Russia Moves Into Ukraine, 3G Shutdown, and Beating the House Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Tuesday, Feb. 22, and we're covering Russia's move into separatist regions of Ukraine, the beginning of the end for 3G networks, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].



Putin Moves Into Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree yesterday recognizing the independence of two regions in eastern Ukraine. Kremlin-backed separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk have been in an eight-year conflict with Ukraine and don’t have full control of the territories—full independence likely requires Russian military assistance. As of this morning, reports say Putin has ordered troops into the breakaway regions.


The formal recognition could jeopardize the Minsk accords—an agreement to stop fighting in eastern Ukraine—and pave the way for Russia to annex the regions as it did with Crimea in 2014 after an invasion. 


Separately, multiple reports said Russia claimed its forces killed five Ukrainian military members crossing the border. Ukraine denied the claims. 


Both developments fit a strategy the US and its Western allies have predicted. The US and European Union have threatened sanctions on Russia, and the US is also expected to prohibit trade and investment in the separatist regions. 

Felicity Ace Fire

The fire sparked by cargo ship Felicity Ace Wednesday has been brought under control, officials said yesterday. Reports suggest lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles being transported fueled the fire, preventing it from being put out by water alone.


The ship was drifting off the coast of Portugal's Azores islands in the Atlantic en route from Germany to Rhode Island when it caught ablaze, causing the 22-person crew to evacuate. The ship contained nearly 4,000 Volkswagen Group luxury cars, including Porsches and Bentleys, some of which were electric vehicles. It is unclear what initially caused the fire.


Experts estimate the Volkswagen Group Q1 profit losses from the incident may exceed $450M (Forbes, paywall). That figure does not account for environmental costs, the ship itself, or the cost of the rescue, among other items.


The boat is expected to be towed back to mainland Europe if it has not sustained too much damage.

3G Shut-off

A number of Americans will lose cellphone service today as AT&T becomes the first major provider to switch off its 3G communications network. The decision—meant to make way for next-generation 5G networks—will render 3G devices incapable of handling calls, texts, or accessing the internet without Wi-Fi available. 


It is unclear how many users will be affected. Apple iPhones older than the iPhone 6 will lose function; a 2019 report suggested at least 30 million users still exclusively used 3G devices. The switch may also affect an unknown number of systems ranging from home security to medical devices. T-Mobile will follow suit in July, with Verizon switching its 3G network off Dec. 31.


Future 5G devices are expected to be up to 10 times faster than those on 4G networks, which in turn are about 500 times faster than 3G frequencies. See a deep dive on how 5G works here.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Britney Spears signs deal with publishing house Simon & Schuster to pen tell-all memoir for a reported $15M (More)


> Beijing Winter Olympics television audience drops 42% from 2018 becoming lowest-rated Olympics, but NBC's streaming audience hits an all-time high (More)


> The 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, who died in December, stripped of Derby title over failed drug test; trainer Bob Baffert suspended 90 days (More) | NFL and upstart league XFL sign partnership for XFL to test new rules and player safety protocols (More)

Science & Technology

> Researchers develop engineered bacteria strain capable of converting carbon dioxide into acetone and isopropanol, two common ingredients in commercial chemical products (More)


> Astronomers get clearest picture to date of the dark side of a planet tidally locked to its host star; the "hot Jupiter" planet's atmosphere believed to exhibit titanium rain (More)


> Malawi identifies first known case of wild polio in Africa in five years; disease was declared eradicated on the continent in 2020 (More)

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> Several newspapers report possible criminal ties to holders of accounts of Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse dating back to the 1940s (More)


> Truth Social, the social media platform backed by former President Donald Trump, hits top of App Store’s charts on first day despite some users experiencing errors (More)


> Bernie Madoff’s sister and her husband found dead last week in apparent murder-suicide in Boynton Beach, Florida (More)

From our partners: A card so lucrative, The Ascent's credit card expert personally signed up for it. And it's an absolute slam-dunk if you're looking for a one card wallet. Big first year bonus, up to 5% cash back, no annual fee, and the list goes on.

Politics & World Affairs

> Jury hears closing arguments in federal hate crime trial against three Georgia men previously convicted of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020 (More)


> The UK drops remaining COVID-19 restrictions; country is averaging 140 deaths per day, down 50% since mid-January (More) | Average US COVID-19 cases fall to under 100,000 per day (More)


> Colombia legalizes abortion until 24 weeks; becomes the fourth Latin American country to legalize the procedure without restrictions up to a certain stage of pregnancy (More)



Nixon in China

The Associated Press | Ken Moritsugu. This week marks 50 years since former President Richard Nixon's historic trip to Beijing, an anniversary that comes amid rising tensions between the US and China, now a global superpower. (Read)

Beating the House

The Hustle | Zachary Crockett. The story of Dr. Richard Jarecki, a professor who developed a system to beat the roulette table, leaving casino owners stumped. (Read)



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Today, the number two is No. 1.


The states with the highest (and lowest) life expectancies.


Watch clouds move through the Martian sky.


Why the Savannah River is full of cannons.


Chemicals in wine and chocolate may help block body odor.


Colombia's drug hippos to be declared an invasive species.


Can you think yourself warm? (paywall, New Yorker)


An amazing drumming duck.


Clickbait: Deaf dog drives Daytona.


Historybook: President George Washington born (1732); Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin born (1962); HBD Drew Barrymore (1975); "Miracle on Ice" as the US defeats the Soviet Union in hockey at Winter Olympics (1980); RIP artist Andy Warhol (1987).


"They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."

- Andy Warhol

Why 1440? The printing press was invented in the year 1440, spreading knowledge to the masses and changing the course of history. Guess what else? There are 1,440 minutes in a day and every one is precious. That’s why we scour hundreds of sources every day to provide a concise, comprehensive, and objective view of what's happening in the world. Reader feedback is a gift—shoot us a note at [email protected].

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