Slap a top hat and monocle on this dude cuz hes a straight-up monopolist.
Slap a top hat and monocle on this dude cuz he's a straight-up monopolist. Getty Pool
President-elect Joe Biden announced retired Army General Lloyd Austin as his pick for Secretary of Defense: If confirmed, Austin would be the first Black defense secretary. Austin faces an uphill battle as his confirmation would entail waiving a requirement for that position to be filled by someone who has been out of active duty service for at least seven years. Trump, of course, ignored that rule by nominating retired Marine officer Jim Mattis four years ago, so Democrats are naturally weary of doing that again. "I would not be asking for this exception if I did not believe this moment in our history didn't call for it — it does call for it — and if I didn't have the faith I have in Lloyd Austin to ask for it," Biden said.

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Biden continues to be a centrist's wet dream: As outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones is reported to be the President-elect's top pick for attorney general. If you'll remember, Jones—a Democrat—lost his Senate seat to a college football coach in the Yellowhammer State, so he'll be out of a job come January. NBC News posits that Jones is a great pick because he has a good track record on race and civil rights issues. Biden is also looking at Judge Merrick Garland and Sally Yates as other potential contenders for the AG's office.

Ok, sorry, just one more thing about the Bidens: The Department of Justice is investigating Hunter Biden for his business dealings in China. Federal prosecutors in Delaware are working with the IRS Criminal Investigation agency and the FBI, issuing subpoenas and seeking interviews, reports CNN. Authorities are looking into whether Hunter Biden and his associates violated tax and money laundering laws in business dealings in foreign countries, specifically in China. "I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately," said Hunter in a statement. Papa Biden is reportedly not implicated in this federal investigation.

Elon Musk's SpaceX Mars rocket prototype blew up on landing today: No one was on board. Despite the explosion, people are still calling the test a success because Musk is known to "embrace mishaps during the early stages of new spacefaring technology development." My ass is staying earthside!

Run, Nina, run! Former Ohio state senator and Bernie surrogate Nina Turner has filed federal paperwork for Rep. Marcia Fudge's seat after Joe Biden tapped the Ohio representative to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The race to fill this seat is likely to get crowded with candidates. Still, many leftists, activists, and progressive politicians have urged Turner to run after her rise in popularity as co-chair of Bernie's 2020 presidential campaign.

48 states and the Federal Trade Commission file parallel lawsuits against Facebook: That accuse the social media site of anticompetitive behavior. The lawsuits could force the breakup of Facebook. Both lawsuits say Facebook has "maintained an illegal monopoly shored up in particular by the 2012 purchase of Instagram and the 2014 acquisition of WhatsApp," reports Axios. The FTC asks the court to make Facebook consciously uncouple from their Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions, among less drastic measures. The coalition of state lawsuits argues that Facebook's stifling of competition has "denied Americans access to alternative social networks that would better protect their privacy."

Facebook has obviously pushed back: Saying that consumers benefitted from those mergers and that neither Instagram nor WhatsApp would be the giants that they are without Facebook leading the way. These two filings are just one step in what will likely be a multi-year process. As TechCrunch says, expect to see a lot of PR from Facebook pushing their innocence.

Man rescued from the cold dark waters of Puget Sound on Monday: After falling out of his sailboat during rough weather just before nightfall, the man spent about half an hour in the freezing water without a life jacket before being spotted. The man is alive and doing well as officials call his rescue and recovery "remarkable" in light of the dark, frigid conditions.

Canada has approved the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine: Health Canada, the country's drug regulator, made the decision after completing a full independent review of the data on the vaccine's safety and effectiveness, reports the New York Times. Our northern neighbors have ordered 76 million doses from Pfizer and could start inoculating people as soon as next week.

Meanwhile in America: In a new AP-NORC survey, just under half of Americans say they want to get the COVID vaccine. 26% of adults say they won't, while 27% say they aren't sure. Those doubtful Americans will have a little while to change their minds as it'll likely take months for most people to get the two shots needed for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. As a side note, there were 3,054 reported COVID deaths, which makes today the highest single-day total since the pandemic began.

The Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine under scrutiny by US regulators: Unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, AstraZeneca's is cheap, can be stored at ordinary fridge temperatures, and is much easier to manufacture, making it the best candidate for mass inoculations across the globe. But as The Guardian notes, things aren't going too hot for the pharmaceutical company at the moment, with one investment analyst saying, "We believe that this product will never be licensed in the US.":

Criticism of the AstraZeneca vaccine focuses on three main issues. AstraZeneca’s efficacy data relates to fewer people than the other vaccines; so far 11,636 in the UK and Brazil trials, although there are more to come, including a 30,000-strong trial in the US partly funded by Operation Warp Speed.

A woman in the UK given the AstraZeneca jab developed transverse myelitis, a neurological disorder causing inflammation of the spinal cord, leading to the trials being paused worldwide in September. And the efficacy results were 62% overall, but 90% covering a sub-group of fewer than 3,000 people who were inadvertently given a lower starting dose.

Researchers said that pooling the results, which they had agreed to do with regulators before they knew the outcome, gave them 70% efficacy overall.

Boeing 737 Max back in the air: After being grounded for almost two years because of two terrifying and deadly crashes, the jetliner is now back in action flying from Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre with Brazil's Gol Airline. It should be noted, however, that Gol customers can exchange their tickets if they don't want to fly on a 737 Max, which is not reassuring at all.

Are college sports really worth it right now? The UW football team has put a pause on all activities as COVID-19 spreads through its program, reports the Seattle Times. They are waiting on the results of a Wednesday morning round of PCR tests before making a decision about the Huskies' Saturday game at Oregon.

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A man claimed to have a bomb after walking into the headquarters of the Spokane County Democratic Party: As occupants fled, the man handed a written document to someone inside and briefly "detained" one person, a Spokane Police spokesperson told the Seattle Times. According to a witness, the document was a manifesto of some kind that appeared to be political. The man also set a small fire inside the building—which houses a local Teamsters branch—that went out after the police discovered it. The suspect was taken into custody 14 minutes after the first 911 call, and no significant injuries were reported. The investigation is still ongoing.

More corporations join Amazon's Climate Pledge: Microsoft, Unilever, Neste, Brooks, and more were named as new signatories to the pledge, bringing the total number of signees to 31. The Climate Pledge pinky-promises to meet the net-zero emissions goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change by 2040. The news of Microsoft hopping on this Climate Pledge train is interesting as they have their own climate plan and coalition, the terribly-named Transform to Net Zero. Will Amazon sign on to their low-key rival's plan? "We are fully focused on the Climate Pledge," says the online bookstore's talking head. And there you have it!

It's been eight long years: Since this little bundled-up Japanese snow macaque named Darwin tried to buy furniture inside a Toronto IKEA. If only he knew how inspirational he'd become.