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Good morning. It's Friday, Feb. 17, and we're covering rail issues in the Midwest, a planned auction for an ultrarare religious text, much more. First time reading? Sign up here.


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Need To Know

Michigan Train Derailment

A freight train pulling at least one car carrying agricultural materials derailed yesterday near Michigan's Van Buren township, just west of Detroit. It is the second such incident in the Michigan-Ohio-Pennsylvania corridor in two weeks; initial reports suggest no hazardous material was released. 


The crash follows the Feb. 3 derailment of a train transporting multiple cars worth of hazardous materials near East Palestine, Ohio (see video). Emergency crews were required to carry out a controlled burn of the leaked chemicals, releasing toxic hydrogen chloride and phosgene gas—a WWI chemical weapon—into the atmosphere, spurring a milewide evacuation. 


Ohio residents have heavily criticized the government's response to the crash, citing unanswered questions about water contamination, reports of dead animals, and long-term health and environmental effects. The frustration came to a head Wednesday after the rail firm responsible for the crash, Norfolk Southern, pulled out of a meeting with residents. 


Tests have reportedly shown no contamination in East Palestine's water system; read the preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report on the crash here


Ballooning Tensions

Chinese officials announced sanctions yesterday against Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Missiles and Defense over the sale of military and defense technology to Taiwan. While not explicitly linked, it marks the latest escalation of tensions between China and the US since a Chinese surveillance balloon traversed the US earlier this month. 


Reports now suggest US officials had been tracking the initial spy balloon since its liftoff from China's Hainan Island in late January. Officials said the craft was likely meant to surveil military installations in Guam and Hawaii before being blown off course, appearing over Alaska's Aleutian Islands Jan. 28 before crossing the US. The balloon was eventually shot down off the South Carolina coast; three other objects downed in the following days were determined as likely for commercial or private research purposes. Both countries have now publicly accused each other of operating vast balloon surveillance networks for years.


Check out this visual deep dive into what else is floating through the skies.


Codex Sassoon Heads to Auction

The oldest surviving and most complete Hebrew Bible is set to be auctioned off in May for an estimated $30M to $50M, according to Sotheby’s. 


The Codex Sassoon is more than 1,100 years old and is believed to be one of only two ancient manuscripts that contains all 24 books of the Hebrew Bible. It features Masoretic notes from early Middle Age scholars and a thousand years of annotations, transcriptions, commentary, and ownership records. The manuscript is named after David Solomon Sassoon, a collector of Jewish ceremonial art and manuscripts who bought the work in 1929. His estate sold the book in 1978 for roughly $320K. The current owner is Swiss financier Jacqui Safra.


The sale could mark the most expensive historical document ever to be auctioned—a first printing of the US Constitution previously sold for $43M in 2021. See how price estimates are determined.


Take a look inside the text here.

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In The Know

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Actor Bruce Willis diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia; Willis retired from acting in March 2022 following aphasia diagnosis (More) | Tim McCarver, former MLB All-Star and TV broadcaster, dies at 81 (More)

> Ryan Seacrest to exit "Live With Kelly and Ryan" after six years; Kelly Ripa's husband Mark Consuelos to take over as cohost (More)

> LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo to captain teams at 2023 NBA All-Star Game Sunday (6:30 pm ET, TNT) from Salt Lake City (More) | XFL regular season kicks off this weekend; here's everything you need to know about the upstart professional football league (More)


Science & Technology

> Microsoft acknowledges strange user experiences with its new AI-powered Bing search engine, says it's iterating the platform for more general use cases (More) | See overview of bizarre AI chat responses (More)

> Engineers develop robotic wooden seed carriers that mimic self-burying seeds, enabling aerial seeding of hard-to-reach areas (More, w/video)

> Scientists capture video of copper nanoparticles being used to spur the conversion of water and CO2 into hydrogen fuels and useful chemicals; study sheds light on the longstanding question of how copper works as an electrocatalyst (More)


Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -1.4%, Dow -1.2%, Nasdaq -1.8%) after producer inflation report comes in higher than expected (More)

> Tesla to recall 362,000 vehicles due to self-driving beta software safety issues; shares fall 6% (More)

> YouTube CEO to step down; Susan Wojcicki joined Google in 1999, became YouTube CEO in 2014, and rented her garage to Google’s founders in the early days of the company (More) | DoorDash shares up in after-hours trading after beating expectations (More

From our partners: Make 2023 your year for a one-card wallet. This card offers up to 5% cash back at places you likely already shop and 0% APR until 2024 on purchases and balance transfers. All with no annual fee. Possibly making this card the only one you need.


Politics & World Affairs

> Atlanta judge releases partial grand jury report in probe into alleged election interference by former President Donald Trump; grand jury recommends perjury charges against one or more unidentified witnesses, finds no evidence of widespread election fraud (More) | Read release here (More)

> American fighter jets intercept four Russian warplanes before entering US airspace near Alaska; the second such incident this week, officials called the encounter "not provocative" (More)

> Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) checks into hospital for treatment for clinical depression, according to an announcement from staff (More)



> Fungal Apocalypse

CNET | Jackson Ryan. HBO's latest hit show, "The Last of Us," imagines a pandemic rooted in a spooky real-world fungus. Could it really happen? (Read)


> What's Homelessness Really Like?

New York Times | Staff. Thirty interviews with people experiencing homelessness highlight the diverse conditions that can lead to life without a home. (Read)

> The Story of 50 Cent

Disgraceland | Jake Brennan. (Podcast) A dramatic telling of the life of one of rap's most successful stars, from his early days in Queens to a nine-bullet wake-up call. (Listen)


> New York's Fake Buildings

Bright Side | Staff. Here's a look at the many pseudo-homes concealing all kinds of city infrastructure, from subway vents to electric substations. (Watch)

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Clickbait: You won't believe what these dead birds are up to.


Historybook: Football legend and actor Jim Brown born (1936); Vanguard 2 launched as first weather satellite (1959); Michael Jordan born (1963); Volkswagen Beetle passes Ford Model T to become world’s bestselling car (1972); Golf great Mickey Wright dies (2020).

"I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying."

- Michael Jordan

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