We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Outlets call presidency for Joe Biden while Trump campaign claims fraud
Well, as we predicted last week, election season is slogging on. On Saturday morning, news outlets from the Associated Press to Fox News called the presidential race for Joe Biden, with the AP giving Biden the victory after he won Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, pushing him past the 270 votes needed to win the election from President Trump.
The announcement prompted jubilant, if not-safe-for-COVID, celebrations in major cities across the United States. But the Trump campaign isn’t going down without a fight and is suing five states, with charges regarding mail-in ballots, counting deadlines, and lack of transparency. On Saturday night, Biden took the stage to call for unity among the American people as the presumed president-elect, after Trump had tweeted that afternoon: “I WON THE ELECTION.”
While it seems unlikely that voter fraud could be widespread enough to tip the election, the Trump campaign wants time to investigate. Attorney General William Barr has directed the Justice Department to look into any “clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, among other senior officials in the Trump administration, has refused to agree the election is over, saying, “When the process is complete, there will be electors selected. There’s a process. The Constitution lays it out pretty clearly.”
World leaders from Canada, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and other countries have congratulated Biden for winning the election; leaders from Russia, Mexico, China, and North Korea, among others, have not. —Madeline Fry Schultz
Kamala Harris announced as first woman, and first black VP
Whatever you think of Kamala Harris’s politics, it’s undeniable that her recent political achievement represents a series of historic firsts: the first female vice president, the first black vice president, and the first South Asian vice president. After media outlets called the race for Biden on Saturday, Harris said in a speech, “I am thinking about [my mother] and the generations of women—black women, Asian, white, Latina, Native American women—who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight.” She added, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.” —MFS
Lucille Bridges, whose daughter Ruby was depicted in Norman Rockwell painting, dies
This week a brave mother who made history providing education for her daughter died at age 86. Lucille Bridges was the mom of Ruby Bridges, whose perilous walk to school was memorialized in a 1964 Norman Rockwell painting called “The Problem We All Live With.”
After the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision ended racial segregation in schools in 1954, Bridges was determined to enroll her daughter in an all-white school in Mississippi. While the Rockwell painting depicts the U.S. Marshals flanking the young girl on the walk to school, Ruby credits her mom and dad for her advancement. “My parents are the real heroes,” the U.S. Marshals Service once quoted Ruby as saying during a ceremony before a Rockwell exhibition. “They (sent me to that public school) because they felt it was the right thing to do.” Lucille walked her daughter to school every day, holding her daughter’s as they passed chanting protesters.
On Tuesday, Ruby Bridges honored her mother on her Instagram account saying, “She helped alter the course of so many lives by setting me out on my path as a six year old little girl. Our nation lost a Mother of the Civil Rights Movement today. And I lost my mom. I love you and am grateful for you. May you Rest In Peace.” Here's to Lucille Bridges and brave mothers like her, making difficult decisions at the crux of protecting and providing for their children. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Pfizer announces COVID-19 vaccine may be ready for FDA this month
On Monday, the pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced its COVID-19 vaccine candidate has nearly completed its clinical safety trial and may be submitted to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization as early as the third week of November. According to Pfizer’s press release, the vaccine candidate was studied on “43,538 participants, with 42% having diverse backgrounds, and no serious safety concerns have been observed,” and it was “found to be more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in participants without evidence of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
“With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis,” Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla said in the statement. “We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks.”
“I want to thank the thousands of people who volunteered to participate in the clinical trial, our academic collaborators and investigators at the study sites, and our colleagues and collaborators around the world who are dedicating their time to this crucial endeavor,” Bourla added. “We could not have come this far without the tremendous commitment of everyone involved.” —MRS
Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek dies of pancreatic cancer
The longtime host of one of America’s longtime favorite game-shows died last weekend at age 80 after a drawn-out battle with stage-four pancreatic cancer. The Jeopardy! executive producer announced the news, adding that “he wanted his final day to be sitting on his swing next to his wife, Jean, and kind of watching the horizon and he got to do that...He was coherent, he wasn’t in pain and the fact that he had a nice, final day makes all of us in the Jeopardy! family feel much better.”
Having begun hosting the wildly popular game-show in 1984, Trebek remained the steadfast, quick-witted host up until his recent passing, and his recently taped shows will soon air for their first time. In total, he hosted more than 8,000 episodes of the show, becoming a permanent and beloved fixture in the homes of many Americans who planned nights around the riveting yet dignified trivia game. Trebek, himself, understood the pivotal importance of his role as the show’s host, telling New York magazine, “You have to set your ego aside… If you want to be a good host, you have to figure out a way to get the contestants to—as in the old television commercial about the military—‘be all you can be.’”
Trebek leaves behind his wife and three grown children, as well as an impressive legacy, having earned six Emmys as well as a lifetime achievement award. Jeopardy! itself was awarded the esteemed Peabody Award in 2011, “for decades of consistently encouraging, celebrating and rewarding knowledge” as well as presenting itself as a “a model of integrity and decorum.” —Mariel Lindsay
Athlete with Down syndrome sets world record for full-length triathlon
When Chris Nikic crossed the finish line in Panama Beach last weekend he set a new world record, having become the first person in history with Down syndrome to complete a full-distance Ironman triathlon. Clocking in at 16:46:09 after having completed the 2.4-mile swim, 120-mile bike ride and 26.2 run, he finished just 14 minutes before the 17 hour cutoff time.
Not only will Chris join the ranks of first-timers in the Guinness World Records, Special Olympics Florida president and CEO praised the resilient 21-year-old in a public statement, saying that “He’s become a hero to athletes, fans, and people across Florida and around the world. He’s an inspiration to all of us.”
Having trained and competed in triathlons since he was 16, Chris is now seeking to qualify for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games and also plans to use his platform to continue raising money for Special Olympics, Down syndrome programs, and RODS (Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome). Taking to Instagram after his win, he wrote to his fans (which now are 94.4k people): “Goal set and achieved...Time to set a new and bigger goal for 2021. Whatever it is, the strategy is the same. One percent better every day. Yes, I did the work but I had angels helping me. God surrounded me with angels. Best part of all. New family and friends. All about awareness and inclusion. Awareness for Down Syndrome and Special Olympics. Inclusion for all of us with all of you.” —ML
Country Music Awards delivers big wins for Maren Morris, Luke Combs, Eric Church
Wednesday night was country music’s biggest night of the year, as the Country Music Awards (CMAs) united for its first post-pandemic award show to honor the best of the genre. Iconic singer-songwriters Reba McIntyre and Darius Rucker hosted the show in Nashville, welcoming performances by some of country music’s most legendary talents. One of country music’s few African-American musicians, Jimmie Allen, performed his first chart-topping song, “Best Shot” before presenting the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award to Charlie Pride, an African-American best-selling performer who first rose to fame in the 1960s.
Singer Eric Church nabbed the most prestigious award of the night as 2020’s “Entertainer of the Year.” Luke Combs also won big, nabbing both “Male Vocalist of the Year” and “Album of the Year” for What You See Is What You Get. Blockbuster singer Maren Morris, meanwhile, proved the night’s biggest winner when she went home with three awards: “Female Vocalist of the Year” and both “Single of the Year” and“Song of the Year” for her romantic hit “The Bones.”
Eric Church movingly summed up the post-pandemic backdrop of the socially-distanced event when he commented during his acceptance speech that “This award this year, at least for me, has been about the loss of this year: loss of life, loss of playing shows, loss of freedom, loss of kids being in school. And you know what the win is? The win is, we all were here tonight together, as country music in person, live, not on Zoom.” —ML
Prince Charles launches new gin for charity
Prince Charles launched his own organic gin using herbs from his Highgrove garden at his Gloucestershire’s estate, according to the Daily Mail.
Fortnum & Mason, the brand selling the product for about €39.95 or $47 called the gin a “backbone of juniper and citrus and top notes of lemon verbena, thyme and rosemary,” the Daily Mail reported. “Sweet and lingering, the complex herbal botanicals add layers that give the spirit an elegant aroma and flavor. A truly regal creation inspired by the Royal Gardens at Highgrove,” they add.
Prince Charles collaborated with Cory Mason from The Oxford Artisan Distillery, the U.K.’s first certified organic grain-to-glass distillery, until he found a concoction he liked according to the outlet.
“We created Highgrove Gin as a team,” Mason said. “The result of this collaboration is a spirit that represents and embodies The Royal Gardens at Highgrove. It is traditional, elegant, refined, but with complex herbal notes of a traditional English garden. Like Highgrove itself, it is classic, but there is an element of the wild.” —Melanie Wilcox
Good News of the Week
Elderly man serenades hospitalized wife from an Italian street
Stefano Bozzini, 81, wasn’t permitted to visit his sick wife Carla Sacchi in the hospital due to COVID-19 precautions. So instead, he took a seat on the street outside and serenaded her with love songs on his accordion.
A video of the moment shows Bozzini dressed in a feathered hat and a mask, tapping his foot and playing songs like “Spanish Eyes" by Engelbert Humperdinck. Carla watches him from her second floor window.
“That is my daddy....the one and only,” said Bozzini’s daughter on Facebook, where the video has gone viral. The adorable couple have been married for 47 years. —Margaret Brady
Watch of the Week
At this week's Country Music Awards, Reba McIntyre and Darius Rucker performed a duet cover of "In the Ghetto," a song that Elvis sang in 1969, written by Mac Davis.