Ukraine conflict: Putin recognized the independence of separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. Ukraine fears that the recognition of the rebel-held areas could justify separatist leaders to request military help from Russia, paving the way for an invasion. Putin has indeed ordered troops into eastern Ukraine, but experts are weighing if this constitutes an invasion. Both the US and the EU threaten to impose sanctions. An invasion could also jeopardize any talks between Russia and either France or the US. NATO condemns the recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk ”People’s Republics” as a violation of the Minsk Agreements.
The Russian stock market sank 17% in response.
Here is a deep dive into how Russia has used energy dependence as leverage over Europe.
Richard C. Levin, Professor of History at Yale University, Timothy Snyder explains how Putin leverages intelligence and counter-intelligence in a game of deception and provocation, to confuse and change the world.
Canada’s Freedom Convoy: The protest in Ottawa officially ended with the arrest of at least 191 participants and the towing of 76 vehicles. Downtown Ottawa is fenced up, and city workers started plowing and cleaning up the streets from trash.
Trudeau wants to keep The Emergencies Act in place because of potential new blockades along the border.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association says it’s suing the government of Canada over emergency powers claiming that the standard has not been met and these powers can’t be normalized:
Canadian Civil Liberties Association says it's suing the government of Canada over emergency powers. Says the standard has not been met. And these powers can't be normalized.
— Alexander Panetta (@Alex_Panetta) February 17, 2022
Covid: Overall cases and hospitalizations are steadily declining in the US, while the BA.2 variant is spreading rapidly. A clinical preprint shows that BA.2 is not associated with an increase in severity:
More reassuring evidence, from South Africa, that the BA.2 variant is not associated with an increase in clinical severity compared to its sister Omicron variant, BA.1https://t.co/Pj0cRe12Ak
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) February 20, 2022
California is the first state planning to treat coronavirus as an endemic risk. Newsom’s “Smarter” plan includes shots, masks, awareness, readiness, testing, education, and Rx. But endemic does not mean that the virus’ threat is over and “there can still be disruptive waves from endemic infections, as seen with the US measles outbreak in 2019.”
A new study finds that Ivermectin does not prevent severe disease from Covid-19.
Australia welcomes international tourists after two years of closure.
Climate: A new NOAA study shows that the sea level will rise by 1 foot by 2050. This interactive map shows how sea level rise could affect your neighborhood. Shoreline condo collapses this week in Florida showing how the impact is felt today.
Ethiopia will start generating power from its Nile dam. Egypt and Sudan view the dam as a threat because of their dependence on Nile waters. Experts warn that the Horn of Africa is experiencing a severe drought that risks compounding ongoing humanitarian crises.
Storm Eunice killed over 10 people and left more than 1 million homes without power. Recovery efforts in the UK are hampered by Storm Franklin, a third named storm in just one week—the first time this has happened since the storm-naming system was introduced in 2015.
Other news: The FDA is investigating baby formulas produced in the Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis facility in Michigan for contamination.
See where states are spending their pandemic relief funding.
Arizona, Florida, and West Virginia ban abortion after 15 weeks.
In good news, researchers found a way to permanently destroy 99% of PFAS in water sources.