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Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Monday, February 28, 2022:


Ukraine wants an immediate ceasefire as the two sides meet this morning, even while Russian forces continue to push toward the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed doubts that the meeting would lead to peace, but said he would make any effort to potentially end the war. Yesterday Russian President Vladimir Putin put nuclear forces on high alert, blaming "aggressive statements" from NATO. The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, voted to convene a special session to address the crisis - just the 10th time that's happened since 1950. BBC


Now the U.S. and Europe are coming for Russia's economy. Details about a new round of sanctions are still being worked out, but the centerpiece is a move to cut off Russia's central bank from its $600 billion reserves, which it is currently using to prop up the ruble. The West could also cut Russia off from the global payments system SWIFT, but notably, the package will likely spare oil and natural gas exports which are extremely valuable to the global economy. AP


The CDC has changed its tune on mask-wearing, now saying that mandates can be lifted in counties where the virus is waning and no longer threatens to overwhelm hospitals. By this measure, 70% of the U.S. population can now leave their masks at home. Of course, the guidelines are not binding, and rules vary greatly across state and local governments. This also doesn't change the rules for public transportation and indoor areas at major transit hubs. CDC

Party on, Wane!


A pair of new studies mark a Wuhan seafood market as the likely starting point for the worldwide pandemic, finding that live mammals sold at the market were infected with coronavirus which then spilled over into humans. The findings have not yet been peer-reviewed or published, but together they call into question the alternate theory that COVID escaped from a lab. Some prominent scientists remain skeptical, however, due to a lack of genetic samples from that time. NY TIMES

Not peer-reviewed or published is a pretty big asterisk.


Despite rampant inflation, supply chain snarls, and a fresh surge in COVID cases from the omicron variant, U.S. consumers kept on spending in January. Data from the Commerce Department shows a 1.5% bump in buying, which is the highest in 10 months. Purchases of durable goods (i.e. stuff rather than services) continue to drive spending, even as the hospitality sector has reawakened. How the Ukraine crisis will impact seemingly-unflappable American consumers is unclear, but some economists predict that it could curb spending. WSJ

Because we’re all buying items for our doomsday preparedness kits.


On the docket today: The Supreme Court today will hear a case that could potentially eliminate the federal government's authority to control pollution. At stake is former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, which aims to limit carbon dioxide emissions across the power sector. The plaintiffs in the case, which include Republican attorneys general in 18 states and multiple energy companies, are arguing that the EPA can't regulate an entire sector, and must instead target individual plants. With a conservative supermajority presiding, many are concerned the Court will knock down the program, effectively making Biden's plan to halve emissions by the end of the decade impossible. WASH POST


Hundreds of Salesforce employees signed an open letter criticizing the tech company's efforts to expand into NFTs, criticizing the controversial crypto assets' environmental and economic impacts. The Silicon Valley revolt comes as the NFT market deals with a high-profile scam involving the theft of hundreds of tokens from the OpenSea marketplace which were valued at well over a million dollars. CHEDDAR


As a scattering of truckers make their way to Washington D.C. ahead of President Biden's State of the Union address on Tuesday, the U.S. Capitol Police are reinstalling fencing around Capitol Hill as a precaution. It's still unclear whether the U.S. trucker protests will rival the so-called "Freedom Convoys" that severely disrupted Canada's economy throughout February, but the federal government isn't taking any chances as the events of January 6, 2021 still loom large. In addition to the fencing, 700 unarmed National Guardsmen will be standing by. BLOOMBERG


Plucky young actor Tom Holland, who is known for playing Spider-Man, has a knack for putting butts in seats. His latest film, the video game adaptation Uncharted, topped the box office for the second weekend in a row. The film's runaway success comes as Spider-Man: No Way Home continues to dominate the multiplexes. So far it's the highest-grossing film of 2021 and, for now at least, 2022 as well. Holland's one-two punch highlights a shifting landscape for U.S. movie theaters, in which a handful of blockbusters can make or break the industry. CHEDDAR


NFT: As the NFT economy reels from multiple scandals, Ukraine at least is reaping the benefits of the demand for digitized cartoon apes. The country has raised more than $10 million in cryptocurrency donations, a portion of which was generated from the sale of NFTs. While the Ukrainian military was initially resistant, it now appears to have relaxed its stance on accepting the controversial form of payment. The Ukrainian Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov over the weekend urged crypto exchanges to block payments to Russia. CNBC

STARLINK: Another act of technological assistance came from Elon Musk, who marshaled SpaceX's Starlink satellite service on Saturday to provide internet to Ukraine. The billionaire was responding to a plea from Fedorov, who tweeted at Musk to help the country stabilize its internet service during the invasion.  CNN
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!