2.3.2023

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Friday, Feb. 3, and we're covering frigid temperatures moving into the Northeast, an update from Ukraine, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Arctic Blast Hits New England

Millions of residents in the US Northeast are prepping for dangerously low temperatures today as a blast of arctic air moves into the region from the Upper Midwest. Wind chills are projected to drop as low as 30 degrees below zero in many locations, with some areas of northern Maine potentially reaching negative 60 degrees. Single-digit air temperatures are expected as far south as Pennsylvania.   

 

The culprit is a shift in the polar vortex—a mass of low-pressure, cold air that rotates above the Earth's polar regions. A weakened polar jet stream can draw arctic air temporarily southward (see the science). Mild weather is expected to return by Monday; see detailed forecasts for regions across the US here (w/clickable map).

 

In the south, the death toll from an ice storm that rolled across the region rose to 10, while 400,000 customers in Texas remained without power yesterday. 

 

Putin Invokes Stalingrad

Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to rally support for the country's war in Ukraine yesterday while commemorating the anniversary of a pivotal World War II battle. The speech marked the 80th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, a decisive defeat for Nazi Germany and the deadliest battle of the war (see history).

 

Putin drew parallels between the 1942 invasion and the recent transfer of Leopard tanks from Germany to Ukraine to aid in its fight against Russia. Putin has consistently framed the current war in Ukraine as a battle against neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine, analysts say. More than 24 million Soviets died during the course of World War II. 

 

On the ground, Ukrainian officials have warned Russia may attempt to launch a renewed offensive on or around Feb. 24—the one-year anniversary of the war. See more updates here.

 

US Military Expansion

The United States announced an expansion of four additional military bases in the Philippines yesterday, strengthening US alliances in the region as tensions with China over Taiwan and the South China Sea continue. 

 

The agreement allocates $82M to upgrade the five existing military sites under the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which supports combined military training and exercises. Beijing has increasingly claimed strategic areas of the South China Sea, including areas Manila claims as its own.

 

The announcement fills the US alliance along the South Pacific geographic arc, stretching from South Korea and Japan to Australia (see map). The exact locations of the new bases have not been disclosed, but it is believed the US is seeking three locations in the north near Taiwan and one in the south near the South China Sea.

 

In addition, the nonpermanent sites will ensure the availability of US troops to assist the Philippines in humanitarian and natural disasters. See background on US-Philippines relations here

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> The 2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games set for Sunday (3 pm ET, ABC/ESPN); the traditional full-contact game will be replaced with flag football and skill competitions (More)

> Attempted rape and assault charges against Manchester United's Mason Greenwood have been dropped; Greenwood won't rejoin the club until internal investigation is completed (More)

> NBA All-Star Game (Feb. 19) rosters revealed; captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will draft players for each team just before the game (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Twitter to end free access to its Application Programming Interface, or API, Feb. 9; the feature currently allows third-party developers to build tools and software using Twitter data (More)

> Neanderthals lived in groups large enough to hunt and kill elephants, analysis of 125,000-year-old artifacts shows; suggests social organization in the ancient human relatives was more complex than previously thought (More)

> New study sheds light on why lung cancer does not respond well to immunotherapies; nearby lymph nodes create an environment that weakens therapeutic T-cells (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> Tech sector leads US stock markets (S&P 500 +1.5%, Dow -0.1%, Nasdaq +3.3%) with largest rally since September (More)

> Apple misses expectations, posts first year-over-year quarterly sales decline since 2019 (More) | Amazon beats Q4 guidance, but guides to lower Q1 revenue (More) | Alphabet (Google) misses Q4 expectations for revenue and profits (More

> Ford misses Q4 earnings guidance by $1.1B due to “execution issues” (More) | Starbucks falls short of expectations as sales in China drop 29% (More)

From our partners: This credit card is a reward-seeker's dream, offering unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases and a $200 welcome bonus. The Ascent's independent team of experts is calling it one of the best all-around cards. Learn more today.

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Most expansive federal report on gun crime in two decades released; findings include the number of traced privately made "ghost guns" doubled between 2020 and 2021 to more than 19,000 (More) | See report (More)

> Rep. Ilhan Omar (D, MN-5) removed from Foreign Affairs committee following party-line full House vote (More) | Federal agents to search former Vice President Mike Pence's home in the latest search for improperly stored classified documents (More)

> Chinese spy balloon being tracked by US officials as it floats over the northern part of the country, reports yesterday say; craft was spotted Wednesday over Montana, potentially scoping military sites (More)

 

In-Depth

> The Gangs of Port-au-Prince

AP | Megan Janetsky, Pierre Luxama. Since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, the capital of Haiti has come under almost complete control of local gangs who claim they're not the bad guys, but revolutionaries. (Read)

 

> Inside the World's Largest iPhone Factory

Rest of World | Viola Zhou. An intimate look at the seasonal iPhone production at Foxconn's Zhengzhou plant in China, where thousands of workers protested in November. (Read)

> Never Seen Again

Deep Cover | Jake Halpern. (Podcast) Brooke Henson had been missing since 1999 when a person using her name and Social Security number enrolled at a university eight years later. (Listen)

 

> What If You Fell Into a Neutron Star?

What If | Staff. They're some of the densest objects in the universe, the result of a collapse of a supergiant star. You probably don't want to fall in one. (Watch)

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Best of Etcetera—January 2023
 

Editor's note: More than 11 million monthly clicks can't be wrong. Here are the most popular stories we ran in January. Enjoy!

 

(1/11/23) Ranking the most expensive appliances on your electricity bill.

 

(1/26/23) Why Hawaiians live longer.

 

(1/6/23) The world's best places to retire (for this year).

 

(1/15/23) Explaining the soaring cost of eggs.

 

(1/25/23) How to defog your car windows the right way.

 

(1/17/23) Browse slang terms from the 1910s.

 

(1/21/23) Meet a 90-year-old woodcutter who built his own hobbit-inspired house

 

(1/26/23) Singularity is only seven years away (maybe). 

 

(1/27/23) A stunning shot of an octopus carrying her eggs.

 

(1/5/23) Five surprising things your GPS can do.

 

(1/24/23) Man photographs real-life "Angry Bird" in his backyard.

 

(1/23/23) What Gen Z wants to be when they grow up.

 

(1/24/23) Clickbait: AI tech that can deepfake your eyes.

 

Historybook: Printing press inventor Johannes Gutenberg dies (1468); American novelist Gertrude Stein born (1874); Musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper are killed in plane crash (1959); Luna 9 becomes first spacecraft to make soft landing on the moon (1966).

"Understanding and believing are not the same thing."

- Gertrude Stein

Why 1440? The printing press was invented around the year 1440, spreading knowledge to the masses and changing the course of history. More facts: In every day, there are 1,440 minutes. We’re here to make each one count.

 

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