Speaker Johnson’s historically narrow House majority will shrink further after Democrats flip seat in New York

House Speaker Mike Johnson speaks after his election at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on October 25, 2023.

House Speaker Mike Johnson speaks after his election at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on October 25, 2023. Tom Brenner/AFP/Getty Images

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson is overseeing one of the smallest House majorities in history – and Democrat Tom Suozzi’s win in a New York special election will shrink it further.

Suozzi defeated Republican Mazi Pilip in a race for the seat previously held by former GOP Rep. George Santos who was expelled from Congress last year.

When Suozzi is sworn in, Republicans will control 219 seats and Democrats will control 213. With a breakdown of 219 to 213, House Republicans will only be able to lose only two votes to pass legislation on party-line votes if all members are present and voting.

After the swearing in, there will be three vacancies in the House. Former New York Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins resigned from Congress earlier this monthformer Ohio GOP Rep. Bill Johnson resigned last month and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy resigned at the end of last year.

In addition to the tight margin, there is always the possibility that absences could further impact the vote math.

The razor-thin majority presents an enormous challenge for the speaker, leaving Johnson with almost no room for error as he navigates demands from competing wings of his party.

Hardline conservatives have already shown they can hold major sway in the chamber with such a narrow majority – most notably when a group of hardliners moved to oust McCarthy from the speakership in a historic vote last year.

The exact size of the far right of the House Republican Conference can vary from issue to issue. A contingent of roughly a dozen hardliners staged a rebellion on the House floor last month, taking down a procedural vote to show opposition to a spending deal Johnson had reached with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The ever-shrinking margin has forced Johnson to put some bills directly onto the floor under a procedural move known as suspension of the rules as his right flank has increasingly taken to tanking rule votes on the floor in a show of protest.

But that strategy compels the need for a two-thirds majority to pass bills, requiring significant Democratic support, and further alienating Johnson and the right wing of his conference.

In addition to facing pressure from conservatives, Johnson must also balance the interests of more moderate members from battleground districts who are on the front lines of the majority and who will be under intense scrutiny this election season.

There were 18 Republicans in House districts that President Joe Biden won in 2020 – a number that is now down to 17 after the expulsion of https://ikutisaja.com Santos. The fate of these politically vulnerable members will be key to whether the GOP can hold on to its majority.

India celebrates release of eight nationals detained in Qatar on reported spy charges

A view of the skyline in Doha, Qatar, on February 8, 2024.

A view of the skyline in Doha, Qatar, on February 8, 2024. Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty ImagesCNN — 

Eight Indian nationals who were detained and sentenced to death in Qatar on reported espionage charges have been released, according to Indian authorities.

“The Government of India welcomes the release of eight Indian nationals working for the Dahra Global company who were detained in Qatar. Seven out of the eight of them have returned to India,” said the Ministry of External Affairs in a statement on Monday.

“We appreciate the decision by the Amir of the State of Qatar to enable the release and home-coming of these nationals.”

Indian Navy officers gather on the deck of the Indian indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant during its commissioning at Cochin Shipyard in Kochi on September 2, 2022.

RELATED ARTICLEIndia ‘deeply shocked’ after Qatar sentences 8 nationals to death on reported spy charges

The eight nationals were ex-servicemen of the Indian Navy, according to a letter dated to December 2022 by an Indian minister and posted by another parliament member on X, formerly Twitter.

They had been working for Dahra Global Technologies, a defense services provider based in Qatar, according to CNN News18.

Their conviction in Qatar was shrouded in secrecy, and it’s still not clear what offense they committed or what they were charged with. Qatar has not publicly addressed the arrest, sentencing and subsequent release of the eight Indian citizens.

CNN has previously reached out to Qatari authorities for comment.

CNN affiliate CNN-News18 reported at the time that the eight Indians had been detained in August 2022 on spying charges. CNN cannot independently verify the charges.

The Indian ministry has not shared details about the charges either, citing “the confidential and sensitive nature of proceedings of this case.”

The ministry announced last October that it had received information about a Qatar court passing the death penalty for the eight nationals, saying it was in touch with all the men’s families and were taking up the verdict with Qatari authorities.

In December, the ministry said the sentences had been reduced, with a detailed judgement to come. It did not elaborate on what the reduced sentences would be.

After their release on Monday, several of the men thanked the Indian government. “We have waited almost for 18 months to be back in India. We are extremely grateful to (Modi). It certainly wouldn’t have been possible without his personal intervention,” one told Indian news agency ANI on camera.

The case has garnered widespread attention in India and been framed as a test of diplomacy for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Jairam Ramesh, a general secretary of India’s main opposition party, demanded last year that the government “explain to the families and the people of India” why it had not yet secured the men’s release more than seven months after their detention. He also highlighted the strong trade relationship between the two countries, saying the Indian diaspora made up a quarter of Qatar’s population.

Hundreds of thousands of Indians provide a large proportion of Qatar’s more than 2 million strong foreign workforce – which accounts for 95% of labor in the gas-rich Gulf state, according to United Nations data.

The release of the eight nationals comes just a few https://makanapasaja.com months ahead of the start of the Indian election, with the country heading to the polls in the spring – a mammoth election that is likely to see Modi secure a rare third term in power.

Australia to allow workers to ignore unreasonable after-hours calls and messages from bosses

View of Perth's skyline. The “right to disconnect” is part of a raft of changes to industrial relations laws proposed by Australia's federal government.

View of Perth’s skyline. The “right to disconnect” is part of a raft of changes to industrial relations laws proposed by Australia’s federal government. Aitor Alcalde/FIFA/Getty ImagesReuters — 

Australia will introduce laws giving workers the right to ignore unreasonable calls and messages from their bosses outside of work hours without penalty, with potential fines for employers that breach the rule.

The “right to disconnect” is part of a raft of changes to industrial relations laws proposed by the federal government under a parliamentary bill, which it says would protect workers’ rights and help restore work-life balance.

Similar laws giving employees a right to switch off their devices are already in place in France, Spain and other countries in the European Union.

A majority of senators have now declared support for the legislation, Employment Minister Tony Burke from the ruling center-left Labor party said in a statement on Wednesday.

The provision stops employees from working unpaid overtime through a right to disconnect from unreasonable contact out of hours, Burke said.

“What we are simply saying is that someone who isn’t being paid 24 hours a day shouldn’t be penalised if they’re not online and available 24 hours a day,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters earlier on Wednesday.

The bill is expected to be introduced in parliament later this week.

Feb 25, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer looks on as players warm up before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena.

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The bill also includes other provisions like a clearer pathway from temporary to permanent work and minimum standards for temporary workers and truck drivers.

Some politicians, employer groups and corporate leaders warned the right to disconnect provision was an overreach and would undermine the move towards flexible working and impact competitiveness.

The left-wing Greens, which supports the rule and was the first to propose it last year, said it was a big win for the party. A deal had been reached between Labor, smaller parties and independents to support this bill, Greens leader Adam Bandt said on Twitter.

“Australians work an average of six weeks unpaid https://ikutisaja.com overtime each year,” Bandt said.

That equated to more than A$92 billion ($60.13 billion) in unpaid wages across the economy, he added.

“That time is yours. Not your boss.’”

Zelensky fires Ukraine’s military chief in major shakeup nearly two years into war

Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi takes part in a ceremony marking Ukraine's Independence Day, in Kyiv on August 24, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by SERGEI CHUZAVKOV / AFP) (Photo by SERGEI CHUZAVKOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Valerii Zaluzhnyi is pictured at a ceremony marking Ukraine’s Independence Day, in Kyiv on August 24, 2023. Sergei Chuzavkov/AFP/Getty ImagesKyiv, UkraineCNN — 

President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced the dismissal of Ukraine’s top commander, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, in the biggest military shakeup since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion almost two years ago.

The president’s move follows tensions between Zelensky and his hugely popular military chief after the failure of Ukraine’s much-vaunted counteroffensive, and with Ukraine facing a renewed Russian onslaught, manpower and ammunition shortages, and US aid stalled in Congress.

In a Telegram post sent shortly before the formal announcement, Zelensky said he held a meeting with Zaluzhnyi, and “discussed what kind of renewal the Armed Forces of Ukraine need.”

“The time for such a renewal is now,” Zelensky wrote.

Zaluzhnyi’s replacement will be Oleksandr Syrskyi, who since 2019 has served as the Commander of Ukrainian Land Forces.

Zaluzhnyi wrote on his Telegram channel on Thursday that “the tasks of 2022 are different from those of 2024.

“Therefore, everyone must change and adapt to the new realities as well. [We] have just met with the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. It was an important and serious conversation. It was decided that we need to change our approaches and strategy.”

Rumors of Zaluzhnyi’s dismissal began to swirl around Kyiv last week after he was called to a meeting at the president’s office and told he was being fired, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN. Zelensky’s office initially denied the rumors, but the move was confirmed on Thursday.

Zaluzhnyi – who had been appointed army chief by Zelensky in July 2021 – was offered a new position by the president, which he turned down, according to one of the sources. It remains unclear whether Zaluzhnyi has decided to remain involved with the military in some capacity.

Differences between the two men had been simmering for many months but appeared to grow wider towards the end of last year, after Zaluzhnyi said the war had reached a stalemate in a long essay and interview in The Economist magazine in November.

Commander of the Ukrainian army, Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, gives instructions in a shelter in Soledar, the site of heavy battles with the Russian forces, in the Donetsk region, Ukraine on January 8, 2023.

Oleksandr Syrskyi will become Ukraine’s new military chief, in a consequential move by Zelensky. Roman Chop/Associated Press

Writing after Ukraine’s counteroffensive was mostly rebuffed by heavily fortified Russian defenses, he warned that without a great technological leap forward “there will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough,” but instead an equilibrium of devastating losses and destruction.

His remarks drew immediate criticism from Zelensky’s office, which said such commentary about the war only benefitted Russia.

More recently, the two leaders clashed over whether Ukraine needed a mass mobilization effort. The army chief had suggested up to half a million draftees were required, which Zelensky resisted.

The president told a press conference in December mobilization was a ‘highly sensitive’ issue and that he wanted to hear more arguments in favor before he felt fully ready to back the move.

“This is a very serious number,” Zelensky said. “It is a question about people, about justice, about defense capabilities. It is also a financial question.”

Writing exclusively for CNN last week as rumors mounted, Zaluzhnyi made clear his frustrations over the issue, referring to “the inability of state institutions in Ukraine to improve the manpower levels of our armed forces without the use of unpopular measures.” The remarks were highly unusual for a man generally reluctant to speak publicly.

A political gamble for Zelensky

When Russia launched its invasion in February 2022, many of Ukraine’s allies feared Kyiv would fall in just a few days and the rest of the country within weeks. But Ukraine’s troops, under Zaluzhnyi’s direction, were able to drive Moscow’s forces from the capital and later in the year managed to reclaim large parts of the southern and eastern territories occupied by Russia in the early weeks of the war.

Ukraine had hoped to drive Moscow’s forces back further in 2023 but battlefield success proved elusive.

Launched last June, Ukraine’s counteroffensive in particular aimed to push south towards the Sea of Azov, splitting Russia’s forces in two and cutting its land bridge to Crimea.

Valery Zaluzhny

RELATED ARTICLEUkraine’s army chief: The design of war has changed

But Ukraine’s gains were modest. Its forces attempted to advance from Orikhiv towards Tokmak, but only made it as far as Robotyne, a little over 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) south. Russia still occupies around a fifth of Ukraine’s territory.

Since then, Ukraine has been put back on a defensive footing by a flurry of Russian offensives along much of the frontlines, with intense fighting reported in northeastern Kharkiv region and in Zaporizhzhia in the south. Russia has also renewed its aerial assaults on cities across the country, and Ukraine has warned that its air defenses risk being overwhelmed.

Zaluzhnyi’s firing is a political gamble for Zelensky. Despite the failure of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, the now-former military chief remains one of the most popular leaders in the country. A poll by the Kyiv Institute of Sociology found 88% of Ukrainians supported the general. Zelensky’s approval rating, though also high, was markedly lower at 62%.

Analysts have long speculated about whether Zaluzhnyi could one day emerge as a political rival to Zelensky in future elections, although the general has shown scant political ambition so far.

In his CNN article, he also suggested Ukraine’s leadership had not tackled problems in the defense industries which had led to production bottlenecks and ammunition shortages.

At the same time, Zaluzhnyi warned Ukraine was now having to “contend with a reduction in military support from key allies” as they have become ensnarled by their own political tensions and distracted by conflicts elsewhere.

He said the best way for Ukraine’s army to avoid being drawn into a “positional war,” in which fighting is conducted along permanent and fortified frontlines, is for Ukraine to “master” unmanned weapons systems – or drones – which Zaluzhnyi called the “central driver of this war.”

He will now be replaced by the 59-year-old Syrskyi, who began his soldiering career during the last years of the Soviet Union, training in Moscow.

With Ukraine’s independence in 1991, he rose through the ranks of the Ukrainian armed forces becoming a Major General in 2009. He played a prominent role in Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invaders in the eastern Donbas region in 2014 and 2015.

Two years later he became the commander of all Ukrainian forces involved in the Anti-Terrorist Operation, as the conflict with Russia in eastern Ukraine became known.

Following Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, Syrskyi led the defense of Kyiv, and then later that year commanded the successful counteroffensive in the region of Kharkiv, which saw Russian forces driven out of hundreds of settlements.

But the move may prove controversial among Ukraine’s forces. A Ukrainian soldier fighting in the east of the country told CNN he was unconvinced by the change at the top of the military.

“I have the impression Syrskyi is an adequate person. But I’m sorry that [outgoing army head] Zaluzhnyi was dismissed. I do not think it will get easier at the front. Syrskyi is close to the authorities, but https://ikutisaja.com he needs to be independent,” the first solider told CNN, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Another, a frontline commander, also serving in Ukraine’s east, was more critical of the appointment.

“You do not dismiss the Commander-in-Chief in the middle of a war. Nothing good will come of it. It is playing into the hands of the Russians,” the commander told CNN, also on condition of anonymity.

The biggest moments from the 2024 Grammy Awards

Taylor Swift accepts the best pop vocal album Grammy award "Midnights."

Taylor Swift accepts the best pop vocal album Grammy award “Midnights.” Kevin Mazur/Getty ImagesCNN — 

With unprecedented and dangerous storm activity in and around Southern California, the music industry mustered all of its “the show must go on” spirit to pull off the 66th Grammy Awards, live from Los Angeles.

And go on it did. And on. And on. But that’s award shows.

Thankfully, a few interesting and fun moments — bolstered, of course, by a fast car and a swift bit of news — helped the three-and-a-half-hour program feel like less of a slog than some years in the past. There were also some attention-getting gasps, like when Jay-Z chided the Recording Academy (i.e., the body responsible for putting on the Grammys).

Whether you missed the whole thing, pulled a Meryl by showing up a little late or just want to relive the action, here are some highlights:

News from the Taylor Swift department

In case you didn’t hear the collective Swiftie gasp heard ‘round the world, Taylor Swift has a new album coming out in April. Oh, you were expecting an announcement about “Reputation (Taylor’s Version)”? How cute.

No, Swift knows how to make a headline-making moment into a bigger headline-making moment, and that’s exactly what she did when she picked up her 13th Grammy — for best pop vocal album. Yes, 13 as in her favorite number. Which she made sure to point out in her speech.

“The Tortured Poets Department” was a surprise as Swift-lovers, Grammy viewers and everyone in between didn’t see coming. And those are the best kind of award show moments.

To top it all off, as she is known to do, Swift also picked up a 14th Grammy at the end of the night – a history-making album of the year win.

Fantasia Barrino performs at The 66th Annual Grammy Awards.

Fantasia Barrino performs at The 66th Annual Grammy Awards. Sonja Flemming/CBS Entertainment

An unforgettable In Memoriam segment

The music world had what felt like an extraordinarily tough year, with the deaths of many legendary figures. Those indelible losses were highlighted in a 16-minute In Memoriam segment that was at times somber and at other times celebratory.

The tribute enlisted the talents of Stevie Wonder (for an ode to Tony Bennett), Annie Lennox (singing a hit made famous by Sinéad O’Connor), Jon Batiste and Fantasia Barrino.

The latter, star of “The Color Purple,” was introduced by Oprah Winfrey for a celebration of Tina Turner that got the crowd on their feet and, likely, the heavens hip-shaking with joy.

Mariah Carey, left, presents the award for best pop solo performance to Miley Cyrus for "Flowers" during the 66th annual Grammy Awards.

Mariah Carey, left, presents the award for best pop solo performance to Miley Cyrus for “Flowers” during the 66th annual Grammy Awards. Chris Pizzello/AP

Miley’s great night

Who was having more fun than Miley Cyrus on Sunday night?

First, she won her first-ever Grammy Award for best pop solo performance. Then, she received it from Mariah Carey. Then, she put on an energy-filled performance of “Flowers” that woke up a sometimes-tough-to-win-over audience.

“Why you acting like you don’t know this song?” she chided the audience at one point, mid-song.

Oh, we know it Miley. But it sounds so much better coming from you.

If that wasn’t enough, Cyrus picked up her second Grammy, for record of the year later in the night.

Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs perform at The 66th Annual Grammy Awards.

Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs perform at The 66th Annual Grammy Awards. Sonja Flemming/CBS Entertainment

Rare performances rock the stage

In the notable department, Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell and Billy Joel aren’t artists you’d see performing on the Grammy stage every year.

Mitchell’s performance at age 80 on Sunday was her first-ever at the awards event. She performed seated alongside singer Brandi Carlile, who also introduced her.

And Chapman has only appeared as a performer on the ceremony three times prior to this year, the last in 1997. Chapman performed her hit “Fast Car” with country singer Luke Combs, whose country cover of the song gave it new life last year. It was their first time performing it together. Chapman, of course, did what she always does – sing like a storyteller who’s telling a tale both for the first and last time. What a moment.

Joel, meanwhile, took the stage Sunday night to perform “Turn the Lights Back On,” his first new pop single in 17 years. Making the most of his appearance, he performed again following the final award, which was presented by Celine Dion.

Dion’s appearance was, of course, a https://ikutisaja.com welcomed sight, as the singer has been open about her health issues.

Dion presented album of the year following a standing ovation that clearly moved the performer.

“I love you right back,” she said to the crowd.

The heart – like the show – indeed always goes on.

Iran-backed militia in Iraq vows to continue attacks on US forces as White House mulls military action

Sheikh Akram Al-Kaabi, leader of the Al-Nujaba militant group, attends a ceremony honoring members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards killed in Iraq, on April 24, 2019.

Sheikh Akram Al-Kaabi, leader of the Al-Nujaba militant group, attends a ceremony honoring members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards killed in Iraq, on April 24, 2019. Murtaja Lateef/EPA-EFE/ShutterstockCNN — 

An Iran-backed militia in Iraq has said it will continue to strike United States forces as the Biden administration considers how to retaliate against a drone attack on its base in Jordan that killed three US service members last week.

The leader of the Al-Nujaba militant group, Akram Al-Kaabi, said it won’t follow a decision this week by Iran’s most powerful Iraqi proxy, Kataib Hezbollah, to suspend operations against US forces in the region.

Al-Kaabi said that attacks against the US won’t stop until American troops withdraw from Iraq, and Israeli military operations cease in Gaza, according to a statement on Friday.

The move suggests that Iran may not be fully in control of some of the militant groups it funds, trains and arms in the region, as some continue to target US forces despite the risk of a significant escalation that could draw Iran and the US into a direct confrontation.

In this photo posted to social media platform X on Monday, January 29, US President Joe Biden is briefed by members of his national security team in the Situation Room on the latest developments regarding the attack on US service members in northeastern Jordan. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines are also visible in the photo, while nameplates indicate the presence of National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, among others.

RELATED ARTICLEWhite House formally assigns blame for drone strike in Jordan that killed 3 American service members

The US believes an umbrella group of Iran-backed militants called Islamic Resistance in Iraq was behind the strike on the Jordan base and is now preparing to respond. The assault was the most serious of many targeting US forces in the Middle East since the October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, and the first in which US troops have died.

Al-Kaabi, who is listed by the US as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT), added that US threats will not intimidate his group. “Any targeting will be met with an appropriate response,” he said.

US officials believe there are signs the Iranian leadership is nervous about some of the actions of its proxy groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, according to multiple people familiar with US intelligence, as attacks from militia groups threaten to disrupt the global economy.

Iran has repeatedly said that it does not seek conflict. On Friday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said his country will not initiateany war but will “respond strongly” to bullies.

“We have said many times that we will not start any war; but if an oppressive country or force wants to bully us, the Islamic Republic of Iran will respond strongly,” he said in a televised speech in the southern Iranian Hormozgan province.

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps military personnel salute while a group of schoolboys and schoolgirls (not pictured) chanting Hymn Hello Commander, in the Azadi (Freedom) avenue during a rally commemorating Eid al-Ghadir in Tehran, July 7, 2023.

RELATED ARTICLEUS sees signs Iran is worried about escalating proxy attacks amid heightened tensions

Since October 7 and the start of the war in Gaza, American troops have come under attack approximately 166 times in Iraq and Syria, US officials said. The US has meanwhile carried out a series of strikes in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Yemen’s Houthis have also continued to attack US interests despite multiple airstrikes by US and UK forces.

Last month, a US strike in Iraq killed two members of Al-Nujaba, including a prominent commander of who was actively involved https://ikutisaja.com in planning and carrying out attacks against American personnel, a US defense official said at the time. The US has also targeted Kataib Hezbollah.

Before you get a Spotify tattoo, artists want you to know these risks

The above ink, on the forearm of tattooer John Lapides’ first Spotify tattoo customer, leads to the Michael Bublé song “Everything.” John Lapides/Spray Day Tattoos

(CNN) — What if you were able to have your favorite song basically on speed dial, ready to go for any moment that calls for it?

What’s known as a “Spotify tattoo” has made that possible: On Spotify, every piece of content has a series of unique sound bars known as a Spotify code, meant for sharing the content with someone when scanned with the camera function on Spotify’s mobile app. Get a code tattooed on your arm or another body part and, when scanned, it should immediately play the content associated with it.

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Pictured is the Spotify code for "Dear to Me," a song by the Los Angeles-based band Electric Guest.

Pictured is the Spotify code for “Dear to Me,” a song by the Los Angeles-based band Electric Guest. From Spotify

(That is, when the tattoo has been done well, and especially when it’s fresh. The Wall Street Journal, for example, has interviewed several people who reported their tattoos were no longer working once both the body art and their skin had started to age.)

Spotify launched its codes in 2017. Exactly when the tattoo fad began isn’t clear, but on TikTok, videos tagged “#spotifytattoo” have garnered 14.8 million views. Ten million of these were on a viral clip of a UK-based tattoo artist showing off the results of a Spotify tat on his friend’s forearm — it played the friend’s wedding song, “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, to their delight. In the last few years, at least a few hundred people have also gone under the needle to pay permanent tribute to their favorite tunes, showing off their musical ink on TikTok or Instagram.

See how tattoo art has changed since the 18th century

We love seeing listeners wear the audio they love on their sleeves and helping them rep their fandom,” Spotify told The Wall Street Journal in a statement. CNN has reached out to the company for additional comment.

This Spotify tattoo is for "Gone Away" by The Offspring.

This Spotify tattoo is for “Gone Away” by The Offspring. John Lapides/Spray Day Tattoos

Tattooing the codes can be stressful, especially in that moment of truth between finishing the piece and testing whether it works, said tattoo artist John Lapides of United Tattoo in Fountain, Colorado. Lapides has inked two Spotify tattoos: One connected to the Michael Bublé song “Everything” in November 2022, and another in December of that year for “Gone Away” by the band The Offspring.

“I told them, ‘If it is scannable, fantastic. If it’s not scannable, I’m sorry, but that’s part of the risk,’” Lapides said. “Lo and behold, when we finished it was scannable.”

Reasons why people get these tattoos run the gamut: Some people simply want the fun party trick of flashing a phone at their arm to play Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” while others have more sentimental motivations.

The song choice of Lapides’ first Spotify code customer was related to a memory of their father who passed away, he remembered. The customer shared that the tattoo “almost brought their dad back around,” Lapides said, “because now they’re able to listen to the song and always have it.”


Other times, it’s simply a means of decorating the body, said Drew Hibbard, a tattoo artist and piercer at Blue Lotus Tattoo & The Piercing Lounge in Madison, Wisconsin. Hibbard has applied one Spotify tattoo.

“Life is short,” he added. “I’ve definitely fallen victim to getting quirky, fun tattoos just for the hell of it … Each one of my tattoos are like a time stamp for a part of my life.”

In conversations with CNN, Lapides and Hibbard discussed what to know if you’re considering having a favorite song immortalized on your body.

These conversations have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

CNN: How do you tattoo a Spotify code?

John Lapides: Prior to the actual tattooing process, I’d take a picture of the code and, like I would for any other tattoo, print it out on a machine that had ink on the back of the page so I could transfer the design from the paper to the skin. That helps me know that all my straight lines were straight, all my parallel lines were parallel, and all my circles were circular. I just follow those purple stencil lines with the tattoo machine as closely as possible, and then do the shading on top.

Are there ways to maximize the chances of it working?

Lapides: Make sure the tattoo is done on a flatter body part so the camera can read it as easily as possible with as little distortion as possible — I’m sure if it’s in some way rolling off the side of your arm, it will be harder to scan. Both tattoos I did were done on forearms, one was closer to the wrist and the other to the elbow.

The surprising history of the barcode

Drew Hibbard: You don’t want it on your hands or feet because they don’t hold ink well and they’re always being used.

Lapides: Line weight and line thickness also play a huge role. The lines (in a Spotify code) vary in height, and if one of those lines is not straight or not symmetrical on the top and bottom ends, or on the left and right, the tattoo might not be readable.

It’s also good to have the lines be a little thinner than needed at first, because if it doesn’t work, you can thicken them — but you can’t take away thickness. And as time goes on, those lines will get a bit thicker (as skin stretches, ages or loses elasticity). You need to have gaps in between that are going to always stay gaps.

Also, the tattoo doesn’t necessarily need the three lines within that little circular Spotify logo, but it does need the circle.

Will these tattoos age well over time?

Hibbard: Spotify tattoos are a super cute and meaningful idea, but years down the road, who knows if Spotify will even be a thing? Also, companies are always upgrading what they’re doing — who knows if they’ll switch to a QR code like everybody else.

Lapides: I’m not sure if these will be scannable 10 to 20 years from now. People lose weight, gain weight or get pregnant. But I’ve hopefully given them the best chance of being scannable by leaving gaps or space for the tattoo to expand and age.

Hibbard: That’s why you should also pick a size that will age well — doing a 4- or 5-inch tattoo leaves a lot more room than a 2-inch one. And doing the correct instructed aftercare also helps. Always moisturize.

How can someone find an adept tattoo artist or studio?

Lapides: Studios’ websites and Instagrams are helpful resources; you can also find a reputable studio by good reviews or word https://ikutisaja.com of mouth. You can go to the shop as well to get a sense of their professionalism and respect for your input.

But not everyone in a reputable studio is created equal. Artists who do fine line, traditional, geometric or black-work styles — which revolve around very clean line work — are good choices, but a watercolor tattoo artist might not do the cleanest piece.

Russia’s frozen assets are generating billions. The EU is getting ready to send them to Ukraine

TOPSHOT - Smoke billows after a Russian attack on the Retroville shopping mall abd residential district of Kyiv on March 21, 2022. - At least six people were killed in the overnight bombing of a shopping centre in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, an AFP journalist said, with rescuers combing the wreckage for other victims. (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS / AFP) (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The aftermath of a Russian attack on the Retroville shopping mall in Kyiv last March. Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty ImagesLondonCNN — 

Russian assets frozen in European accounts are generating billions of dollars in interest payments that could be diverted to help repair Ukraine’s war-torn economy — and the European Union just took a step closer to doing that.

After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Western countries froze nearly half of Moscow’s foreign reserves — some €300 billion ($327 billion). Around €200 billion ($218 billion) sits in the European Union — mostly at Euroclear, a financial institution that keeps assets safe for banks, exchanges and investors.

EU leaders agreed a crucial $50 billion funding package for Ukraine on Thursday and came closer to finalizing a plan to use the profits piling up in Euroclear’s accounts.

In a statement issued at the end of a summit, EU leaders said “potential revenues could be generated … concerning the use of extraordinary revenues held by private entities stemming directly from the immobilised Central Bank of Russia assets.”

Belgium-based Euroclear disclosed Thursday that it has earned €5.2 billion ($5.6 billion) in interest on income generated by sanctioned Russian assets since they were frozen by EU and Group of Seven countries in 2022.

“The number of sanctions and countersanctions that have been introduced since February 2022 are unprecedented and continue to have a significant impact on the daily operations of Euroclear,” the group said in a statement.

The European Union and its allies are determined to make Russia foot part of the colossal bill for rebuilding Ukraine — estimated by the World Bank a year ago at $411 billion over the next decade.

One proposal put forward by the European Commission would involve using a special levy to collect the windfall interest income, which would then be paid into the EU budget for the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky walks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to a joint press conference in Kyiv on Tuesday.

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That plan has been delayed by legal and financial concerns, with some EU member states and the European Central Bank worried that even carefully targeted measures could fall foul of international law and shake confidence in the euro as the world’s second biggest reserve currency. The EU has been at pains to contrast the illegality of Russia’s invasion with its own strict adherence to the rule of law.

EU member countries have now agreed in principle to tap this windfall interest income, although the details of how this will be done practically must still be ironed out, an EU diplomat told CNN. Lawyers are working on the text of the agreement before returning it to EU member states for final approval.

In its earnings statement, Euroclear — which settles cross-border trades and safeguards more than $40 trillion in assets — said it was focused on “minimising potential legal and operational risks” that may arise from proposals by EU officials to hand the money to Ukraine.

Euroclear said additional administrative costs relating to the sanctions cost it €62 million ($67 million) last year, “with considerable senior management and board focus on the topic.”

It added that cash on its balance sheet soared €38 billion ($41 billion) year-on-year to €162 billion ($175 billion), boosted by payments associated with frozen Russian assets, including bonds.

These payments include, for example, interest paid on bonds, known as coupons, or the proceeds generated by securities that mature and are reinvested.

Ordinarily, these payments would have been made to Russian bank accounts, but they have been blocked by the sanctions and are generating vast amounts of interest — even more so given the recent spate of rate hikes.

Euroclear, for its part, is embroiled in several legal proceedings pertaining to the sanctions — almost exclusively in Russian courts — as claimants seek to access the assets blocked in its books.

The company said it continues to https://ikutisaja.com retain profits related to these assets “until further guidance is provided on the distribution or management of such profits.”

Rare cases of possible Alzheimer’s transmission uncovered in recipients of discontinued medical treatment

Doctor viewing patient's brain scan on digital tablet in laboratory - stock photo

A new study raises new questions about Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.Andrew Brookes/Image Source/Getty ImagesCNN — 

Early-onset dementia symptoms in five adults may be connected to a now-discontinued human growth hormone medical treatment that they received decades ago as children, a new study suggests.

The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine, provides the first reported evidence of medically acquired Alzheimer’s disease in living people. In these cases, the patients’ early-onset dementia symptoms may be the result of the possible transmission of amyloid beta protein, which is a key component of Alzheimer’s disease when it forms plaques in the brain.

Abnormal buildup of the protein amyloid beta in the brain is associated with Alzheimer’s and the new study suggests that amyloid beta contamination may have a connection with the early dementia symptoms experienced by the patients in the study. The study findings do not suggest that Alzheimer’s disease can be contagious, or spread like viral or bacterial infections, for instance, but they raise new questions about Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.

“I should emphasize these are very rare occurrences, and the majority of this relates to medical procedures that are no longer used,” John Collinge, lead author of the study and director of the University College London Institute of Prion Diseases, said in a news briefing.

Parkinson and Alzheimer female senior elderly patient with caregiver in hospice care. Doctor hand with stethoscope check up older woman people. Old aging person seeing medical physician in hospital.

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All five adults had growth hormone deficiency as children and received pituitary growth hormones prepared in a specific way from cadavers. The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain, and human growth hormone, or HGH, is a natural hormone the gland makes and releases, promoting growth in children.

Between 1959 and 1985, these patients were among the at least 1,848 people in the United Kingdom who were treated with a human growth hormone derived from a cadaver’s pituitary gland, according to the study. At the time, this treatment also was used in other parts of the world, including the United States. The treatment approach was discontinued after cases of a rare brain disorder called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease were found to be associated with the administration of contaminated human growth hormone from cadavers.

The new study suggests that repeated exposure, over multiple years, to treatments with cadaver-derived HGH that had been contaminated by both prions associated with Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease and amyloid beta seeds could transmit Alzheimer’s disease. Prions are proteins that can act as transmissible agents of neurodegenerative diseases.

The researchers wrote in their study that Alzheimer’s disease may be transmissible, in certain circumstances, in a way similar to conditions known as “prion diseases” — a family of rare progressive neurodegenerative disorders known to be associated with prion proteins, including Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease or CJD. Although Alzheimer’s is not a prion disease, some separate research suggests that the two proteins that are hallmarks in Alzheimer’s disease — amyloid beta and tau — behave like prions.

“It looks like what’s going on in Alzheimer’s disease is very similar in many respects to what happens in the human prion diseases like CJD,” Collinge said in the news briefing. “It does raise implications about therapeutic approaches to Alzheimer’s disease.”

‘The public has nothing to fear’

In 2015, the researchers previously described “possible evidence” that transmission of amyloid beta protein from a cadaver’s growth hormone to a recipient was feasible and then in 2018, they studied this in lab mice.

gupta brain 05/16


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“We now provide evidence that Alzheimer’s disease is also transmissible in certain circumstances,” the researchers – from the University College London and National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in the United Kingdom – wrote in their study. Though they add that this type of transmission is “rare” and there is no suggestion that amyloid beta can be transmitted between people in everyday activities or modern-day routine medical care.

“After human growth hormones were no longer used in the 1980s due to concerns over Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease transmission, strict procedures were put in place to minimise cross-contamination. But in light of these findings, researchers recommend that medical procedures should be reviewed to ensure that rare cases of Alzheimer’s transmission like this do not happen in the future,” Dr. Susan Kohlhaas, executive director of research and partnerships at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said about the new study in a written statement distributed by the UK-based Science Media Centre.

“This study suggests that in very rare circumstances Alzheimer’s disease may be transmitted between humans via human growth hormone from deceased donors. It must be stressed that this treatment is no longer used today and has been replaced with synthetic growth hormone,” Kohlhaas said in the statement. “It’s also important to stress that this is the only recorded instance of Alzheimer’s transmission between humans.”

alzheimers hormone replacement therapy wellness STOCK

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Dr. Richard Isaacson, who was not involved in the new study, said in an email that he has suspected for a while that Alzheimer’s disease may have some transmissibility similar to prion diseases, but prior research he has seen was unable to prove it.

“While it’s hard to say, there must be something different about how HGH may have infected recipients in this study when compared to prior work,” said Isaacson, director of research at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Florida.

He added that “the public has nothing to fear” since this type of human growth hormone treatment is no longer in clinical practice, but the study emphasizes the importance of sterilization and decontamination of instruments in between surgeries.

While there is no suggestion that amyloid beta can be transmitted between individuals in day-to-day activities, “its recognition emphasizes the need to review measures to prevent accidental transmissions via other medical and surgical procedures,” researchers wrote in the study.

“I’m also intrigued by how these results may inform potential therapeutic targets and strategies in the future,” Isaacson said, regarding Alzheimer’s disease.

‘Asking new scientific questions’

The researchers examined eight cases in which a person had a history of being treated with human growth hormone derived from a cadaver’s pituitary gland. All of them had been treated as children. Five of the patients were still alive during the study and were in their 50s. The three others had died at ages 57, 54 and 47.

alzheimer senior hands STOCK

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The researchers found that five of the patients had symptoms consistent with early-onset dementia and three of those five had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease before the study. Four of the patients started experiencing symptoms between the ages of 48 and 49. The remaining patient started having symptoms at 55.

“We have found that it is possible for amyloid-beta pathology to be transmitted and contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Gargi Banerjee, the study’s first author and researcher at the University College London Institute of Prion Diseases, said in a news release.

“This transmission occurred following treatment with a now obsolete form of growth hormone, and involved repeated treatments with contaminated material, often over several years,” Banerjee said. “There is no indication that Alzheimer’s disease can be acquired from close contact, or during the provision of routine care.”

The new study is the first time that Dr. James Galvin, director of the Comprehensive Center for Brain Health at UHealth, the University of Miami Health System, has heard of Alzheimer’s disease transmission in humans.


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“The cases were all very young onset, which would make one suspicious that there are extraneous factors involved. Typically, early onset is linked to genetic mutations, but as this was not found, the most likely common attributable cause would be the cadaveric growth hormone treatment. More investigation is needed,” Galvin, who was not involved in the study, said in an email.

“I would say at this point, there is nothing additional that we need to do as far as clinical practice, but this certainly lends itself to asking new scientific questions. Proteins involved in brain disease, such as prion protein in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy, are transmissible,” he said. “Additionally, other proteins involved in disease, such as alpha-synuclein in Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, share some of these properties but do not appear to https://ikutisaja.com be transmissible. The science of amyloid and tau proteins in Alzheimer’s disease may need to be revisited.”

Britney Spears’ 2011 track ‘Selfish’ is charting higher than Justin Timberlake’s new song of same name

Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake

Britney Spears and Justin TimberlakeGetty ImagesCNN — 

In the music world, old grudges die hard, especially when it comes to devoted fans of a specific artist.

On Friday, Britney Spears’ 2011 song “Selfish” – off her seventh album “Femme Fatale” from that year – reached no. 1 on the US iTunes chart, topping a new song of the same name from her former boyfriend Justin Timberlake, who dropped his “Selfish” track just the day before.

On Saturday, Spears’ song was still holding steady at the no. 2 spot on the chart, two slots ahead of Timberlake at no. 4.

Why does this matter? Both a 2021 documentary titled “Framing Britney Spears” and a memoir by the singer published last year, titled “The Woman In Me,” reframed and pulled back the covers on Spears’ very high-profile, decades-old romance with Timberlake, with whom she starred on the Mickey Mouse Club as children and later dated from 1999 to 2002.

In the memoir, Spears talked about how the breakup of her relationship with Timberlake became very public due to infidelity on her part, but what the public didn’t know was that Timberlake had not been faithful either, Spears wrote in the memoir, and that she was aware of his indiscretions.

She also discussed how she had an abortion during her relationship with Timberlake, something she wrote she “never would have done” if it were up to her alone. “To this day, it’s one of the most agonizing things I have ever experienced in my life,” she added in her book.

Those revelations came two years after the “New York Times Presents” Hulu documentary “Framing Britney Spears,” which also renewed focus on her breakup with Timberlake and how, at the time, the former *NSYNC member was portrayed more positively in the media narrative about their breakup while Spears was summarily vilified.

The documentary prompted Spears’ devoted fanbase – who became galvanized during the #FreeBritney movement toward the end of her 13-year-long conservatorship – to call for an apology from Timberlake, which he did days after the doc’s premiere, writing on social media at the time, “I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments and concerns and I want to respond.”

“I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, https://ikutisaja.com or did not speak up for what was right,” he continued, later adding, “I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears.”

Clearly, devotees of Spears are still rallying to show support for the “Piece of Me” singer.