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.
Jan 11, 2022
The White House announced that private insurers must cover eight at-home COVID-testing kits beginning this week. The Federal Reserve tried to avert scandal as its second-highest-ranking official resigned two weeks early over allegations of improper trades. After a day of talks, the U.S. and Russia failed to reach consensus on a dispute over Ukraine and NATO. And lawyers for former President Donald Trump asked a federal judge to dismiss charges against him asserting he mobilized violent crowds and conspired with extremist groups to prevent votes from being counted. All this and more in today’s Presidential Daily Brief.
1 - At-Home Health
Starting Saturday, insurers must cover home COVID-19 tests
In response to a shortage of home-testing kits over the holidays, the Biden administration announced yesterday that private health insurers will be required to pay for up to eight at-home COVID-19 tests per month on health plans. The policy will allow Americans to obtain testing kits for free under their policies or submit receipts later for full reimbursement. The White House will also launch a website in late January to make 500 million home-testing kits available to Americans by mail. The new plan is part of President Joe Biden’s effort to increase the supply of tests and reduce costs. (Source: AP)
2 - Fed Up, Shown Out
Federal Reserve vice chair to resign early amid scandal
Richard Clarida, second-in-command at the Federal Reserve, will resign Friday after revelations of improper stock trades in 2020. Clarida, one of several top Federal Reserve officials to step down prematurely, allegedly seized on market volatility at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to buy and sell stocks for his personal portfolio. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will likely face questions at his reconfirmation hearing today over this and the resignations of top officials in Dallas and Boston over similar allegations last year. Federal Reserve officials are tasked with acting in the interest of the U.S. economy, not their own portfolios. (Sources: Axios, WSJ)
3 - Split on Ukraine
Hard line drawn after talks between U.S. and Russia end in stalemate
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman made scant progress after seven hours of talks yesterday in Geneva. Russia is insisting that Ukraine, “never, never, ever becomes a member of NATO,” while the U.S. and Europe refuse to set limits on NATO’s “open-door policy” or permit any member to dictate the acceptance of another. The hastily organized talks were intended to defuse tensions over the 100,000 Russian troops at the border of Ukraine. While Ryabkov insisted Russia has no plans to invade, Sherman reiterated that NATO “will not stand by” should force be used. (Source: NPR)
4 - Case Not Dismissed, Yet
Trump’s lawyers ask federal judge to dismiss Jan. 6 lawsuits
Despite arguments presented by Donald Trump’s legal team, U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta showed no sign he would dismiss lawsuits claiming Trump helped mobilize violent crowds and conspired with extremist groups to prevent votes from being counted. Though the judge heard arguments from both sides, he reserved his most pointed questions for Trump’s lawyers, asking why Trump did nothing for two full hours while riots raged at the Capitol, implying the former president’s approval of the riots. The judge also questioned Trump’s lawyers’ assertions of absolute immunity for any statements made while he was president. (Source: NBCNews)
5 - Briefly
Here are some things you should know about today:
U.S. reached record hospitalizations Monday as omicron numbers continue to soar. The number of admitted patients has outstriped even last winter’s high, showing omicron is not benign for many. (Source: Reuters) Man receives pig heart in first successful animal-to-human transplant. A 57-year-old man received a genetically modified pig heart in a groundbreaking procedure yesterday. (Source: CBSNews) Clay Aiken announces a second run for Congress in North Carolina. The ex-American Idol star said in a Twitter post that he would challenge “white supremacy, racism and homophobia.” (Source: CNN)
Watch Author and Psychologist Mary L. Trump
As She Spills Family Secrets and Talks New Book ‘The Reckoning’
1 - Remembering a Comedy Legend
Actor and comedian Bob Saget found dead in Florida hotel room
Bob Saget, famous for his cherished role as a single dad of three girls on the sitcom Full House, was found dead in his hotel room in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday. A sheriff’s statement said detectives had found “no signs of foul play or drug use in this case.” Saget made recent Instagram posts celebrating his return to stand-up, saying, “I’m back in comedy … and loving every moment of it.” In an outpouring of grief, fellow actors expressed their shock and referred to Saget as a beloved friend and the kindest of human beings. (Source: AP)
2 - All Hail the Platinum Jubilee
The Queen of England will celebrate 70 years on the throne
Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning monarch in British history, celebrates 70 years on the throne this year. The unprecedented occasion is generating excitement U.K.-wide as plans for the festivities, to be held in June and throughout the year, get underway. Buckingham Palace has revealed a full slate of celebratory events that kicked off yesterday with a competition to create a new pudding. Parades and concerts will be held in June before the festivities culminate in the Big Jubilee Lunch, a series of street parties across the country. It remains unclear which events the queen will attend. (Source: BBC)
3 - In Case You Missed It...
Golden Globes held Sunday night to lackluster reception
For the first time in 50 years, the star-studded Golden Globes went off the air. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, under fire for slighting talent of color, was forced to scale back the usual glamour and glitz, appearing offline in a closed-door ceremony instead of the heralded broadcast show. HFPA members, presenters and some guests attended the event, with stars conspicuously absent. Reactions from award winners — announced on Twitter as the event unfolded — were modest, though the winners were fairly diverse: Michaela Jaé Rodriguez won best actress in a series and Will Smith won best actor in a motion picture drama. (Source: Axios)
4 - Highways and Farm Days
Grand Theft Auto maker to buy FarmVille creator for $12.7 billion
Take-Two Interactive, famous for its games Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, will acquire the mobile gaming company Zynga, creators of cult favorites FarmVille and Words With Friends. Take-Two hopes the acquisition, a cash-and-stock deal worth an estimated $12.7 billion, will lead to mobile versions of its console and PC games. While both company boards approved the transaction, stockholder approval for both companies is required for it to go through. The deal, expected to close by June 2023, allows Zynga 45 days to hear alternative proposals. (Source: ABCNews)
5 - Next at Bat
New York Yankees choose first woman to manage minor league team
Rachel Balkovec, 34, will become the first woman to manage a minor league team affiliated with Major League Baseball. In 2019, Balkovec also achieved a baseball milestone, becoming the first female full-time hitting coach for the Yankees. Before that, she worked at Driveline Baseball, a center that trains major league players using a data-driven approach. Speaking about her nontraditional career path in a 2019 interview, Balkovec said, “I had to do probably much more than maybe a male counterpart, but I like that because I’m so much more prepared for the challenges that I might encounter.” (Source: NBCNews)
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