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First Thing: Prince Andrew loses military roles and use of HRH title – The Guardian

First Thing: Prince Andrew loses military roles and use of HRH title

Duke of York will no longer use the His Royal Highness in any official capacity. Plus, Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa is cancelled again

Prince Andrew during a parade by the Grenadier Guards at Windsor Castle in March 2019.

Good morning.

Prince Andrew has been completely removed from official royal life after the Queen stripped him of his military affiliations and royal patronages amid his ongoing sexual assault case.

Intended to distance the monarchy from the Duke of York, the dramatic move means he will no longer use the His Royal Highness royal style in any official capacity.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement on Thursday: “With the Queen’s approval and agreement, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the Queen. The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”

Virginia Giuffre, now 38, says she was forced into sex at 17 with the duke by his associates Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, and has brought a civil lawsuit against Andrew. He denies the allegations.

  • How will the civil case affect the monarchy? Norman Baker, a commentator on royal matters, said the royal family “could not escape the immense damage” the case would bring.

  • The move came hours after more than 150 military veterans wrote to the Queen describing Andrew’s position as “untenable” and asking her to remove his honorary military roles.

Sinema and Manchin scupper filibuster reform

For months, Kyrsten Sinema and fellow centrist Democrat Joe Manchin have defended the filibuster, which stands as a major hurdle to voting rights reform

The senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have thwarted Joe Biden’s efforts to push voting rights legislation through Congress.

The president was reportedly in last-ditch talks with the centrist Democrats on Thursday night after Sinema of Arizona said she would not support any changes to filibuster rules. Manchin of West Virginia, praised Sinema and released his own statement confirming he would not do so either.

Sinema and Manchin’s rebellion comes at a time of deep concern for US democracy. Republican lawmakers in 19 states have enacted 34 new laws that impose new voting restrictions.

  • Why did Sinema not support changing the rules? The senator said that she “will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country”.

  • Why does it matter? As no Republicans support the voting rights bills or changing filibuster rules, Democrats cannot progress unless Sinema and Manchin vote with them.

Supreme court blocks Biden’s workplace vaccine-or-test rules

Joe Biden in Delaware last year

The supreme court has blocked the Biden administration from enforcing a requirement for unvaccinated employees at large businesses to test weekly and wear a mask at work.

The court’s conservative majority opposed the rule, but allowed the imposition of a vaccine mandate for most US healthcare workers. The mandate applies to healthcare providers that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding, which could affect 76,000 healthcare facilities and home health care providers.

More than 80 million people would have been affected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s vaccine-or-test rule for businesses with at least 100 employees.

  • What did the supreme court argue? The conservative majority ruled that the administration overstepped its authority in its attempt to impose the requirement.

  • … and the dissenting liberals? The three judges argued the court was the one overreaching by overruling health experts in its judgement.

In other news …

Novak Djokovic
  • Novak Djokovic’s Australian visa has been cancelled again just days before the start of the Australian Open. The move by the Australian immigration minister will likely mean Djokovic is deported and unable to play in the tournament.

  • The House select committee has subpoenaed Twitter, Meta, Alphabet and Reddit for records related to the Capitol attack. The congressman Bennie Thompson said previous requests for cooperation had been ignored.

  • The Republican party has indicated that it intends to withdraw from US presidential debates, after claims that it is biased against it. The New York Times first reported that the Republican National Committee had sent a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates on Thursday.

  • The British prime minister, Boris Johnson, faces renewed calls for his resignation after further allegations of parties on the eve of Prince Philip’s socially distanced funeral. At the time, outdoor gatherings were limited to six people or two households.

Stat of the day: Covid created 20 ‘pandemic billionaires’ in Asia

A vendor in front of the Chinese character fu (good fortune) at lunar new year.

The pandemic has exacerbated a stark wealth division in Asia: while 140 million people fell into poverty after losing their livelihoods, Covid created 20 new “pandemic billionaires”, according to a report by Oxfam. The new billionaires profited from the international response to the crisis, selling pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and services.

Don’t miss this: Big Thief on why recording is like sex

Big Thief

Big Thief are the exception to the rule: everything that makes them work “could be the undoing of any other band”, writes Marissa R Moss. Frontperson Adrianne Lenker and guitarist Buck Meek are divorced, bassist Max Oleartchik lives in a different country, and the group’s members have separate musical side projects. The “alchemy” of these elements is “what makes Big Thief Big Thief in the first place”, Meek tells Moss in this piece about what makes the band tick, pain and why recording is like sex.

Last Thing: French bakers in pain over supermarket baguettes

Baguettes in a bakery in Paris, France.

French bakers have accused a large supermarket chain offering below-inflation prices for baguettes of “demagogy”. The Leclerc group vowed on Tuesday to cut into its profit margins to cap the cost of the signature French loaf at 29 euro cents (24p), leading bakers, farmers and millers to accuse it of “launching a campaign that destroys values”.

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