Spiro

Happy Monday.

Temperatures in Minnesota are set to be colder than the temperatures in the North Pole this week. I’m putting on an extra pair of socks after just reading that.

In Case You Missed It. 

πŸ‡°πŸ‡Ώ Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is framing the protests rocking the country as terrorist attacks, telling armed forces to "kill without warning” in order to stop the terrorists. Russia is helping, but Amnesty International and a lot of other people are positive “terrorist attacks” does not accurately describe the situation in the country.

πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ Conversion therapy, the unscientific practice of “changing” a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, is now officially banned in Canada.

βš–οΈ A Georgia judge sentenced Ahmaud Arbery’s killers to life in prison. Travis McMichael and his father Gregory were sentenced to life without parole, while their neighbor William Bryan will have the possibility of parole. 

πŸ“Ί Comedian Bob Saget was found dead in an Orlando hotel room Sunday afternoon. Saget was on comedy tour across the country. There were no signs of drugs, alcohol or foul play. He was 65 years old. 

πŸ“ Italy caught crime boss ​​Gioacchino Gammino, wanted since he escaped a Roman prison in 2002. Did we say Italy found him? We meant Google Street View.

πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ The U.S. and Russia plan to hold talks this week about Ukraine, though the odds of any resolutions coming out of said talks are looking slim.

Coronavirus Update: πŸ—£ Total confirmed U.S. cases as of 6:15 p.m. ET on Sunday: 60,062,077 — Total deaths: 837,504

  • New research from the CDC shows that Covid vaccines protected everyone in their study from serious Covid except those with risk factors. And even then it was rare: 189 people out of 1.2 million participants.
  • Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson told employers not to comply with President Biden’s “oppressive” vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers starting today.
  • The FDA has shortened the waiting period between the last Moderna vaccine dose and booster from six to five months for adults 18 and over. The agency has authorized the same shorter waiting period for Pfizer-vaccinated people 12 and over.
  • German bars and restaurants are now exclusive to vaccinated customers or those who have recovered from Covid. But the country did cut quarantine periods from 14 days to 10 (seven with no symptoms and a negative test), so maybe that will make everyone happy? Not likely.

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  • Markets: Goldman Sachs sees the Fed raising interest rates four times in 2022. In its December meeting minutes, Fed officials signaled they are preparing to move quicker than the last time they tightened monetary policy in a bid to keep the U.S. economy from overheating amid high inflation and near-full employment. 

Today's Live Show

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just opened the door for a new round of Covid stimulus. This comes as the U.S. just double it's number of cases. We'll deep dive this surprising move on today's live show. Join us at 9AM Eastern right here. 

 

Lead: SCOTUS and Vaccine Mandates

credit: ap

The U.S. Supreme Court held a special session Friday to hear arguments about two of the three federal vaccine mandates President Biden introduced last year. The case was expedited due to upcoming deadlines, and a decision is expected in the coming days.

Vaccine-or-Test Mandate for Large Employers

One of the mandates at issue is the Biden administration’s requirement that private employers with 100 or more employees implement a vaccine mandate or a mask-and-test mandate for those who remain unvaccinated. It takes effect today.

But during arguments, the conservative majority seemed ready to reject this mandate, so maybe not. The justices gave off strong vibes (and actual words) that this is a classic example of government overreach.

Health Care Worker Mandate

This mandate requires almost all staff at any hospital, nursing home, or other care facility receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds to get the shot. It’s set to take effect January 27. 

The fact that federal funds are involved in this one (and the fact that these places are where we go to get better not worse) seemed to make the conservative justices a bit more open to it.

Since all of these decisions are happening in real-time, Covid was a huge part of the arguments. Justice Sonya Sotomayor, who has diabetes, heard arguments remotely, likely so she didn’t have to sit next to Justice Gorsuch, the one justice who remained unmasked. And two lawyers arguing against mandates made their arguments via telephone because they have Covid.

China Sticks With "Zero Covid" Goal

credit: cnn

President Biden might be shifting to a life-with-Covid strategy, but China is sticking to its “Zero Covid” goal of zero local transmissions.

The 13 million people in the Chinese city of Xi’an have been under lockdown since December 23, with orders not to leave the house except for Covid testing. Many of those people are having trouble accessing food and health care for illnesses unrelated to Covid. Casualties of strict hospital rules include a miscarraige and a person who died of a heart attack. And those are the incidents we’ve heard about.

The number of positive cases in Xi’an do appear to be dropping, though one person on Chinese microblogging platform Weibo posted: ‘Zero community Covid' is such a clever word as we just need to keep transporting patients and close contacts out until Xi'an's cases are zero."

The 1.2 million people in the city of Yuzhou may be the next to fall victim. It took just three positive (but asymptomatic) cases for the city to go into lockdown last Monday.

“Zero Covid” is hitting officials in the country, too, with over 40 suspended or dismissed during the delta outbreak last summer. The upcoming Winter Olympics, Lunar New Year, and–oh yeah–omicron promise to complicate this much further.

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Sit, Sentar, Sitzen, ε

credit: giphy

“It’s all Greek to me,” said Fido.

Research from Budapest found that dogs can tell when you’re speaking a different language. 

18 volunteer dogs sat in an MRI machine while they listened to The Little Prince in Spanish and Hungarian. Researchers found a different activity pattern in the dogs’ brains when they listened to the story in their home language versus the foreign language.

"I think it is a very exciting study because it shows that the ability to grasp the sounds and rhythms of a familiar language is something accessible to non-humans," researcher Amritha Mallikarjun said.

The most astounding thing to us is that the researchers trained EIGHTEEN DOGS to sit perfectly still inside an MRI machine. We want some of that training over here, please.

News By The Numbers

credit: giphy

94. That is how old Sydney Poitier was when he died last week. The Hollywood legend broke a lot of ground, including as the first Black man to win a Best Actor Oscar.

199,000. That is how many jobs the U.S. added in December, less than half of estimates. 

300,000. That is how many people are playing the viral browser game Wordle, because trying to guess a word is all the brain capacity we have right now.

10 hours. That is how long a car alarm rang in Brighton, England. Neighbors left three notes on the car (just three?!), including a very British typed letter: "It’s lucky I’m mature enough to understand that you are probably not aware of the audio pornography your vehicle has defecating into the clean air for the last ten hours.”

4,000. That is how many holiday cards a postal worker in The Villages in Central Florida is accused of digging through. He got cash, gift cards, and likely some awkward family photos.

What's Trending?

credit: hbo

Euphoria Season 2 is trending because the HBO series premieres January 24 and I will be there with all of my leftover teen angst.

Deltacron is trending because a researcher in Cyprus found a new Covid variant that combines delta and omicron, but some think it was a lab mistake.

Sinéad O’Connor is trending. Her 17-year-old son’s body was found Friday after he went missing January 6.

Everyone Eatz

ram mehta credit: wfaa

Here’s your smile for the day.

Ram Mehta was unhoused at one point in his life, and his mother told him to never forget where he came from. He is now a successful restaurant owner who took that advice to heart. 

“If you are Hungry, Homeless or Can’t afford a meal. Please honor us by stopping by during business hours for couple of slices of Hot Pizza & Fountain Drink at No Charge,” reads a sign in one of Mehta’s restaurants in Texas. “If any employee here doesn’t treat you with same respect as a paying customer. Please Call Ram directly at 469-494-9555. No questions no judgement. Thank you for giving us an opportunity to serve you. God Bless You.”

And Mehta isn’t stopping there. He founded “Everyone Eatz,” a not-for-profit organization that helps those who need help. “We started giving out cars to single moms, we started paying for rent for a few people, we started giving backpacks, toys for Christmas,” Mehta said. “So it’s just about helping your neighbor.”

Oh, how we wish more people thought this way. Mehta is proof that there is definitely still kindness left in this world, no matter how much ugly noise we hear.

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