Catch up on all the news you might have missed with our handy summary of the week’s top stories.
Supreme Court blocks Biden vaccine mandate for businesses
On Thursday, the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration's Covid-19 vaccine mandate requiring employees at large businesses to get a vaccine or test regularly and wear a mask on the job. The court, however, did make allowance for the administration's vaccine mandate for most U.S. healthcare workers.
The Associated Press reports, "The court’s conservative majority concluded the administration overstepped its authority by seeking to impose the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccine-or-test rule on U.S. businesses with at least 100 employees."
The mandate was estimated to require more than 80 million people to get the shot, which OSHA estimated could save 6,500 lives and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations over six months. The Supreme Court majority wrote in their opinion that “OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate. Nor has Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the COVID–19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here.” —Mary Rose Somarriba
Gabby Petito was likely a longterm abuse victim, report finds
This week a police investigation commissioned by the city of Moab, Utah revealed that 22-year-old Gabby Petito was "very likely" a "long-term victim of domestic violence."
Insider reports, "Captain Brandon Ratcliffe with the Price City Police Department conducted the independent investigation into a Utah incident involving Petito and her fiancé Brian Laundrie on August 12, 2021, in response to a complaint filed against the police department that responded to the scene."
These findings echo the insights a domestic-violence survivor shared with Verily in September regarding her perspective on the August 2021 police report preceding Petito's death. One hopes many police departments and others will learn from this experience how to read signs of domestic violence, as they are skillfully hidden by both abusers and victims who have sustained longterm abuse. —MRS
Mother places baby for adoption after sperm donor lied about heritage
A Japanese woman has dropped her baby off at an orphanage and is suing her “sperm donor” for millions after he allegedly lied about his ethnic background, educational history, and marital status.
The mother, identified only as a married Tokyo woman in her thirties, reportedly pursued black market reproductive services after discovering her husband had a heritable condition. In Japan, donor-conceived people have the legal right to identify their genetic parents, which has led to a thriving underground economy for parties who prefer anonymity. She selected a man she met online, who claimed to be single and Japanese, with a degree from prestigious Kyoto University. Conceiving via sperm donation is typically a technological process, but in this case, the pair did things the old-fashioned way, having sex ten times to successfully conceive a baby.
Later in her pregnancy, however, the woman allegedly discovered her baby’s father was Chinese, not Japanese; married, not single; and not a graduate of Kyoto University. It’s important to note that in Japan, a common attitude holds that Japanese people are ethnically distinct (and superior to) members of other Asian communities. Public opinion of China is particularly low.
The mother is now suing the father for emotional distress and fraud, seeking damages of almost $3 million. The baby has been placed in a care home. Japanese society has reportedly reacted to the story with disgust and a healthy dose of backlash. “It’s unacceptable to treat the child like an object,” a worker at a different child welfare institution told VICE World News. That’s an understatement. —Margaret Brady
Bob Saget, beloved sitcom dad in Full House, dies
Comedian Bob Saget, best known for playing widower and father Danny Tanner on Full House, died this week at age 65. Saget was found in a Florida hotel room while on his stand-up tour; the cause of death is still unknown, but police say they don’t expect foul play or drugs were involved.
Saget’s colleagues throughout the years were quick to offer their praise for the comedian’s life and legacy. John Stamos, who played Tanner’s brother-in-law Jesse Katsopolis on Full House, wrote: “I am in complete and utter shock. I will never ever have another friend like him. I love you so much Bobby.”
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who took turns playing Michelle Tanner on the show, wrote of their on-screen dad: “Bob was the most loving, compassionate and generous man. We are deeply saddened that he is no longer with us but know that he will continue to be by our side to guide us as gracefully as he always has.”
To ’80s and ’90s babies, Saget was known for his squeaky clean comedy on Full House, the ABC sitcom that ran from 1987-1995, and Fuller House, its sequel series, which ran from 2016-2020. In stand-up, though, Saget was infamous for his raunchier sets. He also hosted America’s Funniest Home Videos from 1989-1997.
No matter what kind of comedy he was performing, he never intended to give it up. Just two days before his death, Saget posted to Instagram: “I’m back in comedy like I was when I was 26. I guess I’m finding my new voice and loving every moment of it.” —Madeline Fry Schultz
Maya Angelou becomes the first black woman on the U.S. quarter
In 2020, Congress passed an act requiring the Treasury Department to release several commemorative coins honoring women in U.S. history. This week, the first coins, representing poet and author Maya Angelou, went into circulation. Angelou is now the first black woman to appear on the U.S. quarter.
The image on the commemorative quarter, designed by Emily Damstra, shows Angelou with outstretched arms in front of a bird in flight, echoing the title of her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The art, according to the U.S. Mint, is “inspired by her poetry and symbolic of the way she lived.”
For interested coin collectors, the Washington Post reports, “The U.S. Mint recommends that those interested in the coin’s release date ask their local bank if they have any available in late January and early February.”
The American Women Quarters Program states that the Treasury will issue up to five commemorative quarters per year from this year through 2025.
The next women honored by the American Women Quarters Program in 2022 are Sally Ride, “a physicist, astronaut, educator, and the first American woman to soar into space,” Wilma Mankiller, the “first female principal chief of the Cherokee Nation,” Nina Otero-Warren, “a leader in New Mexico’s suffrage movement and the first female superintendent of Santa Fe public schools,” and Anna May Wong, “the first Chinese American film star in Hollywood.” —MFS
Good News of the Week
Woman saves three children who fell through ice on a frozen pond
Dusti Talavera of Denver, Colorado, happened to be looking out her window last Sunday when she saw the ice break on a nearby pond. She watched in horror as three children playing alone outside fell into the freezing cold water.
“I just kind of put some shoes on and ran outside because nobody was really outside. It was me, I just knew it was me that had to do it,” she told the media.
Talavera managed to save two of the children, an eleven year old and a four year old. But as she went back to help the third, a six-year-old girl, the ice gave way beneath her, too. Fortunately, one of the child’s family members saw what was happening and ran outside, pulling both of them to safety with a rope. First responders performed CPR on the six year old, who survived and is now home from the hospital.
“What she did was amazing, we were back at the fire station talking about how brave she was and, gosh, if this happened to one of mine I’d hope somebody like her was close by,” Today quotes local fireman Corey Sutton, who was moved to tears by Talavera’s bravery. A scary moment, that’s now an inspirational memory no one involved will ever forget.—MB
Watch of the Week
Los Angeles Police Department officers acted fast this week to save a life, pulling an injured pilot out of a wrecked plane moments before a commuter train smashed into it. The aircraft reportedly lost power shortly after taking off from Whiteman Airport, crashing onto the nearby tracks. The dramatic moment was captured on policy body cam footage.