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Need2Know: New COVID Vax Testing, Mandatory Gun Insurance & A Look Back in Time

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This file photo provided by NASA, the James Webb Space Telescope is separated in space on Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope soared from French Guiana on South America’s northeastern coast, riding a European Ariane rocket into the Christmas morning sky. The $10 billion infrared observatory is intended as the successor to the aging Hubble Space Telescope. (NASA via AP)
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Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Wednesday, January 26, 2022:

UKRAINE LATEST

President Joe Biden is threatening personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin if he sends troops in to invade Ukraine. Tuesday evening Biden said "it would be the largest invasion since World War II" and that it "would change the world." However, some experts predict that any invasion is likely to be short and confined to a small area. Today diplomatic talks continue between Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany. NY TIMES

COVID VACCINES

VOLUNTARY: Pfizer is now enrolling healthy adults in the testing phase of a new COVID-19 vaccine, reformulated to match the highly-contagious omicron variant. While existing vaccines provide protection against severe illness and death, the omicron variant may require a change of recipe, but regulators are weighing whether it's worth the effort to approve another vaccine given that omicron is waning and the next variant could be completely different. CHEDDAR

MANDATORY: In the meantime, a number of large companies are moving forward with vaccine mandates for their employees, despite the Supreme Court blocking Biden's federal order. NBC

CHIP SHORTAGE WORSENS

A week ago, the Biden administration was heaping praise on Intel for its plan to build a semiconductor plant in central Ohio. Unfortunately, that relief for all tech-makers (and tech-buyers) is still years away. Now the Commerce Department is warning that the U.S. supply of chips is alarmingly low. Inventories for companies that use semiconductors have sunk to a five-day supply, down from 40 days in 2019. The drop is the result of nearly two years of the demand for chips outpacing supply. The administration released the grim data point as it pushes Congress to provide $52 billion for domestic semiconductor production. WASH POST

Usually there’s chips in dip, not a dip in chips

GENERAL MOTORS' EV HUB

Detroit-based automaker General Motors has big plans for its home state of Michigan. The company on Tuesday announced that it plans to spend $7 billion on retrofitting a factory to produce electric trucks and constructing a third U.S. battery cell plant. GM's push to expand electric vehicle production comes as a surge in demand for EV batteries strains global supply chains, sending the price of essential rare earth minerals skyrocketing. CHEDDAR

WALL STREET: STILL WEIRD

The stock market had another wild session on Tuesday, with the major indices plummeting, then rebounding, then finishing the day slightly lower, as losses in technology shares continued to weigh on markets. As the trading day begins on Wednesday, investors are anxiously awaiting word from the Federal Reserve on how aggressively it will move forward with rate hikes this year, and whether the recent market volatility will temper its decision. BLOOMBERG

Plummeting, rebounding, then finishing slightly lower: the opposite of our weight during the pandemic.

GUN INSURANCE REQUIRED

San Jose, Calif. Has become the first U.S. city to require gun insurance for anyone who wants to carry. Residents who keep firearms will have to get liability insurance for “any negligent or accidental use of the firearm.” They'll also have to pay a $25 annual fee, which is expected to rake in about $1.3 million a year for the city. SAN JOSE SPOTLIGHT

APPLE'S STALKING PROBLEM

Apple's "Personal Safety User Guide" is now addressing concerns that its AirTag product has being used for stalking and even theft. The guide outlines what users should do if they find an AirTag or hear one in their presence that shouldn't be there. This comes after a string of skin-crawling news stories highlighted how some stalkers were placing AirTags on people's belongings in order to track them. In semi-related news, a California court has granted Apple a restraining order against a woman who was allegedly stalking CEO Tim Cook, although we're unclear whether an AirTag was involved. TECHCRUNCH

SAT TEST GOES DIGITAL

Students, leave your pencil sharpeners at home, because the SAT test is now shorter, simpler, and digital. Questions will also be worded more simply, and students can use a calculator for all math problems. College Board, the nonprofit that puts out the exam, said the changes are aimed at making the SAT more relevant and addressing concerns from schools that low-income and minority students too often score lower, hurting their chances of getting into college. The nonprofit attempted similar changes 20 years ago but got pushback from colleges. NPR

“This is ridiculous” - a generation of people who got 400 points just for writing their names

FOOTBALL FANS TUNED IN

The drama-filled face-off between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills, in which the Chiefs pulled off a stunning 42-36 overtime win, drew in an average of 42.7 million viewers on Sunday, making it the most-watched divisional postseason game on any network since 2017. Viewership was also up 18% from last year's comparable game. But anyone who watched the dramatic back-and-forth between quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen knows that it won't be easy for CBS Sports to replicate their success. CNBC

In preparation for the Super Bowl we just watched the commercials

LEFTOVERS: EYE ON THE SKY

The most powerful space telescope ever built is hunkering down 1 million miles from Earth to get a better look at the dawn of the universe. The $10 billion observatory left earth a month ago, and NASA confirmed on Tuesday that it has now reached its destination. The telescope won't be fully ready to peruse the stars until June, but the goal is to understand what the universe was like no less than 13.7 billion years ago, just 100 million years after the Big Bang. AP
Need2Know Podcast Note: The Need2Know podcast is taking a break for now. We're looking forward to bringing you more context and analysis on the big stories of the day in a few weeks. In the meantime, check out our archive on Apple or Spotify, or watch on YouTube, and send us your feedback!
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