5 things to know for February 8: Covid, Ukraine, SCOTUS, Trump, Government shutdown
Would you scan your face? The IRS wanted to require all taxpayers to verify their identities this year using a facial recognition software. However, the agency is now scrapping those plans after receiving a wave of backlash from lawmakers and privacy groups.
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School mask mandates will come to an end in Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and Oregon within weeks, state officials announced yesterday. This is a positive sign of decreasing Covid-19 cases across the nation as the country moves toward a new normal, several Democratic governors said. California will also lift its statewide indoor mask mandate for vaccinated people next week, nearly two years after it was first implemented. Similar announcements are expected from other states in the near future as more local leaders consider the shifting tide of mask politics, frustration with continued Covid-related restrictions, as well as higher vaccination rates and a decline in cases since the peak of the Omicron surge.
President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met at the White House yesterday in a display of solidarity, agreeing that both nations and their NATO allies should continue to pursue “diplomatic resolutions” with Russia — but also stand ready to respond if Moscow chooses to invade Ukraine. Biden explicitly said the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project would not go forward if Russia launches an invasion. The pipeline, which would deliver Russian natural gas under the Baltic Sea to Germany, has added pressure on Scholz to respond to concerns that Germany is unwilling to confront Putin. In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper yesterday, Scholz declined to commit to ending the pipeline if an invasion moves ahead. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow yesterday to demand a de-escalation to the Ukraine crisis.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision yesterday, allowed a congressional map drawn by Alabama Republicans to remain in place, freezing a lower court ruling that said the map likely violates the Voting Rights Act by diluting the political power of Black voters. The lower court had ordered a new map to be drawn to include another minority-majority district, opening a path for Democrats to gain another seat in the House of Representatives in the fall. The high court’s order, the first dealing with the 2022 elections, means that the map will be used for Alabama’s upcoming primary, and will likely be in place for the entire election cycle while the legal challenge plays out. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three liberal justices in dissent. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the full case next fall.
Former President Donald Trump would routinely rip up documents, drafts and reading materials, and also took several boxes to his Florida estate after leaving the White House — raising concerns about his preservation of presidential records as required by federal law. Three former White House officials told CNN they saw Trump, on numerous occasions, manually destroy papers he was no longer interested in or had finished reviewing. This practice made preserving presidential records extremely difficult for White House staff secretaries, and is a cause for concern among lawmakers investigating the former President’s conduct during his time in office. According to a White House official, Trump flatly ignored repeated requests from at least two of his chiefs of staff to stop tearing apart paper, saying “it went in one ear and out the other.”
5. Government shutdown
The House of Representatives is expected to vote later today on a short-term funding bill to avert a government shutdown at the end of next week. Funding is currently set to expire on February 18, but the measure the House is set to take up would extend funding through March 11. Once the House passes the stopgap bill, known as a continuing resolution, the Senate would need to approve it before it can be sent to President Biden to be signed into law. Congressional negotiators on both sides of the aisle have been working on a bipartisan basis to try to secure a full-year funding agreement, but a deal has not yet been reached.
A UK broadcaster is sending an all-disabled line-up of anchors and pundits to the Beijing Paralympics
We’re rooting for you! Check out their powerful team photo — an incredible display of inclusion.
A young boy snuck a book he wrote onto a library shelf. Now more than 100 people are waiting to check it out.
This little novelist was bound to be discovered.
Bitcoin had a terrible January. But it’s now back above $45,000
Who said crypto was stressful? *Nervous laugh*
Jennifer Garner says she was dumped the day after her first kiss
There are always more fish in the sea!
Chimps seen applying ‘medicine’ to one another for first time
Did you know humans and chimps share 98.8% of the same DNA? Prepare to be wowed by this animal intelligence study.
China’s teen skiing sensation Eileen Gu won the gold medal in the women’s big air competition, sparking ecstatic celebration in the stands and on Chinese social media. American-born Gu, whose mother is from China, decided to compete for Team China at the Games.
Follow the latest news and highlights from the Winter Olympics here.
That’s the value of the proposed merger between Spirit and Frontier Airlines. The combination of the two low-fare carriers would create America’s fifth-largest airline. The companies have yet to say what brand they’ll fly under or who would lead management of the new airline. The combined company would offer more than 1,000 daily flights to over 145 destinations.
“The United States remains in a heightened threat environment fueled by several factors, including an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories.”
— The US Department of Homeland Security, issuing a national bulletin yesterday about increasingly unpredictable terrorist attacks in the wake of recent violent events and geopolitical tensions. The terrorism bulletin is in part a response to recent events, including a hostage attack on a synagogue in Texas, threats directed at historically black colleges and universities, as well as a shift in Russian influence campaigns related to Ukraine.
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How do you like your eggs?
Scrambled never fails, but if you’re feeling creative this morning, here are 20 ways that eggs are prepared around the world. Enjoy your breakfast!
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