The article, charging former President Donald Trump with incitement of insurrection for encouraging supporters who stormed the Capitol, landed in the Senate late Monday. Lawmakers continue a partisan fight over putting him on trial. If convicted, Trump would be barred from future office. President Joe Biden, who’s largely stayed out of the dispute, said the trial “has to happen,” though there won’t be enough votes to convict. Meanwhile, the Justice Department’s inspector general has said he’ll investigate whether department officials made “an improper attempt” to overturn the Nov. 3 election results.
2. Filibuster Safe, Democrats Can Take Over Senate
The nays have it. Despite failing to win Democratic leaders’ guarantee they won’t end the filibuster rule — which allows any senator to obstruct action by continuously talking — Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to a power-sharing agreement with Democrats. That will permit the Senate, split 50-50 but with a Democratic vice president breaking ties, to organize under Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. McConnell was reassured by centrist Democrats who promised not to end the filibuster, but Democrats still have the ability to threaten that “nuclear option” if Republicans repeatedly obstruct.
What do you think? Is the filibuster useful, or should it be ended? Reply to this email with your first name, last initial and city or state and we may share your view in the PDB.
3. Farmers, Tractors Rain on India’s Parade
This wasn’t the display he had in mind. Planning to mark Republic Day with a military parade today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was confronted by tens of thousands of angry farmers pushing into India’s capital. “We will not surrender,” said one protester. They faced riot police, tear gas and water cannons as their tractors pushed past trucks and barricades trying to block them. The demonstrators have been camped outside New Delhi since September, when farm laws they say benefit corporate agriculture were passed. The government has offered amendments and an 18-month delay, but protesters demand a complete repeal.
Can’t we all just get along? Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke to the World Economic Forum’s virtual Davos conference yesterday and warned that “decoupling and seclusion” could reverse globalization. While he didn’t mention the U.S. directly, his cautions about protectionism leading to “division and even confrontation” were clearly aimed at encouraging President Biden to reverse his predecessor’s belligerent trade stance. After the Trump administration called China’s treatment of Uighurs “genocide” — and with accelerated military tensions between Beijing and Taiwan — negotiating the U.S.-China relationship will be a tall order for the new American leader.
Share a smile — and a hearty laugh — with former figure skater and Olympic bronze medalist Adam Rippon. Find out how a tip from Beyoncé helped him perform at his best, the surprising connection he has to President Biden — and why he’s now trying his hand at comedy writing. Watch him on YouTube later today.
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The road to emoji timeout is paved with good intentions. That’s what Facebook seems to be telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by suspending his official chatbot for a week. Campaigning for widespread COVID-19 inoculation, the bot sent users messages asking them to name unvaccinated people over 60 so Netanyahu could personally persuade them. But that violates Facebook’s rule against soliciting medical information. It wasn't his first infraction, either: His chatbot was suspended before a 2019 election for messaging about “Arabs who want to destroy us all.” Netanyahu’s party defended the vaccination appeals, noting the campaign aims to save lives.
The name says it all. A group of investors on Reddit has gamed the video game store chain’s stock fluctuations, leading to a dramatic climax on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday. Other investors had been shorting the stock, betting its outdated retail business model would fail. But the 2.2 million-strong WallStreetBets Reddit group snapped up shares, prompting short sellers to cover their bets. That meant paradoxical panic buying, blasting GameStock’s price up 144 percent yesterday. It then plummeted, ending the day just 18 percent up. WallStreetBets is also scheming on Blackberry, so try to keep up.
The COVID-19 vaccine maker said yesterday it will develop a booster shot to more effectively guard against the new, more transmissible strain that emerged in South Africa. While there are concerns that new strains could be deadlier or resistant to current vaccines, the company says tests show its original shot guards against the variant first observed in the U.K. better than the South African variant. However, initial data suggests that immunity gained by the vaccine might wear off sooner. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical giant Merck announced Monday that it was stopping development of two COVID-19 vaccines showing disappointing results.
The pandemic has crippled live entertainment everywhere. But in Hungary’s capital, drag performers face another threat nearly as virulent: populist politics. Budapest had been an oasis of tolerance thanks to tourism, but that shield's gone for now and the biggest clubs are shuttered amid economic distress, OZY reports. The ruling Fidesz party is making the LGBT community “the new enemy,” forcing drag acts underground and leaving some fearing for their lives, says Valerie Devine, last year’s Drag Queen Hungary winner. A show organizer agrees that things are going “very wrong,” but hopes “the spirit of Budapest will endure, even the far right.”
5. Research Finds No Soccer Fans = Fewer Fights on Pitch
Apparently “fan” is short for “fanaticism.” Researchers in Austria have found that empty stadiums are mellowing out soccer players, who exhibited 19.5 percent fewer emotional outbursts in an analysis of FC Red Bull Salzburg games. Two University of Salzburg researchers analyzed video footage from 10 pre-pandemic matches and 10 “ghost games,'' as Austrians call fanless competitions. Moreover, they noted that players turned inward, showing more signs of “self-reproach” after a missed goal or other failure. Does that curb the action? Maybe not: The English Premier League is averaging an extra goal per game without fan incitement.
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