“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”
🏰 Putin’s Secret Palace
A team led by jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny published a report Tuesday detailing a secret palace, worth more than $1B, built with illicit funds for President Vladimir Putin, calling it “the biggest bribe in history.”
Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner and outspoken Putin critic, was airlifted to a German hospital five months ago after a near-fatal nerve attack – allegedly ordered by Putin – left him in a coma. After recovering, Navalny returned to Moscow on Sunday and was immediately detained by Russian authorities.
🤿 A deeper dive…
The estimated $1.4B palace is located in Gelendzhik, a Russian resort town on the Black Sea.
According to the documents provided – including detailed floor plans, financial details, & interior photographs – Putin’s palace is the largest private residential building in Russia.
The main complex features a spa, wine cellar, casino hall, hookah lounge, two movie theaters, 25-meter swimming pool, gym, and 47 sofas worth five figures each (in USD).
Ground floor plan.
The ~30 square miles of surrounding land reportedly contain a church, an underground hockey rink, a helipad, a vineyard, a 260-foot bridge leading to a teahouse, and an underground tunnel to a seaside tasting room.
Underground tasting room is circled.
Navalny’s investigation claims the funds for the palace came from a large-scale government program personally ordered by Putin in 2005 to improve Russia’s healthcare infrastructure.
Years later, authorities discovered suppliers within the program were charging some hospitals two or three times too much for vital medical gear, with the excess funds eventually transferred to accounts belonging to the architect for Putin’s Black Sea palace.
The viral YouTube video narrated by Navalny begins and concludes with a call for Russian citizens to join nationwide anti-corruption demonstrations starting at 2 p.m. Saturday in “the central streets of your cities.”
Nearly 120k Americans were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday, according to The COVID Tracking Project, with that number falling for the ninth straight day to its lowest level since December 27.
Per the WSJ, an isolated Hawaiian county reported its first case, meaning every county in the United States has now had at least one confirmed case of the virus (over 3k counties in total).
Hungary & the United Arab Emirates became the first EU and Gulf region countries, respectively, to grant emergency use approval to Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.
In the last week, an average of ~940k Americans have been vaccinated each day, per Bloomberg.
📝 Biden Executive Orders
President Biden signed a series of 10 executive actions yesterday aimed at combating the COVID-19 pandemic. The actions include an official requirement to wear face masks in airports and on certain types of public transportation, invoking the Defense Production Act to fill shortfalls for vaccination supplies, and a 100-day plan to deliver 100M COVID vaccinations.
More: Although executive actions do not require Congressional approval, much of the funding for Biden’s planned measures comes from his proposed $1.9T stimulus package.
Intel’s stock rose more than 6% yesterday after the company reported Q4 earnings and revenue surpassing analysts’ expectations. An infographic from Intel’s presentation reportedly leaked minutes before the market closed, leading the company to publish its report ahead of schedule.
Shares of IBM fell more than 6% in after-hours trading. The company published Q4 earnings Thursday afternoon showing a decline in revenue for the fourth consecutive quarter.
The price of Bitcoindropped 15% Thursday, falling below $30K just three weeks after it hit $40K (January 7). The total market value of all cryptocurrencies fell more than $160B in a 48-hour period starting Tuesday (~$870Bas of Thursday evening).
👁 Above Board
Facebook’s independent Oversight Board yesterday accepted Facebook’s request to review its January 7 decision to suspend then-President Donald Trump from Facebook and Instagram indefinitely. The Board now has up to 90 days to determine whether to overturn Trump’s indefinite ban – a decision Facebook says will be binding.
More: Facebook’s Oversight Board is a 20-person committee of members that are “leaders in fields including human rights, law, journalism and technology, come from many different communities, and represent a wide range of views and beliefs.”
More Big Tech News: A federal judge ruledyesterday that Amazon is not required to let social media app Parler use the company’s web-hosting services after Amazon removed them earlier this month.
Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite, hired its first congressional lobbyists this month to “monitor antitrust issues in the technology industry.” The move coincides with Epic’s ongoing lawsuit against Apple for allegedly engaging in anti-competitive practices related to its App Store.
More: Epic Games hired two lobbying firms – one frequently associated with Democrats (Subject Matter) and the other with Republicans (Gibson Group).
☝️ 1 Last Thing…
Roughly one-third of all small business owners were unable to pay their rent this month, according to a survey of more than 10,000 business owners. Dig deeper.
When his family’s only car was totaled last month, high school senior Jayden Sutton of Cobb County, GA, began walking 10 miles a day between his home, school, and job.
“I knew if I had to walk to work every day to get a car, that’s what I was going to do,” he told Fox 5 News.
Last week, Lavonda Wright Myers saw Jayden rushing to work and offered him a ride. After learning that the 12th-grader was working 40 hours a week – often returning home after midnight – Lavonda started a GoFundMe page for the hardworking teen.
The campaign raised a total of $9,000, which the loving Lavonda used to surprise Jayden with a new car.
As if that wasn’t sweet enough…
A grown woman from Arkansas burst into tears of joy on Christmas Eve when her childhood next-door neighbors – who had taken care of her for much of her young life – officially adopted her.
After working as a biology teacher for 42-years, Fevzi Uyar of Turkey began looking after stray dogs in his area. Soon after, the 71-year-old completed a veterinary program and began to provide food, shelter, and medicinal care for a total of 1,000 homeless dogs.
Self-reflection just got social
Daily Haloha is a simple and uplifting daily routine, wrapped in a charming little app. It’s designed to help us all look inward and then share outward with others, positively and anonymously.
Say hello to your new daily routine
Each day the entire world gets a new thought-provoking fill-in-the-blank question. Then, all you have to do is open the app, and…
1: Check in with yourself
Take a moment to pause, reflect, and fill in the blanks with a little bit of “you”.
2: Connect with another
Then “swap” your Haloha with another random human somewhere in the world, anonymously and judgment-free.
3: Be a part of the bigger picture
Then browse the Haloha Wall to see how the world is feeling.
Be a part. Not apart.
The Daily Haloha app is free! Because of course, the best things in life usually are.
💨 Up in Smoke… in a novel discovery, Washington State University scientists found traces of a non-tobacco plant in ancient Mayan drug containers.
🐝 In Your Face… a team of researchers found the first evidence of wasps identifying one another using “holistic” processing of individual faces – similar to humans – rather than relying on distinctive body markings.
🕵️ On the Right Track… United Nations war crime detectives are zeroing in on the reclusive Félicien Kabuga – one of Africa’s richest moguls who helped unleash the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Inside the epic manhunt.
🤔 Nickel For Your Thoughts?
A U.S. nickel is mainly composed of what element?
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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