5 things to know for November 17: Covid-19, election, Iota, New Zealand, ISS

Here's what you need to know to get up to speed and on with your day
5 Things You Need To Know

1. Coronavirus

The good news is Moderna announced its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective — the second US vaccine with a stunningly high success rate. But the virus is spreading at unprecedented speeds nationwide, and it could get worse before any vaccine provides relief. The US has recorded more than 100,000 daily infections for two weeks straight. Yesterday, it had about 166,000 new cases along with another high of over 73,000 coronavirus hospitalizations nationwide as ICU beds in several states start filling up. While the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines’ high efficacy rates in trials are a good first step, they are yet to be approved, and experts have to decide who should get vaccinated first. Meanwhile, governors in states including Oklahoma and California announced new restrictions to help slow the spread.

2. Election 2020

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says he has been under pressure from his fellow Republicans who want to reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s projected win in the state. He said Sen. Lindsey Graham hinted that he should try to discard some legal ballots in the state, where an audit process to recount every presidential ballot is underway after the state flipped blue. “He asked if the ballots could be matched back to the voters,” Raffensperger told CNN. “I got the sense it implied that then you could throw those out … if you look at the counties with the highest frequent error of signatures.” Graham has denied the allegation. There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. But top Senate Republicans have shrugged off President Trump’s baseless charges that the election was rigged and he won.

3. Hurricane Iota

Hurricane Iota barreled into a Central America still recovering from Hurricane Eta, bringing potentially catastrophic rainfall, mudslides, storm surge and damaging winds. It made landfall near Haulover, Nicaragua, as a Category 4 storm. That’s 15 miles south of where Eta struck two weeks ago, leaving the region scarred for generations. Iota’s unloading heavy rain in the area, with Honduras and Nicaragua expecting up to 30 inches through Thursday, while El Salvador to Panama could see maximums of 15 inches. River and flash flooding may soon follow, along with dangerous storm surge that could be felt from as far east as Jamaica and as far south as Colombia.

4. New Zealand

When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was reelected in a landslide last month, she brought with her a diverse cast of politicians that make up what is now, by some measures, the most inclusive parliament in the world. Almost half of New Zealand’s newly sworn-in Parliament are women and 11% identify as LGBTQ. Both New Zealand’s Indigenous Māori and people with Pacific Island heritage are represented at a slightly higher rate than in the general population. And politicians from diverse backgrounds aren’t just making up numbers in Parliament: They’re in key positions of power. Eight of Ardern’s 20-strong Cabinet — the highest-ranked lawmakers — are women.

5. The ISS

After 27 hours in orbit, the SpaceX Crew Dragon and its four astronauts have docked at the International Space Station for a six-month stay. NASA and SpaceX have been working together for a decade to return human spaceflight capabilities to the United States and ensure the ISS stays fully staffed. This is the first fully operational crewed mission for SpaceX after a May test mission. The three NASA astronauts and their Japanese counterpart  took with them a tiny Baby Yoda plush toy as part of a long tradition of using a small object as an indicator of zero gravity.


Birds have scandals, too

A flightless parrot has been named Bird of the Year after a lengthy and bitter election campaign marred by voter fraud.

The queen has spoken 

Dolly Parton’s releasing her first holiday album in three decades — and she’s also dishing out advice for a divided America.

The candy formerly known as …

Swiss company Nestlé is renaming two candy products in Australia due to  racial undertones in their marketing.

Not our first bizarre election

The 2020 poll outcome may have been controversial, but we’ve had some truly zany moments in American elections.

Gamers are onto something

Playing video games can improve your mental health. So says a study by Oxford University that singles out two games.



That’s the number of sex abuse claims lodged against the Boy Scouts, which filed for bankruptcy early this year amid hundreds of lawsuits.


“I hope it inspires the next generation of scientists and researchers.”

Dr. Matt Hepburn, vaccine lead for Operation Warp Speed, after Moderna announced its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective


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Glide and pour 

Let’s just take a moment and enjoy this mesmerizing and intricate lemonade machine that spans the whole house. (Click here to view.)

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