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Good morning. It's Wednesday, March 1, and we're covering government bans on a popular social media app, a mystery illness striking young girls in Iran, and much more. First time reading? Sign up here.


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Need To Know

Drone Strikes on Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday ordered officials to increase security on the border of Ukraine as a flurry of drones flew into southern and western Russia, including one that crashed 60 miles from Moscow. Russia believes a Ukrainian-made drone found near Moscow was likely intended to hit an energy facility. Ukraine has not taken responsibility for the strike. No casualties or damages were reported.


On the ground, Ukrainian officials said conditions in the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut, which once had a population of 75,000, were becoming more difficult as Russia tries to cut off Ukraine's supply routes.


More than 60,000 Russian soldiers are estimated to have died so far in the first year of the Ukraine invasion, according to a new analysis. The figure is more than the combined number of deaths from all of Russia's wars since World War II. On Ukraine's side, at least 13,000 soldiers have died, according to estimates in December.


Separately, China is hosting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, an ally of Russia, in Beijing this week. 


Federal TikTok Ban

The White House is giving government agencies 30 days to remove Chinese-owned TikTok from federal devices over security concerns surrounding the video-sharing app. Congress approved the ban in December.


The news comes amid concerns TikTok could be used by Beijing to collect individual private data. Canada, the European Commission, and Taiwan have recently made similar bans, and other western countries, including Denmark, are considering implementing bans. ByteDance, the company behind TikTok, previously denied using the app to spy on Americans; however, reports revealed it accessed US user data and planned to use it to track American citizens, including journalists. A Chinese official said the concerns are driven by misinformation, and the US ban is an abuse of state power by suppressing foreign companies.


Separately, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is poised to advance a proposed bill this week that would allow the president to ban TikTok from all US devices. 


Iranian Schoolgirls Poisoned

Dozens of Iranian schoolgirls were reportedly poisoned by an unknown substance Tuesday, the latest in a four-month string of similar incidents affecting roughly 700 female students nationwide. Officials recently claimed the events may stem from a deliberate attack to shut down schools for girls, with the prosecutor general announcing a criminal investigation. 


While no deaths have been reported, many of the students have been hospitalized after exhibiting symptoms of weakness and nausea. Chemical analysis revealed the substances aren't military-grade, although the exact compound hasn't been identified. Some parents and lawmakers have called for school to be held online for student safety. 


The first known incident came in November in the city of Qom, southwest of Tehran, followed by at least 30 other schools since. The mysterious cases come as nationwide protests—largely led by young women, including students—continue after the September in-custody death of 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of morality police. 

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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Six Japanese ad agencies indicted for alleged "bid-rigging" in lead up to 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics (More) | Nasser Al-Khelaifi, president of soccer giant Paris Saint-Germain, under investigation for alleged kidnapping and torture in Qatar (More

> Tom Sizemore's family soon making end-of-life decision; the "Saving Private Ryan" actor suffered a brain aneurysm last week (More)

NCAA basketball regular season wraps up this week; see schedule and bracket for women's conference tournaments (More) | ... and predictions for all 32 men's conference tourneys (More)


Science & Technology

> Researchers find evidence that tempered steel tools were already in use in some parts of Europe as early as 3,000 years ago, a time frame typically associated with the late Bronze Age (More)

> Rare muscle disease in children linked to a specific, single genetic mutation; multisystemic smooth muscle dysfunction syndrome affects fewer than 1,000 people in the US, with symptoms often baffling doctors (More) | What are smooth muscles? (More)

> Study of ancient eggshells reveals a new species of Madagascar's now-extinct elephant birds; the flightless animals are estimated to have been around 9 feet tall and weigh 1,000 pounds (More)


Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.3%, Dow -0.7%, Nasdaq -0.1%); all three indexes close in the red for February (More)

> FTX cofounder Nishad Singh pleads guilty to six criminal counts, including wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud the US (More)

> President Joe Biden appoints heads of Citi, United Airlines, CVS, 3M, and other Fortune 200 companies to President's Export Council overseeing international trade (More) | General Motors announces it will lay off 500 executive-level and salaried jobs (More)

From our partners: Five money moves to make in 2023. Experts at The Ascent say to consider these five moves to grow your wealth in 2023. And they've got a track record, because they've been helping people like you since 1993. Learn more today.


Politics & World Affairs

> Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) loses bid for reelection; former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas (D) and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (D) advance to April 4 runoff in the city's mayoral race (More)

> Supreme Court hears oral arguments in case challenging Biden administration's plan for partial student loan forgiveness; decision expected by late June (More) | See previous write-up (More)

> Julie Su to be nominated as labor secretary, replacing the outgoing Marty Walsh; Su previously served in the same position for the state of California (More)

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America's happiest cities (in 2023).


... and TripAdvisor ranks the world's best beaches


Dictionary.com adds 313 new words, including cakeism and hellscape.


Boeing engineers set record for paper plane flight distance.


Introducing a flying robot with spider-like legs


Crocodile caught swinging from an elephant's tail


Man builds personal backyard bar out of snow (via Twitter).


Even the tooth fairy can't escape inflation.


Clickbait: A car that will ditch you if you miss your payments.


Historybook: Articles of Confederation are ratified, go into effect in the US (1781); Writer Ralph Ellison born (1914); Singer Harry Belafonte born (1927); The Peace Corps is established (1961); Actress Lupita Nyong'o born (1983); Justin Bieber born (1994).

"Power doesn't have to show off ... When you have it, you know it."

- Ralph Ellison

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