Start your day smarter with a dossier on the most important world news, rounded off with a shot of intriguing and offbeat stories. Like the president, you deserve no less.
Dec 15, 2021
Text messages to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows reveal just how panicked members of former President Trump’s family and right-leaning media were during the January 6th Capitol attack. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that Omicron may be the most contagious coronavirus variant yet. An overturned gas truck kills more than 50 in Haiti. And, at the 11th hour, both chambers of Congress passed a bill to avoid catastrophic default on the national debt.
1 - Father-Son Bonding
Donald Trump Jr. sent panicked texts to Meadows on Jan. 6th
As violent rioters stormed the Capitol, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows fielded a flurry of texts from ex-President Trump’s inner circle. Trump’s eponymous son, Don Jr., texted Meadows: “He’s got to condemn this sh*t ASAP,” and “He needs to lead now. It’s gone too far and gotten out of hand.” The texts were read aloud by Representative Liz Cheney, vice chair of the committee investigating the Jan. 6th riot, as part of Meadows’ recently released records. Cheney argued that former President Trump must have consciously ignored the insurrection, given the texts from his son and other notable Fox News hosts. (Source: BBC)
2 - Here Comes the Wave Again
The pandemic enters yet another phase as delta and omicron battle for dominance
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned yesterday that the new, highly mutated coronavirus Omicron variant is “spreading at a rate we have not seen,” and is likely already in most countries worldwide. Addressing news that the variant may be less severe, Dr. Anthony Fauci said it’s too early to be sure whether that’s the result of the variant being less pathogenic or because more people are being vaccinated. Globally, more than 5.3 million people have died, including more than 800,000 in the U.S.. (Source: ABC News)
3 - Gas Truck Explosion
Overturned gasoline truck destroys whole neighborhood in Haiti
More than fifty people died Tuesday in the wreckage of a fireball caused by an overturned gas truck in northern Haiti. Flames from the oil fire destroyed homes, cars and lives at an already dire time for Haiti. Following the assassination of its President in July, the Caribbean island of 11 million people has struggled with an intense fuel shortage that has shuttered gas stations, schools and businesses as gas prices skyrocket. In the aftermath of the explosion, some people were using buckets to scoop up excess fuel for their own homes, according to witness Dave Larose, a civil engineer. “It’s terrible what our country has to go through,” he said. (Source: AP)
4 - Raise the Roof!
U.S. Congress increases debt ceiling just in time
Both chambers of Congress voted to raise the U.S. debt limit by $2.5 trillion, barely avoiding a catastrophic default. The House gave final approval early Wednesday morning on a near-party line vote of 221-209. Hours earlier the Senate voted along party lines, 50-49. The deal passed thanks to some expert maneuvering by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who agreed to effectively append the debt bill to an unrelated Medicare bill, allowing the spending proposal to pass with a simple majority and avoiding a GOP filibuster. (Source: AP)
5 - Briefly
Here are some things you should know about today:
Federal judge rejects former President Trump’s request to prevent Biden administration from giving Trump’s tax returns to Congress. District Judge Trevor McFadden put the opinion on hold for two weeks so that former President Trump has an opportunity to file an appeal. (Source: CNN) Washington D.C. is suing the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. The city alleges that the far-right groups conspired to terrorize the Capitol on January 6th. (Source: NPR) Disgraced ex-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered to return book earnings. A New York ethics panel voted 12-1 to approve an order requiring Cuomo to return $5.1 million in earnings to the state. (Source: Reuters)
Watch CNN's Fareed Zakaria
As He Discusses Lessons for a Post-COVID World
1 - Saving Lives
Hormone therapy seems to lower suicide rates among trans youth
The first-ever large scale study of its kind found that gender-affirming hormone therapy is strongly linked to lower rates of depression and suicide in trans youth. The study was based on data gathered from more than 9,000 trans and nonbinary teens, aged 13-24, who responded to an online survey. The study found that people under the age of 18 and taking hormones were nearly 40 percent less likely to experience depression or attempt suicide. Right now, The World Professional Association for Transgender Health only reccomends hormone therapy for those over the age of legal majority, usually 18. (Source: NBC News)
2 - Union Fever Spreads
Starbucks may have two more union shops on its hands soon
Last week, a Starbucks in Buffalo made history as the first union shop for the chain since the 80s. Now, two Starbucks locations in the Boston area are reportedly pursuing unionization as well with 36 of approximately 47 employees across both locations signing “intent to unionize” cards. The stores will work with the Workers United Labor Union, which helped the three Buffalo locations with their efforts (only one of which ended up unionizing). “This is an amazing time for the labor movement across the country,” said barista Tyler Daguerre. Neither Starbucks nor management at the two locations have yet commented. (Source: NPR)
3 - Bugging Out
A commonly used software may have compromised billions of devices
The cybersecurity community is sounding the alarm over a widespread bug, and people are starting to take note. Programmers at Minecraft, the popular world-building video game, first found the bug in their software and warned it could allow hackers to take over players’ computers. The bug resides in a bit of software called Log4j, which is used in millions of applications worldwide. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will work with the private sector to fix the software, and it urged all companies to update their softwares. (Source: NPR)
4 - Jail Time
Man who threatened to kill Nancy Pelosi will face jail time
Cleveland Meredith Jr., the Georgia man who drove all the way to D.C. planning to attend the January 6th riots with thousands of rounds of ammunition, a handgun and an assault rifle, has been sentenced to 28 months in prison. Meredith, like many rioters on January 6th, was a staunch believer in QAnon conspiracy theories. Meredith broke down on the stand, saying “This is not who I am… This is not who I want to be remembered as.” While Meredith is just one of many rioters who threatened lawmakers, he is one of the first to be sentenced for related charges. (Source: CNN)
5 - New Kid on the Block
Education start-up gets an eye-popping valuation
Course Hero, a provider of online class study materials, has raised $380 million in Series C funding at a $3.6 billion valuation led by Wellington Management. Course Hero is known in the industry for acquiring such big names as CliffNotes, Symbolab, and QuillBot. They aim to acquire more education tech companies and begin providing higher levels of education to their students. Course Hero’s aggressive strategy has gained attention and investments from some of Silicon Valley’s most prestigious funds, like Sequoia Capital and OMERS Growth Equity. (Source: Axios)
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