Russia calls China for backup
Plus: Most people are opposed to “Don’t Say Gay” laws, Uber adds a surcharge to offset high gas prices and why the brain prefers nature over cities
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Good Monday morning and Happy Pi Day. It’s also National Potato Chip Day too. Let’s catch up.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
— Russia’s invasion of Ukraine isn’t going according to plan so President Vladimir Putin has resorted to gruesome attacks on civilians, alleged kidnappings of Ukrainian leaders and calls to China for backup. US officials say Russia is looking for military support and economic assistance from China to help neutralize the impact of the sanctions the US and its European and Asian partners have imposed in recent weeks. White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is expected to meet with his Chinese counterpart today in Rome to warn China against helping Russia evade the sanctions. [Edward Wong and Julian E. Barnes / NYT]
— Six in 10 Americans oppose laws prohibiting LGBTQ lessons in elementary school, according to a new poll. The results show broad disapproval for legislation like the “Don’t Say Gay” law that just passed in Florida. Support for this type of legislation increases with age but doesn’t reach majority support in any age group. [Meredith Deliso / ABC News]
— Democratic Reps. Debbie Dingell and Lisa Blunt Rochester and Republican Reps. Fred Upton and Brian Fitzpatrick introduced legislation that would expand federal, state and local efforts to improve care for people with asthma. The Elijah E. Cummings Family Asthma Act, named after the late Maryland congressman and civil rights icon, would extend the CDC’s National Asthma Control Program to all 50 states to help address the public health burden of the disease, which impacts over 25 million people, including five million children and, disproportionately impacts women and minority communities.
— Urban environments are less pleasing than natural ones, researchers conclude in a new study. The reason is due to the lack of fractals, or patterns that self-repeat at different scales, in cities. These geometric figures can be found all over nature in objects like trees, rivers, clouds and coastlines though and the human brain has evolved to respond favorably to fractals and to do so in the blink of an eye. [University of Oregon]
— Uber announced it will impose a temporary surcharge on US customers to soften the blow to drivers from mounting gas prices. It ranges from 45 cents to 55 cents for Uber riders and 35 cents to 45 cents for Uber Eats customers, goes directly to drivers and will in effect for the next two months. Ride-sharing experts say the charge makes sense for shorter trips — which the company says make up most of its rides — but discourages drivers from taking longer ones. [Preetika Rana / WSJ]
— Instagram introduced new tagging options last week to show the roles of collaborators who work on content but aren’t always immediately visible unless mentioned by the post’s creators. “For many Black and underrepresented creators, crediting is an entryway to building a sustainable career as a creator, while combating cultural appropriation and ensuring the world knows who is driving culture,” Instagram said in its announcement. [Mia Sato / The Verge]
— Twitter users are pissed because the social app’s latest design change has made it harder to choose the preferred reverse-chronological timeline in favor of an algorithmic feed. I am Twitter users. [Jon Porter / The Verge]
TODAY IN POLITICS
— President Biden this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing. Then he’ll speak this afternoon at the National League of Cities Congressional City Conference. The president this evening will participate in a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. Both events will be in Washington, DC.
Biden’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The president, Vice President Harris, First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will participate in an event on Equal Pay Day.
Thursday: Biden will host Micheál Martin, prime minister and head of government of Ireland for a meeting at the White House. Then the Bidens, Harris and Emhoff will host Micheál and Mary Martin for a Shamrock presentation for St. Patrick’s Day.
— Vice President Harris has no public events on her schedule.
— Jill Biden will speak this morning at the 2022 International Women of Courage Award at the State Department in recognition of 12 recipients.
— The House is out.
— The Senate is in and will debate the nomination of Shalanda Young, who, if confirmed, would be the first Black woman to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Jon Kamp and Julie Wernau on the opioid epidemic’s impact in Black communities:
The proliferation of the potent opioid fentanyl, and a pandemic that has added hazards for people who use drugs, are driving new records in U.S. overdose deaths, and Black communities have been hit especially hard. Black people often have uneven access to healthcare including effective drug treatment, putting them at high risk, researchers and public-health experts say.
J. Clara Chan on the booming business of kids’ podcasting:
That’s not to say there haven’t been growing pains. The podcast industry is expected to surpass $2 billion in advertising revenue in 2023. That’s thanks in part to dynamic ad insertion, which allows marketers to target listeners individually (or by demographic) across a whole network’s slate of podcasts, rather than buying spots on an individual show. But advertising in the kids’ podcast space can be trickier given the constraints of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which requires parental consent to collect or use any personal data from children under the age of 13 in the U.S. As a result, ads on kids’ shows usually target parents and guardians who are listening along. Platforms like Wondery set up separate servers so that appropriate sponsorships will be placed on kids’ podcasts.
Benjamin Goggin on the internet’s meth underground:
As nearly all social media platforms and tech companies have trended toward increased platform moderation amid heightened scrutiny from watchdogs, meth users have attracted little attention as they build online communities of tens of thousands of people. With a mixed bag of policies pertaining to drug content that varies by platform, users have found numerous venues where they can post photos and videos of themselves using methamphetamine, sell drugs and encourage other people to use meth.
Shawn Donnan, Ann Choi, Hannah Levitt and Christopher Cannon on Black homeownership and the refinancing boom:
Nationwide, only 47% of Black homeowners who completed a refinance application with Wells Fargo in 2020 were approved, compared with 72% of White homeowners, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of federal mortgage data. While Black applicants had lower approval rates than White ones at all major lenders, the data show, Wells Fargo had the biggest disparity and was alone in rejecting more Black homeowners than it accepted.
If, as expected, the Fed’s policy committee moves to hike interest rates at its March meeting, it will begin closing the door on a remarkable wealth event that has seen U.S. homeowners refinance almost $5 trillion in mortgages over the past two years, the most since the early 2000s. It’s one that allowed White homeowners to save an estimated $3.8 billion annually by refinancing their mortgages in 2020, according to researchers at the central bank. But it’s a door that barely opened for Black Americans, who make up 9% of all homeowners and locked in just $198 million a year, less than 4% of the savings.
Nick DeSimone on what it’s like to be a trans person working in a restaurant kitchen:
The assumption is often that because I’m queer, I must think of and interact with women the way that some of the more misogynistic and transphobic men do, regardless of the fact that being queer and masculine doesn’t make me automatically objectify or disrespect the women in my life the way that misogynists and transphobes do. Because of this assumption, I am subjected to their so-called locker room talk. Despite my standard “masculine” work outfit of stained Dickies, a backwards hat, and Doc Martens, I also still experience misogyny, sexual harassment, and gender-based discrimination in many facets of my life, like riding the trolley or going to the store, just like the women I work with. When speaking up, though, I instantly have that acceptance revoked and am treated like a woman again. When I object to sexist, homophobic, and transphobic comments, I often get told I’m too sensitive, and that’s just how guys in kitchens talk. Suck it up.
Carly Caramanna on why there are so few roller coasters in the Pacific Northwest:
Today, the American amusement park business is booming — to the tune of $22 billion in 2019 revenues and rebounding from pandemic losses — and the U.S. continues to see fresh theme parks and record-breaking roller coasters debut, like Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Florida, the world’s fastest, steepest hybrid coaster.
And while theme parks are scattered across the American Southwest, South, Midwest and Northeast, the Pacific Northwest remains something of a dead zone, with just a handful of small regional parks — meaning very few coasters.
That fact is especially surprising considering Seattle has a rich, if humble, history of amusement parks, dating to the 19th century.
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