We’ve summarised the 15 key stories of the last week into an easily digestible briefing so that you can stay up to date on what’s happening around the world. You can subscribe to receive the briefing in your inbox each week.
- Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States on the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday. Former Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama all attended, as did former Vice President Pence, but Donald Trump was notably absent. Kamala Harris was also sworn in as the first female Vice President in history.
- President Biden signed 17 executive actions on his first day in office, more than Trump, Bush and Obama combined. He re-joined the Paris Agreement, reversed Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ and re-joined the World Health Organisation. He also stopped the declaration of national emergency that had been used to fund the US-Mexico border wall.
- A crucial debate is raging in the Senate over the Organizing Resolution that determines power-sharing. The agreement is being modelled off the last time the Senate was split 50-50, in 2001, but Mitch McConnell is pushing for the preservation of the legislative filibuster to be added as well. Senate Democrats, led by Schumer, have so far refused to consider this.
- The UK is making considerable progress with its vaccination program. So far 5.8 million people in the UK have been given the first dose of a vaccine, with more than 400,000 first doses given on Friday. This places the UK in the top five countries in the world by vaccinations per 100 people.
- The non-profit National Rifle Association has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York. It plans to relocate to Texas, which is more gun friendly, as it faces several lawsuits in New York, including one filed by New York’s attorney general.
- Alexei Navalny, the leader of the Russian opposition, has returned to Russia voluntarily for the first time since he was poisoned by the FSB using a nerve agent. His plane was diverted to a different airport than its intended destination and he was arrested on arrival. Significant protests in Russia have since taken place, with more than 3000 protestors arrested.
- China has managed to rescue a group of miners stuck in a mine in the Chinese province of Shandong. They became stuck after part of the pit collapsed and one miner has died. Rescuers estimated it would take at least a fortnight to be able to reach them, but an early breakthrough allowed them to be rescued much sooner than expected.
- The UK has announced border restrictions that will require all arrivals in the UK to have a negative Covid test. The government faced severe criticism earlier in the pandemic for not instituting this measure and the UK is one of the last countries to do so.
Business & Economics
- Google has threatened to make Google Search unavailable in Australia. The dispute centres around a proposed law that would force Google and other search engines to pay newspapers and other media organisations to use its content. Google says that this would present an unmanageable financial and operational risk and set an untenable precedent.
- Joe Biden has signed an executive order revoking the license for the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline was being built to carry more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta in Canada to the Texas coast. The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has expressed his disappointment.
- Bitcoin slumped more than 10% last week as fears grew around tighter regulation. After a significant bull run, the fall came as a surprise to many investors, leaving them rattled. Janet Yellen mentioned during a Senate hearing that cryptocurrencies could be used to finance terrorism, although it is still unclear what regulation a Biden administration might propose.
- Netflix has now reached 200 million subscribers, beating its own estimates for 2020. The company added 37 million subscribers in 2020. The company’s stock jumped more than 12% in after-hours trading, despite profits falling by $35 million compared to the year-earlier quarter.
- Jack Ma has reappeared after not being seen for nearly 3 months. He is facing significant pressure from Chinese regulators against his businesses and some had feared for his safety after his disappearance from public life. China has pressed on with its regulations, proposing new anti-monopoly laws that would hurt Ma’s Ant Group.
- Virgin Orbit has successfully launched a satellite using its rocket, which is launched from beneath a modified 747. The first launch took place off the Californian coast, but Virgin Orbit has plans to start launching its rockets from Spaceport Cornwall from 2022.
- The UK’s deficit grew by another £34 billion in December, taking national debt compared to GDP to its highest level since 1961. Rishi Sunak has said that he hopes to return public finances to a more “sustainable footing” once the pandemic subsides, with many expecting him to introduce new taxes.
Written by Milo Dennison and Ed Hilditch