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Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Wednesday, March 9, 2022:


In a major escalation of Western powers' economic war on Russia, President Joe Biden has ordered a ban on oil and gas imports from the country. While the U.S. is much less dependent on Russian fossil fuels than Europe, which remains on the fence about imposing similar measures, Biden noted that Americans could still feel the pinch at the gas pump. “Defending freedom is going to cost,” he said. The average price of gas was $4.17 per gallon as the president announced the new sanctions. AP

Your turn, rest of the world.


In the private sector, meanwhile, a number of iconic American brands have announced plans to end or suspend their operations in Russia. McDonald's said it will temporarily shutter 847 restaurants in the country. Starbucks said it will suspend business activity at 130 outlets, and Coca-Cola is also pausing its operations in Russia, while PepsiCo is halting soda sales but not chips and daily essentials (like milk and baby formula). The announcements came with condemnations of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as well as promises to support employees who are impacted by the pull-out. WSJ

Now that’s big, Mac.


The economic backlash to Russia's invasion of Ukraine doesn't appear to be shaking President Vladimir Putin's resolve, according to CIA Director William Burns. He said that the Russian leader is frustrated with his military's progress and is likely to escalate attacks rather than pull back. Burns spoke before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, as heavy fighting continued in eastern Ukraine and more refugees struggled to escape the war-torn country. NPR


As the Covid-19 pandemic winds down in the U.S., the Biden administration is turning its sights on future biological threats. The White House on Tuesday announced plans to contribute $150 million over the next three years to a project aimed at making sure the world is able to rapidly produce vaccines in the case of any future pandemics. Congress still needs to approve the funding, and it's only a fraction of the total costs of the project, but it's a start to what could become a more proactive approach to virus-fighting going forward. NY TIMES


Florida's legislature has passed a bill that would ban lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Republican lawmakers pushed the bill forward despite criticism from Democrats and activists that it undermines LGBTQ+ people. The so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill is now headed to the desk of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who supports it. Democrats, meanwhile, continue to push back against the bill, saying that its language is so broad that teachers could face a wave of lawsuits. AP


Google parent company Alphabet has announced plans to acquire cybersecurity firm Mandiant for around $5.4 billion. The deal is a bid to compete with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure for a bigger slice of the cloud computing market. Alphabet’s finance chief Ruth Porat framed the acquisition as a way to protect cloud computing customers, who are increasingly asking for artificial intelligence and data automation, as cybersecurity threats rise. CNBC

Cloudy with a chance of profit.


You all remember the meme-stock craze, when a bunch of Reddit hooligans caused a short-squeeze that sent GameStop's share price to the moon? Well, that sort of happened to nickel on Tuesday morning. The price of the silvery-white metal climbed amid fears of Western sanctions cutting off Russian suppliers. The jump forced a deep-pocketed short-seller — the Chinese billionaire known as "Big Shot" — to cover his position, forcing the price even higher. These financial shenanigans aside, the rising cost of nickel doesn't bode well for the emerging electric vehicle market, which relies on nickel for its lithium-ion batteries. CHEDDAR

EVs getting more expensive. Gas prices through the roof. Better invest in a new pair of sneakers.


Apple unveiled a new "affordable" iPhone SE in its first product event of the year. The model is the first upgrade to the budget-priced iPhone released nearly two years ago. Sticklers will point out it's actually slightly more expensive than the earlier version, but still not as pricey as the fancier iPhone 13. The company touted this model's longer-lasting battery and compatibility with 5G wireless networks as the biggest selling points. Apple also announced a new iPad Air, a 27-inch Studio Display monitor, and teased a new Mac Pro. CHEDDAR

By “more affordable” they meant more expensive.


The Justice Department has announced that Enrique Tarrio, leader of the far-right Proud Boys organization, has been charged with conspiracy for his role in the January 6th, 2021 Capitol Hill riots. The indictment alleges that Tarrio met with the leader of another far-right group, the Oath Keepers, in a parking garage prior to the riot and that the Capitol came up in their conversation. The department claims the Tarrio and other accused members of his group conspired "to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding, the certification of the Electoral College vote." CNN


In a spectacular case of fandom gone too far, a Georgia man took Pokémon's motto "Gotta Catch 'Em All" to a whole new level when he used $57,000 in Covid-19 relief funds to buy a collectible trading card last year. He's accused of submitting false information to the Small Business Administration in an application for an "entertainment services" business. He now faces a three-year prison sentence and has agreed to forfeit the costly card. Perhaps, in the end, he should have been content to "catch" just one less. NBC
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