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Russia started major military drills near Ukraine 

Russia sent 30,000 troops to Belarus for military drills 

A satellite image shows troops and equipment deployments at Zyabrovka air base in Belarus
This story was published on our Quartz Daily Brief newsletter, The concise, conversational rundown you need to start your day.
  • Susan Howson
By Susan Howson

News Editor

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Here’s what you need to know

Russia began major military drills near Ukraine. As many as 30,000 Russian troops were reportedly sent to Belarus to engage in what the two countries called a routine practice.

France is planning a nuclear reactor “renaissance.” President Emmanuel Macron announced that 14 new reactors will help the country free itself from fossil fuels.

US inflation got even higher. Now at a level not seen in 40 years, consumer prices are being pushed aloft by rising energy, food, and housing costs.

Apple updated its AirTags. The secure devices, meant for tracking down other devices, were being used for stalking.

The WHO said vaccines are helping Africa move to the next covid phase. However, uneven case reporting makes the transition from pandemic to endemic difficult to pinpoint with much accuracy. Meanwhile, Pfizer’s covid pill was approved in Japan.

What to watch for

The day before Valentine’s Day also happens to be one of the biggest in sports history. Super Bowl LVI, the Beijing Winter Olympics, and the English Premier League will all happen on one day on one of NBCUniversal’s broadcast and streaming channels. The American football event usually draws around 100 million viewers, but last year dipped to 96.4 million as the world grappled with more pressing pandemic matters.

Now that vaccines and covid safety protocols have become the norm, the event is taking on a more back-to-normal tone. That post-pandemic optimism is partially reflected in rSuper Bowl ad prices reaching a record $7.5 million for a 30-second spot, as well as celebrity-packed ad spots free of any pandemic references. With ratings for the Beijing Olympics way down, and controversy shadowing the event, sandwiching the Super Bowl in between the two Olympics weeks could be just the boost the Winter Games need.

❄️This weekend will be packed with Olympic medal events. Stay up to date with our Beijing 2022 email. Sign up by hitting the button below.

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Time for a coffee break?

Super Bowl ads aren’t the only US commodity that’s gotten more expensive. It’s not surprising that the US imports a ton of coffee, but what’s startling is its customs value—or the price paid for merchandise when it’s sold for export to the US. It was $6.8 billion last year, the highest in a decade.

Soaring prices haven’t stopped the US, which is the largest coffee importer in the world, from buying more beans. But wallets are feeling the pinch. Starbucks said it plans on raising menu prices again in 2022, following increases in January of this year and October of 2021. And if you thought you could stave off price increases with at-home caffeination, you’re out of luck.

A line graph showing US coffee prices from 2017 to 2022. They gradually increase until mid-2021, when they just skyrocket.

Another way to energize

When the coffee runs out (or gets too expensive), we’ll be taking naps. But did you know coffee and napping can go together? Contrary to what you might think, the case for caffeinated naps is pretty strong—and can boost productivity. It’s just one of the many notes in our guide on how to nap. ✦ Become a member free for seven days and get our upcoming How To email on taking better naps in your inbox!

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Surprising discoveries

A Russian security guard doodled on a valuable painting. On his first day on the job, the man decided that eyeless faces should have eyes. 

An NFT of Paul McCartney’s handwritten notes for “Hey Jude” fetched £60,000 ($81,330). Purchased at the same auction: an NFT of an image of John Lennon’s guitar.

And coming soon: NFT-powered cannabis. This is the world we live in.

Your past can come back to bite you. A DNA database helped Spanish authorities reunite a British traveler with his dentures.

We figured out how to freeze sperm long before eggs. The little guys aren’t very complicated, but eggs are a different story. Learn all about the slow road to reproductive security in the latest episode of the Quartz Obsession podcast.

🥚 Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google | Stitcher

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, AirTags for teeth, and NFTs of NFTs to hi@qz.com. Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our iOS app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Adario Strange, Michelle Cheng, Susan Howson, and Morgan Haefner.

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