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Start your week smart: Pakistan, Space telescope, Sidney Poitier, Arbery, Omicron

By AJ Willingham, CNN

The demand for Covid-19 tests is so high and supplies are so low that some desperate people are going online to buy them. This Covid test “black market” could hurt buyers who may be preyed upon in their desperation. It could also hurt sellers who think they can make a quick buck, but get stuck with a box full of tests when supplies are restocked in stores.

Here’s what else you need to know to Start Your Week Smart.

The weekend that was

• At least 21 people are dead in northern Pakistan after thousands of vehicles became stranded in a blizzard Saturday.

• The James Webb Space Telescope successfully completed the unfolding of its giant gold mirror on Saturday.

• The film world and beyond is mourning the loss of Sidney Poitier, who died Friday at the age of 94.

• The three White men convicted of murdering Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man, in 2020 have all received life sentences.

• With the Omicron variant of coronavirus surging across the US, Los Angeles County recorded its highest number of new Covid-19 cases in one week since the start of the pandemic.

The week ahead


Rising tensions between the US and Russia will be on full display when officials from both countries hold security talks to discuss respective military activities and the ominous situation brewing along the border of Ukraine. The US and the international community at large fear a possible Russian invasion of its western neighbor.

Officials from NASA and NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) will release their annual climate change report, looking at US temperature conditions and changes.

Enforcement of the federal vaccine mandate begins for businesses with over 100 employees. Multiple businesses have sued to block the rule, and it has been the subject of much debate among the Supreme Court.


President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Georgia to deliver remarks on the need to pass legislation protecting voting rights. Georgia became a voting rights battleground after a controversial law restricting voting rights passed the state’s Republican-led legislature last March.


Russia remains on the international stage as the country is scheduled to hold talks with NATO. On Thursday, a broader NATO meeting, featuring Russia, the US and other European countries, is expected to take place.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the latest CPI inflation report. CPI stands for consumer price index, and it measures how much people pay for things over time. The rate could be the highest in 39 years, and it will be interesting to note which specific items have seen the biggest increase.

The late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will lie in state at the Capitol Rotunda. The Democratic leader died December 28 at the age of 82.

Want more 5 Things?

This week on the Sunday edition of the 5 Things podcast, CNN’s Omar Jimenez tells us how the Omicron variant has upended in-person learning yet again in Chicago Public Schools, and examines how other school districts across the country are handling this latest Covid surge differently. Listen here!

Photos of the week

Flamingos gather in a pool of rainwater in Dubai. Here’s a look at other moving, fascinating and thought-provoking images from the week that was, curated by CNN Photos.

What’s happening in entertainment

Awards season rolls on … sort of. Nominations for this year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards will be announced this week. The ceremony is scheduled to take place February 27th.

However, Covid is already throwing a wrench in this year’s awards show plans. The 2022 Grammy Awards have been postponed, and the Golden Globe Awards will have no audience and no red carpet.

In honor of the late Sidney Poitier, here is a look back at his esteemed career in photos.

What’s happening in sports

It’s here! The Alabama Crimson Tide will play the Georgia Bulldogs in the College Football Playoff Championship Game on Monday at 8:00 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Fun fact: The NCAA is headquartered in Indianapolis.) The all-SEC-all-the-time meeting is a rematch of the 2018 championship game, in which Alabama pulled off a heartbreaking overtime win.

The tennis world is awash in controversy ahead of this month’s Australian Open after Australian border authorities revoked the visa of top star Novak Djokovic over vaccination requirements. He is now being detained in a hotel in the country, a decision that has attracted anger from his family and some fellow players.

Quiz time!

Take CNN’s weekly news quiz to see how much you remember from the week that was! So far, 31% of fellow quiz fans have gotten an 8 out of 10 or better this week. How well can you do?

Play me off

That Love Song Love

Happy birthday to Backstreet Boy AJ McLean, who has a very cool name if I do say so myself. He also makes some can’t-help-but-smile, dance-in-your-socks music. (Click here to rock out.)

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