2.23.2022

Pipeline Paused, Soccer Settlement, and Global Literacy Rates Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Wednesday, Feb. 23, and we're covering the response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a settlement for US women's soccer, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

NEED TO KNOW

 

Germany Pauses Pipeline

Germany suspended its approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline yesterday, one of a number of actions taken by Western leaders in response to Russia's movement into eastern Ukraine. The pipeline, an $11B project that would deliver almost 2 trillion cubic feet of gas from Russia to Germany each year, has been criticized for increasing European dependence on Russian energy sources. 

 

The move followed Russia's recognition of the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk, two rebel-held territories which have seen eight years of civil conflict (see maps). The Kremlin has deployed troops into the region under the pretense of peacekeeping—Western officials have referred to the action as a de facto invasion.

 

The US issued sanctions targeting the two regions and a number of Russian institutions and individuals. European Union leaders issued sanctions on more than 350 Russian lawmakers who supported the invasion.

 

Separately, analysts say Russian state media has pivoted from being relatively muted on the tensions to justifying action using a bevy of questionable claims.

Verdict in Georgia

A jury yesterday found three white men guilty of federal hate crimes and attempted kidnapping in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, who was Black, yesterday. The verdict, in which a jury concluded race played a primary factor in the killing, comes one day before the two-year anniversary of Arbery's killing. 

 

Gregory McMichael, his son Travis, and their neighbor William Bryan were previously sentenced to life in prison by a Georgia judge for confronting and shooting Arbery, who was out running, according to his family (see timeline). The McMichaels were sentenced without parole, while Bryan will be eligible for parole at age 82. 

 

In the federal hate crimes trial, the jury also found the McMichaels guilty of firearms charges. Prosecutors had argued the men were racially motivated and cited about two dozen messages and social media posts with racial slurs and derogatory language.

 

Separately, deliberations in the federal civil rights trial against three former Minneapolis police officers accompanying Derek Chauvin when he killed George Floyd in May 2020 are expected to begin today.

USWNT Settlement

The US women’s national team reached a $24M settlement with the US Soccer Federation yesterday. Several players, including Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, filed an equal-pay lawsuit against the federation ahead of their 2019 World Cup victory. The team will receive $22M to be put toward back pay for the 28 players in the suit, with another $2M for charity—about one-third of the initial ask. The new deal, contingent on negotiating a new contract, closes the pay gap between men’s and women’s soccer.

 

USSF had argued it did not discriminate against the USWNT—men were paid on a pay-for-play basis earning more for wins, while women were paid on base salaries with a bonus structure for wins. In September, the federation offered identical contracts to the men’s and women’s teams.

 

The settlement is also a victory for USSF president Cindy Parlow Cone, a former women’s player. Cone replaced Carlos Cordeiro, who had made a legal claim that women had less physical ability than men. The women’s team has won four World Cups, six Olympic medals, and eight CONCACAF Gold Cups.

 

See players’ reactions here.

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Eight of 23 Academy Awards (March 27) categories to be taped before telecast and incorporated into live show in effort to improve ratings (More)

 

> Indian chess grandmaster Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, 16, becomes youngest person to defeat world champion Magnus Carlsen since his reign began in 2013 (More)

 

> Mark Lanegan, Grammy-nominated musician with Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age, dies at 57 (More) | Dr. Paul Farmer, humanitarian and cofounder of global nonprofit Partners in Health, dies at 62 (More)

Science & Technology

> Researchers demonstrate first artificial organic neuron; synthetic nerve cell is capable of integrating with a plant and connecting to a synapse (More)

 

> STAT News releases its annual STATUS list of the most influential decision-makers in health, medicine, and biomedical science (More)

 

> Scientists find evidence of an ancient low-lying continent that sat between Europe and Asia roughly 50 million years ago; named Balkanatolia, the landmass eventually merged with both continents (More)

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets fall again (S&P 500 -1.0%, Dow -1.4%, Nasdaq -1.2%) on growing Russia-Ukraine fears (More)

 

> US home prices increase 18.8% over 2021, the highest level in 34 years, per the Case-Schiller index; Phoenix, Tampa, and Miami markets lead the gains (More)

 

> Retail giant Macy’s decides to not separate its e-commerce business from brick and mortar stores; shares fall 5% (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> National Guard to be deployed to help intervene in potential trucker COVID-19 protest planned outside Washington, DC, beginning this week (More) | Average US COVID-19 cases fall to 84,000 per day; daily deaths near 1,800 (More)

 

> Supreme Court denies appeal by former President Donald Trump to block White House documents from House Jan. 6 Committee (More) | Court agrees to hear case on whether Colorado web designer must provide business services for same-sex couples (More

 

> Tongan internet communications reestablished roughly five weeks after a massive volcanic and resultant tsunami impacted the island nation (More)

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ETCETERA

 

Visualizing global literacy rates.

 

US rents continue to rise.

 

Super rare pterosaur fossil found in Scotland.

 

Celebrated children's cartoon "Arthur" to end after 25 seasons.

 

Reporter covers the Ukraine crisis in six languages.

 

Study suggests fish are actually very chatty.

 

Fifty things to do before you die (part 2). 

 

Zoey the dog has been reunited with her owners after 12 years.

 

Clickbait: Magpies outwit scientists.

 

Historybook: Gutenberg Bible is published (1455); RIP President John Quincy Adams (1848); Sociologist and civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois born (1868); Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima photo taken (1945); HBD actress Emily Blunt (1983).

 

"The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression."

- W.E.B. Du Bois

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