“To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.”
–Charles de Montesquieu
This Week at a Glance
Monday: Biden AG nominee Merrick Garland testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee
Tuesday: Fed Chair Jerome Powell starts testimony before Congress regarding the state of the economy (ends Wednesday)
Wednesday: Conservative Political Action Conference begins; Trump expected to speak on Sunday
Thursday: The Jewish holiday of Purim begins at sundown (ends at nightfall on Friday)
Friday: FDA convenes panel to review J&J’s single-dose vaccine
🇬🇧 Uber & the UK
The UK’s top court on Friday unanimously ruled in favor of a group of 25 Uber drivers who filed a complaint against the company in 2016 arguing they should be classified as workers instead of independent contractors. (Full judgement)
📝 Background: In the UK’s employment hierarchy, ‘workers’ are granted more rights than ‘independent contractors’ – including minimum wage and vacation time – but fewer than ‘full employees,’ who are entitled to maternity pay and can challenge unfair dismissal.
🤿 A deeper dive…
The British judges cited several factors influencing their decision:
Uber set fares and contract terms for their drivers, who were not informed of a passenger’s destination before picking them up.
Uber penalized drivers for rejecting or canceling rides, and used passenger ratings to control drivers and minimize communications between drivers and passengers.
🚗 Uber’s Response
In a statement, Uber emphasized the court’s judgement only applies to the 25 drivers who brought the claim, and does not affect other drivers on the app or with Uber Eats.
Uber also said it made several changes to its business model since the original complaint was filed in 2016, citing new policies like free insurance in case of sickness or injury, and full transparency for drivers over the price and destination of their trip.
Uber will face a tribunal to decide how much it’ll have to pay the 25 drivers. The precise impact of the court’s decision on current UK Uber drivers and the country’s estimated 4.7M-person gig economy workforce is currently unknown and will likely have to be litigated in future cases.
Uber is facing similar claims from ~1k other drivers that were put on hold pending Friday’s ruling.
🌎 Around the World
In France, Uber lost a decision in the country’s top court last year recognizing the right of one of its drivers to be considered an employee.
In California, Uber and other companies funded a successful ballot measure in last November’s election called Prop 22, which passed with 59% support.
Prop 22 exempts Uber, Lyft, Postmates and DoorDash from Assembly Bill No. 5 – a 2019 state law requiring drivers be hired as employees with health care, unemployment insurance, and other benefits.
Uber’s Loss in London Will Weigh Heavy on the Gig Economy
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🔌🚰 Biden Declares Major Disaster
President Biden declared a major disaster in Texas on Friday after extreme winter weather caused power outages and water disruptions for millions across the state. Biden approved Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s request for individual financial assistance in 77 out of 254 counties, providing grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property loss, and other recovery aid.
More: The White House also granted Abbott’s request for public financial assistance in all 254 counties.
Even More: The city of Houston lifted its boil water notice on Sunday afternoon, though many other parts of the state remained without drinkable water.
A Moscow court denied the appeal of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Saturday, upholding Navalny’s original two-and-a-half-year sentence – minus six weeks for time served – for allegedly violating probation.
Protests over the imprisonment of Spanish rapper Pablo Hasél continued for the sixth consecutive night on Sunday. Roughly 5,000 people gathered in Barcelona on Saturday, with clashes between police and demonstrators resulting in at least 11 arrests.
Mass protests continued across Myanmar this weekend, with tens of thousands demonstrating in protest of the February 1 military coup. Two protesters were shot and killed by security forces in Mandalay on Saturday.
⏰ Catch Up Quick:
✈️ A United Airlines Boeing 777 suffered a right-engine failure shortly after departing from Denver on Saturday, sending pieces of debris falling from the sky. The plane was able to land less than 25 minutes after takeoff with all 231 passengers and ten crew members unharmed.
The FAA on Sundaysaid it “stepped up” inspections of Boeing’s 777 aircraft, hours after United voluntarily removed 24 of the aircraft from service (at the recommendation of Boeing).
👫 Kim Kardashian Westfiled for divorce from Kanye West on Friday, marking the end of their 6½ year marriage. | Prince Harry and Meghan Markleofficially confirmed their decision to not return as working members of The Royal Family.
🏛️ Federal prosecutors indicted six more people on Friday in relation to the Capitol riot. The new defendants are allegedly affiliated with a militant group known as the ‘Oath Keepers,’ and join ~250 others facing federal charges related to the riot. (Left-Center | Right-Center)
☝️ 1 Last Thing…
✉️ The family of assassinated U.S. civil rights activist Malcom X released a deathbed letter written by a policeman at the time of the 1965 killing that alleges the NYPD and FBI conspired in Malcolm X’s murder. (The full letter.)
🎾 Tennis Time
Novak Djokovic defeated Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to win his third consecutive Australian Open men’s title (a record ninth overall; 18 total Grand Slam wins). On the women’s side, Naomi Osaka beat Jennifer Brady in straight sets to win her second Australian Open (four Grand Slam wins).
📝 The Prince Report
A confidential report by a UN panel of experts – first obtained by the NYT & Washington Post(both $) – accuses Blackwater founder Erik Prince of violating the organization’s arms embargo against Libya.
The report outlines an $80M “private military company operation” called Project Opus designed to provide military equipment to Russian-backed Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar in 2019, according to sections later obtained by the AP.
A spokesperson for Prince said he “had absolutely nothing to do with any operation in Libya in 2019, or at any other time.”
More: The UN is expected to refer Prince to its Sanctions Committee, which could order a freeze on his assets or a travel ban.
🏀 NCAA Fan Club
On Friday, the NCAA announced it would allow limited fan attendance for both the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments this March.
Men’s: Crowds allowed at 25% capacity. (March 18 – April 5 in Indianapolis)
Women’s: Crowds allowed at 17% capacity. (March 21 – April 4 in San Antonio)
Paisley as abolitionist Frederick Douglass (Image via CNN).
For the past three years, Taylor Trotter and her daughter Paisley have dedicated each February to recreating iconic photos of Black figures in honor of Black History Month.
“I need her to love how God created her and for her to love all of herself,” Trotter told Good Morning America.
🐢 Texas Turtle Rescue
After last week’s winter storm, volunteers in Texas rescued thousands of turtles suffering from cold shock and warmed them up indoors at the South Padre Island Convention Center (video). Once the sunnier weather returns, the turtles will be released back into the wild.