Russian Demands, Whitmer Kidnapping Trial, and the Airbnb Builder Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Tuesday, March 8, and we're covering a third round of cease-fire talks in Ukraine, the start of a high-profile trial in Michigan, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].



Russian Demands

Russia issued its most concrete set of demands for ending its war in Ukraine yesterday, a list that came ahead of a third round of talks between both sides. Conditions included Ukraine's recognition of Russian claims over the Crimean Peninsula, the independence of pro-Russian separatist regions in the east, a constitutional guarantee of Ukrainian neutrality (for example, not joining NATO), and more.


Ukrainian officials have not yet responded to the demands. The talks came as Russian forces continued to shell major cities in the country, including the reported targeting of residential areas. 


Separately, US lawmakers continue to debate banning Russian oil imports. The country accounts for 3% of annual US crude oil imports (8% when including refined products, see data). European allies, which receive about half of Russian oil exports, have dismissed the idea thus far.


The war has begun to impact the resumption of Iran nuclear negotiations, with Western countries seeking to unlock Iranian oil exports while Russia looks to block a deal absent guarantees in Ukraine. 


See an up-to-date map of the invasion, along with photos from the ground here

South Koreans Cast Ballots

South Korean voters head to the polls later today (Wednesday local time), casting ballots in a hotly contested race to replace the term-limited President Moon Jae-in. The leading candidates—liberal Lee Jae-myung and conservative Yoon Suk-yeol—enter the day nearly deadlocked in the polls.


The campaign has been beset by animosity and scandals—even devolving to criticism of candidates' wives. In a sign of voter discontent, third-party candidates collectively polled above 10%. Over the weekend, entrepreneur Ahn Cheol-soo dropped out of the race and backed Yoon, though the impact of his endorsement remains to be seen.


The outcome may be decided by Gen Z and Millennial voters, many of whom have expressed frustration with what they view as an older political class on both sides of the spectrum.


The winner must immediately deal with increased posturing by North Korea, which launched its ninth missile test of the year Saturday.

Whitmer Kidnapping Trial

Jury selection begins today in a trial against four men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) over the state's COVID-19 restrictions during the early months of the pandemic. At the center of the case is whether undercover FBI agents and informants unduly influenced Adam Fox, Brandon Caserta, Barry Croft Jr., and Daniel Harris. Defense attorneys argue the group had only discussed the kidnapping, rather than actually acting on plans, and that undercover agents entrapped them (see 101). 


The FBI, which infiltrated the group, said it foiled their plans and arrested six men in October 2020. Two of the men—Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks—have pleaded guilty and will appear as witnesses for the government. Prosecutors also plan to present a slew of secret audio recordings, online messages, and videos.


Separately, the FBI has been ordered to disclose the true identities of the informants when they testify during the trial.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with Lustre

> Supreme Court declines to review Pennsylvania court decision that vacated Bill Cosby's 2018 sexual assault conviction and freed him from prison in June (More)


> Queen Elizabeth II met Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday in her first in-person engagement since testing positive for COVID-19 Feb. 20 (More)


> Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley suspended for entire 2022 season for betting on 2021 NFL games (More) | FIFA to allow foreign players in Ukraine and Russia to break contracts and sign with new clubs for season ending in June (More)

From our partners: Find Amazon overwhelming? Here’s a free tool that does extensive product research for you—from reviews to prices—so you can always get the best product for your money. Check out Lustre here. It's 100% free.

Science & Technology

> An estimated 75% of the Amazon rainforest shows signs of loss since the early 2000s, driven by deforestation and climate change; study suggests the ecosystem is near a tipping point where vegetation stops growing back (More)


> Apple holds first product event of 2022 today, expected to unveil faster iPads, an upgraded iPhone SE, and more; see how to watch here (More)


> Study finds lead exposure from gasoline exhaust caused developmental effects and impacted cognitive ability of an estimated 170 million Americans alive today (More) | Researchers uncover key process in how the brain records and organizes two separate broad categories of memories (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets slide (S&P 500 -3.0%, Dow -2.4%, Nasdaq -3.6%); Dow enters “correction” territory down 10% from January peak, Nasdaq enters “bear-market” territory down 20% from November peak (More)


> Bed Bath & Beyond shares surge 34% after GameStop chairman Ryan Cohen discloses 10% position (More)


> Oil and gas producers Whiting Petroleum and Oasis Petroleum announce a merger of equals, valuing combined enterprise at near $6B (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> China reports 214 COVID-19 cases, its highest single-day total in two years; the country has pursued a strict "zero COVID-19" policy (More) | New York City ends school mask mandate (More) | See US COVID-19 stats here (More)


> Supreme Court upholds state court-drawn redistricting maps in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, dismissing GOP appeal; decision may impact tight midterm battle to control US House (More) | Congress passes anti-lynching bill, President Joe Biden expected to sign (More)


> Officials upgrade tornado that left seven dead in Iowa, including two children, to an EF4 system, with peak winds above 170 mph (More) | See drone video of damage (More)



Rethinking Nature's Law

Quanta Magazine | Natalie Wolchover. After decades of failing to find answers to fundamental questions about the physical world, researchers are reexamining a long-held belief: Big stuff consists of smaller stuff. (Read)

Building the World's Unique Airbnbs

The Hustle | Zachary Crockett. How a potato factory worker became one of the most influential Airbnb proprietors, building rentals like a real-life hobbit-hole in Washington and a spud-shaped home in Idaho. (Read)



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Today is International Women's Day

A look at what Americans view as top threats to the US.


More and more people are cheating at Wordle


Press 3 for a pep talk from kindergartners


Gravity-defying homes from around the world.

An outdoor piano concert under the Northern Lights. (w/ video)


A ranking of US states with the highest property taxes


When buying a Pokémon card lands you in jail.


Clickbait: North Carolina woman fights to keep a conspicuous vanity plate.


Historybook: First stock car race held in Daytona Beach (1936); HBD tattoo artist and entrepreneur Kat Von D (1982); RIP baseball player Joe DiMaggio (1999); Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared en route to Beijing (2014); RIP Sam Simon, director and codeveloper of "The Simpsons" (2015).


"Motivation is something nobody else can give you. Others can help motivate you, but basically, it must come from you, and it must be a constant desire to do your very best at all times and under any circumstances."

-Joe DiMaggio

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