Happy President's Day! Hope you're enjoying a nice long weekend. We contemplated taking today off, but it's only our second newsletter, soooo... here we are.
Every Monday we will break down the big stories we are watching each week. Today's edition features the major headlines to be on the look out for, starting with the newest concerns around Ukraine. And in honor of the holiday, we ended today's edition with some fun presidential trivia.
We'll see our paid subscribers on Wednesday. And everyone else, see ya on the 'Gram and in your inbox on Friday. Have a great week.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Depending on what headlines you are reading at any given moment, there could be positive news or ominous news. Overall, things admittedly don't look very good.
To start, Russia has indefinitely extended military drills with their allies in Belarus (see pic at top of newsletter), which were supposed to end Sunday. Russia has roughly 30,000 troops in Belarus, who will remain in the country indefinitely and would take part in a potential invasion of Ukraine. Those exercises reportedly included testing missiles as part of nuclear force drills, so Putin could make sure he had the world's attention. 🙄
But late Sunday, Presidents Biden and Putin each agreed "in principle" to a face-to-face summit, as coordinated by French President Emmanuel Macron, who worked the phones all day Sunday. Timing is TBD and "in principle" is the diplomatic equivalent of "sure, that seems like a good idea." Macron has been trying to be the peacemaker the last few weeks, playing good cop to Biden's bad cop vis a vis Putin. The White House came out with a skeptical statement Sunday night that basically said that Putin looks like he is totally going to invade Ukraine, that Biden is always open to meeting him, but again, as long as he doesn't invade Ukraine. For its part, the Kremlin threw cold water on it this morning, saying there are "no concrete plans" plans for a summit.
That all comes as the the U.S. has picked up intelligence showing that Putin has given the Russian military an order to go ahead with an invasion of Ukraine. It also reveals 50% of the 150,000 Russian troops on the border have moved out of staging and into combat formation. The intelligence was behind Biden’s startling declaration Friday that Putin has already decided to invade." ~ NBC News
On Sunday, Biden held a rare weekend meeting of the National Security Council focused on Ukraine and cancelled a planned trip to Delaware.
Meanwhile, a tweet from Russian-government media outlet Sputnik that a few countries may have a fact check for: 🤔
💵 WALL STREET: CAN MARKETS REBOUND?
US markets are closed today for President's Day, but they've recently taken a big hit on worries about war in Ukraine. If Russia invades, analysts expect natural gas and oil prices to go even higher than they are now. One analyst told Fox News he already expects "oil will likely hit $100 a barrel before the summer driving season"-- even without a war in Ukraine. Translation beyond Wall Street: We could soon see $4 a gallon gas in the US (Average price currently at $3.53) with prices hitting $5 and even $6 in some parts. (looking at you, California).
Another major factor impacting markets: Inflation. Recent data shows inflation is at its highest level since 1982; prices jumped 7.5% from January 2021 to 2022. (Anyone who's bought basically anything recently could have told us that.) On Friday, we'll get more data about inflation, the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index. If it comes in higher than expected, the Fed could be forced to take even more aggressive action (aka hike interest rates even faster than expected), and that could send stocks even lower.
🇨🇦 TRUCKERS BID ADIEU...FOR NOW
The 'Freedom Convoy’ demonstrators who took over parts of the Canadian capital for 23 days are mostly gone. Over the weekend, the police clashed with demonstrators and made nearly 200 arrests. The protest was initially organized to fight vaccine mandates but turned into a demonstration against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He controversially invoked "emergency powers" last week, which gave authorities more power to shut down the protests--including shutting down bank accounts.
This could be just one battle in a bigger war: Several protesters told the Washington Post they "plan to regroup or join future anti-government demonstrations." The demonstrations also catalyzed similar movements in the US, New Zealand and across Europe.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said Sunday the capital would continue to see a major police presence to make sure protesters don’t return, adding, “it’s like putting out a fire. You don’t want to have that one last ember that can light up again.”
🍼 BABY FORMULA SHORTAGE
A new baby formula warning threatens to strain already stretched supplies even more, leaving desperate parents scrambling. Out-of-stock levels of formula quickly shot up to 25% in February, from 11% in December.
Making matters worse, the FDA announced Thursday it's working with Abbott Nutrition to initiate a voluntary recall of certain lots of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powdered infant formula.
It follows complaints that four infants were hospitalized, with one death, possibly linked to tainted formula. Full FDA Advisory
Shoutout to all the new parents out there. We've gotten a lot of messages from a lot of you about this story, who say it was hard enough being pregnant during a pandemic (constantly worried about Covid, doctors appointments without your partner) and then being a parent to a newborn during a pandemic. And now this! We hear you.
📱 TRUMP'S NEW PLATFORM
Former President Trump's social media platform Truth Social is set to be released today, on President's Day. The website describes it as a "social media platform that encourages an open, free, and honest global conversation without discriminating against political ideology." It is his response after he was booted from Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. An official from his new platform said it will resemble Twitter.
👑 THE QUEEN HAS COVID
Queen Elizabeth II, who's 95 years old, is currently experiencing "mild, cold-like symptoms" after her diagnosis.
The palace says "she'll continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines. She's expected to carry out "light duties" this week. Her bout comes two weeks after Prince Charles and Camilla both tested positive for COVID.
The announcement came a few weeks after the longest-reigning monarch in UK history celebrated her Platinum Jubilee - 70 years on the throne. The dynasty traces its origins back almost 1,000 years to Norman King William I and his 1066 conquest of England.
🏟 OLYMPICS WRAP
And that's a wrap on the Beijing Olympics. Norway cleaned up in golds and overall medals. The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) was second overall followed by Germany, Canada and the United States.
So how'd it go?
The AP writes: "It was weird. It was messy and, at the same time, somehow sterile. It was controlled and calibrated in ways only Xi Jinping's China could pull off."
And this, from the USA Today: "Walled off from the outside world in order to succeed, accompanied every step of the way by questions about China’s human rights abuses, the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games ended their bizarre 17-day run on a frigid Sunday night."
It's still not clear who will end up winning the gold in team figure skating. The Russian team finished first, but Russian teen Kamila Valieva tested positive for banned substances. Americans came in second. The IOC said the results of Valieva’s competitions would come with “an asterisk,” and be considered “preliminary.” BTW, pending no major developments, the ROC will be officially be back as Russia at the next games after a four-year "ban."
As for us, we're waiting to see if Pickleball will be added to the next Olympic games.
For those keeping track, the next Olympics locations are: 2024 Paris (Summer), 2026 Milan & Cortina D'Ampezzo (Winter).
A winter storm will push Arctic air into a large part of the lower 48, and many "cities will see a sharp polar plunge in a 48-hour span."
Here's what that means: In Denver, temperates soared into the 60s on Sunday and may drop to the teens by Tuesday. In Amarillo, TX temps could hit 70 today, and fall to 30s by Tuesday.
🗞 OTHER BIG HEADLINES
It's the first NASCAR Cup Series win for the rookie. (CBS Sports)
Britain will become the first major European country to allow people who know they are infected with COVID-19 to freely use shops, public transport and go to work. (REUTERS)
Agency has begun reviewing data that could lead to clearing a second booster dose of the Pfizer, Moderna vaccines in the fall. (WSJ)
After early defeats in Congress, relatives of those lost in the 2012 shooting fought on, besting a renowned gun maker and an infamous conspiracy theorist. (NYTIMES)
🇺🇸 PRESIDENT'S DAY TRIVIA🇺🇸
Ok enough with the news... it's a holiday! Here's some good presidential trivia:
Which 1840s president had a living grandson until 2020?
Name the presidents who were impeached. Hint: Four impeachments, three presidents.
Which president served as vice president for his political nemesis?
Which president worked as a model for Cosmopolitan magazine in the 1940s?
Who was the shortest president?
Who was the tallest?
Which zodiac sign is the most well represented in the Oval Office?
Which president officially gave the White House its name? Prior to that, it was called the Executive Mansion, the President's House and the President's Palace.
Who was the first president to be divorced?
This president survived two assassination attempts--both by female shooters.
Which president saw two of his vice presidents die during his term in office?
Four states have produced half of our presidents. Name them.
Which three presidents died on July 4?
Who was the only 20th century president without a college degree?
Who was the first president to be born in a hospital?
Name the oldest-ever and youngest-ever men to become president and their age when they were SWORN IN.
As you think about your answers, here is a rare photo of four presidents together. Presidents Nixon, Reagan, Ford and Carter having a toast at the White House in October 1981 ahead of an official trip to Egypt for Anwar Sadat's funeral.
I should add that there have been a couple occasions where five presidents have been together, including most recently at the April 2013 dedication of President George W. Bush's Library (Bush 41, Bush 43, Clinton, Obama, Carter).
Ok, now for the trivia answers:
Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump
Thomas Jefferson (for John Adams)
James Madison, 5'4, 100 lbs
Abraham Lincoln 6'4
Scorpio (six presidents including Biden). Aquarius is next up with five.
Virginia (8), Ohio (7), New York (5), Massachusetts (4)
Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and James Monroe
Joe Biden (78 years old) & Teddy Roosevelt (42 years old).
[Top Newsletter Photo Credit: Stringer/Andalou Agency via Getty Images]