You’re fired

The delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in the U.S. and now accounts for one-fifth of recent infections in the world’s hardest-hit country. Meanwhile, a new study provides support for something long suspected by health experts: the confirmed number of coronavirus infections are just a fraction of the actual cases. According to scientists at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, an estimated 20 million Americans were likely infected with Covid-19 by mid-July of last year—17 million more than previously thought. In other words, for every one confirmed case at the time, there were almost five that went undiagnosed. Here’s the latest on the pandemicDavid E. Rovella

Bloomberg is tracking the progress of coronavirus vaccines while mapping the pandemic worldwide

Here are today’s top stories  

The U.S. Supreme Court crushed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac investors Wednesday, tossing out a central component of their lawsuit over the government’s collection of more than $100 billion in profits from the government-sponsored enterprises. The decision was a win for the White House and a setback for firms including Paulson & Co., Pershing Square Capital Management and Fairholme Funds, all of which sought for years to persuade the government to release Fannie and Freddie from U.S. control, thereby earning billions of dollars on their shares. Following the ruling, Fannie and Freddie cratered, plunging the most in intraday trading since 2013. Meanwhile, the decision also meant President Joe Biden could fire Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria, a Trump administration holdover. Biden moved to do so almost immediately

Mark Calabria Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The Bitcoin Fund listed on the Nasdaq Dubai exchange Wednesday, the first of its kind to trade in the Middle East. The stock closed up 10% for the day. The fund says it invests in long-term holdings of Bitcoin as a safer alternative to direct investments in the cryptocurrency.

His name synonymous with virus software, John McAfee was reportedly found dead in his Spanish prison cell after an announcement earlier Wednesday that he would be extradited to the U.S. to face charges of financial crimes. Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reported that he appeared to have died by suicide, citing a statement from the regional Department of Justice of Catalonia, where he was being held.

John McAfee speaks during the China Internet Security Conference in Beijing in 2016.  Photographer: Fred Dufour/AFP

A member of the extreme right-wing “militia” group Oath Keepers admitted he conspired to riot during the attack on the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 and agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors. Graydon Young of Englewood, Florida, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice at a hearing in Washington on Wednesday. With hundreds of Donald Trump followers already charged in the insurrection which killed five people, the Justice Department has said more arrests are planned.

The Royal Navy sent the HMS Defender into waters off of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula this week, a region that was annexed in 2014 by Russia as part of a widely condemned invasion. On Wednesday, Russia said it fired warning shots at the destroyer and dropped bombs to scare it off as it transited the Black Sea. Britain said it was aware of a nearby Russian “gunnery exercise” but that the ship did not alter its course. “Last month they claimed they drove us out of the area. This month it is bombs and missiles,” a senior British official said. “More fiction than Harry Potter.” 

HMS Defender  Photographer: Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media

The U.S. is poised to bar some solar products made in China’s Xinjiang region, marking one of the Biden administration’s biggest steps yet to counter China’s mass internment of the area’s ethnic Uyghur Muslim minority.

American births fell by 8% in December, marking an acceleration in declines during the second part of 2020. For the full year, the number of babies born in the country fell 4% to about 3.6 million, the largest decline since 1973.

What you’ll need to know tomorrow 

SEC Starts Sniffing Out the Greenwashers

Worldwide, there are more than 600 exchange-traded funds that claim to follow the principles of environmental, social and governance investing. But how many of them really do? This is the question for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Bloomberg Green reports, as the formidable securities watchdog wanders into a thicket of inconsistent standards and yardsticks, sniffing for greenwashers.

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