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Here are the headlines you Need2Know for Friday, February 18, 2022:


The Ukraine crisis is changing by the hour, but President Joe Biden on Thursday said the threat of invasion was still "very high." The warning came as shelling intensified between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country, which some fear could provide a pretext for invasion. Russia, meanwhile, doubled down on its claim that it would not invade, but that it might take "military technical" measures if the U.S. did not meet its demand to shrink NATO's presence in Eastern Europe. Other regional leaders seconded Russia. “There will be no invasion tomorrow,” said Belarusian leader Aleksandr G. Lukashenko. NY TIMES


Uncertainty around the crisis in Ukraine helped tank the stock market on Thursday. The major indices tumbled, and the market's volatility index skyrocketed. In addition to the threat of war in Europe, which has produced a steady stream of ominous headlines to spook investors, markets continue to digest signals of a possible Federal Reserve rate hike in March. The Dow Jones had its worst day of the year so far with a 622-point drop. The Nasdaq dropped nearly 3 percent, and 85 percent of companies in the S&P 500 fell. Welcome to the post-pandemic economy.  CNN

We can relate to meltdowns


Omicron was the most infectious variant of COVID-19 yet, and as a result, a lot more people got sick from it. Now one influential model estimates that 73 percent of Americans are currently immune to omicron. That doesn't mean future outbreaks are not possible, but it could mean that hospitalizations and deaths will continue to decline in the short-term. Public health experts stress not to let our guard down, however, as COVID is still killing more than 2,000 people per day. AP


The U.S. Department of Education is canceling student loan debt worth $415 million for a certain number of borrowers from for-profit universities. The action provides relief to 16,000 borrowers who attended private colleges such as DeVry University, which the agency said misled students about the likelihood of obtaining a job with their degrees. The cancellation marks a victory for those calling on the Biden administration to forgive student loan debt, but it's nowhere near the more ambitious plans proposed by advocates and Biden himself during his campaign. CNBC

Finally something worthy of being canceled 


Automakers are building out their electric vehicle manufacturing facilities, and the U.S. South is quickly becoming a major hub. Ford Motor Co. on Thursday announced that it will create 5,000 full-time jobs at an electric pickup truck factory and battery manufacturing plant in Tennessee. Nissan Motor Co. also had big news, announcing that it plans to invest $500 million in overhauling its assembly plant in Mississippi to build EVs. 


President Joe Biden is planning to issue a long-anticipated executive order next week that will direct federal agencies to come up with a strategy for regulating cryptocurrencies. The order will tackle hot-button issues such as privacy, consumer protection, and financial stability. Many agencies are already wading into crypto issues, but the order is expected to coordinate efforts across the government and even between countries, which could give the budding crypto industry a clearer picture of what to expect from the Biden administration. YAHOO FINANCE


Amazon and Visa are squashing their beef. The two giants of global commerce have struck a deal to allow customers to use Visa credit cards across the online retailer's websites and shops. The squabble goes back to November, when Amazon stopped accepting Visa cards issued in the UK due to high fees. These interchange fees are a problem for all retailers, from bodegas to big box stores to e-commerce giants, but few have the market power of Amazon. WSJ

The feel-good story of the year


So, Tesla is once again under the microscope of regulators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched an investigation into complaints that Tesla cars are unexpectedly braking. The phantom brake problem is just the latest instance of the EV maker getting scrutiny from regulators — and CEO Elon Musk is starting to feel picked on. The billionaire's lawyer sent a letter to a federal judge on Thursday claiming that the Securities and Exchange Commission was leading a "harassment campaign" against him. The SEC sued Musk in 2018 for a tweet that it said constituted fraud, and he's been wrangling with the agency ever since. THE VERGE

Tough brake


When omicron first hit the U.S., it was widely believed that a 53,000-person anime convention in New York City was a super spreader event. However, a new study from the CDC has found that a combination of vaccination, masking, and good air-filtration spared many of the attendees from spreading the highly infectious variant out into the world. Early reports of the event were critical of the costumed and bewigged fans, some of whom appear to flout rules, but the agency confirmed that there were just 16 documented omicron cases at the convention. NY TIMES

In fairness they were all wearing anime masks


If you've ever found yourself blinded by a pair of too-bright headlights, there's now hope that a solution is coming to the United States. Federal safety regulators are giving the green light to a technology called "adaptive driving beam headlights," which lowers the intensity of high-beams when there is oncoming traffic. Apparently, Europe has been using these special LED lamps for years. In this case, the rule-change came well ahead of the deadline set out in the bipartisan infrastructure package passed last year, but in the past, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has struggled to meet deadlines for rolling out new regulations. CHEDDAR