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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review

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Vice President Mike Pence and President-elect Joe Biden were vaccinated against COVID-19 in separate televised events.

It was reported that multiple U.S. federal agencies, including the Treasury Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration, were hacked in what may have been the worst cyberattack in American history.1 The hackers infiltrated the networks during a software update performed in March by the company SolarWinds, which provides network-management services to government agencies around the world; a security researcher had informed SolarWinds last year that anyone could access the company’s server using the password “solarwinds123.”2 “The Cyber Hack is far greater in the Fake News Media than in actuality,” tweeted President Donald Trump.3 After a legal threat from Smartmatic, a voting-systems company whose machines were not used in any battleground states but that has been bombarded with conspiracy theories about the election, Fox News aired a fact-checking segment refuting the claims, which had been made by several of the network’s hosts; the segment is also scheduled to air during each of the hosts’ own programs.4 5 A former Houston police captain was charged with aggravated assault after pointing a gun at an air-conditioner repairman whom he believed had transported 750,000 fraudulent mail-in ballots signed by Latino children.6 Sidney Powell, an attorney who dubbed her series of lawsuits on behalf of the Trump campaign “the Kraken,” lobbied Trump to issue an executive order to confiscate voting machines, and Skylar Mack, an 18-year-old who was jailed in the Cayman Islands after violating the territory’s mandatory quarantine, asked Trump for legal assistance.7 8 9 Vice President Mike Pence and President-elect Joe Biden were vaccinated against COVID-19 in separate televised events.10 The CDC announced that it plans to encourage Americans to get vaccinated by giving those who receive the shot stickers reading “I Got My Covid-19 Vaccine,” and Dr. Anthony Fauci appeared at a joint CNN and Sesame Street town-hall event to reassure concerned children that he had traveled to the North Pole to personally vaccinate Santa Claus.11 12

British prime minister Boris Johnson, who had said days earlier that it would be “frankly inhuman” to impose strict rules during the Christmas holiday, announced a new set of COVID-19 restrictions in an attempt to curb the spread of a new, highly infectious strain of the novel coronavirus found in London and southeastern England.13 European nations banned travel from the United Kingdom, as did its former colonies India and Hong Kong.14 15 16 Ten states filed a lawsuit against Google, calling it “a trillion-dollar monopoly brazenly abusing its monopolistic power” and alleging that the company had colluded with Facebook, in a deal code-named “Jedi Blue,” to rig ad auctions against their competitors.17 Facebook, which has announced plans to develop a tool that will summarize articles so that users don’t have to read them, launched a campaign of full-page newspaper advertisements condemning Apple’s new privacy features; the ads claim that the social-media giant is “standing up to Apple for small businesses everywhere.”18 19 The online retailer Alibaba stated that it would not allow facial-recognition technology to target sales according to ethnicity, following a report that its cloud-computing unit had developed the ability to do so.20 The public comment period for a proposal by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to expand the use of facial recognition in airports, including the faces of passengers who are not citizens of the United States, ended.21 After a nearly 17-month search, Jean-Luc Brunel—a friend and business associate of Jeffrey Epstein who was first publicly accused of drugging and raping underage models in a 1988 60 Minutes segment—was arrested in Paris.22 23 Parisian officials were fined 90,000 euros by the French Ministry of Public Service for employing too many women in senior positions.24

A Minnesota man won $75,000 in damages in a lawsuit against his parents after they threw out his “irreplaceable” collection of pornography, and a pair of burglars in Ontario apologized and offered to pay damages after breaking into the wrong house.25 26 Law-enforcement officials in Rainsville, Alabama, busted an illegal winery that had been operating at a municipal sewage plant, and an insurance-industry report found that drivers of Dodge Ram 2500 pickup trucks have the highest rate of DUIs among car owners, at more than double the national average.27 28 U.S. Commerce Department data showed that every state in the country saw personal incomes drop in the third quarter, Census Bureau data revealed that food insecurity has doubled since last year, and Labor Department data indicated an unexpected surge in weekly jobless claims.29 30 31 “Concierge doctors,” who offer top-notch, 24-hour health care for wealthy patients, were overwhelmed with calls from clients offering to donate as much as $25,000 to hospitals in order to get the coronavirus vaccine early.32 Economists published a new study concluding that the benefits of 50 years of tax cuts for the rich have failed to trickle down.33 In what is widely believed to be an ill portent, the blood of the patron saint of Naples, Italy, failed to liquefy after two rounds of prayer.34Ani Wilcenski

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