2.22.2023

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Good morning. It's Wednesday, Feb. 22, and we're covering a nuclear warning from Russia, a remediation plan for Ohio's train wreck, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

 

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Need To Know
 

Putin Suspends Nuke Treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin said yesterday he would suspend Russia's participation in the New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty in place with the US since 2011. Russian officials later clarified they would still respect current treaty limits on long-range nuclear arsenals.

 

The New START treaty caps the number of long-range nuclear weapons Russia and the US can deploy (see explainer). It also allows each side to inspect the other's strategic nuclear sites up to 18 times per year at short notice (how it works). Analysts noted the suspension is not technically a withdrawal from the treaty, but it makes compliance more difficult to determine.

 

Putin also indicated Russia would be ready to restart nuclear weapons tests if the US does, a practice mostly banned since the 1960s. See a history of nuclear weapon proliferation here.

 

Later Tuesday, US President Joe Biden gave a speech in Poland a day after his surprise visit to Kyiv, Ukraine's capital. 

 

Ohio Derailment Cleanup

The US Environmental Protection Agency yesterday ordered rail company Norfolk Southern to clean up the contamination from the East Palestine, Ohio, train wreck. The move comes more than two weeks after emergency crews carried out a controlled burn of the leaked chemicals on the train, releasing toxic hydrogen chloride and phosgene gas over the area. 

 

Under what's commonly known as the Superfund law, the EPA directed Norfolk Southern to follow an approved remediation plan, which includes attending public meetings, sharing information publicly, and paying for cleaning services offered to residents and businesses. If Norfolk Southern fails to comply, the EPA warned it would perform the work itself and seek triple damages. About 8.3 million pounds of contaminated soil and 1.1 million gallons of contaminated water have been removed so far. See the EPA's latest response here.

 

Separately, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced a package of reforms and said his department would begin inspecting train routes used to transport hazardous materials.

 

Four-Day Workweek Study

Results released yesterday show a recent four-day workweek trial in the UK had 56 of 61 participating companies continuing with the policy. The study, conducted from June to December, included 2,900 employees from a range of industries, with the average workweek around 32 hours and compensation kept the same.

 

The results showed 71% of employees reported less burnout, 39% less stress, and 60% better work-life balance. Fewer workers quit or took sick days compared to the same period in the previous year. Among the 23 companies that shared sales numbers, the average revenue grew 1.4% during the trial.

 

In the US, legislators in Maryland this week proposed a five-year, four-day workweek pilot program in exchange for tax credits for participating businesses. See some companies in the US that currently offer a four-day schedule.

 

See the history of the concept here.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr reportedly recording music for a new Rolling Stones studio album (More)

> Brittney Griner officially inks one-year deal with Phoenix Mercury following 10-month imprisonment in Russia (More) | University of Alabama basketball star Brandon Miller, widely considered to be a top five pick in 2023 NBA Draft, reportedly delivered gun used in shooting death that killed a woman last month (More)

> Former White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tapped for weekly series on MSNBC (More)

 

Science & Technology

> Supreme Court hears Gonzalez v. Google, focused on whether YouTube is exempt from liability for terrorist content uploaded to the platform; case has potential ramifications for how internet companies moderate content on their site (More) | See our previous write-up here (More)

> Germany's "Düsseldorf Patient" becomes third known patient to be cured of HIV following stem cell transplant from a donor with innate resistance to the virus (More)

> New seismic data reveal a distinct innermost inner core at the center of Earth, believed to be made primarily of solid nickel and iron (More)

 

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -2.0%, Dow -2.1%, Nasdaq -2.5%) in worst session of 2023, as investors fear continued interest rate hikes (More)

> Walmart reports strong holiday quarter, but provides reduced guidance for 2023 (More) | Home Depot misses revenue expectations for first time since 2019, reduces guidance for 2023; shares fall over 5% in after-hours trading (More

> US home sales fall for 12th consecutive month, down 37% over last January; median home price at $359K, up from last January but down 13% from June 2022 high (More)

From our partners: 0% APR is 100% an unbelievable deal. This card offers 0% APR for 21 months on balance transfers, giving you nearly two years to save big. Enjoy that, and no annual fee.

 

Politics & World Affairs

> US jury convicts former Mexican Public Security Chief Genaro Garcia Luna of drug trafficking and taking bribes to protect the country's Sinaloa drug cartel (More)

> Rep. David Cicilline (D, RI-1) to step down in June after six terms to lead the Rhode Island Foundation, a major funder of nonprofit organizations in the state (More) | Rep. Barbara Lee (D, CA-12) officially joins Reps. Katie Porter (D, CA-47) and Adam Schiff (D, CA-30) in race to replace outgoing Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (More)

> Severe winter storm arrives in the Great Plains and Midwest, with more than 2 feet of snow expected in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin through Thursday (More)

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Bestselling, Best Fit

 

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Etcetera
 

What is your state's official song

 

Ranking the world's cities by average traffic time.

 

... and ranking US states by property taxes.

 

Japan startup unveils space-viewing balloon tours.

 

Unopened original iPhone from 2007 sells for over $63K.

 

Teen's blunder on "Wheel of Fortune" costs her a trip to Antigua.

 

When public officials resign because the trains are too big.

 

A precious pup learns to swim. (via Reddit) 

 

Clickbait: Bing chatbot names its foes, threatens harm and lawsuits

 

Historybook: President George Washington born (1732); Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin born (1962); Drew Barrymore born (1975); "Miracle on Ice" as the US defeats the Soviet Union in hockey at Winter Olympics (1980); Artist Andy Warhol dies (1987).

"They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."

- Andy Warhol

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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