Deadlock in Ukraine, Inflation, and Why Workers Are Quitting Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

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Ukraine Talks Deadlocked (Again)

A fourth round of talks yesterday between Ukrainian and Russian negotiators failed to find agreement on a potential cease-fire or evacuation for civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol. It marked the highest-level meeting since the start of the war, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba meeting face-to-face. 


It remains difficult to assess the death toll. UN officials say 549 civilians have been confirmed dead, including 41 children, though they believe the toll is much higher. See an updated map of Russian advances here.


The United Kingdom sanctioned seven Russian oligarchs yesterday, including Roman Abramovich, the outgoing owner of popular soccer club Chelsea FC. A pending sale of the club is now subject to government review. Read more about Russia's oligarchs here.


Russia is now the most-sanctioned country in the world, with roughly 3,000 restrictions levied by various countries since the beginning of the war. See a breakdown here.


Explore a deep dive on the weapons being used in the war, and see photos here.

Inflation Rises Again

US inflation rose 7.9% during the 12-month period ending in February, the largest such increase in more than four decades. The consumer price index, a proxy for inflation that tracks the price of a basket of goods and services, rose 0.8% in February, beating January (0.6%) and December (0.5%).


Higher inflation means consumers can buy fewer goods with each dollar they spend (see 101). The metric had risen swiftly, exceeding an annualized rate of 5% for the past nine months as the country exited the pandemic, with the war in Ukraine exacerbating food and energy prices. See data broken down by product here.


February's increase is the highest since 1982, when inflation rose almost 8.4% on the heels of a period of stagflation, characterized by slow economic growth, high unemployment, and rising prices. 

Smollett Sentenced

Actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail and 30 months probation yesterday, three months after he was convicted on five of six felony counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police. The judge denied a motion by defense attorneys requesting to throw out the verdict. Smollett will have to pay the city of Chicago over $120K in restitution with an additional $25K fine. Chicago officials had asked for over $130K.


Smollett claimed he was attacked while walking outside late at night by two men who assaulted him, yelling racist and homophobic slurs while invoking references to then-President Donald Trump. Police identified the attackers as two acquaintances of Smollett's, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who said the actor paid them $3,500 to carry out a false attack. Smollett, 39, denied the claims and alleged the Osundairo brothers attempted to extort him, demanding $1M apiece to change their story. See a timeline of the case here.


Supporters of Smollett, including actor Samuel L. Jackson, sent dozens of letters to the judge vouching for his character.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Baseball's 99-day lockout ends as MLB and players' union agree to five-year collective bargaining agreement that salvages a 162-game regular season (More)


> South by Southwest returns to Austin, Texas, in-person this weekend for first time since 2019 (More) | What is SXSW? (More) | Super Nintendo World to open at Universal Studios Hollywood in 2023 (More)


> Brackets revealed Sunday for both women's (8 pm ET, ESPN) and men's (6 pm ET, CBS) NCAA tournaments (More) | Bracket prediction for women's tourney (More) | ... and men's tourney (More)

Science & Technology

> Children clear COVID-19 much quicker than adults, new study suggests, despite exhibiting significantly lower levels of virus-neutralizing antibodies (More) | See current US COVID-19 stats here (More)


> Machine learning algorithm connects wide variety of pig grunts to various emotional states; database may provide noninvasive monitoring of animal well-being (More)


> Three Hawaiian coral species show unexpected resilience to warming temperatures and increasing ocean acidification, long-term lab study shows (More) | How warming temperatures cause coral bleaching (Watch)

Business & Markets

In partnership with Miso Robotics

> US stock markets fall (S&P 500 -0.4%, Dow -0.3%, Nasdaq -1.0%) on higher inflation data (More)


> Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase to exit Russian operations (More) | Disney to pause all business in Russia (More)


> Shares of electric vehicle maker Rivian fall 10% in after-hours trading after missing expectations (More)

From our partners: The $73B fast food industry is in desperate need of innovation, as profit margins are excruciatingly low (just 5% on average) and restaurants are suffering high employee turnover rates. Luckily, Miso Robotics is answering the call with robotic and AI solutions that boost profit margins 3X and require no additional labor. They already have traction with 10 of the top 25 QSRs, including White Castle, who recently announced plans to install Flippy 2 in 100 new locations. Check out the company that's helping QSRs boost margins and invest in Miso Robotics today.

Politics & World Affairs

> Hong Kong grapples with surge in COVID-19 deaths as omicron variant hits island; only about 30% of residents over 80 years old have been fully vaccinated (More) | Per capita death rate is more than three times the US peak seen in the winter of 2020-21; see comparison (More)


> Senate passes $1.5T omnibus spending package for fiscal year 2022 (More)


> The 2020 US census undercounted the country's population by up to 18.8 million people, in particular minority and child populations, according to two analyses released yesterday (More)



How We Got Here—Putin's Invasion

Axios | Staff. (Podcast) Follow this podcast series for an in-depth look at how decades of events culminated in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. (Listen)

Survival Story

Off Grid | Patrick McCarthy. The incredible story of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew, who survived brutal conditions after their 1915 expedition to the South Pole failed. (Read)


Editor's note: In case you missed it, Shackleton's ship was located at the bottom of the Weddell Sea this week. See photos here and here.

I'm the Operator

WIRED | Lauren Smiley. The human operator who was present during a fatal 2018 crash involving an Uber self-driving car speaks out for the first time. (Read, paywall)

The Lie that Made Me

Toronto Life | Aviva Coopersmith. A writer grapples with learning the truth about her biological father, a rogue fertility doctor. (Read)



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Why workers are quitting.


Visualizing the scale of Ukrainian cities


Oh no, penguin! The best nature photography of the past year.


... and a camera trap captures a rare Siberian tiger.


South Korean election graphics are on another level.


Beluga whales adopt a stray narwhal—what comes next?


The debate over King Tut's dagger.


British farm reveals the birth of a five-legged lamb. (w/video)


Clickbait: A fox demon may be on the loose in Japan.


Historybook: Civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy born (1926); RIP Sir Alexander Fleming, scientist who discovered penicillin (1955); Janet Reno confirmed as first female attorney general in the US (1993); Coordinated bombings kill 191 people aboard trains in Madrid (2004); COVID-19 declared a pandemic by World Health Organization (2020).


"The unprepared mind cannot see the outstretched hand of opportunity."

- Sir Alexander Fleming

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