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Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Wednesday, February 2, 2022:
Breaking Groundhog News: Punxsutawney Phil has seen his shadow. So buckle up…we're in for six more weeks of icy, cold winter.


After getting a nudge from federal regulators, Pfizer and partner BioNTech have officially asked the FDA to authorize two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine for children under five years old. The companies made the request as they continue to explore whether three doses would be better, given that recent clinical trials showed that two doses didn't generate a sufficient immune response in that age group. The FDA's highly unusual move of urging the companies to seek approval despite this uncertainty comes as the omicron variant leads to higher infections across demographics. Notably, the under-five age group includes 19 million children. AP


Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday said the U.S. and NATO have "basically ignored" the country's security concerns and accused them of stoking war in Ukraine, even as he expressed a willingness to continue negotiations. The Russian leader pointed to NATO's open-door policy for potential membership as the main sticking point and sees the organization's eastward push as a major security concern. In the meantime, Russian troops continue to mass on the border, as the U.S. weighs whether to send more troops in addition to the 8,500 already on high alert. WSJ


More than 36 hours after a fire began at a fertilizer plant in North Carolina, thousands remain out of their homes. This morning officials reiterated the uncontrolled flames could still spark an explosion and it's too dangerous for fire crews to move in to stop it. The fire started Monday night and has so far caused no injuries or deaths, but officials are now waiting to make sure the fire doesn't reach the 500 tons of combustible ammonium nitrate stored at the site. A similar situation led to an explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant in 2013 that killed 13 people. WXII 12


The legal reckoning over the opioid epidemic continues with another massive settlement — this one between the country's biggest drugmakers and U.S. Native American tribes. All federally recognized tribes are able to participate in the settlements, which total $590 million from Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson. The relief is long overdue, given the disproportionate impact opioids had on the Native American population, which suffered the highest rate of overdoses per capita in 2015, according to one study. NPR


Love him or hate him, Tom Brady is going out on his own terms. The 44-year-old quarterback is officially retiring from the game after 22 seasons. With seven Super Bowl wins, including one for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just last year, and numerous passing records, Brady broke the news in a lengthy Instagram post saying it was time to make room for the "next generation of dedicated and committed athletes." He now plans to commit his time to his health and wellness company and clothing line. We wish him luck. Or maybe not. For fans of teams that ended up on the other side of the Patriots' legendary winning streak, it could take a while. ESPN


The worst might be over for Europe's energy crisis. Due to a combination of mild temperatures, strong gains in wind power, and a huge uptick in imports of liquefied natural gas, storage sites across the continent are beginning to recover from record lows, which some predicted would lead to a shortage of heating fuels in the dead of winter. The energy crunch isn't over yet though. Prices are likely to remain high for the foreseeable future, and the prospect of losing gas shipments from Russia amid tensions in Ukraine remains a possibility. BLOOMBERG


India is finally getting into crypto after years of sitting on the sidelines. The country's central bank has announced that it's launching a "digital rupee," while also unveiling plans to tax the transfer of digital assets at 30 percent. That may sound steep, but India was previously considering an outright ban on crypto. By choosing taxation instead, the country is effectively clearing the way for the legalization of digital transactions. CNN


Due to pandemic-related borrowing, the U.S. gross national debt crossed $30 trillion for the first time on Tuesday, well ahead of when that milestone was expected. The ominous-sounding sum would seem to suggest that America is dangerously indebted, but a growing number of economists argue that the debt load is manageable as long as interest rates remain low and the economy is growing — though rising interest rates could throw that into doubt. NY TIMES

We can relate to “dangerously indebted.”


Black History Month is here, and while many celebrate by reflecting on the past achievements of Black Americans, Cheddar is highlighting those who are making a difference today. Each day this month, Cheddar will release a short profile of someone who is a trailblazer in their industry. To kick off the series, we spoke to Ayesha Selden, a real estate guru and self-proclaimed economic activist who shares the lessons she has learned to help others build their own wealth. CHEDDAR


Kenya Airways is done with monkeys. The African airline had previously transported long-tailed macaques to the U.S. for use in laboratory experiments. Then one of their recent shipments ended up in a vehicle crash in rural Pennsylvania, which led to the escape of three monkeys and one woman getting sick. The escapees were eventually found and euthanized, but the incident caused an outcry among animal rights activists, who put pressure on the airline. AFRICANEWS

But what about our emotional support monkey?
Need2Know Podcast Note: The Need2Know podcast is taking a break for now. We're looking forward to bringing you more context and analysis on the big stories of the day in a few weeks. In the meantime, check out our archive on Apple or Spotify, or watch on YouTube, and send us your feedback!