dying. By Annie Gowen
MITCHELL, S.D. — A cold wind whipped through the prairie as they laid Buck Timmins to rest.
Timmins, a longtime coach and referee, was not the first person in Mitchell, S.D., pop. 15,600, to die of the coronavirus. He was not even the first that week.
As the funeral director tucked blankets over the knees of Timmins’s wife, Nanci, Pastor Rhonda Wellsandt-Zell told the small group of masked mourners that just as there had been seasons in the coach’s life — basketball season, football season, volleyball season — Mitchell was now enduring a phase of its own.
In a state where the Republican governor, Kristi L. Noem, has defied calls for a statewide mask mandate even as cases hit record levels, many in this rural community an hour west of Sioux Falls ignored the virus for months, not bothering with masks or social distancing. Restaurants were packed. Big weddings and funerals went on as planned.
Then people started dying. The wife of the former bank president. A state legislator. The guy whose family has owned the bike shop since 1959. Then Timmins, a mild-spoken 72-year-old who had worked with hundreds of local kids during six decades as a Little League and high school coach and referee.
BBC News: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine docs hacked from European Medicines Agency
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) says it has been hit by a cyber-attack and documents relating to a Covid-19 vaccine have been accessed.
BioNTech, which makes one of the vaccines in partnership with Pfizer, said its regulatory submission was accessed during the attack.
The EMA is working on approval of two Covid-19 vaccines, which it expects to conclude within weeks.
The cyber-attack was not expected to impact that timeline, BioNTech said.
The EMA did not provide any details on the nature of the cyber-attack in a brief statement on its website, beyond saying a full investigation had been launched.
A spokesperson for the agency said it was still "functional".
Guardian: Boris Johnson and EU set Sunday deadline to decide on Brexit deal by Daniel Boffey, Jessica Elgot, and Jon Henley
A Brexit deal must be sealed by Sunday or there will be no deal, Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen agreed after a “lively and frank” three-hour summit that set the stage for a dramatic final act of the negotiations.
Despite nine months of troubled talks, “very large gaps” were said to remain between the UK and EU. The leaders said they should come to a deal or no deal outcome by the end of the weekend, with pressure on both sides to find time for parliamentary ratification.
Downing Street said the meeting in Brussels had been “frank” – a diplomatic expression for a heated conversation. The commission president, Von der Leyen, tweeted: “We had a lively and interesting discussion on the state of play on outstanding issues.
“We understand each other’s positions. They remain far apart. The teams should immediately reconvene to try to resolve these issues. We will come to a decision by the end of the weekend.”
AlJazeera: People with anaphylaxis history should not take Pfizer COVID shot
The UK’s medicine regulator says anyone with a history of anaphylaxis to a medicine or food should not get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, expanding its guidance on an earlier allergy warning about the shot, the first against COVID-19 to have secured approval.
“Any person with a history of anaphylaxis to a vaccine, medicine or food should not receive the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine,” June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said in a statement. “A second dose should not be given to anyone who has experienced anaphylaxis following administration of the first dose of this vaccine.”
The United Kingdom this week became the first country in the world to begin vaccinations against COVID-19, but after reports of three possible allergic reactions from people who had their shots on the first day of the mass vaccination programme warned those with a “significant allergic reaction” to vaccines, medicines or food should not get the inoculation.
The earlier warning did not mention anaphylaxis, which is a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to a trigger, usually foods including milk, nuts and shellfish, as well medicines like aspirin. Other triggers include bee stings and latex.
South China Morning Post: Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam faces Japan bank freeze-out as Tokyo says it will abide by US sanctions by Julian Ryall
The Japanese government has confirmed that domestic banks with operations in the
The government confirmed its understanding of the requirement on Japanese banks in response to a written question from Jin Matsubara, a member of parliament from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and a former chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
“The government asks Japanese financial groups that have offices overseas to consider the fact that laws and regulations on sanctions in those countries may be stricter than those of Japan,” the government said in a statement issued after the cabinet meeting.
Guardian: Rats besiege New York Chipotle, eating avocados and attacking staff by Poppy Noor
As columnist Mary Schmich once said, in life, there are certain inalienable truths: prices will rise, politicians will philander, and – I’m going to add one – you can always count on New York for a good old rat story.
Today that story is of the Upper Manhattan Chipotle food chain rats, who have been feasting on avocados and burritos – and, by the sounds of it – disturbed staff.
At first glance, it might sound like small potatoes compared to when the CDC had to warn against New York’s cannibal rats during the pandemic. Nor does it sound quite as frightful as the starved super rats so desperate to dine out that they threw themselves at horrified New Yorkers who were dining alfresco.
No, today’s rats have been running amok at Chipotle’s Upper West Side location – attacking employees, chewing through wiring systems, and causing the indefinite closure of the restaurant to the public.
There is a New York Post link within the Guardian story; if you are brave enough to go there, have at it. If you’re from NYC or have lived there...you already know.
Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State headed to football title game after Big Ten rule change by Bill Rabinowitz and Joey Kaufman
Ohio State will play for the Big Ten football championship, after all.
The conference on Wednesday announced that it has decided to change its rule requiring teams to play a minimum of six games to qualify for its Dec. 19 championship game.
Big Ten athletic directors met virtually Wednesday morning for a regularly scheduled meeting to discuss the change, then announced the decision to amend the qualification requirement late in the afternoon, after discussion among conference presidents.
In a statement, the Big Ten it was voting "to eliminate the minimum-game requirement for participation" in the 2020 championship game. The statement added that the decision was made in collaboration with the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors and the conference office.
I’m not against allowing Ohio State to play in the Big Ten Championship game at all.
There was one other team that won a Big Ten Championship with a five game season.
In fact, that other team won a national championship.
Yes, while Illinois lost 2 non-conference games in 1918, they were undefeated in conference play and Michigan did not play them.
And Illinois had won more games in conference.
Ohio State beat Indiana head-to-head and are undefeated in their division.
I think the Buckeyes have a better case than the 1918 Wolverines did, to be honest.
So allow them to play.
Don’t forget that Meteor Blades is hosting a Wednesday night owls thread tonight.
Everyone have a good evening!