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By Dillon O’Toole

At the time of me writing this, January is almost over and thus we are almost one-twelfth of the way through the year already.  I hope by now everyone is getting used to writing 22 instead of 21 as the date, as well as adjusting to a new schedule of classes.  Speaking of the new semester, with all that goes on with the start of a new semester you may find yourself living under the proverbial rock.  That’s okay, I’m here to catch you up on some of the latest big stories. 

Starting with the most recent news that will be covered in this article, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced that he will be retiring at the end of this term.  The timing of Breyer’s retirement comes at an opportune time for Democrats, as they can nominate a replacement prior to the midterms later this year while simultaneously fulfilling President Biden’s campaign promise to nominate a Black woman to the supreme court.  According to AP News the current front runners for the position are, U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs and California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger.  Over the course of the year, it will be interesting to see how the nomination process goes, who the eventual nominee will end up being, and how, if at all, this may affect the midterm elections this year. 

World tensions have seen a spike in recent months, mainly due to Russia’s buildup of military forces on the border of Ukraine.  This buildup is estimated to be around 100,000 soldiers, and the Russian demands include stopping the expansion of NATO into other former Soviet countries.  As of the time of writing, the United States has refused to give in to these demands and is attempting to continue negotiations to ease tensions.  Despite the diplomatic efforts, 8,500 U.S. troops have been put on alert for a potential deployment to Europe.  Additionally, AP News has reported that a Russian invasion in February could be possible.

Moving on from the potential spark of a Third World War, let’s talk about the potential monopolization of the video game industry.  I am of course referencing Microsoft’s recent announcement of its intent to purchase Activision-Blizzard.  The purchase is valued at 68.7 billion dollars and it would see the creators of the Call of Duty and Warcraft franchises come under the ownership of Microsoft and the Xbox brand.  As was the case with Microsoft’s purchase of Zenimax Media, concerns were immediately raised that Microsoft may be creating a monopoly within the video game industry.  According to the New York Times, the purchase would make Microsoft the third biggest gaming company, only behind Tencent and Sony, in terms of revenue.  This is, of course, reliant on the purchase actually going through.  The purchase must be approved by the FTC, which isn’t a surefire thing.  

The music industry recently saw a shakeup as well, with Neil Young requesting his music to be removed from Spotify as long as Joe Rogan’s podcast remains on the platform.  Neil Young requested his music to be removed due to misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines being spread on the podcast.  Spotify has since agreed to remove Young’s music.  Spotify themselves have an exclusivity contract with Rogan’s podcast worth more than $100 million.

In the world of the NFL, the competition to see who will compete in the Super Bowl is heating up.  Most notably, the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Buffalo Bills in overtime, 42-36.  The game saw 25 points scored in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter.  In overtime, the chiefs scored on their first possession, preventing the Bills from having a chance to respond.  Outside of the Chiefs-Bills game, both the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost their games, preventing Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady a shot at the Super bowl.  With their loss, both Brady and Rodgers may have played their last games as discussions of their potential retirements occur.  

The final topic of today  is the world of motorsports and the upcoming starts of the various racing series seasons.  The first major event of the new year is IMSA’s 24 hours of Daytona, which will have taken place already by the time this article is published as it is being contested on January 29th and 30th.  The next major racing series to kick off their season will be NASCAR, with their exhibition race in the L.A. Coliseum taking place on February 6th and the Daytona 500 taking place on February 20th.  After NASCAR, Indycar will kick off their season on February 27th, and Formula One will kick off the season on March 20th.  

Well, that is it for this brief overview of recent news.  Hopefully this has helped you emerge from below the rock and into the happenings of the world.  Enjoy the start of the new semester and good luck everyone in your new classes.

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