2.19.2024

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Good morning. It's Monday, Feb. 19, and we're covering the fallout from the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, England grappling with a deadly disease, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.

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Need To Know
 

Navalny Mourners Arrested

Nearly 400 people were arrested in Russia amid demonstrations mourning the Friday death of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, according to rights groups. Prison officials claimed Saturday the 47-year-old died of sudden death syndrome, a catch-all term for various causes of cardiac arrest. Navalny's family has been unable to locate the body.

 

The longtime YouTuber and one-time presidential candidate had amassed 6 million followers for his documentary exposés of corruption in Russia under current President Vladimir Putin. In late 2020, Navalny nearly died after being poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent and was flown to Germany for recuperation. He was jailed upon voluntarily returning to Russia in 2021. His death comes a month before elections where Putin is slated to win a fifth presidential term amid limited opposition. See Navalny's life in photos here

 

Separately, Russian forces announced the capture of the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka Sunday, Russia's most significant gain since taking the city of Bakhmut in May. See war updates here.

 

British Measles Outbreak

England's worst measles outbreak in more than a decade has spread from its original hot spot in the West Midlands region to areas around the country, according to new government data. Roughly two-thirds of the cases have been reported in children 10 years old and younger, with almost half in children under the age of 4.

 

The airborne disease is highly contagious, causing rashes, fever, and respiratory issues. Most deaths in young children occur from associated pneumonia, though roughly one in 1,000 cases results in encephalitis (brain inflammation). The development of a vaccine in 1963 led to a drop in global deaths from 6 million to around 100,000 annually.

 

Confirmed cases in the UK have jumped from 17 in October to more than 250 in January. For comparison, the US—which has five times the population of the UK—reported 58 cases in total last year. 

 

Take a deep dive into how measles works here (w/video).

 

Egypt's Border Wall

Egypt appears to be building a fortified wall along its border with the Gaza Strip, according to newly analyzed satellite photos. The construction—which has not been publicly acknowledged by the Egyptian government—comes as Israel appears ready to advance into the city of Rafah, which sits directly across the border (see maps). 

 

Egypt has long signaled concern that Israeli operations would push huge numbers of Palestinians into the Sinai Peninsula, sparking a refugee crisis and permanently displacing residents from Gaza.    

 

In southern Gaza, aid groups said Nasser Hospital—the largest functioning hospital remaining in the territory—ran out of fuel yesterday. Israeli forces launched a raid into the facility late last week, arresting more than 100 people. Aid groups said four medical staff remain to treat about 200 patients.

 

In related news, the United Nations Security Council is expected to again consider a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza tomorrow. The US is reportedly set to block the vote.

 

See more updates on the war here.

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In The Know
 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

In partnership with The Ascent

> "Oppenheimer" is big winner at 2024 British Academy Film Awards, hauling in seven wins, including best film; see full list of BAFTA winners (More)

> NASCAR Cup's season-opening Daytona 500 postponed due to rain; rescheduled for this afternoon (4 pm ET, Fox) (More

> East beats West 211-186 in NBA's All-Star game; see weekend highlights here (More) | Lefty Driesell, college basketball coaching legend and Basketball Hall of Famer, dies at 92 (More)

From our partners: Reward seekers, this one's for you. This card offers 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.

 

Science & Technology

> NASA says material recovered from its OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid Bennu is double the amount expected (More) | Samples expected to provide insights into the early formation of the solar system; see previous write-up (More)

> Food allergy treatment to lessen severity of common reactions approved by US health officials; injectable drug targets a naturally produced antibody involved in triggering allergy symptoms (More)

> Engineers demonstrate small, tamper-proof identification tags that can be fixed to nearly any physical item to prove authenticity (More)

 

Business & Markets

> Markets end five-week winning streak (Dow -0.4%, S&P 500 -0.5, Nasdaq -0.8%); higher-than-expected inflation numbers stoke fears Federal Reserve may delay interest rate cuts (More)

> Apple to be fined almost $540M by the European Union over claims policies regarding Apple Music on iPhones were anticompetitive (More)

> Biden administration expected to relax planned tailpipe emission regulations as automakers call for more time to bring electric vehicle costs down; current rules would require two-thirds of new light-duty fleets to be electric by 2032 (More)

 

Politics & World Affairs

> Two police officers and a paramedic shot and killed, one other wounded during domestic incident call in Burnsville, Minnesota, early Sunday; suspect killed at scene (More) | Large propane tank found under Virginia home that exploded Friday, killing one firefighter, injuring 10 others (More) | Newly installed Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry (R) declares state of emergency amid police shortage (More)

> West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) says he will not launch an independent bid for president (More) | Democrat Rep. Dean Phillips (MN-03) announces layoffs to presidential campaign, will remain in race (More)

> Poverty rate in Argentina reaches 57% in January, highest level in two decades; comes amid broad economic reforms, including currency devaluation, under new Libertarian President Javier Milei (More) | What is currency devaluation? (More)

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Etcetera
 

Why Presidents Day is America's strangest holiday.

 

Footage from Iwo Jima through the eyes of Marines.

 

... and on the fight's 79th anniversary, the story behind the Iwo Jima flag raising

 

How Americans view challenges at the border.

 

Famous fossil turns out to be mostly black paint.

 

Bioluminescent plankton light up San Diego waves

 

Former Rep. George Santos sues TV host Jimmy Kimmel

 

The rising trend of backing into artworks midselfie.

 

Clickbait: Why we avoid scratchers

 

Historybook: Thomas Edison awarded patent for the phonograph (1878); Musician Smokey Robinson born (1940); Battle of Iwo Jima begins (1945); Actress Millie Bobby Brown born (2004); “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee dies (2016).

"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing."

- Scout Finch, protagonist in Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird"

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