From a tense Texas synagogue hostage situation to the anniversary of President Biden’s first year in office, this week’s news changed rapidly.
Missed some of our updates? Catch up now with our weekly Breakdown.
RABBI PRAISED AFTER TEXAS SYNAGOGUE HOSTAGE SITUATION
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker has been dubbed a hero for his ability to stay calm during a tense Texas synagogue hostage situation over the weekend. The Congregation Beth Israel leader and four others were taken hostage by Malik Faisal Akram, a British man who demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani extremist held in a federal prison not far from the synagogue.
Praised for his incredible heroism, Rabbi Cytron-Walker reportedly threw a chair at the gunman and escaped along with his fellow hostages after nearly 11 hours of intense captivity. Shortly after, the hostage-taker was killed in a gunfight with law enforcement. None of the hostages was harmed.
Less than 48 hours later, the rabbi was back in front of his congregation, leading services and helping to heal a fearful community. “While very few of us are doing ok right now, we’ll get through this,” he told hundreds of people in service and more than 4,000 others watching along online. “Thank God. It could’ve been so much worse.”
SUPREME COURT ALLOWED RELEASE OF JAN. 6 FILES
The Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked a request from former President Donald Trump to halt the release of White House records regarding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Within hours of the decision, the court began sending thousands of documents to the House committee for review.
The ruling also invalidates the “executive privilege” excuse given by members of Trump’s inner circle such as Steve Bannon and Mark Meadows, who have refused to work with the investigation. Held in contempt of Congress, those subpoenaed to answer questions from the House committee will now be forced to comply or face greater penalties.
Information about their role in inciting the insurrection will be revealed from the newly released documents over the next couple of days.
SENATE BLOCKED VOTING RIGHTS BILL
In a significant defeat for the Democrats, Joe Biden failed to pass voting rights legislation on Thursday when the Senate voted 52-48, against. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema joined the GOP despite several meetings with President Biden to reach a compromise. The Senate also failed to make any changes to the filibuster.
Following the vote, which kept both Senate procedure and voting rights laws as they currently stand, a loud round of applause from Republicans filled the room. Without naming them, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell thanked Manchin and Sinema for their “courage” to go against their own party and insinuated that “in the very near future the shoe might be on the other foot.”
JOE BIDEN HELD A SOLO PRESS CONFERENCE
In a very busy week for Joe Biden, the President took time on Wednesday to hold a press conference marking one year since he took office. Defending what his administration has accomplished so far, he answered questions from the press regarding his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the failure for many of his campaign promises such as Build Back Better to pass in the Senate.
The President cited opposition from the Republican party as the largest thorn in his side throughout his first year. He claimed that they showed no interest in responding to any of the country’s problems or passing any legislation to help govern the country at all. Promising a scaled-back agenda, he said that he still hoped to get some of his spending plan and regulations for the environment adopted in 2022.
BORIS JOHNSON FACED CALLS FOR RESIGNATION
Over in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson also faced criticism in the press this week, though for allegedly breaking Covid-19 safety regulations. Accused of lying to Parliament about garden parties thrown just two months after lockdown in England, Johnson claimed that the boozy get-togethers were strictly “work events.”
Calls for his resignation have since come from a dozen lawmakers, including members of his own Conservative Party. Scandal from the lockdown parties was also accompanied by allegations of blackmail and corruption within his government, both of which he denied. Rulings from the U.K.’s Civil Servant as to whether Boris Johnson violated Covid-19 protocol are due in the coming week.
CONCERNS GREW OVER ANTI-ASIAN HATE CRIMES
Concerns in the United States about a wave of anti-Asian hate crimes continued to grow this week after a woman in New York City was pushed in front of an approaching subway train and killed. In another incident, an elderly Chinese man was killed while he was attacked as he collected cans.
Members of the Asian-American community spoke out following both attacks, citing the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes during the Covid-19 pandemic. Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, said, “Whether it was a hate crime or not, the reality is Asian Americans–especially Asian American women–every time we see an incident like this, our anxiety goes up.”
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SETTLED ABUSE CASE FOR $490M
The University of Michigan announced a $490 million settlement this week for victims of Robert Anderson, a collegiate doctor accused of sexual abuse by over 1,000 former students.
One of the largest settlements by an American university for cases of sexual misconduct, the school apologized to the victims and accepted responsibility for Dr. Anderson’s decades of abuse. Passing away in 2008, the medical professional cannot be prosecuted for his crimes, leaving the university’s settlement the only form of justice and closure available to his numerous victims.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN COMMENCED WITHOUT NOVAK DJOKOVIC
The Australian Open began the official 2022 grand slam tennis season this week, following controversy over Novak Djokovic’s deportation. Though the No. 1 seed in the tournament was barred from play, fan favorites such as Rafael Nadal and women’s No. 1 Ashleigh Barty remain in competition.
Discussing her hiatus since the French Open last spring, former champion Naomi Osaka was in high spirits as she advanced to the third round, stating that she feels “more comfortable in my skin.”
SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL DEBUTED MOVIES ONLINE
For the second year in a row, the Sundance Film Festival was forced to move all its film premieres online after canceling due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Often the beginning of the film festival circuit, more than 80 movies with make their debut over the course of ten days, to the delight of critics and those who paid to watch along at home.
Notable entries this year include 892, a thriller starring John Boyega; When You Finish Saving the World, the directorial debut for actor Jesse Eisenberg starring Finn Wolfhard and Julianne Moore; and Master, a psychological horror film starring Regina Hall.
ANDRE LEON TALLEY REMEMBERED AS A FASHION ICON
Mourned by the world of fashion this week, legendary editor and curator Andre Leon Talley died at age 73, following a series of health struggles.
A larger-than-life personality, Andre broke glass ceilings for Black fashion journalists by becoming a lead editor of Vogue. He was also extremely involved in the curriculum of the Savannah College of Art and Design. Andre Leon Talley was openly gay and an inspiration to many. He was remembered and celebrated following his passing by prominent figures such as Michelle Obama, Marc Jacobs, Jeremy O. Harris, and Anna Wintour.