Partygate, Michigan Settlement, and Earth's Deepest Mystery Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Thursday, Jan. 20, and we're covering a scandal in the UK, a sweeping sexual abuse settlement, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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Next Trial in Floyd Killing

Jury selection in the trial of three former Minneapolis police officers involved in the arrest that led to the killing of George Floyd begins today. The highly anticipated trial follows the April murder conviction of former officer Derek Chauvin, who was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison for Floyd's death. 


Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane face both federal and state charges. The former are allegations the trio violated Floyd's civil rights by depriving him of prompt medical attention (see overview); the latter include charges of aiding and abetting manslaughter and murder. The current trial only relates to the federal civil rights charges–the state trial was delayed yesterday until June 13


Legal experts say the case will likely be more complex than that for Chauvin.

Johnson Grapples with Partygate

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is grappling with an internal revolt within his own Conservative Party amid reports he flouted lockdown rules throughout the pandemic. Referred to as "Partygate" in the press, the criticism focuses on a string of work parties held at government offices in late 2020 and early 2021, despite public prohibitions on large gatherings at the time. Johnson has also been accused of misleading officials about the events.


At least seven Conservative members of parliament have publicly called to hold a no-confidence vote, while at least 20 others are said to be considering the move. To trigger a vote, 54 of the party's 359 lawmakers must call for the motion. If a majority then vote against Johnson, he would be forced to resign. One member took the step of switching to the opposition Labour Party in protest. Sources suggest a no-confidence vote could come as early as this week. 


Separately, the UK will end current restrictions meant to blunt the spread of the omicron variant by the end of the month. 

University of Michigan Settlement  

The University of Michigan will pay $490M to settle claims from 1,050 people who say they were sexually assaulted by former sports doctor Robert Anderson. Of the total, $460M will go to the individuals, while $30M will be set aside for future claims, the university said yesterday.


Anderson spent 37 years at the university; he retired in 2003 and died in 2008. A firm hired by the university to investigate the sexual abuse allegations previously found university officials were aware of the abuse as early as 1978.


The news of the settlement comes four days after university President Mark Schlissel was fired over an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate. 


The development also follows a string of university settlements over sexual abuse claims, including at Michigan State University ($500M for claims against Larry Nassar), Penn State University ($100M for claims against Jerry Sandusky), and University of Southern California ($852M for claims against George Tyndall).

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> André Leon Talley, fashion icon and former creative director and editor-at-large at Vogue magazine, dies at 73 (More) | Gaspard Ulliel, French actor and star of upcoming Marvel’s "Moon Knight" series, dies at 37 in ski accident (More)


> NCAA to allow each sport's national governing body to decide on eligibility requirements for transgender athletes (More)


> HBO/HBO Max tops all networks with 19 nominations at 33rd annual GLAAD Media Awards, highlighting LGBTQ representation in media (More)

Science & Technology

> Tongan volcano eruption caused never-before-seen atmospheric disruption; concentric ring pattern observed by satellite stretched almost 10,000 miles (More) | More on why the eruption was so powerful (More)


> New ultralow magnetic field MRI machine demonstrated; the low-cost unit, which can be operated from a standard AC outlet, has the potential to significantly improve access to imaging tools to detect life-threatening conditions (More)


> Radian, a Washington state-based aerospace company, announces plans to develop a single-stage-to-orbit aircraft, considered one of the most difficult challenges in aerospace engineering (More)

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets fall again (S&P 500 -1.0%, Dow -1.0%, Nasdaq -1.2%); Nasdaq enters “correction” territory, down 10% from previous November all-time high (More)


> US airlines cancel a number of flights following Federal Aviation Administration warnings the 5G wireless rollout could interfere with certain airline technology (More) | Starbucks drops proposed employee vaccine requirement following last week’s Supreme Court ruling (More)


> Autograph, an NFT platform cofounded by NFL star Tom Brady, raises $170M from leading venture capital investors (More) | What are NFTs? (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> Senate votes down rule changes that would allow a voting rights bill to be passed by simple majority, circumventing the filibuster; Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) vote nay (More)


> The US to make  400 million N95 masks available for Americans free of charge, distributed through pharmacies and local distribution sites (More) | See current US COVID-19  stats here (More)


> US Supreme Court allows release of documents from Trump administration requested by the House Jan. 6 committee (More)



Microsoft's Big Bet

The Ringer | Ben Lindbergh. Microsoft is set to acquire popular video game maker Activision/Blizzard in one of the largest acquisitions in US history. Here's what the tech giant sees in the future. (Read)

Earth's Deepest Mystery

BBC Future | Isabelle Gerretsen. What NASA engineers hope to learn by exploring the deepest reaches of the ocean. (Read)



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Global trust in media declines


Ranking the best Girl Scout Cookies.


Tips for handling rejection.


Test your history knowledge with this trivia game.


"Metal lungs" convert carbon dioxide into oxygen


One of the more intriguing Zillow listings


Instagrammers are cloning their deceased pets.


This Toronto schoolchild is over snow shoveling


Clickbait: A world record-breaking ball of human hair.


Historybook: HBD astronaut Buzz Aldrin (1930); Iran hostage crisis ends as 52 Americans are released after 444 days (1981); Martin Luther King Jr. Day is observed for first time (1986); RIP actress Audrey Hepburn (1993); Barack Obama becomes first Black president of the US (2009).


"Failure is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign that you are alive and growing."

- Buzz Aldrin

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