Good afternoon! It’s Tuesday, and I spent the last nice day working from my porch. Here’s what you need to know today.
Illinois officials today reported 12,623 new coronavirus cases, once again setting a single-day record and pushing the state’s total number of known cases above 500,000. Public health officials also announced 79 new COVID-19 deaths.
The state is seeing a weekly average of 9,819 cases per day, an increase of 111% from the average two weeks ago. [New York Times]
The news comes as Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s Commissioner of Public Health, today announced changes to the city’s self-quarantine order. Under the new guidelines, only North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Minnesota, Utah, Idaho, Kansas and Indiana require a 14-day quarantine.
Thirty-one other states, plus Puerto Rico, require either a 14-day quarantine or a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arriving. [WBEZ]
And in Europe, health officials are advocating for a return to strict lockdowns as hospitals are reaching capacity. [AP]
Justices on the nation’s highest court showed skepticism today toward the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Republican officials had argued that the entire health care law should be voided because Congress eliminated the tax penalty portion in 2017.
“It does seem fairly clear that the proper remedy would be to sever the mandate provision and leave the rest of the law in place,” said Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, who was appointed by President Trump.
And Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., another conservative, said: “Congress left the rest of the law intact when it lowered the penalty to zero.”
This is the third time the Affordable Care Act has been challenged. Previous challenges narrowly failed, but recent changes in the Supreme Court have this decision less certain. [New York Times]
The Supreme Court will likely not make a decision until June. Here’s a quick explainer of the key players and issues in this most recent challenge. [The Guardian]
Former Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI were aware of sexual misconduct allegations against former Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick — and repeatedly downplayed or dismissed the accusations, according to a Vatican report released today.
“The most striking revelation is that Pope John Paul II, who was made a saint in 2014, appointed McCarrick to the position of archbishop of Washington despite a letter from the late New York Cardinal John O’Connor in 1999 detailing allegations against him,” NPR reports.
Pope Francis, the current leader of the Catholic Church, dismissed McCarrick last year after a church tribunal found him guilty of abusing minors and adults. [NPR]
Read the full Vatican report in this link. [Washington Post]
President-elect Joe Biden is unlikely to defund the police, unofficial campaign adviser and former Mayor Rahm Emanuel told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Biden has instead said he’ll spend $300 million to hire more officers and provide training. How will that sit with local organizations who marched for racial justice this summer as the Chicago Police Department struggled to enact reforms?
“If their agenda is not met, there will be protests again,” former CPD Chief of Operations Fred Waller told the newspaper.
Emanuel said activists will be closely watching who Biden appoints as the next attorney general and head of the civil rights division. [Chicago Sun-Times]
Speaking of Emanuel, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, is among those who don’t want the former Chicago mayor in Biden’s administration. Ocasio-Cortez cited Emanuel’s record on racial justice and opposition to teachers’ unions. [New York Times]
Meanwhile, Biden said today that President Trump’s refusal to concede doesn’t impact his transition plan. [AP]
The European Union today accused Amazon of exploiting the data it collects on its platforms. The tech giant is at the center of numerous antitrust investigations around the world, but the EU is the first to bring charges.
“The use of non-public marketplace seller data allows Amazon to avoid the normal risks of retail competition and to leverage its dominance in the market,” the European Commission said in a statement.
The Commission also said it is opening a second investigation into how Amazon selects sellers to feature.
Amazon is expected to challenge the case in an EU court. The retail company could face a fine up to 10% of its global revenue, or $28 billion, according to 2019 data. [NPR]
Here’s what else is happening
- Chicago is under a tornado watch tonight. [Chicago Sun-Times]
- Researchers say Biden could restore faith in the census count. [WBEZ]
- Peru’s legislature impeaches the president, citing mismanagement of the pandemic. [NPR]
- U.S. job openings increased less than expected in September, while hiring fell. [Reuters]
Oh, and one more thing …
Election news has begun to slow down, but I’m left with one last burning question: Has anyone fact-checked the map of states where you can own a kangaroo without a permit?
The map — which went viral as an alternative to looking at the slowly updating Electoral College map — showed Wisconsin, South Carolina and West Virginia as the easiest states to own a kangaroo in. And it’s accurate — sort of.
According to Milwaukee Magazine, there is no Wisconsin law that requires a permit to own a kangaroo, although some local towns do require permits. But our neighbor to the north does require a permit to bring a kangaroo into the state.
As Archer Parquette writes, “that kind of screws up this whole permit-free kangaroo-owning fantasy, unless you literally find a kangaroo somewhere in Racine and claim it as your own.” [Milwaukee Magazine]
Tell me something good …
I’ve decided I want some holiday cheer right now, so I’m decorating my house for Christmas this week. Are you looking forward to a holiday tradition or celebration as 2020 starts to come to a close? Or perhaps trying something new this year?
Allison Bengfort writes:
“Tonight, my mom, brother and I celebrated my dad’s birthday over Zoom (COVID times). He said that all he wanted for his birthday was for us to play our instruments for him, so we made him this video. Happy birthday, Dad!”
And Linda writes:
“We are quarantining in our new vacation home, so everything is new. We are planning a bison roast with Yorkshire pudding. Our first married Christmas in 1977 was the first and last time we made Yorkshire pudd so will have to practice. Luckily The Great British Baking Show has a Yorkshire pudding challenge.”
Feel free to email or tweet me, and your response might appear here this week.
Thanks for reading and have a nice night. I’ll see you tomorrow.