“Any time you have an event on this scope and scale there are security threats. There are terrorism threats. What makes this one a little bit different, and frankly a little bit more concerning when you think about, is that someone has surfaced and levied an expressed threat. But it’s not going to change the fact that the United States is going to show up and compete in these games and that their fans will be here.” Scott Blackmun, United States Olympic Committee CEO on the XXII Winter Games in Sochi, Russia
Nation: Unemployment benefits fail for the third time.
Senate Democrats made yet another effort Thursday to convince Republicans to join them in extending emergency unemployment benefits, but failed on a procedural vote of 58 to 40, with 39 Republicans objecting to moving ahead with a vote on the measure. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program expired at the end of last year, leaving 1.3 million Americans without the extra income provided by the federal government once their state benefits run out and that number has since climbed to 1.7 million people.
World: Olympics get underway in Sochi.
One day ahead of the opening ceremony, which will take place tonight, the Olympic games got off to a good start in Sochi on Thursday. The smooth opening came as a welcome surprise to some who have expressed concerns over the security and safety of the situation on the ground. Extra security precautions have been taken in recent days to protect against and prepare for any incidents, and so far so good. We’re all looking forward to enjoying the Games.
Politics: Farm bill finally passes.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed a farm bill that boosts subsidies for grain and cotton growers and doubles spending on conservation programs. Unlike a House-passed bill, the Senate legislation would impose strict new limits on the payments that any one farm could receive and some subsidies are now essentially unlimited. The Senate Agriculture Committee chairman, Sen. Tom Harkin, called the bill “a tremendous victory for the economy of rural America.” House and Senate negotiators will work out the final version of the bill in coming weeks, with input from the White House.
Business: Most powerful woman in business.
Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, was just named by Fortune Magazine as the “Most Powerful Woman in Business.” She tops this year’s list in a global ranking. Barra assumed the CEO role on January 15 after spending her entire career at the automaker after graduating from General Motors Institute. Prior to taking the leadership reins, she was head of global product development, purchasing, and supply chain. She told Fortune that she’d never asked for a promotion or a raise and that being committed to the job you have at that moment is the key to success.
Health: Subway will stop using a plastic-based additive in their bread.
Subway has announced that it will overhaul its bread recipe to remove the dangerous chemical azodiacarbonamide, a plastic-based additive used in yoga mats and the soles of shoes. The news comes after food blogger Vani Hari collected tens of thousands of signatures on a petition calling for the removal of the chemical. “I commend Subway for finally responding to me and now over 57,000 concerned citizens. Their swift action is a testament to what power petitions and individuals who sign them can have,” Hari said.
Women: Stroke risk may be higher for women.
The American Heart Association issued its first guidelines for preventing strokes in women Thursday, which include a focus on birth control, pregnancy, depression and other factors that women are at a higher risk for. The guidelines also flag frequent migraines as a concern. “I think it’s very important that we have a set of guidelines that raises awareness among women, especially women who don’t traditionally think of themselves at risk for stroke,” said neurologist Dr. Andrew Russman. We couldn’t agree more.