Start your day here: The unease behind the Dow's dizzy day

Published January 25, 2022 at 8:01 AM EST
A trader working at the New York Stock Exchange with a table of supplies in the foreground
Spencer Platt
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Getty Images North America
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.

Good morning,

Here's what we're following today.

The stock market's dizzying day: In a sign of deep uncertainty over inflation, the Dow fell by more than 1,000 points Monday before rebounding to end the day up by nearly 100.

Ukraine tensions: As the U.S. and allies send arms to Ukraine, Russia accused the West of provoking hysteria over its troops at the Ukraine border.

The SAT goes online only: The College Board, the organization behind the test, also announced the exam will shrink from three hours to two, and students will be able to use a calculator for the math section.

🎧 Also on Up First, our daily podcast, Burkino Faso's military ousted the country's democratically elected president in a coup.

— The Morning Edition live blog team

(Carol Ritchie, Rachel Treisman, Nell Clark and Chris Hopkins)

International

Meet Justice Ayesha Malik, Pakistan's first female Supreme Court judge

Posted January 25, 2022 at 12:20 PM EST
A man and a woman in black and yellow robes stand next to each other, reading out of thin booklets and standing in front of flags and a wooden door.
AP
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Press Information Department
In this photo provided by Pakistan's Press Information Department, Pakistan's Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmad, left, administrates the oath of office to Ayesha Malik, the first female judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, during a ceremony in Islamabad on Monday.

Justice Ayesha Malik made history yesterday when she was sworn in as the first female judge on Pakistan's Supreme Court, where she will serve alongside 16 men.

Her accomplishment — which followed a particularly contentious nomination process — is being celebrated by government officials and human rights activists as a defining moment for the country and its male-dominated judiciary.

"As the first woman judge appointed to the apex court in the country’s judicial history, this is an important step towards improving gender diversity in the judiciary, where women reportedly account for only 17 percent of judges overall and just under 4.4 percent in the high courts," the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in a statement, adding that these disparities are structural and require more investment in women in the legal profession.

Pakistan is the only South Asian nation to have never had a female Supreme Court judge, according to Human Rights Watch. Here's what to know about its first.

As a high court judge, Malik decided landmark cases including outlawing virginity tests in sexual assault cases

Malik, 55, completed her basic education at schools in Paris, New York, Karachi and London, then earned degrees from the Government College of Commerce & Economics in Karachi, Pakistan College of Law in Lahore and Harvard Law School in the U.S.

She worked at two different law firms before becoming a high court judge in the eastern city of Lahore in 2012, according to a court biography.

She's also taught banking and mercantile law at various colleges, served as pro bono counsel for NGOs focused on poverty alleviation and contributes to publications including the Oxford Reports on International Law in Domestic Courts. And she's a mother of three.

Malik has appeared as an expert witness in family law cases in England and Australia involving issues of child custody, women's rights and constitutional protection for Pakistani women.

She developed a reputation for integrity and discipline on the court, where she helped deliver several landmark verdicts on major constitutional issues, according to The Indian Express.

In 2021, for example, the court outlawed the invasive and medically-discredited virginity test performed on women who reported rape or sexual assault, with Malik writing in the 30-page opinion that the practice "offends the dignity of the female victim" and discriminates on the basis of gender.

Her nomination process was contentious

Despite her credentials, Malik's journey to Pakistan's highest court was not an easy one, in part because she was the fourth-most senior judge on the bench in Lahore.

She was appointed to the position last year but was voted down, the BBC reports. This year — when she was nominated to fill a seat made vacant by another judge's retirement in August — the nine-member commission approved her appointment by a 5-4 vote.

Some lawyers and judges had voiced their opposition to her appointment in the months ahead of the vote, accusing her of cutting ahead of more senior male candidates. The Pakistan Bar Council even said it would strike, according to Pakistan's Geo TV.

The contentious process came to an end on Monday, when Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed administered Malik the oath at a ceremony broadcast on TV.

"Justice Ayesha has been appointed on the basis of her merit," he said, according to Geo TV.

Supporters say her groundbreaking role bodes well for women on both sides of the bench

Many Pakistani public figures took to social media to offer their praise and congratulations.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari acknowledged the historic day in tweets, while Federal Minister for Science & Technology Shibli Faraz called it "an inspirational moment for women of this country."

Supporters are cheering the effect that Malik's groundbreaking role could have for women on both sides of the bench.

"This will have an impact on cases, not specifically those related to gender, but having a woman judge there will be increased confidence among women to access justice and reach out to the courts," Nighat Dad, a digital rights lawyer and human rights activist, told DW.

“She has broken all barriers in the judicial system and it will allow other women in the system to move forward,” lawyer and women’s rights activist Khadija Siddiqi told Al Jazeera. “I hope this will lead to more women-centric decisions by the judiciary in the future.”

Weather

A major snowstorm fell on Athens and Istanbul, leaving hundreds stranded in their vehicles

Posted January 25, 2022 at 12:01 PM EST

Heavy snowfall pounded Istanbul and Athens on Monday, leaving hundreds of people and vehicles stranded overnight in freezing conditions.

The snow amounted to 31 inches in some areas in Turkey and Greece, The Associated Press reported. Faced with snow that was insurmountable by car, many motorists spent the night in their cars or opted to walk home or head to nearby public transit.

Some drivers in Athens abandoned their cars, but others headed to a train station, hopping over barriers to reach the platform after a night in the car.

At Istanbul Airport, flights were suspended Monday. The weight of the snow also forced the collapse of the roof of a cargo facility. Hundreds of passengers were left stranded at the airport.

Limited flights out of Istanbul airport resumed Tuesday. Main highways and roads reopened by Tuesday afternoon, according to a tweet from Turkey's infrastructure minister, Adil Karaismailoglu.

In Athens, crews freed about 200 to 300 drivers who became stuck on a highway that connects the capital to its international airport.

Although the snow largely came to a halt on Tuesday, some Athens neighborhoods are still waiting for power to be restored. Authorities ordered all but essential businesses to close and extended the closure through Wednesday in the broader Athens area.

Police

Las Vegas police jailed a Black man instead of white male felon with a similar name. A lawsuit has been filed

Posted January 25, 2022 at 11:32 AM EST
Shane Lee Brown, who is Black, was confused for Shane Neal Brown, who is white and roughly twice his age in Nevada in 2020. Now Shane Lee Brown is suing the police department and seeking $500,000 in damages.
AP
Shane Lee Brown, who is Black, was confused for Shane Neal Brown, who is white and roughly twice his age, by law enforcement in Nevada in 2020.

Shane Lee Brown is suing the police departments in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nev., and several officers after they jailed him for six days, instead of an older and taller white man with a similar name.

The lawsuit alleges that Shane Lee Brown, a Black man who was 23 years old at the time, was driving home on Jan. 8, 2020, when he was pulled over by Henderson police officers. He did not have his license but provided his name, Social Security number and Social Security card.

The lawsuit says that during the records check, the Henderson Police Department officers "confused" Shane Lee Brown with Shane Neal Brown, a 49-year-old man who is 4 inches taller than Shane Lee Brown, has a beard and is white.

Shane Neal Brown was first convicted of a felony in 1994, and a warrant was out for his arrest in 2019 for possession of a firearm.

Shane Lee Brown remained in custody for six days, despite repeatedly telling officials he was not the Shane Brown they were looking for, and was released on Jan. 14, 2020.

"Had any of the LVMPD or any corrections officers performed any due diligence ... they would have easily determined that Shane Lee Brown has been misidentified as the subject of the warrant," the lawsuit says.

Shane Lee Brown is suing for negligence, emotional distress, false imprisonment and violation of civil rights and is asking for $500,000 in damages.

The Las Vegas Police Department did not immediately respond to request for comment regarding the lawsuit.

Shark bites surged in 2021, rebounding from a drop earlier in the pandemic

Posted January 25, 2022 at 11:21 AM EST
A man enters the water next to a sign warning on the danger of shark attacks at the L'Etang-Sale beach, on the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion on March 1, 2019.
Richard Bouhet
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AFP via Getty Images
A man enters the water next to a sign warning of the danger of shark attacks at the L'Etang-Salé beach, on the Indian Ocean island of La Reunion in 2019.

The number of shark bites worldwide ebbed during the first part of the pandemic, a trend experts attribute in part to the beach closures that were part of some COVID-19 lockdowns.

But those days are over, according to new data from the Florida Museum of Natural History’s International Shark Attack File.

Last year, there were 73 unprovoked incidents between sharks and humans, up from just 52 confirmed bites in 2020. It was the first year the number ticked up after three years of declines.

“Shark bites dropped drastically in 2020 due to the pandemic,” ISAF manager Tyler Bowling said in a statement. “This past year was much more typical, with average bite numbers from an assortment of species and fatalities from white sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks.”

Still, the organization says the high number of shark bites and deaths last year were on par with long-term averages.
The U.S. had the highest number of shark bites, accounting for 64% of global reports, all but five of which occurred along the Atlantic Seaboard. Australia had the second-highest number of attacks.

Experts say you can reduce your risk of a shark bite by swimming with another person, staying close to shore, not swimming at dawn or dusk, and avoiding schools of fish.

The way the cookie crumbles

A veteran won a $4 million lottery prize using the numbers from a fortune cookie

Posted January 25, 2022 at 10:23 AM EST
A close-up of a piece of paper reading "Mega Millions with Megaplier," dated Jan. 22.
Scott Olson
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Getty Images North America
Gabriel Fierro said he decided "on a whim" to play his fortune cookie numbers in last Tuesday's drawing — and ended up with the largest win in the history of Online Play in North Carolina.

A North Carolina veteran turned a restaurant meal into a Mega Millions jackpot after he used the numbers from his fortune cookie to win a $4 million prize.

Gabriel Fierro and his wife eat at the Red Bowl Asian Bistro in Charlotte, N.C., about once a week, according to the NC Education Lottery. Last week, however, their cookies were extra fortunate.

Fierro said he decided "on a whim" to play his fortune cookie numbers in last Tuesday's drawing — and ended up with the largest win in the history of Online Play in the state.

As the lottery explained in a blog post, Fierro bought his ticket using Online Play and added $1 to make it a Megaplier ticket (which would multiply any win). He matched all five white balls to win $1 million, which quadrupled to $4 million when the "4X Megaplier" hit.

Fierro initially couldn't believe his own luck.

“I got an email in the morning and I just stared at it dumbfounded,” he said. “I took it and showed it to my wife and she thought it was an April Fool’s joke or maybe a scam.”

Then it sunk in, he said, and they ran around the house "screaming like a bunch of banshees."

Fierro collected the prize on Thursday, taking home $2,840,401 after tax withholdings. The 60-year-old — who retired as a disabled combat veteran after spending 32 years in the Army, including time in Iraq — said he plans to invest most of his winnings.

FiveThirtyEight did an analysis several years ago in the hopes of figuring out just how lucky fortune cookie numbers really are. After plenty of calculations involving years' worth of historical data, they found: It's complicated.

Tennis

Australian Open pivots to allow 'Where is Peng Shuai?' T-shirts after backlash

Posted January 25, 2022 at 9:48 AM EST
Two spectators wearing "Where is Peng Shuai?" T-shirts, referring to the former doubles world number one from China, are pictured in the stands at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Paul Crock
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AFP via Getty Images
Two spectators wearing "Where is Peng Shuai?" T-shirts, referring to the former doubles world champion from China, are pictured in the stands at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

Organizers of the Australian Open have reversed course, saying spectators will be permitted to wear T-shirts that say "Where is Peng Shuai?" after all.

The shirts refer to questions around the well-being of the Chinese tennis star, who has been largely missing from public view since November after she accused a former top Communist Party official of sexual assault.

The Women's Tennis Association's head questioned the authenticity of an email he got that was purportedly from Shuai, saying she was just resting at home, and she emergedinDecemberafter weeks of silence to insist her accusations had been misunderstood.

The saga has raised concerns in and beyond the tennis world since, with groups like the WTA and Amnesty International speaking up on her behalf.

Shuai — one of the country's top doubles players, with Wimbledon and French Open titles — is noticeably absent from the tournament in Melbourne, though her name is not.

On Friday, Twitter video emerged of tournament security personnel shutting down a small protest, confiscating a banner with the "Where is Peng Shuai?" slogan and telling a woman to change her T-shirt bearing the words.

Officials later said the guards had acted properly in light of the tournament's longstanding ban on political messages, sparking criticism from human rights activists and other tennis players, as the Morning Edition live blog reported Monday.

Now organizers are changing their stance. Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia,told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday that spectators can wear Peng Shuai T-shirts "as long as they are not coming as a mob to be disruptive but are peaceful."

"The situation in the last couple of days is that some people came with a banner on two large poles and we can't allow that," he said. "If you are coming to watch the tennis, that's fine, but we can't allow anyone to cause a disruption at the end of the day."

Where are these shirts coming from? An online fundraiser, for one. The GoFundMe page has surpassed its goal of $17,000 AUD ($12,120) as of Tuesday morning and promises that every cent will be put toward printing the shirts, to be handed out to spectators.

"I think if any of us were in Peng Shuai’s position, silenced and cut off from the world by an unaccountable government, we would hope that someone, somewhere would care," organizer Drew Pavlou wrote. "I think most of us would hope that people across the world would not look the other way but instead raise as much noise and hell about it as possible. This is the idea behind printing off a thousand Peng Shuai shirts for the final."

Foreign policy

The U.S. seeks to ban some technology exports to Russia if it invades Ukraine

Posted January 25, 2022 at 9:24 AM EST
Armored vehicles drive down a highway surrounded by snow.
AP
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AP
A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea, a disputed territory near Ukraine, last week.

The United States is working with allies and partners on a potential ban on exports to Russia of technology and products used in strategic sectors like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, defense and aerospace if Russia invades Ukraine, a senior administration official told reporters.

The “novel export controls” are part of a strategy to impose “massive consequences” on Russia if it invades Ukraine.

“The gradualism of the past is out, and this time, we'll start at the top of the escalation ladder and stay there,” the official told reporters on a conference call, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The export controls would hurt Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions in key sectors as he seeks to diversify the Russian economy beyond oil and gas, the official said.

The United States and its allies and partners are also preparing contingency plans if Russia cuts off its natural gas or crude oil exports to Europe as a response to Western sanctions, a second official told reporters.

The U.S. has been working with countries and companies to identify supplies from North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the United States that could be temporarily surged to Europe, the official said, but declined to give details about the companies and countries involved in the plan. Europe would be able to draw on stored supplies for the first couple of weeks of a supply disruption, the official said.

The officials emphasized that the United States and European allies were united in their resolve to apply major sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine.

"While our actions and the EU's actions may not be identical, we are unified in our intention to impose massive consequences," one of the officials said.

Health

Pfizer and BioNTech begin testing an omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine

Posted January 25, 2022 at 9:17 AM EST
Pfizer's logo is shown on the company's production plant in Puurs, Belgium, on Dec. 23, 2020.
Jonas Roosens
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BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images
With its new COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer and BioNTech are hoping to get ahead of worsening effects of omicron as well as any new variants.

Pfizer and BioNTech have begun a clinical trial to evaluate an omicron-specific vaccine for COVID-19, the pharmaceutical companies announced Tuesday.

Though people who are vaccinated and boosted appear to be better protected against severe disease and hospitalization from omicron, the highly contagious variant has still led to breakthrough cases and a surge in overall infections around the world.

“While current research and real-world data show that boosters continue to provide a high level of protection against severe disease and hospitalization with Omicron, we recognize the need to be prepared in the event this protection wanes over time and to potentially help address Omicron and new variants in the future,” Kathrin U. Jansen, Pfizer’s senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development, said in a statement.

The study will include as many as 1,420 participants divided into three groups.

One group includes people who have already received two doses of the current Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and will also receive the omicron vaccine. A second includes those with three doses of the current Pfizer vaccine who will also get the omicron vaccine. The third group includes unvaccinated people who will receive three shots of the omicron vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized the current Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in people ages 5 and older. The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are authorized for adults.

International

U.K. police are investigating 10 Downing St. parties during lockdown

Posted January 25, 2022 at 9:05 AM EST
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Number 10 Downing St. on Tuesday.
Daniel Leal
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AFP via Getty Images
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Number 10 Downing St. on Tuesday.

London’s Metropolitan Police are investigating parties and happy hours that took place at 10 Downing St. and other government offices while the public was under lockdown orders because of COVID-19, Commissioner Cressida Dick said on Tuesday.

The news follows reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s staff held numerous parties that flouted COVID-19 restrictions, including a BYOB lawn happy hour and late-night dance parties on the night before Prince Philip's funeral last year.

“I can confirm that the Met is now investigating a number of events that took place at Downing Street and Whitehall in the last two years in relation to potential breaches of COVID-19 regulations,” Dick said.

Revelations about the gatherings have incensed members of the British public and members of Parliament, who have criticized Johnson's government by contrasting the painful and tragic sacrifices made by regular people with the festivities that apparently went on in the prime minister’s residence. Opposition party members have repeatedly called on Johnson to resign over the controversy.

In a sign that the inquiry has ratcheted up to a new level, Dick said police investigators have sent a formal request asking the Cabinet Office — which is carrying out an official inquiry into the allegations — to share “all relevant information” with them.

The Cabinet Office’s inquiry is led by civil servant Sue Gray, who is looking into allegations that Johnson's office broke its own rules about coronavirus restrictions. She is expected to report on her findings by the end of this month.

The penalty for anyone found to have broken lockdown restrictions would likely be limited to a fine, and it remains to be seen if only the organizers of any such events might be punished. Dick noted that “the fact that the Met is investigating does not mean that fixed penalty notices will necessarily be issued in every instance and to every person involved.”

Dick did not go into detail about the ongoing investigation. She said that while the police will work to learn all of the circumstances of the gatherings, “this does not mean that everyone who attended an event will be investigated.”

Champ

Amy Schneider now has the 2nd-highest winning streak in 'Jeopardy!' history

Posted January 25, 2022 at 8:55 AM EST
A woman wearing a striped shirt, black swearter and pearl necklace smiles while standing over a podium with a blue screen reading "$3,000."
Casey Durkin
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Jeopardy Productions, Inc.
Amy Schneider will seek to continue her historic winning streak Tuesday night.

Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider has done it again.

She extended her historic winning streak on Monday night, dominating her 39th game to officially become the contestant with the second-most consecutive wins of all time.

That title had previously been held by graduate student Matt Amodio, whose 38-game streak ended in October 2021 (the two will face off in the next Tournament of Champions). The all-time record belongs to legend Ken Jennings, who won 74 consecutive games in 2004 and has a front-row seat to Schneider's ascendancy as the current guest host of the show.

After Schneider won last night's game — despite answering incorrectly in Final Jeopardy — Jennings announced the milestone onstage as the audience applauded.

“It still feels unreal,” Schneider said in a statement. “Knowing that I had this chance, I was definitely thinking about it. Then Ken said it, and I thought, ‘Alright, I just accomplished this huge thing’ and it was pretty great.”

Schneider's winnings now total $1,319,800.

The engineering manager from Oakland, Calif., has already shattered her share of records since beginning her run on Nov. 17.

Schneider became just the fifth millionaire in show history (and the fourth to reach that milestone in regular play) as well as the highest-winning female contestant. She's also the first openly trans contestant to qualify for the show's Tournament of Champions.

She spoke to NPR earlier this month about her experience and the importance of representation. Read or listen here.

International

Russia's aggression toward Ukraine continues while the U.S. and allies plan a response

Posted January 25, 2022 at 8:42 AM EST
A woman walks past a World War II memorial in Ukraine's capitol, Kyiv, on Monday.
Sean Gallup
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Getty Images Europe
A woman walks past a World War II memorial in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, on Monday.

Tensions continue to rise in Eastern Europe, as 100,000 Russian troops amass at the borders of Ukraine, signaling a possible invasion. In response, the U.S. has positioned thousands of troops on standby, ready to deploy if Russia invades the former Soviet republic.

The U.S. has sent aid to the Ukrainian military and urged Americans in Ukraine to leave the country. Leaders in the U.S. and NATO nations spoke at length on a call Monday about how to respond to Russia.

In Russia, the Kremlin accused Western governments and media of provoking hysteria around the standoff. The government in Russia argued the crisis is happening because of NATO and the U.S response, not because of Russia's actions, NPR’s Charles Maynes reports from Moscow on Tuesday's Up First.

Despite moving military forces, Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn't have an excuse to invade Ukraine, although experts believe he could invent one based on a false flag of violence as justification, Maynes reports..

Russia dismisses those claims and alleges that Ukraine could soon seek a military solution to end a separate conflict it has been fighting in the east of Ukraine with Russian-backed separatist forces. But in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, officials are saying the opposite: They're not going to attack or be provoked into conflict, reports Maynes.

On the diplomatic front, the Kremlin says it is waiting for the U.S. to deliver a formal response to security proposals Russia issued last month. The U.S. State Department promised to send counterproposals this week. Among Russia's demands is a guarantee Ukraine can never join NATO. Read more from Maynes on what Russia is asking for here.

In response, President Biden spoke with key European allies Monday about how to deter Putin from going further. Biden threatened"massive consequences and severe economic costs" if Russia exhibits continued aggression toward Ukraine.

For more on how Biden says the U.S. and its allies are pressuring Russia to back down, listen to this report from NPR's Scott Detrow.

Coronavirus

WHO chief: Omicron is not the 'endgame' of the pandemic

Posted January 25, 2022 at 8:21 AM EST
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus in December.
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images
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AFP
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus in December.

The World Health Organization's director-general issued a stern warning during a speech Monday: The coronavirus pandemic is far from over.

WHO head Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was in Geneva to present the organization’s priorities for the coming year and current challenges in global health to its executive board.

Here’s what Ghebreyesus had to say: 

"Since Omicron was first identified just nine weeks ago, more than 80 million cases have been reported to WHO — more than were reported in the whole of 2020 ...

"So where do we stand? Where are we headed? And when will it end? …

"It’s true that we will be living with COVID for the foreseeable future, and that we will need to learn to manage it through a sustained and integrated system for acute respiratory diseases, which will provide a platform for preparedness for future pandemics …

"There are different scenarios for how the pandemic could play out, and how the acute phase could end — but it is dangerous to assume that omicron will be the last variant, or that we are in the endgame.

"On the contrary, globally the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge."

It doesn't have to remain an emergency, though

Despite his urge for caution, the director-general emphasized that the world could end COVID-19’s status as a “global health emergency” this year. Key to that goal would be countries meeting WHO’s target of vaccinating at least 70% of the population by mid-year and boosting testing, monitoring, and sequencing of new variants.

Reaching those goals is impossible, however, without additional funding, Ghebreyesus said.

“Let me put it plainly: if the current funding model continues, WHO is being set up to fail. The paradigm shift in world health that is needed now must be matched by a paradigm shift in funding the world’s health organization,” he said.

A WHO working group on sustainable financing is currently working on a major funding reform that would increase member-states annual contributions to help the organization better prevent future pandemics.

While the plan — made in response to the pandemic — is supported by top European, African, South Asian, South American, and Arab countries, the U.S. has privately opposed the proposal, Reuters has reported.

Those working on the reform have said additional funding wouild allow it to be more independent from major donors like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or the largest member-states. The U.S. is pushing for a new fund directly controlled by donors for prevention and health emergencies.

The U.S.’s opposition has called into question the Biden administration's commitment to the organization. Though the administration rejoined the WHO shortly after taking office — after former President Donald Trump removed the U.S. from the organization — it has continued to issue concerns about the WHO’s administration.

Education

The SAT will ditch paper and pencil and move to online-only exams

Posted January 25, 2022 at 8:00 AM EST
A sign warns that an SAT exam is in progress at a high school in Maryland. Students in the U.S. will take the test exclusively online starting in 2024.
Alex Brandon
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AP
A sign warns that an SAT exam is in progress at a high school in Maryland. Students in the U.S. will take the test exclusively online starting in 2024.

The SAT, a college admissions exam long associated with paper and pencil, will soon go all-digital.

Starting in 2023 for international students and in 2024 in the U.S., the new digital SAT will shrink from three hours to two, include shorter reading passages and allow students to use a calculator on the math section.

Testing will still take place at a test center or at a school, but students will be able to choose between using their own devices — including a tablet or a laptop — or the schools' devices.

"The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant," said Priscilla Rodriguez of the College Board, the organization behind the test.

"With input from educators and students, we are adapting to ensure we continue to meet their evolving needs."

The College Board previously scrapped earlier plans to offer an at-home digital test because of concern about whether students would be able to access three hours of uninterrupted internet and power. Student broadband access has been a constant struggle throughout the pandemic, especially in rural and low-income areas. To combat these issues, the new SAT will be designed to autosave, so students won't lose work or time while they reconnect.

All this comes as the relevance of the SAT and ACT, another college entrance exam, is being called into question in the college admissions process. More than 1,800 U.S. colleges are not requiring a test score for students applying to enroll in fall 2022, according to the National Center for Fair & Open Testing. At least 1,400 of those schools have extended their test policies through at least the fall of 2023. The University of California system, one of the largest in the nation, permanently removed the tests from its admissions process in November, after a drawn-out debate and a lawsuit.

Read here for more on the SAT and college admissions.

Economy

Surging inflation prompted a dizzying day for financial markets. Here's what to know

Posted January 25, 2022 at 7:59 AM EST
People stand on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, with screens displaying numbers and letters above them.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
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Getty Images North America
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday in New York City.

Just a few months ago, stocks were setting new records and the value of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin was at an all-time high. Now it's much harder to predict where things are going.

Take yesterday, for example. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by more than 1,000 points before bounding back and ending the day with a nearly 100-point gain.

The remarkable turnaround shows how much uncertainty there is on Wall Street right now, says NPR business correspondent David Gura. He tells Morning Edition that most of that centers on inflation — even though it's not exactly new.

"Investors are waking up to two new realities," he explains. "One is inflation's higher than it's been in four decades, and two — and most importantly — the Federal Reserve says it plans to fight it more aggressively."

That involves the tricky balancing act of raising interest rates just enough to control inflation without bringing the entire economy to a half, Gura says. The Fed starts a two-day meeting today, with Wall Street waiting anxiously for updates.

So what will higher interest rates mean? He says the wild ride is likely to continue, which is unsettling for markets.

After all, the Fed has had interest rates near zero for many years, which has been great for stocks even during the pandemic (many Americans weren't going out or traveling much and were receiving stimulus payments, and they put that extra cash into the markets and cryptocurrencies). Higher inflation has changed this landscape.

Some experts believe we're seeing bubbles burst akin to the early 2000s, while others say this is more of a short-term noise situation — uncomfortable but part of a natural and healthy market environment. Wall Street and the reporters who cover it are paying close attention to the remarks of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who will speak to the media when the meeting ends on Wednesday.

The consensus is that the Fed will raise rates four times this year starting in March. But, Gura points out, it has said all along that it will respond to changing conditions.

"It's anyone's guess," he said. "Wall Street doesn't like that kind of uncertainty, which means we could see more wild swings like we did Monday."

Read on for three things to know about the turmoil in markets.