Moderna, a major biotechnology firm, reported the second set of incredibly promising results on early tests of its vaccine, joining Pfizer as the second major company that appears to have a working formula.
Meanwhile, a new push by Chuck Schumer could move President-elect Joe Biden to cancel a significant chunk of student loan debt in his first days in office. It’s not a done deal, but we’ll look at what’s on the table.
And lastly, new reports suggest that Trump is planning to remove more troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, while simultaneously asking for plans to attack Iran. In other words, just the kind of steady international leadership we look to him for.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
MODERNA VACCINE POSTS GREAT NUMBERS
Big pharma... what is there to say? It’s a terrible, soulless industry that is single handedly destroying many facets of American life. On the other hand, it’s posting some pretty heartinging results on a vaccine that could end the current coronavirus pandemic. Let’s focus on the latter point just for today.
Moderna, a biotechnology firm that’s been working in partnership with the National Institute of Health, announced that preliminary analysis of it’s large-scale study shows it has a vaccine that is close to nearly 95 percent effective at preventing illness from the disease, even in particularly severe cases.
Moderna’s drug would then join pharma giant Pfizer’s vaccine as the second potential route out of the pandemic. Experts have long predicted that we’ll need multiple vaccines, not just one, to fully beat back the disease’s spread, so this is pretty heartening news.
The Moderna data is also good news for Pfizer’s results, as scientists are now less skeptical that the first set of numbers about that cure was a fluke.
However, things are still going to roll out slowly. The Washington Post reports that even if both vaccines get the green light from the FDA in the next few weeks, they’ll only have enough to inoculate about 20 million people by the end of December.
The Post reports that people who aren’t in a high risk group might not have access to the shots until April of next year, more than a full year after the pandemic began.
Still, it’s a pretty good feeling to know that there’s concrete progress happening, and perhaps an end in sight. We’ll keep an eye out for any more info on both vaccines as it comes in.
BIDEN INDICATES HE'D WIPE SOME STUDENT DEBT
A new campaign by progressives and even some mainstream, centrist voices like Chuck Schumer could put student loan forgiveness at the top of a Biden Administration’s to-do list when he takes office.
Schumer first made noises about the issue in an interview early this month, when he mentioned his September resolution with Elizabeth Warren, which called for Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt per person immediately by executive order.
The issue bubbled over into the right and left-wing media spheres on Monday, with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez tweeting about the topic and the Fox News fever swamp running with it.
One of the dumbest conservative rebuttals to such a program is that people who have already paid their student loans would be pissed that other people now didn’t have to. Sure, maybe that could rankle people a bit, but you know what would far outweigh it? The millions of Americans who suddenly became debt free.
It’s also worth noting that Schumer and Warren’s proposal isn’t complete debt forgiveness either. It often costs a heck of a lot more than $50 grand to go to college. And Biden hasn’t exactly expressed full support for the plan. His proposal, instead, is some kind of debt bargaining system, where people could earn $10,000 of undergraduate or graduate student debt relief for every year of national or community service, up to five years.
That’s not particularly heartening. But the GOP’s hold on the Senate means Biden will have to make a lot of impact with executive orders early on, and Schumer has publicly said Biden has the authority to do so without Congress in this case. Fingers crossed he decides to follow through.
TRUMP PLANS LAST MINUTE MILITARY STUNTS
True to form, Trump is going out with a bang, or perhaps fewer bangs, at least as far as the military is concerned. It’s... well, not exactly clear.
On Monday, the New York Times reported that Trump was planning to order the U.S. military to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia by the time he leaves office in January.
However, the Times _also_ r eports that Trump asked advisors in a meeting on Thursday whether or not they had options on the table to attack Iran in response to the country’s nuclear program.
Trump ran with promises to curb conflicts overseas, or at least to bring troops home. That was enough to dupe some rubes into thinking he was actually a pacifist, a theory immediately disproven by his bloody continuation and escalation of America’s bombing campaigns all over the world.
But it appears in his lame duck period the President wants to make good on some of his promises to remove troops from stations overseas, which means we may get a significant drawdown before he’s out -- potentially halving the 4500 troops in Afghanistan, for instance.
This isn’t exactly a bad concept, but military leaders have been warning for years that hasty, political pullouts could have lingering effects, like when the U.S. ripped itself out of Iraq in a hurry and left behind a massive vacuum that was helpfully filled by ISIS.
Getting troops home and out of other countries is always going to be a progressive goal, but like most of Trump’s plans, it doesn’t appear to be much more than window dressing. His grand plans to leave Somalia, for instance, don’t apply to the troops stationed on U.S. airbases still waging a destructive and costly drone strike and bombing campaign against terrorists and civilians alike there.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said on Monday that he was going to charge ahead on plans to legalize Marijuana in the state, aiming to propose legislation to those ends when the state legislature convenes in January. Northam says he envisions an 18 to 24 month timetable to fully legalize and regulate the substance in the state.
Chaotic weeks of street protests in Peru have rocked the country’s government, forcing the legislature to name its third president in one week. Francisco Sagasti [SAG AH STEE] will step into the hot seat, but his appointment isn’t expected to mollify pro-democracy protesters who have faced brutal police violence after taking to the streets earlier this month, when the corrupt legislature used back-handed, obscure legalese to remove a popular, well-liked leader who had run on an anti-corruption platform.
The Intercept reports that Zoom, the video-conferencing app that has taken over the workspace during the pandemic, has cracked down on dissent on its platform, shutting down a San Francisco State University event with Palestinian activist Leila Khaled as well as subsequent events that criticised its decision. Pretty dystopian stuff.
A new report by the Portland Mercury shows that the city’s police department used force against protesters 2,378 times between April 1 and June 30 of this year, three times the amount of incidents they incurred in the past four years combined.
That’s it for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie today! Stay tuned for the full show with Sam this afternoon.
NOV 17, 2020 - AM QUICKIE
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn