2.9.2023

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Thursday, Feb. 9, and we're covering new allegations in the downing of a commercial jetliner, a major acquisition in the US healthcare system, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

MH17 Probe Implicates Putin

International prosecutors say Russian President Vladimir Putin is believed to have approved a decision to supply long-range missiles to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014 and killed nearly 300 people on board. 

 

The implication comes from an international team tasked with investigating those responsible for launching the missile (see background). The team said they had documented indications of Putin's role in the downing through recorded phone conversations of Russian officials, but the evidence wasn't complete enough to initiate a new prosecution. 

 

The conclusion follows a Dutch court ruling in November, which sentenced two Russians and a Ukrainian separatist in absentia to life in prison for shooting down the plane. The incident happened amid a separatist struggle in eastern Ukraine, facilitated by Russia seeking control of the Crimean Peninsula

 

Moscow has denied involvement in the plane's destruction and maintains the verdicts are politically motivated. 

 

Zelenskyy Calls for Jets

Several European leaders signaled an openness to send fighter jets to Ukraine yesterday, as Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy made a surprise tour of London and Paris to make the request. The campaign for more weapons follows Russian claims Monday that it is adding tens of thousands of troops in eastern Ukraine ahead of a planned offensive in the next month.

 

Neither Ukraine nor Russia currently holds air superiority over the front lines, although Russia’s fleet outmatches Ukraine’s older aircraft in number and capacity. The air parity results from Ukraine’s effective use of surface-to-air missile systems as well as a low Russian missile success rate, according to analysts. Ukrainian jet fighters would need to be trained to use Western aircraft, a roughly six-month process on average. 

 

While leaders in the UK and France expressed willingness to send jets, both Germany and the US ruled out the option for now. See more updates on the war here.

 

CVS Goes Vertical

CVS Health, the parent company of the nationwide pharmacy chain, announced a $10.6B deal yesterday to acquire Oak Street Health, one of the country's largest primary care health networks focused on older adults. The deal is the latest—and CVS Health's first step—in the trend of large pharmacy chains moving into the primary care market. 

 

In addition to nearly 10,000 pharmacies, CVS Health owns insurance giant Aetna, which provides coverage to more than 40 million people under various medical and dental plans. The deal would allow CVS Health to manage health services from the insurer through point-of-care for millions of older patients. Company officials say the move helps meet the government's goal of having more patients in value-based care arrangements—where providers are paid based on health outcomes. 

 

Rivals Walgreens, UnitedHealth, and others have made similar recent moves.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with Apollo

> Celia Cruz, late Cuban American salsa music legend, to appear on US quarter in 2024, becoming first Afro Latina to appear on American currency (More)

> Seattle Storm sell minority stake, which values franchise at WNBA record of $151M (More) | Los Angeles Lakers in talks to trade former MVP Russell Westbrook (More) | See latest rumors ahead of today's NBA trade deadline (More)  

> President Joe Biden's State of the Union address draws 27.3 million viewers, a 29% drop from 2022 and the lowest State of the Union audience in 30 years (More)

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Science & Technology

> Scientists find HIV may lay latent in the central nervous system, presenting a previously unknown challenge to treating patients (More)

> Study reveals nongenetic pathway for obesity risk factors to be inherited by offspring; chemical modifications that affect metabolism in mice were shown to persist up to six generations (More)

> Qubits transferred between quantum computer microchips for the first time, with record accuracy and precision; new demonstration overcomes a major barrier toward practical quantum computers (More) | Quantum computing 101 (More)

 

Business & Markets

> US stock markets slide (S&P 500 -1.1%, Dow -0.6%, Nasdaq -1.7%) as investors turn to the latest batch of earnings reports (More

> The Walt Disney Co. announces plans to cut 7,000 jobs and reorganize into three divisions (More) | Disney beats earnings expectations as its theme parks see year-over-year growth, sees first drop in Disney+ subscribers amid a price increase (More) | Affirm to lay off 19% of its workforce (More)

> Alphabet shares fall more than 7% following Google's AI event showing off its new technologies, including its artificial intelligence chatbot Bard (More

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Death toll in Turkey and Syria nears 12,000 following the world's deadliest earthquake in more than a decade (More

> Former Twitter executives testify before House Oversight Committee on Twitter's role in suppressing New York Post articles in 2020 about contents of a laptop owned by President Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden (More

> Nigeria's Supreme Court suspends Friday deadline to stop using old banknotes, a government policy that has led to a cash crisis in the country (More

 

In-Depth

> Crushed by the Squad  

Atavist | Nile Cappello. A deep dive into the disturbing, exploitive world of a popular group of tween YouTube influencers, called the Squad, and a mother's journey navigating the consequences of her son's fame and fortune. (Read)

 

> The Snack-Cake Economy 

WealthSimple | Nico Walker. A firsthand account of a man who was once behind bars and the skills he learned, including how the innovative—and brutal—parts of capitalism survive even in a world without paper currency. (Read)

In partnership with InsideTracker

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Etcetera
 

All of the baskets LeBron James scored. (via Twitter)

 

Choosing a TV detective to investigate a murder.

 

The first famous football team in prison.

 

A news show produced entirely by AI and deepfakes.

 

Popular songs that never won a Grammy.

 

Aviation expert breaks down the safest seat on an airplane.

 

… and when the last seat on the airplane leads you to love.

 

Walmart wins lawsuit over its fudge mint cookies.

 

Clickbait: Toddler plays an ultimate game of dodgeball.

 

Historybook: President William Henry Harrison born (1773); Poet and playwright Paul Laurence Dunbar dies (1906); "The Color Purple" author Alice Walker born (1944); Record 73 million watch The Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show" (1964).

"It is a little dark still, but there are warnings of the day and somewhere out of the darkness, a bird is singing to the Dawn."

- Excerpt from Representative American Negroes, an essay by Paul Laurence Dunbar

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