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 14, 2022
The U.S. Supreme Court deals a blow to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate, a crucial pillar of his COVID-19 strategy. Britain’s prime minister may be at the end of his rope as he deals with the fallout of attending a party during lockdown. Unemployment in the U.S. has jumped back up, but it may be more of a blip than a warning sign. And at the Capitol, one senator has set herself in the way of passing voting rights reform in the name of protecting an antiquated legislative rule. All this and more in today’s Presidential Daily Brief.
1 - No Go, Joe
Biden’s vaccine mandate is blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court
The Supreme Court blocked the Biden Administration from implementing the vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers, a huge setback for the President’s COVID strategy . The 6-3 vote comes at a time of surging Omicron infections. The Court ruled, however, that a narrower application was permissible, stating health care workers at facilities receiving federal funding could comply with the vaccine mandate. Several major companies, like United Airlines and Tyson Foods, already have mandates, while many other companies waited for the issue to be litigated. Three of the U.S. largest employers, including Walmart, Amazon and JPMorgan Chase, have yet to establish comprehensive requirements for their employees. (Sources: BBC, NYT)
2 - Boris on the Rocks
British Prime Minister facing calls to resign over scandal during lockdown
Boris Johnson is in danger of losing his post over a scandal that broke in recent days. Johnson attended a party of around 30 people in May of 2020 at the Downing Street garden during lockdown, something which was absolutely prohibited at the time. Now though, British cabinet ministers have pledged their support for Johnson in an effort to wait out an ongoing investigation into the party at No.10 Downing Street. Johnson’s party, the Tories, may have a crisis of leadership on their hands if Johnson loses a vote of confidence within party ranks. New revelations of additional parties at No.10 Downing Street in April 2021, raise more questions on the culture of rule-breaking on Downing Street. (Source: BBC)
3 - Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
Unemployment applications hit highest level since mid-November
Don’t panic though, that’s still low by historical standards. According to new data released by the Department of Labor, jobless claims popped up by 23,000 last week, largely on the back of the omicron wave, raising the total to 230,000. Economists hope that this rise is only tied to omicron, and that after cases peak we will see a simultaneous decrease in unemployment as well. As it stands, 1.6 million people were on jobless aid coming into the New Year, and the unemployment rate for December hit a pandemic low of 3.9%. (Source: ABCNews)
4 - Voting Rights Bill Halted
Senator Kyrsten Sinema refusal to change filibuster rule, strikes blow to Biden’s efforts
President Biden’s efforts to pass transformative voting legislation was thwarted yesterday, after his failure to unite his own party. Democratic Senator, Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona,went to the Senate floor Thursday night to voice her “long-standing support” for the legislative filibuster, under which 60 votes are required to advance most legislation through the Senate. Her stance left Biden and Democrats without a realistic strategy of passing the voting rights measures, which they characterize as fundamental to preserving democracy in light of the Republican-led drive to restrict access to the ballot box. The House had approved the set of voting rights measures along party lines yesterday. (Sources: NYT, TheHill)
5 - Briefly
Here are some things you should know about today:
Prince Andrew will no longer go by His Royal Highness. The Queen of England stripped Andrew of all military titles and patronages. (Source: BBC) College enrollment in steep decline over pandemic. One million fewer students are in college now than before Spring 2019, a 6.6% decrease. (Source: NPR) The city of Nashville, which usually votes democratic, will be split into three conservative congressional districts. Critics say the new map dilutes the influence of black voters. (Source: Axios)
Watch Ava DuVernay
"Justice and Storytelling Go Hand in Hand"
1 - Taking Charge
New EVs are incorporating two-way batteries
The market for electric vehicles has been hampered in the U.S. by a lack of investment in creating widely available, reliable charging stations. But if EV companies can show that their cars don’t just need charging but can be a source of energy, then that could change how consumers think about buying electric. Ford recently announced that the electric and hybrid versions of their F-150 pickup truck will be able to “share” miles with other electric vehicles. They could also be used to power your home in an outage. (Source: Axios)
2 - Truly Richie
International icon Lionel Richie joins exclusive pantheon
The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song has only been around for 15 years, but its recipients are some of the biggest names in music: Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, Garth Brooks and now, Lionel Richie. The award is given to artists whose work “reflects lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding,” which is an apt award for the co-songwriter of the 1980s’ most influential single “We Are the World.” Richie also wrote a slew of smash hits, including “Hello,” “All Night Long (All Night),” and “Dancing on the Ceiling.” (Source: NPR)
3 - Back to Cali
Coachella is back with a star-studded lineup after a two-year pandemic break
Billie Eilish, Harry Styles and Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) will be headlining the massive music festival this April in Indio, California. Also on the roster are break-out rappers Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion. While the current omicron wave has shut- down many Broadway shows and pushed back many concerts and festivals, it seems the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is determined to make a comeback, perhaps encouraged by another musical festival, Bonnarroo, announcing its lineup only days earlier. The festival has regularly attracted 125,000 concert goers every day of its two-weekend-long extravaganza. (Source: CNN)
4 - Celestial Fireworks
For the first time ever, astronomers watched a star go supernova
Scientists at Northwestern University discovered a red super giant star that was 130 days out from becoming a supernova, allowing them to be the first humans to watch a star go through that process. Astrophysicist Raffaella Margutti, a senior author of a study on the supernova published last week, said “it’s like watching a ticking time bomb.” They first detected the star in the summer of 2020 from a telescope in Hawaii, and when they captured its explosion months later the flash it emitted was briefly brighter than all the stars in its galaxy combined. (Source: NBCNews)
5 - Djokovic Cancelled
For the second time, tennis star, Djokovic has Australian visa cancelled
The Australian Open tournament begins Monday, and nine-time defending Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic will likely not be there. The Australian immigration minister cancelled his visa today on “health and good order grounds,” for the unvaccinated player. However, the Serbian national may still launch one more legal challenge. Should he win his legal battle, he will have the chance to defend his current title against fellow Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, with the hopes of making history by being the most successful male tennis player with 21 Grand Slam titles. Otherwise, Russian player Andrey Rublev will likely take his slot if he is deported. (Sources: BBC, ESPN)
We asked, and you responded.
See the results from January 12th’s poll on whether the filibuster should be abolished or not. It was close, but a majority stated no, even while others wrote in the importance of passing the voting rights measures.
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