A slice of scandal, a sprinkle of unity, and a swift rebuttal.
The icing on the cake? Biden's slip of the tongue.
Click the screenshot below to access the podcast version of today's newsletter.
LET THEM EAT CAKE?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been hit with yet another #partygate development. This time, ITV's Paul Brand claims Johnson attended his own restriction-breaking birthday party with up to 30 people inside in June 2020.
What did Downing Street say? They acknowledged it occurred, but said it was a quick gathering with Johnson to wish him a happy birthday, who they say was there "for less than 10 minutes". It is also understood to have been a surprise organised by his wife Carrie.
What else? The ITV exclusive also suggests Johnson's "family and friends were hosted upstairs in the prime minister's residence in an apparent further breach of the rules". Downing Street denied this part of the story.
The Spectator claims there are now 14 reported parties that appear to have broken lockdown restrictions in 2020 and 2021. Boris Johnson used to be the editor of The Spectator.
Reaction: There's been a lot of reaction from within Johnson's Conservative Party on this. As you'll see below, some for him, some against.
The Sue Gray report: Many MPs are waiting until after Sue Gray's investigation into the alleged parties to decide whether to express no confidence in the prime minister. It is expected to be published later this week. The Guardian's chief political correspondent suggested Sue Gray "was already aware" of the gathering, before the ITV News exclusive.
Below is such a helpful watch if you want to be really up to date on Johnson's woes.
Bigger picture: Some view this as the final straw for Johnson, others have questioned why it is the top story in UK media when the situation in Ukraine is so concerning.
SWIFT, SEVERE AND UNITED?
As concern for the sovereignty of Ukraine continues, Western allies assure they are united in their response to any Russian aggression. One EU official was cited as saying the leaders on a call pledged "full transatlantic unity".
What are the latest lines? The US has 8,500 troops on standby, and could send them to NATO countries in eastern Europe if needed. The Biden administration also said those troops could be ready within five days rather than ten.
On Monday, Prime Minister Johnson warned of "gloomy intelligence" suggesting Russia is likely planning a "lightning raid" on the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. However, Johnson also said war was not inevitable.
Meanwhile, the UK followed the US in advising embassy staff and family members to leave the country. In response to these warnings, the Ukrainian government said it felt "premature" and "an instance of excessive caution".
"While we respect [the] right of foreign nations to ensure safety & security of their diplomatic missions, we believe such a step to be a premature one & an instance of excessive caution." - Ukraine's Foreign Minister
NEWS IN SPORT
At least eight people were killed and dozens injured following a crush after an African Cup Nations football game in Cameroon.
According to AFP, a child is among the dead, and a number of other children are thought to have lost consciousness.
The Australian Open tennis tournament has reversed its ban on fans wearing t-shirts with the message "where is Peng Shuai?". Banners mentioning the Chinese tennis player will still be prohibited.
Remember: In an open letter back in November, Peng Shuai accused a Chinese politician of forcing her to have sex with him during their on-off relationship. The statement was swiftly deleted, but it sparked huge concerns for the athlete's welfare.
ON TODAY'S AGENDA
Spain's King Felipe is on a visit to the island of Puerto Rico.
Why is that newsworthy? Ahead of the visit, the statue of a Spanish explorer was toppled. The statue was of Juan Ponce de Leon, who arrived to the island of Puerto Rico with Christopher Columbus in 1493. In recent years, some have called for the erasure of Spain's legacy on the island.
- In Ireland, the country has recorded its lowest number of coronavirus patients in ICU in 11 weeks.
- If a new variant was to emerge, "we should be alright". That's according to the World Health Organisation's Dr Mike Ryan, who cited long-term immunity thanks to vaccines and prior infections.
In Ireland, a new proposed bill would give employees the ability to appeal to the Workplace Relations Commission if their employer refused to let them work from home.
The opposition called for the right to work remotely, the government didn't go that far as the appeal could be rejected so it is not a definite right.
The Cabinet is also expected to agree today to a once-off credit of €100 to go towards electricity bills. According to RTÉ News, the scheme will cost €210 million.
Why? President Biden was caught on camera calling a Fox News report a "stupid son of a b****".
Why? For her response to the lead singer of Blur, Damon Albarn, who accused her of not writing her own songs during an interview with The LA Times. Albarn said it "doesn't count" that Swift co-writes some of her songs, saying "I’m not hating on anybody, I’m just saying there’s a big difference between a songwriter and a songwriter who co-writes".
The singer tweeted a 'Swift' response (😎) to Albarn within hours;
"I was such a big fan of yours until I saw this. I write ALL of my own songs. Your hot take is completely false and SO damaging. You don’t have to like my songs but it’s really f***** up to try and discredit my writing." - Taylor Swift
- BBC News: Gay couple refused housing viewing and purchase
- The Guardian: 'You can't have your birthday cake and eat it': what the papers say about Johnson's party
- The Financial Times: US stock reverse severe losses as buyers step in
- Al Jazeera: Latest Russia-Ukraine updates: US puts 8,500 troops on alert
- The Irish Times: Dr Mike Ryan of the WHO: 'Even if a new variant emerges, we should be alright'
WATCHING OUT FOR...
Neymar: The Perfect Chaos
A docuseries about the Brazilian footballer and his rapid rise to the height of fame and celebrity airs on Netflix today. Below is a link to the trailer, and it looks like a really interesting watch!
ON A LIGHTER NOTE...
The struggle is real.