5 things to know for January 27: Supreme Court, Ukraine, Covid, Federal Reserve, Cuba
Here is what you need to know
(CNN) — Houston, we have a [coffee] problem… A new study shows climate change will make it much harder to grow Arabica coffee in the coming years. Coffee prices have already been spiking due to bad weather, so you might want to savor that cup this morning.
Here’s what you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
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1. Supreme Court
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is expected to formally announce his plans to retire today, clearing the way for President Joe Biden to name his first nomination to the high court. Biden has vowed to fill the vacancy with an African American woman, which would represent a historic first. Currently, six of the nine justices are conservative, so Biden’s pick will not change the balance of the court, given that Breyer will almost certainly be replaced with a liberal. Still, it’s a consequential decision, considering that the president’s nominee is expected to be much younger than Breyer and could serve on the court for decades. As for the next steps in the process, Biden will now interview his short list of candidates. The White House will then make a decision and then a formal nomination will be made.
Russian and Ukrainian negotiators have agreed to continue ceasefire talks as concerns that Russia will invade Ukraine continue to escalate. The world has been on edge, fearing an invasion is imminent, but Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba lessened those concerns somewhat yesterday, stating Russia has not assembled sufficient forces to a launch full-scale invasion. Officials also say the latest four-way conversation between representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France has helped broker some hope for peace. Speaking after yesterday’s meeting, Moscow’s chief negotiator said the ceasefire must be observed “unconditionally” but that many other issues in eastern Ukraine remained unresolved. Ukraine’s negotiator said all parties were in support of a permanent ceasefire, adding they are ready to negotiate around the clock to prevent a war.
Moderna says it has given a Covid-19 booster shot specific to the Omicron variant to the first participant in their Phase 2 clinical trial. Research published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a booster dose of the vaccine remained durable against the Omicron variant but did show signs of waning antibody protection. Pfizer and BioNTech, makers of the other major mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, announced earlier this week that they had also begun their own Omicron-specific vaccine trials. According to latest CDC data, Omicron currently accounts for 99.9% of all US Covid-19 infections, while the Delta variant makes up the remaining 0.1%.
4. Federal Reserve
With inflation rising, the Federal Reserve said yesterday it is getting ready to raise interest rates — a move widely expected on Wall Street. “With inflation well above 2% and a strong labor market, the Committee expects it will soon be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate,” the Fed said a statement, with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell confirming in a press conference that March is probably the right time frame for a rate hike. Investors now expect the Fed to hike interest rates four times this year (or more) if inflation continues to be a problem. That’s encouraging them to dump stocks in companies that rely on borrowed cash, as well as the technology firms that have powered the recent bull market.
Cuban officials are calling for the Biden administration to restore relations with the island in light of a recent CIA report that found most “Havana syndrome” cases were unlikely to have been caused by a foreign power. In 2016, US diplomats and undercover CIA officers in their homes and hotel rooms in Havana began complaining of unexplained symptoms, including dizziness, pounding headaches, and piercing noise that sounded as if metal was being scraped across a floor. Eventually, 24 diplomats were diagnosed with brain damage that ranged from mild impairment to severe injuries. US officials feared the unexplained illnesses might have been caused by “sonic attacks” from other countries. In a new study this week, the CIA determined the spate of mysterious health incidents, can be explained by environmental causes, undiagnosed medical conditions and other factors.
‘Jeopardy!’ champ’s impressive winning streak ends
Amy Schneider is $1.3 million richer after closing out the second-longest winning streak in the quiz show’s history. You’re still #1 in our eyes, Amy!
Airbus to charter its popular Beluga XL ‘whale plane’
Just leaving this here in hopes it makes you smile. You’re whale-come.
One of the world’s most mysterious countries reopens trail for explorers
Into the unknown! (Yes, that’s a “Frozen 2” reference.)
An unidentified space object is beaming out radio signals every 18 minutes
Now, seriously… into the unknown. This celestial object is something astronomers have never seen before.
Makers of top food and consumer goods brands plan to raise prices
Oscar Mayer hot dogs, Velveeta cheese, and Capri Sun drinks, are all increasing this spring. Check out how much.
That’s how much Kansas City Chiefs fans donated to a children’s hospital in New York after their team beat the Buffalo Bills in an epic playoff game on Sunday. Bills fans are typically the ones making donations after a game, but Chiefs fans began donating this week in $13 increments — representing the 13-second drive the Chiefs made to send the game into overtime. The hospital thanked the Chiefs fans, tweeting that the donations will help ensure their medical team has the tools, training, and programs to care for kids in Western New York.
“It’s super stressful, I didn’t know that I really struggled with anxiety to be totally honest until the past couple of months.”
US mogul skier Hannah Soar, on dealing with a plethora of Covid-19 countermeasures ahead of the the Winter Olympics in Beijing. In order to compete, athletes must record two negative tests before departing for Beijing and are then subject to daily tests upon arrival.
Million Dollar Koi Fish
Meet the man who breeds world-class koi fish. Just last year, one fish fetched nearly $2 million at an auction. (Click here to view)
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