In the Know: February 21, 2014

“We expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint and to not resort to violence when dealing with peaceful protesters. There will be consequences if people step over the line.” President Barack Obama, on the protests happening in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, on February 19, 2013

Nation: Still rockin’ in Sochi.
The U.S. athletes are still making us proud at the Winter Games with a gold in the first ever women’s ski halfpipe, a gold in ice dancing, a silver and bronze for women’s bobsled, and a silver for women’s hockey in a dramatic sudden-death overtime game. Two more gold medals were won by U.S. men in the ski halfpipe and giant slalom. The men’s two-man bobsled team also took home a bronze, the first time the U.S. have medaled in the event since 1952. A dream come true, as ice dancer Charlie White said about his gold medal, “That in itself justified 17 years of hard work.” We agree. Way to go, USA!

World: Things have gone from bad to worse in Ukraine.
According to reports, as many as 100 people were killed yesterday as security forces fired on antigovernment protesters in Kiev. The attack was just the latest in what has become a quickly escalating conflict in Ukraine. The crisis began in November, when Ukrainian President Yanukovych reversed a decision to sign a trade deal with the European Union in favor of Russia. Since, political protests have moved beyond historic loyalties to include constitutional reforms and shifting more power away from the president, and protests have turned more and more violent, leaving some to worry about an oncoming war.

Politics: Social security safe for now.
President Obama’s forthcoming budget plan will not include a proposal to trim cost-of-living increases in Social Security checks, the gesture of bipartisanship he made to Republicans last year in a failed strategy to reach a “grand compromise” on reducing projected federal debt. White House officials said on Thursday that since Republicans in Congress have shown no willingness to meet the president’s offer on social programs by closing loopholes for corporations and wealthy Americans, the proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year will not assume a path to an agreement that no longer appears to exist.

Business: Facebook at it again.
On Wednesday, Facebook announced their plan to buy mobile messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock, by far the company’s largest acquisition and bigger than any that Google, Microsoft or Apple have ever done. The deal translates to roughly 11 percent of Facebook’s market value. The price tag stunned Gartner analyst Brian Blau as he said, “I am not surprised they went after WhatsApp, but the amount is staggering.” Facebook likely prizes WhatsApp for its audience of teenagers and young adults who are increasingly using the service to engage in online conversations outside of Facebook.

Science: You think you’re cold? Okay, you are.
Sure, it’s been a freezing winter for us here in the states, but scientists have pointed out that for the earth as a whole, January was actually the fourth warmest we’ve ever had. Even more, January marked the 347th consecutive month with global temperatures ranking above the 20th-century average. But try not to think about that too much, because it sounds like the cold might stick around for a few more weeks, at least in the south and east.

Women: Jennifer Welter is making history.
Think women should flock toward sports like cheerleading and ballet? Think again. Jennifer Welter, a veteran of women’s pro football, signed with the Indoor Football League’s Texas Revolution in January as a running back, and this weekend she officially proved that she’s up to the task. “If you’re a football player, you’re a football player,” said Welter, “When you play the game well, it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female.” Here, here!

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