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January 14, 2022
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Quote of the Day

Truly exceptional” — A paleontologist on the discovery of an estimated 180-million-year-old ‘Sea Dragon’ fossil. At first we were afraid, we were petrified… 

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The Story

President Biden’s vaccine and testing mandate is over.

Explain. 

Last year, Biden said large businesses (think: private companies with 100 employees or more) must have their employees get vaxxed against COVID-19 or mask up and test regularly. The mandate covered two-thirds of all Americans — about 84 million people. And it came as only 60% of eligible adults had at least one vaccine. 27 states sued. And Americans were split. Many seemed to support the move seeing the mandate as the main ticket out of a devastating pandemic. But businesses weren’t convinced. And some labor unions wanted their workers to have a say in the policy. Meanwhile, some Republican leaders were against mandates of any kind. Enter: SCOTUS.

What’d they say?

SCOTUS agreed with Republicans. In a 6-3 ruling, the justices said the Biden admin lacked authority to enforce the mandate. The majority argued the Labor Department was overstepping because the mandate was a “significant encroachment” on employees' lives. Liberal justices disagreed, saying desperate, "unparalleled" times called for these measures. And that it's in the Labor Dept's wheelhouse to regulate workplace safety.

Anything else?

SCOTUS did leave vaccine mandates in place for some 10 million health care workers (think: those at facilities getting federal dollars). It's now up to businesses and states to decide whether to require vaccinations. Biden said he was "disappointed" and maintained the mandates were "grounded squarely in both science and the law." But supporters — including Republicans and trade associations — called it a victory and urged the admin to work with employers.

theSkimm

The Biden admin's vaccine mandate was the most expansive use of federal power during the pandemic. Health officials saw it as a life-saving public health measure. Others — ranging from anti-vaccine activists to Republicans to the Supreme Court — saw it as government overreach. And this year, Americans will be taking their opinions to the polls.

PS: Here's what you need to know about vaccine mandates in the workplace.

And Also...This

Who’s facing a royal reckoning…

Prince Andrew. Yesterday, Queen Elizabeth stripped the prince of his honorary military titles and royal roles. On top of that, Prince Andrew will no longer use the title “His Royal Highness.” The decision comes days after a federal US judge ruled that a lawsuit accusing the queen's reported favorite son of sexual assault could proceed. And that the royal — who’s ninth in line to the throne — can’t evade the US court system. The lawsuit was filed by Virginia Giuffre who’s alleged the prince sexually assaulted her on Jeffrey Epstein's private island when she was 17. Prince Andrew's denied the allegations. Now, the queen’s saying ‘he’s on his own.’ And that he will head to trial "as a private citizen” as soon as this year. It's a major punitive measure against a royal. And legal experts are saying the prince isn’t left with a lot of options.

Who people are talking about…

Novak Djokovic. This morning, Australia revoked the Serbian tennis star’s visa. Djokovic flew down under earlier this month for the Australian Open. He had a medical exemption from their COVID-19 vaccine requirement. But border authorities said he failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet entry requirements. Days later, a judge moved to reinstate Djokovic’s visa Now, Australia’s immigration minister said he canceled the visa because of “health and good order.” But Djokovic’s lawyers are planning to file an appeal.

What lawmakers have on the brain…

The filibuster. Yesterday, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) appeared to give a fatal blow to the Democrats’ effort to end the Senate filibuster. The goal was to help Dems pass voting rights legislation by a simple majority. But without Sinema and Manchin on board, they don’t have the support. It comes as President Biden's pushed for an end to the filibuster — after supporting it for years. And days before MLK Jr Day on Monday, when the late reverend's family is leading a march to call for federal voting rights legislation.

…Oh and on the GOP side, the Republican National Committee wants changes, too. It’s threatening to bar its future presidential candidates from appearing in certain debates.

PS: Wondering how a filibuster works? We Skimm'd it for you.

Where there’s an update…

Germany. Yesterday, a former Syrian secret police officer was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of crimes against humanity in a German court. In the first-ever conviction of a ranking Syrian official, prosecutors proved Anwar Raslan was responsible for “​​extensive and systematic” crimes against more than 4,000 prisoners. And the rape and assault of detainees under the Assad regime, as well as the deaths of at least 27 people. The sentencing is being celebrated by many as a landmark case in the search for justice.

Who now has to pay up…

Navient. Yesterday, the student loan servicing company reached a $1.85 billion deal to settle predatory student loan claims. 66,000 borrowers will see their debts canceled, with a further 350,000 seeing some relief. See here to find out if you qualify

PS: This case is about private student loans. But there’s a broader convo happening about federal student loan forgiveness. Here’s what that could mean for your wallet.

What’s gruyère today, there tomorrow…

Cheese. If you can brie-lieve it. 

Programming Note

Skimm HQ is closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr Day. See you back in your inbox on Tuesday.

How to Skimm Your Life Challenge

Cha-ching. That’s the sound of your future self cashing in. Today’s challenge presented by Fidelity: Be your own boss and give yourself a raise by opening a high-yield savings account, enrolling in your employer’s 401(k) matching program, or taking advantage of your credit card benefits. It’s like finding money in your coat pocket from last season. Except unlike your jacket (no offense), money’s always *in style.* We’ve got more timeless money tips here.

PS: Your future self will also like getting challenges texted from theSkimm. Sign up here. And here’s where you’ll find past challenges.

Refresh Smarter

The truth is you can change old habits or make new ones at any time of year, but there’s no time like the present to check in on your routines and do a little reset where you want to. And we’re here to help you do it all smarter with tons of useful (and budget-friendly) product recs. So you can feel a bit more relaxed when it comes to the whole ‘crush your goals’ expectation. Check out…

Skimm Picks

Here are today’s recs to help you live a smarter life…

1. Healthier food your pup will actually like. Zero questionable crunch included. The Farmer’s Dog delivers fresh, human-grade meat and veggies right to their customers’ (doggie) doors. Which they cook in safe, human-grade kitchens, btw. Here’s 50% off your first box.*

2. Something to kickstart your health journey. No impossible-to-cancel gym membership required. Noom uses behavior change psych to help you learn how your mind works. And supports you along the way as you make lasting change. Now that’s better.*

3. How to get the answers to your wildest Qs. Like ‘why is sushi rolled?’ Or ‘where do planets come from?’ (We’ve been thinking about that one, tbh.) This company’s got thousands of videos on hundreds of subjects. Learn more.*

4. Moisturizing products that’ll actually keep you hydrated this winter. We rounded up the best skincare items to invest in right now. Dry hands and chapped lips, be gone.

5. Our favorite board games and puzzles. Because we’re in Season 3 of the pandemic and the temps keep dipping. So if you need fun ways to occupy your time at home, look no further.

*PS: This is a sponsored post.

Skimm'rs

We like to celebrate the wins, big and small. Let us know how your friends, neighbors, coworkers (and yes, even you) are making career moves, checking off goals, or making an impact in the community.

Leading the discovery…Jackie Douglas (MO). She’s the education director of a science museum in the Ozarks that was converted into an emergency childcare facility for healthcare workers’ children.

Let's talk about…Hailey Z (SC). She opened a speech therapy clinic and specializes in treating teens and adults with speech and language issues like stuttering and articulation.

(Some) Birthdays…theSkimm's Noorjahan Deolall Antoine (NY), Mona Goodman (CT), Mark Sawyier (MO), Matthew Bregman (NJ), Alliy Drago (NY), Taylor Greenberg (FL), Colleen Halpin (OH), Valerie Mason (MD), Rachel Lebow (NY), Magen Wetmore (DC), Robin Fairchild (MN), Maggie Mahoney (OH), Anthony Torch (IL), Jessica Catalano (MA), Libby Heaton (PA)

*Paging all members of theSkimm. Reach out here for a chance to be featured.

Skimm More

If hearing about Russian troops at the Ukrainian border feels like déjà vu, you’re not alone. This week on “Skimm This,” we unpack how recent US negotiations with Moscow are giving off Cold War vibes and why Putin wants to keep Ukraine in Russia’s orbit. Talk about the crème de la Kremlin. Check it out.

And if you’re looking for other smart ways to spend your time...

Skimm’d by Rashaan Ayesh, Kate Gilhool, William Horn, Julie Shain, and Mariza Smajlaj

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