We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Kamala Harris becomes the nominee for Democratic vice president
U.S. Senator from California Kamala Harris was announced this week to be Joe Biden’s pick as running mate in the upcoming presidential election, making Harris the first black woman and first Asian American to run on a major party ticket (the first black woman to run for vice president was Charlotta Bass for the Progressive Party ticket in 1952). Harris is also the daughter of immigrants, with an Indian-American mother and a father from Jamaica.
A former District Attorney and Attorney General, Harris previously ran for President before the 2020 Primaries, coming face-to-face with current running-mate Biden when the two butted heads over Biden’s busing segregation policies in the ’70s. Harris had also denounced him previously when she said of women who accused Biden of inappropriate touching, “I believe them.”
Kamala ended up dropping out of the race before the primaries, but now, despite her previous disagreements with Biden, she has joined forces with him—both vowing to focus on public health and racial injustice. Of his pick, Biden told his Delaware audience, “This morning, all across the nation, little girls woke up—especially little black and brown girls, who so often feel overlooked and undervalued in their communities. But today, today, just maybe, they’re seeing themselves for the first time in a new way.” —Mariel Lindsay
Russia moves toward vaccine that some call hasty
President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that the nation has found the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine. Though met with skepticism by many scientists and public health officials, Putin claims that the vaccine “works quite effectively” and has “passed all the necessary checks.” Many suggest that this claim comes as an attempt to secure a “domestic win,” after mismanaging the virus outbreak throughout Russia.
Russia has reported nearly 900,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and over 15,000 deaths as of Wednesday, securing them the fourth highest world ranking in terms of the virus’s effects.
J. Stephen Morrison, a senior vice president at Center for Strategic and International Studies and director of their Global Health Policy Center, expresses significant concerns about Putin’s “cutting corners” and the “high risk of backfiring.”
This new vaccine’s trials were completed in just two months and it now moves into “phase three” of testing before mass production is scheduled to begin next month. No data from the first two phases has been publicly released. —Maggie Sicilia Bickerstaff
Big Ten Conference cancels fall 2020 football season
As colleges across the country gear up for a new year, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to many schools canceling their extracurricular activities. This week, leaders in the Big Ten Conference voted to shut down all fall sports, while holding out the possibility that athletics can resume in the spring of 2021.
When news of the potential cancellation leaked earlier in the week, players and coaches pushed back, with some of them speaking out on social media with the hashtag #WeWantToPlay. Many schools’ football programs have juniors and seniors who plan to eventually declare for the NFL draft, and it’s not clear how a lost season might affect their career prospects.
In the end, though, the inexorable march of COVID-19 through 2020 will continue into the fall, and college leaders’ first priority is protecting the health and lives of everyone involved in collegiate athletics.
“As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall," CNN quoted Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren.
Reports say moving competition to the spring is a possibility that is by no means guaranteed. —Margaret Brady
McDonald’s sues ex-CEO, claims he lied about sex with employees
The board of fast-food giant McDonald’s fired CEO Steve Easterbrook last fall over a relationship with a subordinate. Now, Easterbrook is being sued by the company he once led, with court filings alleging he lied about his sexual activities during an internal investigation.
McDonald’s says that it has recently discovered a trove of sexually explicit photos and videos, including the images of employees, which allegedly were sent from Easterbrook’s corporate email account to his personal email. During last year’s investigation, Easterbrook reportedly admitted to a relationship with just one worker. The new probe suggests he had at least three additional undisclosed affairs and hid evidence from investigators that would have revealed those indiscretions. He also allegedly signed off on giving hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of McDonald’s stock to one of the women he was involved with, during their sexual relationship.
McDonald’s board says Easterbrook’s deceit amounts to fraud and that his separation agreement, which included a severance package estimated to be worth about $42 million, should be considered void. The company would like to claw back at least some
of those millions. His replacement as CEO, Chris Kempczinski, sent employees a memo this week detailing the new allegations. "McDonald's does not tolerate behavior from any employee that does not reflect our values,” he said. —MB
John Legend and Chrissy Teigen are expecting their third child
Celebrity couple John Legend and Chrissy Teigen all but publicly announced they are expecting, when in the video premiere for Legend's latest single "Wild," it appears that Teigen is revealing a baby bump. When fans speculated that Teigen is pregnant, the much-followed model shared a simple emoji on social media: a smiling face with three hearts.
Legend followed up by liking a fan's comment of congratulations, pointing to the music video as the give-away. Leave it to the Legends to give us all something to smile about, which we all could use in 2020. —Mary Rose Somarriba
LA “Save Our Children” rally protests Hollywood pedophilia
A movement that began with the unveiling of the sexual predation of Hollywood’s most powerful man, Harvey Weinstein, in the era of #metoo, has evolved in some pockets of the country into #saveourchildren as the public becomes increasingly aware of child sex abuse and trafficking.
This past weekend, hundreds of people amassed on Hollywood Boulevard, the epicenter of celebrity lifestyle, to protest the sexual abuse of children within the industry. Inspired by former child stars like Corey Feldman, Elijah Wood and Nathan Forrest Winters, who spoke out years ago about a pedophilia problem in Hollywood, the demonstrators brandished signs declaring “Children are not for Sale” and “Free the Children.”
Surprisingly, the protests have so far gone uncovered by media outlets, despite that the demonstrators took place outside media headquarters, even storming the CNN news building. Followers of the movement are instead turning to YouTube and Twitter and the #saveourchildren hashtag. —ML
Ellen Degeneres accused of “toxic work environment,” receives support from few celebs
Talk show host and comedian Ellen Degeneres is embedded in a controversial workplace harassment scandal that has celebrities speaking out both with grievances or support.
Degeneres, whose platform has long vocalized the value of kindness to one another, has been accused of bullying, racism, and creating a toxic workplace environment for many of her talk show’s staff members.
Dozens of former and current employees have spoken out about the workplace culture, sharing that many of the show’s top executives also perpetuated many acts of sexual harassment and misconduct. When speaking to BuzzFeed, all of the former employees asked to remain anonymous.
Amid these allegations, many celebrities who worked with Ellen have come forward in support of her. The Ellen Degeneres Show’s DJ, tWitch, told UsWeekly, “Obviously there’s some things to address, but from my standpoint and from countless others, there’s been love. I’ll just leave it at that until there’s a time where we can address more publicly.”
Many rumors of the show’s cancellation have circulated, but producers at Telepictures Television have denied these claims. —MSB
Viola Davis celebrates birthday, embraces roots
On her 55th birthday this Tuesday, actress and child hunger advocate Viola Davis shared a photo of her childhood home in St. Matthews, South Carolina.
The post sparked some confusion, leading multiple online news sources to report that Davis had purchased the home, interpreting the “I OWN it” portion of the caption to mean she owned the home; Davis clarified Wednesday that her intended meaning was ownership of her story.
The actress spoke very transparently about her upbringing in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2016, sharing that the pictured house, where she was raised, was located on the Singleton Plantation property, where her grandfather was a sharecropper. She and her five siblings grew up in extreme poverty, which partially laid the foundation for her dedication to child hunger relief.
Davis’s Instagram post is laden with comments from other celebrities not only sharing wishes for a happy birthday, but also remarking on Davis’s inspirational ownership of her story and the role of her upbringing in forming her into the woman she is today.
Davis also included in the photo’s caption a Cherokee birth blessing, “May you live long enough to know why you were born.” —MSB
FDA warns of off-label toxin found in some hand sanitizers
The Food and Drug Administration has expanded its list of hand sanitizers that include toxic methanol.
The FDA now warns against 75 contaminated hand sanitizers, some of which can be found in popular superstores Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club.
Dr. Michael Dannenberg, Chair of Dermatology at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, CA, shared in an interview with Healthline that, “the main problem with methanol is that it is absorbed through the skin and can result in toxic levels of this chemical.” Methanol, he says, can dehydrate the skin significantly, and can result in dermatitis.
Methanol toxicity can come from inhaling fumes or absorption through the skin; Dr. Dannenberg states that this “can be a problem for everyone, but children are at highest risk of this.”
The FDA recommends disposing of any hand sanitizers that may contain methanol, but don’t flush them or pour them down the drain. The agency recommends disposing of these in hazardous waste containers.
Symptoms of methanol poisoning include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches, weakness, visual disturbances, and loss of consciousness. —MSB
Good News of the Week
Missing Mom and Baby Located By Talented Police Pup
A potential tragedy was averted, all thanks to “Max” the police dog.
It was actually Max’s first day at work at the Dyfed-Powys police department in Wales, when a report came in that two people were missing—a mom and her one-year-old baby. The mother’s car was found on a mountain road, but she hadn’t been heard from in two days and her phone wasn’t working.
Max and his handler, officer Peter Lloyd, went to work, and after 90 minutes of tracking, the pair found the mom waving for help on the side of a ravine. She and her baby were okay but cold. “Max remained focused throughout the long search and he proved invaluable when he reacted to the call for help which resulted in us locating them,” CNN quotes Lloyd saying. What a good boy! —MB
Watch of the Week
A video that went viral earlier this summer led to new opportunities for an 11-year-old Nigerian boy. The American Ballet Theatre offered a scholarship to Anthony Madu this week after celebrities shared this video of him dancing in the rain.
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