From Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s replacement to growing conflict between the U.S. and Russia, this week’s news changed rapidly.
Missed some of our updates? Catch up now with our weekly Breakdown.
SUPREME COURT JUSTICE STEPHEN BREYER ANNOUNCED HIS RETIREMENT
Supreme Court Justice announced his decision to retire later this year at the age of 83. Speaking with President Joe Biden during the official announcement, Breyer stated that the country was “complicated” and hoped that future generations will uphold the “experiment” of democracy.
Joe Biden confirmed to the American people that he plans to hold true to his campaign promise and nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. As the Democrats approach the midterm elections in November, placing a progressive judge in the highest court in the country could be seen as a big win for the Biden administration.
Political analysts have already picked some potential replacements, such as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson or Judge Leondra Kruger, but Biden stated that he would have his pick by the end of February. Justice Breyer, meanwhile, will remain on the court for the important decision regarding abortion rights in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
TRIAL BEGAN FOR OFFICERS PRESENT DURING GEORGE FLOYD’S MURDER
The federal trial began this week for officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane, who were all present during the murder of George Flloyd and did not stop it from happening. According to prosecutors, the three officers could have intervened and prevented his death, but instead choose not to.
After the incident, all three officers were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department- and plead not guilty to the charges against them. Attorneys for Thao, Kung, and Lane stated that the incident was a tragedy, but that it was the fault of Officer Derek Chauvin, not their clients.
UKRAINE TENSIONS ESCALATED BETWEEN U.S. AND RUSSIA
After Russia mobilized close to 100,000 soldiers on the Ukrainian border, The U.S. placed 8,500 troops on “heightened alert.” Ever since Ukraine revolved from the Russian government in 2014, a war in the Crimea has raged between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian nationals for the past eight years.
While some political commentators fear all-out war if Russia broke NATO and invaded the Ukraine, others believe that the US would never put troops on the ground to help defend the region. As tensions run high, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Joe Biden are considering placing sanctions on Russia and President Vladimir Putin.
U.N. MARKED HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY
The United Nations led a special broadcast to observe Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday, featuring testimonials from many survivors. Government officials such as Israel’s parliamentary speaker, Mickey Levy, Pope Francis, and members of the World Jewish Congress also spoke.
Halina Birenbaum, a 92-year-old Polish-born poet and Holocaust survivor, spoke about the rise of antisemitism around the world, and cited her fears that, “The countless experiences of infinite suffering on the brink of death are already a distant, unimaginable story for new generations.”
SCHOOLS BANNED CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED NOVELS
School boards across the country voted to ban two critically acclaimed novels this week, including Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel Maus. Citing mature themes and explicit depictions of events unfit for children, a St. Louis school district banned The Bluest Eye, while a Tennessee school board banned Maus.
Critics on the other side argued that neither were part of the school’s curriculum and that they were important works that taught about the dangers of racism and antisemitism. Commenting on the decision, Spiegelman said “[Yes] this is disturbing imagery. “But you know what? It’s disturbing history.”
BEN ROETHLISBERGER RETIRED FROM FOOTBALL
Ben Roethlisberger, one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the NFL, retired from football after 18 years on Thursday at the age of 39. He played all 18 seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers and won two Super Bowls. Nicknamed “Big Ben,” he played in 249 regular-season games, 23 postseason games and three Super Bowls. He became one of only four quarterbacks to win 100 of his first 150 games.
“I don’t know how to put into words what the game of football has meant to me, and what a blessing it has been,” Ben Roethlisberger said in a farewell video to fans. “But I know with confidence I have given my all to the game. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all it has given me.”
AUSTRALIAN OPEN FINALS STARTED
Following controversy due to defending-champion Novak Djokovic‘s inability to play, the Australian Open went off without a hitch. Though the world No. 1 could not compete due to his stance against the Covid-19 vaccination, competitors took his place and competed for the much-sought after first Grand Slam trophy of 2022.
Rafael Nadal, who currently ties Djokovic and Federer for the record for most titles, is a heavy favorite to win and become the sole record holder. In the women’s bracket, an upset Naomi Osaka went down in the third round, with the final match set between world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia and American Danielle Collins.
PELOTON RECEIVED MORE BAD PR AFTER ‘BILLIONS’ JOKE
A scene in the popular Showtime series Billions dealt another blow to the beleaguered exercise bike company. Yet another TV character, this time on Billions, had a heart attack after a Peloton ride. Though Billions co-creator Brian Koppelman swore it was pure coincidence, it was the second occurrence in just a little over a month. The first one was, of course, Mr. Big’s death.
The home exercise company has dealt with a lot of bad publicity in recent months outside of television cardiac arrest scenes, including a controversial holiday party held during a surge in Omicron cases, an investigation into their potentially dangerous treadmills, and reports that production has ceased on new machines as stock prices fall.
NEIL YOUNG ASKED SPOTIFY TO REMOVE HIS MUSIC
Neil Young wrote in a letter this week that unless Spotify removed association with controversial podcast host Joe Rogan, he would be forced to request that they remove his music from their streaming platform. The singer stated that Rogan spread misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine, and that his record company Warner Music stood behind him in his decision.
Siding with Joe Rogan, despite multiple campaigns to remove him from their platform, Neil Young’s music was taken off of Spotify on Thursday. He said that 60% of his listeners came from the Swedish music streaming app, and that he hoped more artists would follow him in his initiative in the coming days.
PETER DINKLAGE CRITICIZED DISNEY’S ‘SNOW WHITE’ REMAKE
Criticizing Disney’s plans for a live-action Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, actor Peter Dinklage said that the remake would be “f**king backward” for the dwarfism community, especially as other communities were celebrating the company’s many other progressive casting decisions.
Without going into specifics, Disney responded in an official statement stressing that they would be going with a “different approach” for the characters and have been consulting with members of the dwarfism community to try and avoid harmful stereotypes. The film is currently still in pre-production, but West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler was announced as Snow White.