5 things to know for January 24: Pandemic, Ukraine, Congress, Capitol riot, Boris Johnson
By Alexandra Meeks, CNN
Bitcoin is off to a dismal start in the new year, tumbling almost 50% since hitting a record high of $68,990 in November. Some countries are even considering banning cryptocurrencies entirely to curb their growing popularity.
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The Biden administration is expected to begin distributing 400 million free N95 masks to Americans this week, the latest federal step aimed at reining in the spread of Covid-19. The masks — which are coming from the Strategic National Stockpile — will be made available at a number of local pharmacies and community health centers. A White House official described the distribution as “the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in US history.” The huge allotment amounts to more than half of the 750 million N95 masks currently stored in the reserve, a figure that tripled over the last year as the administration sought to boost reserves. The move comes as the US grapples with an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases due to the Omicron variant.
The US is amplifying calls for Russia to cease its aggressive actions along the Ukrainian border, where more than 100,000 troops have been amassed. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned yesterday that there would be a severe response by the US and its allies if “a single additional Russian force” enters Ukraine in an aggressive way. In preparation for a possible invasion, the US sent Ukraine a second weapons supply shipment of close to 200,000 pounds of lethal aid. Some political leaders, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, are urging the US and its allies to penalize Moscow with sanctions now before any lives are lost. The US, however, has shown unwillingness to punish Russia preemptively. The Biden administration and its NATO allies are instead focused on bolstering troop levels in the region to support Eastern European and Baltic allies.
The Arizona Democratic Party announced over the weekend that it has formally censured Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema after she voted to maintain the Senate’s filibuster rules, effectively blocking Democrats’ voting legislation, a key priority for the party. The symbolic gesture from Arizona Democrats adds to the mounting pressure Sinema is facing from those in her state who helped her flip a Senate seat in 2018. Sinema — who started her political career as a progressive — has been a target on the left during Biden’s administration for her stances. Sinema and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, both centrists, were the only two Democrats to join all Republicans last week in voting to maintain the Senate’s 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster on legislation.
4. Capitol Riot
The House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol has been having conversations with former Attorney General William Barr. Barr, a staunch defender of former President Donald Trump, pushed the administration’s “law and order” message, but resigned in December 2020 after rebuking Trump’s false claims about widespread election fraud. Separately, Boris Epshteyn, an adviser to Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign, acknowledged late last week that he was part of the effort to prop up so-called “alternate electors” to support Trump in key states. Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani supervised that effort, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the scheme. It involved helping pro-Trump electors access state Capitol buildings, drafting language for fake electoral certificates to send to the federal government, and finding replacements for electors who refused to go along with the plot.
5. Boris Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing increasing pressure this week over alleged garden parties and Christmas gatherings held at Downing Street while the rest of the country was under strict Covid-19 lockdowns. His approval ratings are plunging and the parliamentary rebellion is growing. This is worrying some parts of his ruling Conservative Party that he is becoming a liability. Adding fuel to the fire, Johnson’s former senior adviser Dominic Cummings said he would swear under oath that the Prime Minister was warned about the true nature of one of the parties, but Johnson denied that vehemently. Johnson launched an inquiry into the gatherings and that report is due to come out this week.
NFL Playoff upsets
Was that not the greatest playoff round OF ALL TIME?
Netflix’s ‘Ozark’ begins fourth and final season
The first half is out now, but we’ll have to wait a couple more nail-biting months for part 2. The suspense!
Glass ceiling shattered!
Meet the first female captain of the historic USS Constitution in its 224-year history.
Mysterious ice formations showed up in Chicago
Have you ever seen ice pancakes? They kind of crepe me out.
Indian couple plan country’s ‘first metaverse marriage’
You are cordially invited to my big fat digital wedding!
The three former police officers who helped Derek Chauvin restrain George Floyd on a Minneapolis street in May 2020 are set to stand trial in a federal courtroom later today for violating Floyd’s civil rights. The three officers previously pleaded not guilty to the federal charges, while Chauvin admitted guilt in December as part of a plea deal.
Iconic French fashion designer, Thierry Mugler, has died. He was 73. Mugler, who was born in Strasbourg, France, launched his eponymous label in 1974. He was known for his broad-shouldered, avant-garde designs. The designer’s brand said they will remember their founder as a “visionary” who “empowered people around the world to be bolder and dream bigger every day.”
That’s how many hours a stowaway spent in the nose wheel of a cargo plane that flew from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport yesterday. Due to the extremely cold flying conditions, Dutch officials were surprised the stowaway was found alive. Once the stowaway was revived and stabilized, they said they would work to determine his status, if he indeed is looking for asylum.
“The IOC [International Olympic Committee] deserves all of the disdain and disgust that comes their way for going back to China yet again.”
— Former NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, who has covered 12 Olympic Games as a host and commentator, says journalists will face unique challenges during the Beijing Winter Olympics next month. It is currently unclear how the host country may censor journalists and how they will allow reporters to cover events in and around the games.
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It’s Monday, and you’re going to crush it today!
Take a look at this oddly satisfying video of coins getting crushed by a hydraulic press. (Click here to view)
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