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Good morning. It's Saturday, Feb. 18, and in this weekend edition, we're covering a sanitation firm's child labor violation, an atmospheric fireball in the Deep South, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.


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One Big Headline

Child Labor Law Violation

The US Labor Department, in a report Friday, said it found at least 102 children as young as 13 years old working in sanitation jobs at 13 meatpacking plants across eight states. Packers Sanitation Services, one of the country's largest food sanitation service providers, was fined $1.5M in penalties for allegedly employing minors to clean razor-sharp saws and other equipment with hazardous chemicals.


The plants in question, mostly in the Midwest and South, are operated by some of the biggest meat and poultry producers in the US, including JBS Foods, Tyson, and Cargill (see investigation breakdown). They were not charged or fined as part of the federal investigation, which began in August. At least three children in recent months suffered injuries, including a chemical burn to the face, while cleaning the plants, investigators said. 


The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 prohibits all minors from working in hazardous conditions and prohibits children under the age of 14 from working at all. 

Quick Hits

Five former Memphis cops plead not guilty in death of Tyre Nichols.

The former police officers were each indicted with second-degree murder, assault, and kidnapping, among other charges. Body camera and other video footage showed the officers repeatedly striking 29-year-old Nichols, who later died. See our previous write-up here.   


US military finishes recovering Chinese spy balloon debris.

The pieces of the large Chinese balloon the US shot down two weeks ago off South Carolina's coast have been sent to the FBI lab in Virginia for analysis. The search for two smaller objects downed over Lake Huron and northern Alaska have been suspended. Recovery efforts for an object downed over the Yukon have failed so far.


Protests hit multiple cities in Iran in mourning of executed men.

The new wave of protests marked the 40th day of mourning for two Iranian men, Mohammad Karami and Seyed Hosseini, who were executed on protest-related charges. Protests first swept across the country in September after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in custody of the morality police. See our previous write-up here.


Power outages shut down John F. Kennedy airport's international terminal.

The disruption in Terminal 1 stretched into a second day Friday, forcing outbound and inbound international flights to be canceled or diverted. In one case, an Air New Zealand flight returned to Auckland after eight hours into its trip to New York. An electrical panel failure caused the outage and ignited a small isolated fire Thursday.


NASA confirms meteoroid, believed to weigh 1,000 pounds, fell in Texas.

The atmospheric fireball fell near McAllen, Texas, this week. NASA experts say the angle and speed of entry of the object, believed to be 2 feet in diameter, as well as weather radar imagery are consistent with other naturally occurring meteorite falls. Meteoroids that survive Earth's atmosphere and hit the ground are known as meteorites (see 101).


Saudi wealth fund becomes biggest outside Nintendo investor.

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund now holds 8.26% of the stock in the Japanese video gaming company Nintendo, making it the largest outside investor. The investment is part of the Saudi wealth fund's efforts to diversify the country's economy away from oil. 

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Loose Ends volunteers step in to finish incomplete knitting projects left behind by loved ones who have died. (More)


Vermont dad's novel becomes a bestseller after his daughter's TikTok. (More)


Solo Atlantic rower finishes race in record time, raises funds for mental health charities. (More)


Sign language interpreter goes viral after Super Bowl halftime show. (More


A young girl creates a charity to help students pay for school meals. (More)


Chiefs fan and Eagles fan attend Super Bowl together after one donates kidney to the other. (More


A service dog is honored on her last plane ride after more than 250 flights. (More)

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Dear readers—

This week’s Humankindness is dedicated to our friend and colleague, Pierre Lipton, who unexpectedly passed away earlier this month.

Pierre was brilliant and accomplished. A world traveler, speaker of multiple languages, valedictorian, Forbes 30 under 30 honoree, start-up founder, and more. He cared deeply about making the world a better place, devoting his time and energy to issues he was passionate about—the environment, animal welfare, food security, and physical health in underserved communities. Most importantly, Pierre was humble and took time to deeply connect with people, lifting others up and helping them succeed.

Pierre passed away after completing a marathon in Arizona. He was doing what he loved. He will be deeply missed by his family, partner, friends, colleagues, and many others.

A philanthropic foundation is being established in Pierre's memory to support charitable organizations consistent with his passions.



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Historybook: Artist Michelangelo born (1564); “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” published in the US (1885); Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto (1930); Novelist Toni Morrison born (1931); Record producer Andre "Dr. Dre" Young born (1965); Auto racing legend Dale Earnhardt killed in crash at Daytona 500 (2001).

"You just have to find that thing that's special about you that distinguishes you from all the others, and through true talent, hard work, and passion, anything can happen."

- Andre "Dr. Dre" Young

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