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Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Travis Kalanick said Friday that he's appointing to Uber's board Ursula Burns, former CEO of Xerox, and John Thain, former CEO of CIT Group, Merrill Lynch, and the NYSE.

Why it matters: This is a power struggle coming in the midst of the arbitration against Benchmark Capital, which has been going on behind closed doors since late August. Although historically these seats have remained empty, they're at the heart of that dispute since Benchmark doesn't think they should exist. Plus, the sticking point for a major investment from Softbank is governance, and these seats are directly related to that as well.

Kalanick's take: "I am appointing these seats now in light of a recent Board proposal to dramatically restructure the Board and significantly alter the company's voting rights. It is therefore essential that the full Board be in place for proper deliberation to occur…"

Go deeper with the original suit with Dan Primack and SoftBank's big Uber deal rests on governance

Update: Statement from Uber:

The appointments of Ms. Burns and Mr. Thain to Uber's Board of Directors came as a complete surprise to Uber and its Board. That is precisely why we are working to put in place world-class governance to ensure that we are building a company every employee and shareholder can be proud of.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use"

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

The CDC is urging “universal face mask use” for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, citing recent case spikes as the U.S. has entered a phase of “high-level transmission” before winter officially begins.

Why it matters: Daily COVID-related deaths across the U.S. hit a new record on Wednesday. Face coverings have been shown to increase protection of the wearer and those around them, despite some Americans' reluctance to use them.

3 hours ago - World

Saudi Arabia and Qatar near deal to end standoff, sources say

Qatar's prime minister (R) attends the 2019 Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are close to a deal to end the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf following U.S.-mediated reconciliation talks this week, sources familiar with the talks tell me.

Why it matters: Restoring relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar would bring a sense of stability back to the Gulf after a 3.5 year standoff. It could also notch a last-minute achievement for the Trump administration before Jan. 20.

House passes bill to decriminalize marijuana

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a longtime marijuana legalization advocate and co-sponsor of the bill. Photo: Pete Marovich For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The House on Friday voted 228-164 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, marking the first time a congressional chamber has voted in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: The Washington Post describes the bill as a "landmark retreat in the nation’s decades-long war on drugs," which has disproportionately affected people of color.