2.18.2020

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Need to Know
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Floods Swamp Southeast US
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) declared a state of emergency after weeks of heavy rains have left communities across the state and broader southeast US desperately trying to protect homes and valuables against widespread flooding. In Mississippi, an estimated 2,400 structures around the capital city of Jackson were either flooded or at risk of flooding as the Pearl River crested at 36.8 feet, the third-highest mark on record (see photos). Some parts of central Mississippi and western Alabama and Tennessee have seen up to four times the normal precipitation so far this year, with 1 to 3 inches expected through Thursday. The rain harkens back to last year's historic floods which destroyed homes and swamped farms from South Dakota down to the Gulf Coast (great visualization here, $$, NYT), ultimately causing $20B in damage.

Check out precipitation (and other) data using these interactive maps.
Cruise Ship Evacuation
A reported 340 Americans were evacuated over the weekend from a cruise ship that had been quarantined off the coast of Japan due to an onboard outbreak of the new coronavirus. About 400 of the 3,700 total people aboard the ship are believed to be infected, including 46 Americans showing symptoms that remain in Japan for treatment. Officials initially said they would not immediately return those who tested positive for the bug, however an additional 14 Americans deemed fit to fly with minimal symptoms tested positive just before boarding departing flights. They were ultimately allowed to return, sectioned off in the planes from other passengers. Those returning have begun a new two-week quarantine process at military bases in California and Texas. Separately, a passenger from a Holland America cruise ship tested positive for the virus - but only after the ship had disembarked in Cambodia.

The death toll is nearing 1,900 with more than 73,000 illnesses, though reported cases in China hit a three-week low.
Avenatti Convicted
High-profile lawyer Michael Avenatti was found guilty on charges of attempting to extort millions from sports apparel giant Nike. The case revolved around a 2019 incident in which Avenatti approached the company claiming to have evidence its employees had illicitly funneled money to college basketball players. Prosecutors argued he leveraged the claim to demand Nike either hire his firm to clear them of criminal liability or pay upward of $22M; he was arrested just before a news conference during which he was expected to reveal evidence. Avenatti, best known for representing adult film star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Trump, faces up to 42 years in prison. In an unconnected case set to begin in California, Avenatti faces charges of fraud and embezzlement over charges he stole money from a paraplegic client

Separate from Avenatti's attempt to extort Nike, the company does appear to have been caught up in a federal government probe into college pay-to-play schemes.
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In the Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> Denny Hamlin wins 2020 Daytona 500, his second in a row and third of career; 2008 winner Ryan Newman sent to hospital following crash on final lap (More)
> “Love Island” host Caroline Flack dies at 40 in apparent suicide (More) | Amie Harwick, celebrity therapist and ex-fiancée to Drew Carey, killed at 38; ex-boyfriend arrested on murder charges (More)
> Team LeBron tops Team Giannis 157-155 in NBA All-Star Game as Kawhi Leonard wins game MVP (More) | English Premier League power Manchester City banned two-years from European competitions for breaking financial fair play rules (More)
Science & Technology
> Soil researchers register temperatures in Antarctica of nearly 70 degrees, the warmest observed in seven decades of measurements (More)
> NASA reveals finalists for future robotic missions, including Venus, Jupiter's volcanic moon Io, and Neptune's largest moon Triton (More)
> MIT researchers develop low-cost disposable smart diaper that notifies caregivers when wet; sensor can be manufactured for less than 2 cents (More)
Business & Markets
> Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos launches Bezos Earth Fund to invest $10B to “help preserve and protect the natural world” (More) | See announcement on Instagram (More)
> Apple warns it does not expect to meet Q2 revenue expectations given lower product supply and reduced demand in China due to coronavirus (More)
> Dairy Farmers of America to acquire Dean Foods, the largest milk producer in America, for $425M after Dean filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November (More) | Retailer Pier 1 Imports files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, to close 450 stores (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> Virginia's Democratic-controlled state legislature votes down assault weapon ban; four Democrats joined all Republicans to block the measure championed by Gov. Ralph Northam (D) (More)
> New York Police arrest 14-year-old boy in December murder of 18-year-old Tessa Majors in Manhattan park near Columbia University, will try suspect as an adult (More)
> At least 24 dead, 18 injured after gunmen attack church in Burkina Faso; West African country has seen increasing number of attacks on religious leaders and communities (More) | At least 15 killed after fire ravages unlicensed orphanage in Haiti (More)
In-Depth
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Smile Through the Tears
Miami Herald | Aaron Leibowitz. On Feb. 14, 2018, a gunman killed 14 students and three adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Two years later, the cameras are gone and the news cycle has moved on, but emotions are as raw as ever. (Read)
Going the Distance (and Beyond)
Wired | Gordy Megroz. A health insurance data analyst by day, Derek Murphy spends his free time obsessively tracking down marathon cheaters. Here's what it takes to expose fraudulent race times, and the real-world consequences when an obsession goes too far. (Read, $$)
 
 
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Etcetera
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The world wastes twice as much food as previously thought.
There's a grape surplus, and its causing wine prices to drop.
Nike's latest app-controlled, self-lacing shoes hit the shelves
Amid coronavirus panic, gangs are stealing toilet paper at knifepoint.
Watch the best of the 2020 NBA dunk contest.
Madagascar's bizarre aye-ayes have a secret sixth finger.
Physics professor takes crazy science experiments to the next level.
Teacher out for a stroll spots dancing bears in the forest.
Clickbait: Florida man fights dialysis center over emotional support Trump.
Historybook: RIP artist Michelangelo (1564); “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” published in the US (1885); HBD television personality Vanna White (1957); HBD rapper and entrepreneur Dr. Dre (1965); Auto racing legend Dale Earnhardt killed in crash at Daytona 500 (2001).
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"You can't let one bad moment spoil a bunch of good ones."
- Dale Earnhardt
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