5 things to know for February 23: SCOTUS, White House, Covid-19, US police, Australia
Here's what you need to know to get up to speed and on with your day
The Supreme Court has allowed the release of former President Trump’s tax returns to a New York prosecutor, dealing a major blow to Trump, who has fought for years to keep his tax information under wraps. However, the tax returns are shielded from public disclosure because of grand jury secrecy rules. Subpoenaed documents, ranging from 2011 to 2019, relate to the Trump Organization’s employment of Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen and hush money he allegedly paid two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office was initially looking into those claims but has broadened its investigation into the legality of Trump’s tax deductions and what the Trump Organization told lenders and tax authorities about the value of its assets.
2. White House
Confirmation battles are brewing over President Biden’s remaining Cabinet picks, underscoring the razor-thin power balance in the Senate. The confirmation of Neera Tanden, Biden’s pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget, is in jeopardy after Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, said he wouldn’t support her. Interior secretary nominee Deb Haaland’s confirmation hearing starts today, and her opposition to fossil fuels has made her persona non grata among Republicans and possibly some moderate Democrats. Xavier Becerra, chosen by the President to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, has emerged as a lightning rod over his stance on the ever-divisive issues of abortion and Obamacare.
Flags around the US are flying at half-staff to mark the more than 500,000 people who have died on American soil as a result of Covid-19. Dr. Anthony Fauci addressed the travesty plainly, saying, “We’ve done worse than most any other country.” Meanwhile, as England prepares to reopen, its chief medical officer said Covid-19 will likely be a problem “for the next few winters.” It’s a reminder that, like the flu, Covid-19 will still threaten even with widespread vaccinations. There are other health risks to consider as well: Japan has appointed a minister for loneliness to combat a rising suicide rate amid the pandemic. And in the US, clinics are springing up to treat sufferers of “long Covid,” whose symptoms linger long after the infection has cleared.
4. Police violence
Police in Aurora, Colorado, involved in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain had no legal basis to stop or detain him. This is the conclusion of an independent investigative report that criticizes officers and medical responders at the scene. McClain, a Black man, died three days after he was stopped by Aurora police, put in a carotid hold and injected with ketamine. No charges were brought against the officers because prosecutors said they couldn’t prove they caused McClain’s death or used unjustified force. Meanwhile, police are investigating the arrest of a Baton Rouge teenager last weekend after video posted online showed an officer pinning the 13-year-old to the ground with his arm under the boy’s neck. The Louisiana city and police department have petitioned to allow the full body-worn camera video to be made public.
Facebook and the Australian government have been at odds for months over proposed legislation that would force tech platforms to pay publishers for news content. As a result, last week Facebook barred Australians from finding or sharing news on its service. The decision appeared to be the most restrictive move the company has ever taken against content publishers and forced the pages of media organizations and even some unrelated essential services to go dark. Now, Facebook will restore news pages after the government agreed to change the planned media code, allowing Facebook to retain greater control over what appears on its platform.
Taylor Swift rerecorded her 2008 hit, ‘Love Story,’ and now it’s topping the country charts again
She’s a little bit country, a little bit pop.
Peloton is releasing a cheaper treadmill
And “cheaper” here means … $2,500.
Daft Punk is splitting up after 28 years
Let’s bow our helmets for a moment of silence.
Taco Bell is getting in on the chicken sandwich wars
It’s a taco? It’s a chicken sandwich? There’s bread? A … tacowich?
A tiny message in Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ was, in fact, written by the artist himself
“Can only have been painted by a madman.” Well, it’s good to know thyself.
PROFILES IN PERSEVERANCE
February is Black History Month, and every day we’re highlighting Black pioneers in American history. Learn more here.
Audre Lorde, poet, 1934-1992
“Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet.” That’s how Audre Lorde famously introduced herself. In her work, she called out racism and homophobia and chronicled her own emotional and physical battle with breast cancer. Her writing also humanized Black women in a way that was rare for her time. In her later years, she founded a small press to publish the work of Black feminists and served as the state poet laureate of New York.
“People said I was crazy because I was 15 years old and defiant and shouting, ‘It’s my constitutional right!'”
Claudette Colvin, who in 1955 refused to give up her seat on a bus to a White person in Montgomery, Alabama, months before Rosa Parks’ famous defiance. Colvin’s is one of the stories highlighted in “History Refocused,” CNN’s new series that discusses parts of America’s past you should have heard about but probably didn’t.
That’s the forecast temperature — in degrees Fahrenheit — in Dallas this afternoon, a full 77 degrees warmer than it was this time last week, when temperatures dipped below zero.
Patience can lead to great (little) things
Micromosaics are as they sound: tiny, painstakingly crafted works of art. And they require more than a steady hand to create. (Click here to view.)
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