Oil Ban, Benin Bronzes, and Your State in Search Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Wednesday, March 8, and we're covering a ban on Russian oil imports, the return of prized African artifacts, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].



Breaking news: Overnight reports suggest the Endurance, the ship of famed explorer Ernest Shackleton lost in 1915 after being trapped in Antarctic sea ice, has been discovered. This is a developing story.

The US Drops Russian Oil

The US banned Russian oil imports yesterday, one of the most significant economic steps taken since Russia's invasion of Ukraine nearly two weeks ago. The move comes as gas prices, already rising before the crisis in Ukraine, jumped to a national average of $4.17. See averages by state here.


Russia accounts for 3% of annual US crude oil imports, or 8% when including refined products (see data). In Europe, where countries are more dependent on Russian energy supplies, the UK said it would phase out Russian oil by the end of the year. European Union officials said they would cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds this year and become fully independent from Russian energy supplies by the end of the decade.


Meanwhile, more than 2 million of Ukraine's 44 million residents have fled the country in what has become Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II. NATO officials have accused Russian forces of potentially targeting evacuating civilians. 


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

Activity at Punggye-ri

Satellite images of North Korea show potential new activity at its main nuclear weapons testing site, Punggye-ri, where all six of its previous nuclear tests have occurred. The images appear to show one new structure and repairs to another, nearly four years after the country claimed to close the facility. See a before and after photo here.


The activity is the latest in a string of provocations by the regime this year, including nine missile launches. The changes at the facility are the first since Kim Jong Un carried out a public demolition of the test site in 2018, which preceded a summit between Kim and then-President Donald Trump. The most recent test resulted in a collapsed tunnel, reportedly killing nearly 200 workers in 2017 (what is tired mountain syndrome?). Officials believe North Korea has continued to stockpile fissile material in the intervening years.


It remains unknown whether the country will resume nuclear weapons testing at the site.

Smithsonian to Return Benin Bronzes 

Dozens of ornate sculptures stolen by the British over a century ago from the Kingdom of Benin will soon return to Nigeria from the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. The Smithsonian said yesterday it plans to send back most of the 39 Benin Bronzes in its possession and expects to sign an agreement with Nigeria next month. The move is part of the institution's broader effort to overhaul its collections and ethics policy. 


British troops in 1897 looted thousands of Benin Bronzes—artifacts, ranging from plaques to statues, that depict a part of the former West African nation's history. Since then, the group of objects have been scattered across the globe and held in collections at various institutions, including the British Museum in London.


Several countries and institutions have pledged to return, or have begun to return, objects that were once acquired through colonial conquest.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Seattle Seahawks trade star quarterback Russell Wilson to Denver Broncos for three players, several draft picks (More) | Four-time MVP QB Aaron Rodgers to return to Green Bay Packers for 2022 season (More)


> BBC resumes English-language reporting from Russia after suspending its news over Russia's censorship laws (More)


> Eminem breaks record for most gold and platinum singles in the Recording Industry Association of America's 70-year history (More)

Science & Technology

> Apple holds first product event of the year, unveils a budget 5G iPhone; see highlights here (More)


> Brain scans reveal even mild cases of COVID-19 may affect brain regions responsible for smell and memory; unclear how long changes last (More) | See current US COVID-19 stats here (More)


> Study suggests the white part of the human eye, or the sclera, plays an evolutionary role in communicating the direction of gaze and focus (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets fall (S&P 500 -0.7%, Dow -0.6%, Nasdaq -0.3%); oil rises on US ban of Russian oil (More)


> Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Starbucks join growing list of companies suspending Russian operations (More)


> Google to acquire cybersecurity firm Mandiant for $5.4B, its second-largest acquisition to date (More)

Politics & World Affairs

In partnership with Ground News

> Florida legislature passes bill limiting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity; Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) expected to sign the bill into law (More) | Minneapolis teachers strike over union contract impasse (More)


> Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio charged with conspiracy related to US Capitol riot (More) | Texas man convicted in first Jan. 6 trial, felony charges include transporting firearms and obstruction of an official proceeding (More)


World Health Organization recommends COVID-19 booster shots, reverses prior position (More) | Hawaii is last state to drop indoor mask mandate (More

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- Barbie inventor and businesswoman Ruth Handler

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