3.4.2024

Facts, without motives.
 

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Good morning. It's Monday, March 4, and we're covering a policy reversal in the Pacific Northwest, snowstorms in the Sierra Nevada, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

Aid Drops into Gaza

The US military successfully made its first airdrop of humanitarian supplies into the Gaza Strip over the weekend, with officials saying the cargo included food supplies sufficient for close to 40,000 meals. The delivery, expected to be the first of many, came two days after a deadly scene unfolded as Palestinian crowds rushed to receive supplies from a convoy of trucks. United Nations officials have said one-quarter of Gaza's 2.3 million people are on the brink of famine (see definition). 

 

Separately, talks to strike a six-week cease-fire deal appear to be inching forward. An agreement mediated by Egypt and others is said to be close to finished, though Israeli delegates boycotted a weekend meeting after Hamas reportedly failed to provide a list of hostages taken during the initial Oct. 7 attack who remain alive. See updates on the war here.

 

To the south, a cargo ship attacked by Houthi rebels operating out of Yemen fully sank over the weekend, becoming the first shipping vessel lost in the current fighting in the Red Sea. 

 

Oregon Recriminalization

An Oregon bill to reinstate criminal penalties for hard drugs is heading to Gov. Tina Kotek’s (D) desk. HB 4002 will, if signed, upend a 2020 voter initiative to decriminalize possession of small amounts of fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, and other drugs.

 

The news comes three years after residents voted (58%) to decriminalize hard drugs—the first and only state to do so. Instead, possession was met with a $100 fine or the option to enter treatment. However, drug-related deaths in Oregon have since skyrocketed, on track to surpass 1,250 people last year and up 42% year-over-year in September, compared to a nationwide 2%. Those supporting decriminalization still point to research failing to show an immediate correlation between drug law and overdose fatality rates. If the bill is signed, possession will be punishable by up to 180 days in jail, with options to be redirected to treatment facilities.

 

The news in Oregon comes as the popularity of decriminalization wanes (support for undoing the law is around 56%). Meanwhile, a recent poll found 40% of voters in Portland list homelessness as their primary concern.

 

Western White-Out

A major blizzard shut down much of California's Sierra Nevada over the weekend as nearly 200 mph winds and snow up to 12 feet deep blocked roads, shuttered ski resorts, and knocked out power for thousands. Early readings suggest the precipitation could mark one of the region's 10 snowiest days since the 1970s.

 

Key highways to mountain towns in Tahoe and Mammoth were closed in both directions into Sunday amid the heavy snowfall (see current snow depth). The quick accumulation of snowpack combined with strong winds led to avalanche warnings in the region's backcountry through Sunday. Blizzard warnings for the region are relatively infrequent, with one issued roughly once every other year. A smaller storm is forecast to bring more snow through Wednesday. See photos here and videos here

 

Meanwhile, Texas' Smokehouse Creek wildfire—the second-largest in US history—is only 15% contained amid worsening dry, windy conditions. 

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> Iowa's Caitlin Clark passes LSU's Pete Maravich's all-time, men's or women's, NCAA basketball scoring record (More) | LeBron James becomes first NBA player to top 40,000 points (More)

> "Dune: Part Two" hauls in $81.5M at the US domestic box office, the biggest film opening of 2024 (More) | Paolo Taviani, iconic Italian film director, dies at 92 (More)

> Singer-songwriter Raye wins top prizes of artist and album of the year at 2024 Brit Awards, the UK's highest profile music awards show (More)

From our partners: If you spent your Sunday reorganizing your closet, here’s another spring cleaning suggestion: Move your credit card debt. This card offers 0% interest on a balance transfer until mid-2025. That’s over a whole year to pay off your balance, sans interest. Plus, you’ll earn 2% cash back on purchases.

 

Science & Technology

> Eleventh-century astronomical device reveals both Hebrew and Islamic inscriptions, making it one of the oldest examples of scientific exchange between the two cultures (More) | What is an astrolabe? (More)

> Researchers demonstrate AI-enabled computer virus capable of stealing personal data and hopping between different email clients by targeting generative AI programs (More)

> Solo killer whale observed preying on a juvenile great white shark without any companions; behavior was previously only seen in packs (More, w/video)

 

Business & Markets

> Markets surge Friday (Dow +0.2%, S&P 500 +0.8%, Nasdaq +1.1%) as money moves into tech stocks; Nasdaq notches all-time high during intraday trading, S&P 500 passes 5,100 for the first time (More)

> Saudi Arabia and Russia to extend oil supply cuts of a combined 1.5 million barrels per day through June; crude oil price currently around $80 per barrel, down from close to $120 in June 2022 (More)

> Lawyers who led successful case arguing a recent pay package for Tesla CEO Elon Musk should be voided ask presiding judge for $5.6B in company stock as compensation for legal fees (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> The Supreme Court could decide today on former President Donald Trump’s eligibility to run for office; the decision would come the day before Super Tuesday (More) | Nikki Haley projected to notch first primary win against Trump in DC (More)

> Congressional leaders unveil proposed bills to partially fund the US government until the fall; bills allocate $450B in funding and make cuts to the FBI, Environmental Protection Agency, and other lines; next shutdown deadline is Friday, March 8 (More)

> Haitian gangs free roughly 4,000 prisoners as deaths from gang violence believed to have doubled last year (More) | Pakistan’s Shehbaz Sharif appointed prime minister (More)

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Etcetera
 

Explaining the viral disaster that was the Willy Wonka Experience.

 

Breaking down NASA's newest space plane.

 

Plasma plumes top the month's best science images.

 

How many sodas are too many sodas? Apparently, two sodas.

 

Rihanna bags $6M for a single private appearance.

 

Scientists solve the mystery of one of Earth's oldest sand dunes.

 

The people trying to beat the record for amount of donated hair.

 

Actress and singer Idina Menzel marks 10 years since becoming a meme.

 

Clickbait: Is 2024 the year of loud budgeting?

 

Historybook: Antonio Vivaldi, violinist and composer, born (1678); Jeannette Rankin becomes first female member of US House of Representatives (1917); Frances Perkins becomes secretary of labor, first female member of US Cabinet (1933);  Actor and comedian John Candy dies (1994); Actor Luke Perry dies (2019).

"You take people as far as they will go, not as far as you would like them to go.."

- Jeannette Rankin

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