Welcome to Thursday. We’d like to give a BIG shoutout to everyone who reached out to make sure we’re doing okay. The outpouring of support has been incredible. ❤️
Quick update: Power and running water is back for most of the team. And the first thing on the agenda is a nice, hot shower (and coffee brewed indoors… we may be resourceful but building a fire is hard work).
“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”
🔌💡 Texas Power Outages: What’s the Deal?
Millions of Texans remained without power Wednesday morning, though temperatures climbed above freezing across half the state – a possible sign Texas’ power grid could make significant progress restoring service.
The emergency situation began early Monday when several power plants went offline in rapid succession as a sizable winter storm swept across Texas.
Over the course of two days, the storm dropped up to 15 inches of snowfall in some areas and brought single digit temperatures to large swaths of the state. At least 31 deaths across eight states have been attributed to the storm, per the NYT, with more than a dozen occurring in Texas.
📝 Background: Natural-gas-fired power plants generated 40% of Texas’s electricity in 2020, according to state energy managers, the largest single source. Wind turbines were second at 23%, followed by coal at 18% and nuclear at 11%. (Source: WSJ)
1. It froze wind turbines, natural gas wells, and crippled dozens of power plants, which are unable to operate too long in extreme conditions due to increased operating costs and risk of equipment failure.
2. It prompted record-breaking demand for electricity from consumers to heat their homes, causing a shortage of natural gas required to run the remaining power plants.
At least 1 in 10 power plants in Texas were offline Tuesday according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), a nonprofit that manages the state energy grid. As a result, ERCOT ordered rolling blackouts for some customers on Monday and Tuesday.
ERCOT said the move was intended to prevent damage to the electrical system and avoid causing Texas’ grid to shut down altogether.
As of Wednesday night, ~1.8M customers remained without power according to PowerOutageUS, down from 4.4M mid-Tuesday. ERCOT has not indicated when Texas residents can expect operations to return to normal.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday called for an investigation into ERCOT to “get a full picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions.”
Turns out Texans are far more vulnerable than they thought possible, like in a disaster movie
The UKapproved ‘human challenge trials’ for COVID-19 yesterday – a controversial practice that involves deliberately infecting young, healthy volunteers to study the virus’ impact on the human body.
🇪🇸 Spanish Arrest Sparks Protests
Protests broke out across Spain Tuesday night in reaction to the arrest of rapper Pablo Hasél, who is facing nine months in prison on charges of glorifying terrorism and slander against the Spanish monarchy. Twenty-nine people were arrested in demonstrations throughout Barcelona, Lleida, Girona, and Tarragona, where police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protestors.
More: In 2018, Hasél was given a two-year jail sentence and fined ~$36K after Spain’s highest criminal court ruled that his lyrics and comments went beyond the limits of free speech. His sentence was suspended in 2019 on the condition he did not re-offend within three years.
🇳🇬 School Abduction in Nigeria
A group of unidentified gunmen attacked a school in Nigeria yesterday, shooting one student dead and kidnapping 42 students, staff, and their family members. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which occurred in Nigeria’s north-central state of Niger around 2 a.m.
The DOJ indicted three North Korean military computer programmers on Wednesday, charging them with conducting a cyberattack campaign targeting banks and companies in over a dozen countries. The DOJ alleged the hackers, who are a part of North Korean military intelligence, stole and extorted over $1.3B in cash and cryptocurrency over the past half-decade.
More: One of the three hackers, Park Jin Hyok, was previously charged with a series of cyberattacks – including the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures.
🚀 Look to the Stars… (or Mars)
Houston-based startup Axiom Space raised $130M in a funding round with undisclosed terms, the company announcedon Tuesday.
Axiom is working in conjunction with NASA to add privately-developed modules to the ISS, which could eventually form the world’s first commercial space station after the ISS’s planned decommissioning in 2028.
More: The news follows last month’s announcement that Axiom plans to fund the first fully-private flight to the ISS, which could occur as early as January 2022.
🪐 In Other Space News… NASA’s Perseverance rover will attempt to land on Mars’ surface later today. Watch it live (beginning at 2:15 p.m. ET).
🗞️ In the Land Down Under
Facebook said yesterday that Australian users will be restricted from sharing and viewing news content. The move is the result of a proposed law requiring tech platforms to pay publications for their content.
In the announcement, Facebook said news comprises “4% of the content people see in their News Feed,” and projected the move would cost Australian publishers over $300M USD.
More: Google, who will also be subject to the new Aussie law, signed a three-year dealwith News Corp – Australia’s largest news conglomerate (and owner of the WSJ, NY Post, and others) – allowing the tech giant to use content from its publications. Google has similar agreements with other Australian publishers.
⏰ Catch Up Quick
🚰 Nestléagreed to sell most of its North American bottled water brands, including Poland Spring, Arrowhead, & Pure Life, to two private equity firms for $4.3B. Nestlé said the sale would allow it to focus on premium brands like Perrier, San Pellegrino, & Acqua Panna.
📈 Bitcoin reached a new record price of $52,340 yesterday, according to data from Coin Metrics.
🎮 Keith Gill, the Reddit user wrapped up in last month’s GameStop saga, released his opening statement ahead of today’s congressional hearing starting at noon ET. (Watch it live)
🏒❄️ Good Game
Image: CTVNews Edmonton
This month, 40 Canadian volunteers played the world’s longest hockey game, which lasted a total of 252 hours (or ten-and-a-half days). 🤯
❄️ More Cool Canadians
One Calgary couple opened a first-of-its-kind coffee shop in honor of their daughter, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome. The Lil’ E Cafe employs adults with intellectual disabilities, providing valuable life-skills, community, and purpose to their staff.
🦮 One Stubborn Snow-Dog
Sick of the cold winter yet? One husky pup certainly isn’t. In a hilarious exchange with its owner captured on TikTok, the talkative dog literally refuses to come inside.
Who knew snacking could be so… simple? 🌱
Keep your belly full and mind guilt-free with plant based and delicious snacks from Back to Nature. 😋
Take Your Pick
Back to Nature has everything from cookies to crackers to granola, and all of their products are designed to bring a smile to your face. It’s hard not to smile when you see the lineup. 🤩
🚫 r/edacted… Reddit removed roughly 180M posts from its site in 2020 (6% of all content), up from 137M the previous year. The increase was attributed in part to the implementation of new policies regarding hate speech and racism.
🌐 Reach for the Stars… Linus Tech Tips, one of YouTube’s premier tech channels, ran SpaceX’s Starlink internet service through a series of increasingly heavy tasks – including streaming four separate 4K videos simultaneously – to gauge its performance. The full results (18 min).
💲 Currency Events… Amazon is in the early stages of developing its own digital currency, as revealed by new listings on Amazon Jobs. The move follows in the footsteps of Facebook, which last fall announced its own blockchain-based payment system, Libra, set to launch later this year.
🍦 Cream of the Crop… Ben & Jerry’s launched vegan versions of three of its popular ice cream flavors – Phish Food, Karamel Sutra Core, and Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream – expanding into a market of non-dairy ice creams that researchers expect will exceed $805 million by 2027.
📺 Tall Tale
The contestants of which game show stand on adjustable platforms to appear the same height on TV?
A) The Price is Right
C) Family Feud
D) Wheel of Fortune
(keep scrolling for the answer)
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