Billionaires, Bombs and Bridges – OZY


A tale of two billionaires saw Mark Zuckerberg lose $29 billion in one day – and Jeff Bezos win $20 billion. A carefully planned US attack that resulted in the death of the Islamic State leader resulted in civilian casualties after the target blew itself up. Canada’s prime minister has said he will not deploy troops to quell anti-vax protests that have paralyzed Ottawa. And Pentagon officials have revealed what they say are Russian plans to “fabricate a pretext for an invasion” of Ukraine. All this and more in today’s APB.


1 – Mark sad, Jeff happy

Zuckerberg loses $29 billion, Bezos wins $20 billion

Shares of Facebook holding company Meta fell 26% on Thursday following disappointing earnings forecasts that the company partly blamed on changes to Apple iOS that make it harder to track user activity. The $200 billion wipeout was the biggest single-day drop ever for a US company. On the other side of the billionaire bubble, Amazon reported bumper fourth-quarter earnings, pushing its shares up 15% and paving the way for what should be the company’s biggest daily gain since 2009. With just $85 billion under his pillow, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has slipped to 12th place on Forbes’ rich list. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is third. (Source: BBC, Reuters)

2 – Collateral damage

US attack on IS leader kills civilians

A daring pre-dawn raid by US special operations forces that had been in the making for months resulted in the death of Islamic State leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. In an attempt to minimize the risk of civilian harm, the United States decided to send two dozen helicopter-borne commandos instead of embarking on a bomb or missile raid. Those plans were scuppered, President Joe Biden said, when al-Qurayshi detonated a suicide bomb that killed several members of his family. Rescuers said women and children were among at least 13 people killed in the assault on Thursday. No American soldier was injured. (Source: NYT, PA)

3 – Chaos in Canada

Trudeau says military response to protests not likely – for now

After Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly refused to rule out deploying the military to deal with ongoing protests by truckers over COVID-19 vaccination mandates, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau eased tensions on Thursday. He said a military response was “not in the cards at the moment”, adding that he would be “very, very careful” about deploying troops on Canadian soil. Protesters, some of whom were carrying Nazi flags and espousing white supremacist views, paralyzed downtown Ottawa and outraged many Canadians by desecrating the city’s war memorials. Similar demonstrations are planned in Toronto and Quebec. (Source: PA, Reuters)

4 – Video games

US says Russia is planning fake attack to justify invading Ukraine

US officials claimed that Russia would “fabricate a pretext for an invasion” of Ukraine by creating “a very graphic propaganda video” depicting a fake attack on Russian forces. This is the latest of several revelations intended to undo Russian plans to justify an invasion. Speaking at a briefing at the Pentagon, Press Secretary John Kirby said the United States believed President Vladimir Putin had ordered the production of a video that included “bodies and actors…depicting people in mourning and images of destroyed places, as well as military equipment in the hands of Ukraine or the West. Russian Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov has denied all. (Sources: WaPo, CNN)

5 – Briefly

Right here are some things you should know today:

The big frost. A massive winter storm that forced school closures, road and air transport disruptions and power outages is not over yet: 110 million people in the United States and Canada are subject to storm warnings and ice. (Source: Axios) Let the games begin? The Winter Olympics have kicked off in Beijing amid COVID-19 restrictions, diplomatic boycotts and questions about China’s treatment of ethnic minorities. (Source: AlJazeera) Congolese tragedy. At least 26 people have been electrocuted at a food market in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, after a high voltage power cable snapped and fell into a ditch. (Source: Africanews)

Watch Jameela Jamil

As she discusses the good that has come from the pandemic


1 – Butterfly Effect

Texas Butterfly Center closes after right-wing harassment

Look what came out of this cocoon. The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas will close after continued threats directed at the nature reserve and its staff. The conservatory, located near the US-Mexico border, has been embroiled in a legal battle since 2017, when the Trump administration began construction of a wall on the nonprofit’s property without permission, using chainsaws to destroy trees. It’s unclear if the lush 100-acre paradise of more than 200 species of butterflies will ever reopen. “We still can’t believe we are at the center of this maelstrom of malevolence,” the center said. (Source: NPR)

2 – something in the water

Research shows that there are two forms of liquid water

Thirty years ago, researchers at Boston University made the dramatic claim that water does not have a liquid state, but can change between two distinct liquid forms under pressure and at extremely low temperatures. Since then, evidence has slowly accumulated that they were right. Now, scientists from the National Institute of Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan, claim to have observed a reversible transformation between liquid states of different density. The observations were made not in pure H2O but in supercooled water mixed with trehalose, a natural cryoprotectant that prevents insect blood from freezing. (Source: world of chemistry)

3 – Blindly

German researchers will breed pigs as human heart donors

A month after American doctors performed the world’s first pig-to-human heart transplant, German scientists are launching a program to genetically modify pigs to be ready for transplant trials by 2025. he American operation used a core with 10 modifications, the Germans, led by Eckhard Wolf of Ludwig-Maximilians University, will pursue a “simpler model” with only five modifications. Wolf is a controversial figure in Germany, which has a powerful animal rights lobby – and a transplant waiting list of 8,500 people. “Animals should not be used as spare parts for humans,” said Kristina Berchtold of the German Association for Animal Welfare. (Source: The Guardian)

4 – Break the bridges

Rotterdam to dismantle Jeff Bezos’ historic superyacht deck

We now know where (part of) the Amazon founder’s $20 billion windfall will go. The authorities of the Dutch port of Rotterdam have announced that they will partially dismantle – at Bezos’ expense – the historic Koningshaven bridge to allow his new superyacht to leave the city. The vessel built by Dutch company Oceanco will be 417 feet long and 130 feet high, the largest of its kind, and will come with an array of luxury features. While many Rotterdam residents hailed the economic significance of building the yacht, local politician Stephan Leewis described “the heartbreak[ing] down from our magnificent national monument” as “a bridge too far”. (Source: BBC)

5 – Farewell Captain Video

Acclaimed NBA coach Bill Fitch dies aged 89

The two-time NBA Coach of the Year, who led the Boston Celtics to the league title in 1981, has died in Lake Conroe, Texas. That title was the culmination of a 25-year coaching career characterized by pulling struggling teams by their boots. Fitch’s pioneering use of video analysis earned him the nickname Captain Video and his commitment to discipline and demanding workouts was second to none. Larry Bird, who played on the winning Celtics team, said Fitch “was the best in terms of motivation, forcing you to really put him on the line for each other.” (Source: NYT)


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