1/ The global average surface temperature in 2021 was the sixth-highest since reliable temperature record-keeping began in 1880 – marking the 45th consecutive year that global surface temperatures were above average. More than two dozen countries set their warmest years ever in 2021, while the U.S. recorded its hottest summer since 1936. July was the hottest month humanity has recorded. 2021 was also the seventh year in a row that global temperatures were more than 1 degree Celsius above the preindustrial average. Overall, 2021 ranked seventh lowest for Northern Hemisphere snow cover, ninth smallest for average Arctic sea ice extent, and 10th highest for number of named tropical storms. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / The Guardian)
2/ Kyrsten Sinema will not support changing the Senate filibuster to pass voting rights legislation under any circumstance. In a Senate floor speech – just before Biden arrived at the Capitol to meet with all 50 Senate Democrats – Sinema said: “While I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country.” She added: “We must address the disease itself, the disease of division, to protect our democracy, and it cannot be achieved by one party alone.” Sinema’s comments came after the House approved a measure to combine the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act into a single bill. Chuck Schumer has said the Senate would begin debate on the House-passed bill by Monday, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. It will be the Senate’s fifth attempt to consider voting rights legislation after Republicans used the filibuster four times to prevent the bills from ever reaching the floor. Biden, meanwhile, conceded that “the honest to god answer is I don’t know whether we can get this done.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Bloomberg)
3/ The Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a vaccine-or-testing mandate for large employers. The rule would have applied to nearly 80 million American workers, and OSHA estimated that it would cause 22 million people to get vaccinated, prevent 250,000 hospitalizations, and save over 6,500 lives. The court, however, allowed a separate mandate requiring health care workers at facilities receiving federal money to be vaccinated. (New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / CNBC)
4/ Biden directed his staff to purchase an additional 500 million at-home rapid Covid-19 tests – doubling the number of tests the U.S. plans to send to the public free of charge. In addition, the administration will send 120 military medical personnel to six states where hospitals have been “hard-hit.” The U.S. has deployed more than 800 military and emergency personnel since Thanksgiving. More than 14,000 National Guard members have also been activated in 49 states to assist with the response to Covid-19. At least 19 states currently have less than 15% of their ICU beds available, largely due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and a shortage of available medical workers. And, calling it a “patriotic duty” to wear a mask, Biden said the administration would share details next week on how it will make “high-quality” masks available free. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)
5/ Kevin McCarthy will not cooperate with the Jan. 6 committee, which had asked him to voluntarily provide information about communications surrounding the attack on the Capitol, including details about Trump’s state of mind “before, during and after” the attack. McCarthy previously said he would be willing to discuss a phone conversation he had with Trump as the riot unfolded. “We also must learn about how the President’s plans for January 6th came together, and all the other ways he attempted to alter the results of the election,” committee Chairman Bennie Thompson wrote. “For example, in advance of January 6th, you reportedly explained to Mark Meadows and the former President that objections to the certification of the electoral votes on January 6th ‘was doomed to fail.’” Thompson did not rule out a possible subpoena for McCarthy. (Associated Press / NBC News / CNN / New York Times)
6/ The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol subpoenaed Twitter, Reddit and the parent companies of Facebook and Google for information and records relating to the spread of misinformation and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The committee had asked for the records last summer, but said it received “inadequate responses” from some of the largest platforms. “We cannot allow our work to be delayed any longer,” the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson said in a statement. “Two key questions for the Select Committee are how the spread of misinformation and violent extremism contributed to the violent attack on our democracy, and what steps — if any — social media companies took to prevent their platforms from being breeding grounds to radicalizing people to violence.” (Washington Post / CNBC / The Guardian)
7/ The Republican National Committee threatened to “prohibit” Republican nominees from participating in debates sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonprofit organization that has hosted them for more than three decades. Republicans have complained in recent years that the commission and how it handles debates is biased against GOP candidates. RNC officials sent a letter to CPD, saying the party plans to vote on changing its rules at their winter meeting in February to require candidates seeking the Republican nomination to sign a pledge to not participate in any debates sponsored by the commission. If the RNC moves forward with the change, it is unclear what that would mean for future debates. (New York Times / Politico / ABC News / NBC News / Washington Post)
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