Shanghai Shutdown, Pennsylvania Pileup, and Social Sharks Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Tuesday, March 29, and we're covering a wave of COVID-19 infections in China, a massive car crash in Pennsylvania, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].



Shanghai Shutdown

China began its most sweeping coronavirus restrictions since the early pandemic yesterday, locking down large swaths of Shanghai in an effort to contain an emerging outbreak. The country's largest city, home to 26 million residents, reported roughly 3,500 new cases Sunday—though all but 50 were asymptomatic.


The jump in cases has been fueled by the BA.2 omicron variant, which has increased the total number of cases reported in China during the entire pandemic by 50% in the past three months. The highly transmissible strain has presented a challenge to the government's stated "Zero COVID" policy, with citywide lockdowns leading to significant economic disruption


Meanwhile, COVID-19 deaths in the US continue to fall, with the seven-day rolling average near 750 per day (see data), while reporting around 31,000 new infections each day. 

The Taliban's New Rules

The Taliban continued to impose restrictions on women and girls in the country, banning female passengers from boarding flights without a male chaperone. The latest restrictions come after the Taliban prohibited schooling for girls beyond sixth grade, reversing a previous pledge to further education for women and girls.  


The strict Islamist group reclaimed the country in August amid a US withdrawal that drew bipartisan criticism. The international community feared the Taliban would impose the same strict laws as under their previous rule, before its regime collapsed in 2001. At the time, Taliban leaders pledged to maintain increased freedoms gained over the past two decades. 


The younger and older generations within the Taliban seem to be at odds, according to analysts. Younger members see rights for both men and women, while elders, including the Taliban's hardline leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, want to steer the country back toward the 1990s. See the history of the Taliban here.

Pileup on I-81

At least 60 cars were involved in an extensive pileup along a major Pennsylvania highway yesterday afternoon, an incident that left as many as 20 people injured. The crash occurred roughly 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia along a portion of I-81, which connects the city to upstate New York. At least five people were reportedly killed. 


The accident came amid a snow squall that created near white-out conditions, according to those present. Multiple semi-trucks were involved, in addition to what appeared to be a fuel tanker that caught fire. Much of the US Midwest and Northeast are in the middle of a cold snap, with many cities falling 15 to 30 degrees below average. 


See footage taken as the pileup occurred (warning—sensitive content).

In partnership with Surely



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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Motion Picture Academy condemns Will Smith's slap of Chris Rock at Oscars, will launch formal review of the incident (More) | Read Smith's apology to Chris Rock (More) | Oscars pull in 15.4 million TV viewers, up 56% from last year (More)


> Supreme Court to hear lawsuit alleging Andy Warhol infringed on a photographer's copyright in using her photo of the musician Prince as basis for a Warhol art piece (More)


> No. 2. University of Connecticut outlasts No. 1 North Carolina State in double overtime, No. 1 Louisville tops No. 3 Michigan; will join No. 1 South Carolina and No. 1 Stanford in NCAA women's basketball Final Four (More)

Science & Technology

> Scientists detail the mechanics of filopodia—tiny octopus-like tentacles that help cells move through the body; discovery may advance understanding of how cancer cells penetrate tissue (More)


> Researchers develop an enhanced form of TNT, setting a record for peak energy available in an organic explosive (More)


> Almost 30% of US teens meet the criteria for prediabetes, up from around 12% two decades ago, new study estimates (More)

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets rise (S&P 500 +0.7%, Dow +0.3%, Nasdaq +1.3%) led by tech stocks (More) | Tesla shares up 8% as company seeks stock split to pay a stock dividend to shareholders (More)


> FedEx founder Fred Smith, 77, to step down as CEO and transition to executive chairman; COO Raj Subramaniam to step into CEO role June 1 (More)


> Walmart to halt cigarette sales in certain US locations (More)

From our partners: How many credit cards are in your wallet? Make your answer "one." The Ascent's credit card expert personally signed up for this card because of its perfect mix of benefits. Up to 5% cash back, a big bonus, no annual fee, the list goes on.

Politics & World Affairs

> Negotiators resume discussions in Ukraine-Russia cease-fire talks; Ukraine prepared to consider formal stance of neutrality (More)


> White House releases $5.8T FY23 budget request; proposal includes a 20% minimum tax on households with a net worth of more than $100M, boosts defense and crime prevention spending (More) | Federal budget 101 (More)


> Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signs Parental Rights in Education bill, limiting discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity topics in kindergarten through third grade, among other restrictions (More) | See bill overview (More)



Inside a Real Cinderella Story

Sports Illustrated | Kevin Sweeney. A look behind the challenges the Saint Peter's Peacocks have overcome beyond the March Madness court, from significant budget constraints to repeated flooding in the coaching offices. (Read)

Why Do We Die Without Sleep?

Quanta | Steven Strogatz. Many aspects of the role sleep plays in human health continue to elude scientists. But recent discoveries suggest the importance of sleep often lies in unexpected parts of the body. (Read)



In partnership with Surely


Did you know that March is Sleep Awareness Month? Did you know that the next time you’re lying in bed with a hangover you’ll remember this fact, and it’ll deeply irritate you? Did you know that there is, in fact, a way out of this?


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Please support our sponsors!



Scot the great white shark is swimming off Florida's coast.


... and off the Mexican coast, scientists discover a shark social club.


How cockroaches survived the asteroid that doomed dinosaurs


Music is just as beneficial to mental health as exercise


A foot-tickling machine could also help beat stress.


Mexico will rent out its presidential jet for weddings and parties.


Competitive eater wins record for most chicken nuggets eaten in one minute


Introducing Dr. Taylor Swift.


Clickbait: When you call the cops on KFC


Historybook: US President John Tyler born—and he still has one living grandson (1790); Baseball player Cy Young born (1867); Walmart founder Sam Walton born (1918); Dow Jones closes above 10,000 for first time (1999); RIP actress Patty Duke (2016).


"Swim upstream."

- Sam Walton

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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