Welcome to St. Paddy’s Day. Before sneaking off for a pint, let us fill you in on the UK’s nuclear stockpile increase, foreign interference in the 2020 election, and the first Dead Sea Scroll discovery in 60 years.
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“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”
💨 Air Pollution in 2020
Swiss-based company IQAir Group released its annual global air quality assessment yesterday, with Bangladesh, China, India, and Pakistan sharing 49 of the 50 most polluted cities in the world (35 located in India).
The 2020 World Air Quality Report found 65% of the world’s major cities experienced a decrease in particulate matter levels compared to the previous year, though just 24 out of 106 countries met the WHO’s annual guidelines.
Air pollution readings fell 38% in Singapore, 23% in Beijing, 17% in Paris, 15% in New Delhi, and 12% in Johannesburg.
The Western U.S. was on its way to join the list with one of its cleanest years in decades – until a series of wildfires burned a record 4.3M acres in California last summer.
Los Angeles ended up with a 15% increase in air pollution, with similar increases in San Francisco (35%), Portland (38%), Phoenix (53%), and Salt Lake City (18%).
The Eastern U.S. saw air pollution decline, falling 13% in Chicago, 9.5% in Philadelphia, and 7% in NYC.
IQAir Group cited the COVID-19 pandemic as being “a major, exceptional factor influencing air quality during 2020.”
⏭️ What’s Next?
The report predicts global pollutant concentrations will rebound in 2021 as pandemic-related restrictions are eased.
💬 Relevant Quote:
“Many parts of the world experienced unprecedented, but short-lived, improvements in air quality in 2020. This improved air quality meant tens of thousands of avoided deaths from air pollution. By transitioning to clean energy and clean transport we can realize the same improvements in a sustained way.” –Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air.
Yes, America, There Is (Some) Hope for the Environment
A U.S. intelligence assessment released Tuesday found Russia and Iran both carried out operations attempting to interfere with the 2020 presidential election, and China considered doing so but ultimately refrained.
The report said Russia’s efforts were meant to hurt Biden’s campaign and support Trump’s re-election, while Iran’s operation intended to hurt Trump’s re-election chances but didn’t directly promote his rivals.
More: Despite the campaigns, the assessment found no indications that any foreign actor had attempted to alter “any technical aspect” of the 2020 election, including voter registration, ballot casting, vote tabulation, or reporting results.
🇺🇸 DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the U.S. is on pace to encounter more migrants attempting to cross the Southern border “than we have in the last 20 years.” (From the Left | From the Right)
🚨 Breaking:A 21-year-old man is in custody after the shootings in three Atlanta massage parlors that killed eight people, mainly women of Asian descent. No motive has yet been established. | Japan’s Supreme Courtruled the prohibition on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional (Taiwan is the only major Asian country to grant legal rights to same-sex couples).
The company plans to take a 15% cut from the first $1M each developer makes through its Play Store each year.
After the first $1M, Google will charge developers its standard 30% fee for in-app purchases and downloads.
More: The announcement follows a similar move from Apple last December, although Apple’s policy only applies to developers who make under $1M per year.
🏌️ Back in the Swing of Things
NY-based software firm Take-Two Interactive announced an exclusive multi-year partnership with Tiger Woods to feature his name and likeness in future golf video games.
Take-Two also announced it acquired the small game studio that creates its PGA Golf 2K series, with Tiger signed on to help with the game development process. He will also join 2K as an executive director.
🏀⚾️ Sports, Sports, Sports: Per USA Today, LeBron James and his longtime business partner Maverick Carter are joining Fenway Sports Group, making them part-owners of subsidiaries that include the Boston Red Sox (the deal is still subject to MLB approval).
🚗 Uber Works It Out
Uber announced it will reclassify all UK-based drivers as workers starting today. The move comes after the company lost a legal battle around the issue earlier this year.
Under the new designation, more than 70k drivers will receive worker benefits – including minimum wage, holiday time, and pension contributions – but will not be entitled to full employee benefits. (The UK’s employment hierarchy.)
🛍️ U.S. retail salesfell by 3% in February compared to the prior month, according to data from the Census Bureau.
The event raised $32,500, which went toward paying the artist working the event as well as purchasing PPE for all performers.
“To be able to actually sing out loud and see the joy that [theatre] brings to people again after so long,” said Tony Award nominee Charl Brown. “This reunion of sorts and this celebration of what is to come is something that will stick with the rest of my life.”
💰 The Olden Ticket… the owner of a winning lottery ticket worth $1M that was purchased in Rhode Island a year ago has until today to claim their prize before it expires.
🔥 No Mere Pot Boiler… A UK-based company called Heat Wayv, the creator of the world’s first microwave-powered boiler, announced its invention will serve as a comparably priced, zero-emissions replacement for the gas boilers heating most homes in the UK (where gas boilers will be banned in new homes starting in 2025).
👎 Misinformation Situation… in an internal study obtained by WaPo ($), Facebook found 111 influential U.S. accounts were responsible for sharing roughly 25% of the anti-vax and vaccine skeptical content on its platform.
No one has gotten a perfect bracket in the history of the NCAA tournament – and you can probably guess why. With a 50-50 chance in each game, the odds of a perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. Even with a 66.7% accuracy rate in each game, the odds of winning would be 1 in 120.2 billion.