Welcome to Friday. Super Bowl LV is (almost) here… who ya got?!
The DONUT’s Prediction: Tom Brady gets ring #7 – Tampa Bay over Kansas City, 29-27.
Have a phenomenal weekend, we’ll see you Monday. 😎
P.S. Don’t forget to fill out our annual subscriber survey to be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card (it takes about 5 minutes). The survey closes at 11:59 pm CT tonight, and will be used to help us improve the company and our content to better serve you.
“Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”
🏫 Chicago Schools Showdown
A 48-hour “cooling off” period between Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) ended Wednesday as negotiations continued over a return to in-person learning.
📝 Important to Note: The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25k teachers in the Chicago Public School system – the third-largest in the country (~340k students).
🤿 A deeper dive…
The Chicago Board of Education initially required educators in kindergarten through eighth grade to return to classrooms on Monday, January 25, per the district’s reopening plan, with students set to return one week after that.
That was put on hold after members of the teachers union voted in favor of continued remote work, citing “CPS’ current unpreparedness for a return to in-person instruction.”
The two sides have engaged in contentious negotiations ever since. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has repeatedly insisted the CPS plan was thoroughly vetted by medical experts and has been successfully enacted in charter and Archdiocese classrooms in the city since the fall.
On Sunday, Mayor Lightfoot and the CPS CEO released a joint statement saying the city had taken “an important step toward reaching an overarching agreement” in talks with the CTU.
Under a tentative agreement reached Wednesday, every teacher and staff member at 134 schools in areas hardest-hit by COVID-19 would be tested weekly for the virus. The day ended without a full agreement on how or when to reopen schools.
In a press conference yesterday, Lightfoot said discussions had taken “a series of steps backwards” and blamed the CTU for dragging their heels, saying “the ball is in the CTU’s court.”
Just before she spoke, the teachers union released an open letter to parents saying the district could not resume in-person instruction without movement on several key issues.
💬 Relevant Quote
“Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS leadership have unilaterally tried to impose a plan to return educators and students to in-person learning without involving our members, principals, students or parents. Unlike school districts across the country, and unionized charter schools in Chicago, CPS for a long time refused to bargain regarding its reopening plan. Yes, we have had 70 meetings, but for 10 months, we never had a willing partner on the other side of the table.”
“We cannot return to in-person instruction until we have made more progress with the district on CDC-based health metrics, allowing educators with medically vulnerable family members to continue to teach remotely, and addressing real equity needs for the vast majority of our students — particularly Black and Latinx students who continue to learn remotely.” –CTU open letter.
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🏛️ Capitol Hill Roundup
The House voted 230-199 (219 D & 11 R) to strip Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) of her Budget and Education Committee assignments due to her past promotion of several extreme views and conspiracy theories before taking office. (Left-Center | Right-Center)
President Biden announced the U.S. will end support for a five-year Saudi-led offensive in Yemen, citing the “humanitarian and strategic catastrophe” created by the conflict. (Left-Center | Right-Center) Bonus: Former DONUT intern Lyndsey Reeve takes a deep dive into what the UN calls “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”
The top House impeachment manager, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) requested former President Donald Trump testify under oath in next week’s Senate trial. Trump’s lawyers affirmed their client would not . (Left-Center | Right-Center)
🇮🇷 Iranian Diplomat Sentenced
Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Belgian court yesterday for plotting a failed attack on an exiled Iranian opposition group gathered near Paris in 2018. The court also sentenced three other Iranians to more than a dozen years in prison for conspiracy, concluding Iranian state intelligence had ordered the plot.
More: The decision marks the first time an Iranian diplomat has ever been convicted for terrorism in Europe.
Johnson & Johnson formally asked the FDA for emergency use approval of its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine yesterday evening. The move follows last week’s results from an international Phase 3 trial that found the vaccine was 66% effective at preventing moderate and severe cases (72% effective in the U.S. portion of the trial).
⚖️ Defamation Litigation
Voting-machine company Smartmatic filed a $2.7B defamation lawsuit against Fox News, three Fox hosts, and attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell yesterday. The suit accuses the defendants of making false, defamatory statements on-air about Smartmatic’s voting machines being hacked or compromised during the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
A congressional report released yesterday revealed dangerous levels of toxic heavy metals were found in some baby foods made by the largest such companies in the U.S., including Gerber, Beech-Nut, and others. The investigative report found high levels of mercury, cadmium, lead, and arsenic present in certain baby foods – metals that are dangerous to children’s healthy development even in small doses.
📝 Earnings Report Card
PayPal reported a net income of $1.57B in Q4 on Wednesday, up from $507M in the year-earlier period. PayPal also announced an extensive Venmo product roadmap to integrate crypto, blockchain, and digital currencies within the app.
Ford reported a $2.8B loss in Q4 2020, compared with a loss of $1.7B in the year-ago quarter. The company also committed to spending over $22B in EVs and $7B in autonomous vehicles by 2025.
Peloton reported its first billion-dollar quarter in sales, experiencing 128% growth compared to Q3 2020. The company said it ended last quarter with 1.67M connected fitness subscribers, up 134% year-over-year.
More: Snap andPinterest also released earnings reports yesterday.
⏰ Catch Up Quick:
⛏️ Brazilian mining company Valeagreed to pay $7B in compensation to the state of Minas Gerais, where the collapse of its dam two years ago obliterated the surrounding landscape, killing 270 people. It’s the biggest settlement in Brazilian legal history.
📰 Media News: Sales and marketing software company HubSpot acquired media startup The Hustle in a deal reportedly worth $27M. | CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker revealed his intentions to leave the network after his contract expires at the end of this year.
A group of elderly residents at Green Country Village Senior Living in Bartlesville, OK, went viral on Facebook after the assisted living facility posted a videoof the groovy bunch jamming out to Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk” during their weekly rhythm class.
Last week, community members in Raleigh, NC, came together to give a free townhome to the family of Lovonte and Jordan Adams – a pair of teenage brothers who have helped provide free COVID-19 tests to the area – after learning the Adams family was facing homelessness.
With the help of his mother’s friend, 10-year-old Christian Stone of Westerly, RI, went out during the height of a winter storm to clear snow off the cars of the medical staff at the nearby hospital so that the essential workers would not have to do it themselves.
Primary Care For Your Home
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📺 The COVID Question… with television series returning after pandemic delays, showrunners were faced with a pressing question: do viewers want TV that reflects our COVID-19 reality, or provides a distraction from it? How they decided.
🦠 Get Smart… in a study published in Science Advances, scientists revealed they are a step closer to making ‘smart’ stem cells (cells with regenerative abilities) made from human fat. (Full study)
🌊 Just Keep Swimming
What animal is the fastest swimmer in the world?
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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The sailfish is considered the fastest marine creature in the world, having been clocked at speeds of up to 68 miles per hour (including its leaps into the air, where it travels faster than underwater).