Get '5 Things' in your inbox
In 2022, it’s not uncommon to be surrounded by gadgets can turn on your lights, remind you of an appointment or track your sleep. But how far is too far? Some technology experts say Amazon’s new list of updates shows how prevalent surveillance products are in every corner of our homes with the apparent goal of making life a little easier.
Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
(You can get “5 Things You Need to Know Today” delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)
1. Hurricane Ian
President Biden delivered his first address to Congress last night, on the eve of his 100th day in office. The President focused his speech on what his ambitious and sometimes politically divisive policy changes can do for Americans. He made no apology for passing the massive coronavirus relief bill without Republican support and called on legislators to swiftly act on other top-line issues, like police reform and infrastructure spending. While his biggest priorities have been domestic, Biden also said by addressing issues like green energy production, the US is staying competitive with the rest of the world. As the President spoke, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi completed a historic tableau behind him, marking the first time two women have occupied both those positions. You can read Biden’s full speech here and see photos from the historic evening here.
Medical experts are warning of another deadly pandemic winter as Covid-19 numbers tick up and flu season threatens. The US is back at a point where more than 2,000 people are dying of Covid-19 every day on average, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Additionally, about 12,000 to 50,000 Americans lose their lives to flu every year. The best way to avoid another devastating season, doctors say, is to get vaccinated for both. Meanwhile, parts of Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, are coming out of long lockdowns and abandoning their “zero Covid” strategies. Leaders want to revive their countries’ economies, especially their tourism sectors, but experts are worried that low vaccination rates in the region could spell disaster.
2. Supreme Court
The European Union has agreed to buy up to 1.8 billion doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. If the deal is finalized, it would mark the world’s biggest single deal for a Covid-19 vaccine. The EU has struggled to secure enough vaccine doses for member countries after a deal with AstraZeneca fell millions of doses short because of supply chain issues. Now, the European Commission is suing AstraZeneca over the alleged breach of its vaccine supply contract, escalating a monthslong dispute. In India, the government has bought at least 205.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, making the country one of the top 10 vaccine buyers in the world. However, that number only covers about 8% of its population – not nearly enough to relieve the crushing weight of a second surge.
The climate crisis was front and center at the UN General Assembly yesterday. Chinese President Xi Jinping recorded a rare address to the UN body promising to halt coal projects, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will present the Paris climate agreement to its parliament next month, and US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stressed further climate action during an Oval Office meeting. An array of international points of conflict were also addressed by the dozens of world leaders present, including nuclear arms in Iran, free and fair elections in Venezuela, and competition between the US and China. The Taliban have also requested representation at this week’s meeting, a move that is expected to kick off a diplomatic battle with the preexisting Afghan envoy.
3. Brazil election
Federal prosecutors indicted the three men accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery on hate crime and attempted kidnapping charges. Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was out for a jog near Brunswick, Georgia, in early 2020 when he was chased down in a truck and fatally shot. His killing was one of the painful incidents that spurred last summer’s wave of racial justice activism, and Arbery’s family says the indictments bring the case one step closer to justice. In Chicago, new bodycam footage has been released showing the fatal police shooting of 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez as he ran from an officer on March 31. This incident, along with the police shooting of a 13-year-old boy days earlier, has prompted Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to call for reform of foot pursuit policies.
Progressive Democrats have announced they will not vote for the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill without passing the $3.5 trillion package that is aimed at enacting President Joe Biden’s economic agenda. That vote is scheduled for next week, and as it stands, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can afford to lose only a handful of votes to get anything passed. President Biden will increase his engagement with Congressional Democrats today, including a meeting with Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, to try and get all the Democratic factions in line. Yesterday, the House also passed a bill to avoid a government shutdown and suspend the US debt limit. The bill is unlikely to pass the Senate, so the country is still approaching a possible shutdown and financial precipice in the coming weeks.
4. United Airlines
Federal agents executed search warrants yesterday at the apartment and office of Rudy Giuliani, former President Trump’s personal lawyer. Giuliani has been the focus of a long-running criminal investigation concerning his activities in Ukraine, including whether he conducted illegal lobbying for Ukrainian officials during Trump’s presidency to try to damage the reputation of then-rival Biden. A search warrant for a lawyer like Giuliani would require a sign-off by the highest levels of the Justice Department, and generally, it is unusual for prosecutors to execute a search warrant on a lawyer at all. But they’ve done so before – most notably, in this case, against another former lawyer for Trump, Michael Cohen. Giuliani hasn’t been charged and has denied wrongdoing.
United Airlines is suspending service at New York’s JFK Airport, saying its schedule there is too small to remain competitive. In a note shared with CNN Business, the airline said the start of the winter season, when more airlines resume flying to and from JFK, contributed to its “difficult decision.” United has been negotiating with the FAA to acquire additional slots, or takeoff and landing authorizations, at JFK and has been advocating for the agency to update its assessment of the airport’s capacity. But United said these improvements will take time. As for the airline’s employees, United says that the 100 employees who work at JFK won’t lose their jobs and instead be transferred to nearby locations.
5. Cheese recall
China has successfully launched the first module of its planned space station. The country’s astronauts have long been excluded from the International Space Station, currently the sole centralized venue for testing and exploration in space. But if China has its way, it will have a space station of its own by the end of 2022. It won’t be as large as the ISS – about one-fifth of its size and similar to the Russian Mir space station, which operated from 1986 to 2001. Speaking of Russia, that country says that it will leave the ISS project in 2025 and plans to build another space station that could launch in 2030.
There are about 8,600 Haitian migrants remaining under the Del Rio International bridge in Texas, waiting to be processed by immigration officials and possibly removed from the country. That’s down from a high of about 14,000 earlier in the week, but there are still tens of thousands of other Haitian refugees further south, still waiting for a chance to enter the US. There are up to 30,000 Haitians in Colombia who may be seeking to travel north, and Panama expects 80,000 migrants to cross its borders by the end of this year. South and Central American leaders have expressed concern at the unprecedented flow of migrants. More than 97% of Haitians migrating to the US do not come directly from Haiti, but rather were residents of other countries first. Many Haitians trying to enter the US are believed to have been living elsewhere since the devastating Haiti earthquake in 2010.
‘Dancing with the Stars’ Season 30 premieres
Be prepared to weep with emotion over a young man you’ve never heard of getting the chance to play in a city you’d never set foot in.
Tony Blair has a mullet now, and it’s disturbing Britain
Diplomacy in the front, political intrigue in the back.
Colgate’s new toothpaste tube is designed with slippery coating to let you squeeze out every last drop
Slippery Toothpaste would be a great name for a rock band.
Walmart is coming after Kanye West’s Yeezy logo
The trademark crossover no one saw coming.
Microsoft is retiring its default font, and it wants your help choosing a new one
Comic Sans lovers, IT’S TIME.
Michael Collins, the NASA astronaut who was the command module pilot for the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, has died at age 90 after battling cancer. “Today the nation lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration,” NASA said in a statement.
That’s how much women across the globe lost in income last year, according to a report from Oxfam International. That’s more than the combined gross domestic products of 98 countries and underscores the disproportionate losses suffered by women during the pandemic.
“I’m just an awful skeleton.”
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, on his faltering health following a hunger strike. The Kremlin critic has been imprisoned in Russia since February.
“I started telling myself that it was okay. I was coming to terms with dying.”
‘My better self’
I can’t get through “Widmung” (“Dedication,” in English) without crying. Written by Robert Schumann for his new wife, Clara (also a brilliant musician), and arranged for piano by Franz Liszt, the work is a testament to both romantic passion and the artistic passion that drove the three people at the heart of its creation. No one brings it to life like the peerless Argentine pianist Martha Argerich. (Click here to view.)