The jobless rate in the US is dropping, but the Federal Reserve is looking beyond that number to see just how much the economy -- and hard-working Americans -- are still struggling under persistent pandemic woes.
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Global virus cases have been declining for six straight weeks, according to the World Health Organization. Still, the world last week saw 2.4 million new cases and 66,000 new deaths. In the US, a trio of major drug companies has promised a total of 240 million vaccine doses by the end of March, enough to fully vaccinate about a third of the US population. A fourth vaccine could also pass FDA scrutiny by April. Russia has opened seven vaccine production centers around the country, and China may be on the brink of approving another vaccine as well. This is all good news, but experts still worry about all those coronavirus variants and say such cases could lead to another surge in the US in coming weeks. But hopefully, any spike would subside by summer.
2. Capitol riot
The Senate held its first public hearing on January's Capitol riot. At the center of the scrutiny was a bombshell FBI memo sent one day before the insurrection with an explicit warning about potential violence. Officials like ex-US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and the then-House sergeant-at-arms were asked why such a warning didn't merit a stronger response and why a request for National Guard assistance was so slow to be answered. Sund said he and other leaders didn't see the memo before the attack. Today, a House subcommittee is set to hear testimony to assess the damage from the insurrection. According to at least one official's testimony, the price tag for damage and increased Capitol Hill security is already $30 million.
3. Police violence
Dozens of protesters gathered in Rochester, New York, after a grand jury voted not to indict any officers involved in the March death of Daniel Prude. The 41-year-old Black man was having a mental health episode when officers handcuffed him, covered his head and held him on the ground. His death a week later was one of several that spurred worldwide racial justice protests last year. New York's attorney general says a judge granted her request to release the grand jury minutes to the public. In Northern California, a new episode of pain is unfolding: The family of 30-year-old Angelo Quinto has filed a wrongful death claim, saying Quinto died days after police officers kneeled on the back of his neck for nearly five minutes to subdue him during a mental health episode in December.
4. White House
The Senate has confirmed Tom Vilsack as President Biden's agriculture secretary, sending the former Iowa governor to the same Cabinet position he served for the entirety of the Obama administration. Today, two key Senate committees are expected to vote on whether to advance a more controversial pick: Neera Tanden, Biden's Office of Management and Budget director nominee. Tanden has angered Republicans with her outspoken tweets and has sparred with some progressives, so it's unclear whether she'll have enough votes to get over the line. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are gearing up to fight Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan. Many are hoping to cast it as an example of liberal overreach. But if it passes -- and works -- they could end up with egg on their faces.
Hong Kong's government has moved to introduce new requirements for public officials, including that they swear loyalty oaths and embrace Beijing's rule over the city. Anyone who fails to take the oath or is deemed to have done so in an insincere fashion would be immediately disqualified from office and banned from running in elections for the next five years, a top official said. The new rule could shred the last vestiges of democracy in the self-governing city. Similar loyalty tests have already been used to disqualify multiple pro-democracy candidates and remove democratically elected lawmakers.
Tiger Woods had a rod inserted in his leg during an emergency surgery after a high-speed crash
Voices from the sports world and beyond are sending the golf champ wishes for a safe and speedy recovery.
Mandy Moore welcomes a baby boy with husband Taylor Goldsmith
Congrats! This is the multi-talented actress-singer's first child.
The Postal Service unveiled its new delivery vehicle, and it's a radical change
Some TV shows are telling stories about the pandemic. Some viewers wish they wouldn't
We came here for ESCAPISM, not a constant reminder of our crushing reality!
University of Michigan says it shut down a campus library for 2 days after discovering venomous spiders
"Sorry, I couldn't do my homework, Professor. I was driven out of the library by venomous spiders." Well, that's a new one.
PROFILES IN PERSEVERANCE
February is Black History Month, and every day we're highlighting Black pioneers in American history. Learn more here.
Howard Thurman, pastor and academic, 1899-1981
Thurman was a pastor, professor and mystic whose groundbreaking book, "Jesus and the Disinherited," was a condemnation of a form of Christianity that Thurman said was far too often "on the side of the strong and the powerful against the weak and oppressed." The book was a profound influence on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s faith and activism. Thurman was also the first African American pastor to travel to India and meet Mohandas Gandhi.
That's how much a Chinese court ordered a husband to pay his wife as compensation for housework she shouldered during their five-year marriage. The landmark divorce ruling has sparked a debate in China about the value of unpaid domestic work.
"There is no going back. No matter what we do now, it's too late to avoid climate change. And the poorest and most vulnerable -- those with the least security -- are now certain to suffer."
David Attenborough, broadcaster and naturalist, who delivered a stark warning about the climate crisis to the UN Security Council