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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

First Thing: Chiefs stun 49ers in overtime for second straight Super Bowl title

First Thing: Chiefs stun 49ers in overtime for second straight Super Bowl title

Good morning.

The NFL is becoming an easy league to understand, even for those who struggle with its complex schemes and playbooks. All you really need to know is that Patrick Mahomes will, in all probability, be on the winning team.

And so it was last night in Las Vegas as Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to their third Super Bowl title in five years with a thrilling 25-22 overtime victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

“It means a ton,” Mahomes told CBS when asked what his third championship meant to him. “I’m proud of my guys, man, this is awesome. It’s legendary.”

Most Super Bowls are decided by fine margins. Lady Luck always plays a role. But even by the typical standards, Sunday’s game was something different. Squint hard enough, and the Niners are champions today, mapping out their parade route. Instead, they’re the NFL’s almost team – a secondary character in the Chiefs’ dynastic story.

“There’s no right words right now,” Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said after the game. “It hurts.”

Two Israeli hostages freed in Rafah, says IDF, as Palestinians report dozens of deaths

Fernando Simon Marman (left) and Louis Har (right), two Israeli hostages who, according to the IDF, were freed during a special forces operation in Rafah amid airstrikes Gaza health officials said killed at least 50 Palestinians in the city. Composite: Bring Them Home/Reuters

At least 50 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes on the southern city of Rafah, according to Gaza health officials, as the Israeli military said it had freed two hostages during a raid by special forces on the city.

The raid was celebrated in Israel, which has been seeking the release of more than 100 captives held by Hamas and other militant groups. But the operation also brought heavy airstrikes pounding on Rafah, the city on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip where 1.4 million Palestinians have fled to escape fighting elsewhere in the Israel-Hamas war.

Women and children were among those killed in the Israeli strikes, according to Dr Marwan al-Hams, director of the Abu Youssef al-Najjar hospital, and dozens were wounded. Residents said two mosques and several houses had been bombed.

The two hostages were freed during a raid by special forces in Gaza’s southern Rafah neighbourhood, said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). They were taken to Sheba hospital in central Israel, a statement from the hospital said, and were confirmed by doctors to be in “good condition”.

  • Who are the freed hostages? The hostages were named by the IDF on Telegram as Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, both taken from the Nir Yitzhak kibbutz in the October 7 Hamas attacks.

  • What has the White House said about the strikes on Rafah? Joe Biden, yesterday told the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, that Israel should not launch a military operation in Rafah without a credible plan to ensure the safety of the roughly 1 million people sheltering there, the White House said.

Trump gets access to sealed documents on witness threats in Mar-a-Lago case

Donald Trump speaks at his Mar-a-Lago estate, in Palm Beach, Florida. Photograph: Rebecca Blackwell/AP

Special counsel prosecutors have produced to Donald Trump a sealed exhibit about threats to a potential trial witness after the federal judge overseeing his prosecution for retaining classified documents ordered the exhibit turned over despite the prosecutors’ objections, people familiar with the matter said.

The exhibit was a point of contention because it detailed a series of threats made against a witness who could testify against the former president at trial, and the matter is the subject of a criminal investigation by a US attorney’s office. Prosecutors had wanted to withhold it from Trump’s lawyers.

But the presiding US district judge, Aileen Cannon, ordered the exhibit that prosecutors in the office of special counsel, Jack Smith, had submitted “ex parte” – or without showing it to the defense – to be transmitted to Trump’s lawyers after reviewing its contents and deciding it did not warrant that protection.

The prosecutors complied with the order before a Saturday deadline without seeking a challenge – though the justice department would typically be loth to disclose details of an ongoing investigation, especially as it relates to the primary defendant in this case, legal experts said.

  • Why did prosecutors object to the release? Prosecutors asked the judge to deny Trump’s request to unseal his exhibits, using broad arguments that they would reveal the identity of potential witnesses, two sub-compartments of what is described as “Signals” intelligence, and details about a separate FBI investigation.

In other news …

Beyoncé at the Grammys in 2023. Two new country-themed songs, Texas Hold ’Em and 16 Carriages, were added to streaming in time for her new album’s March 29 release. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
  • Beyoncé has announced the second album in her Renaissance trilogy will be released on March 29, in surprise news that came during the 58th Super Bowl, and was accompanied by two new singles. The two new singles, Texas Hold ’Em and 16 Carriages, indicate that Act II will be country themed.

  • The Nato chief, Jens Stoltenberg, has said any attack on the western military alliance would be met with a “united and forceful response”, after Trump invited Russia to attack member countries that he perceived as not meeting their financial obligations.

  • The Kremlin has said that Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite internet system was neither certified for use in, nor officially supplied to, Russia, and therefore could not be used. Ukraine, which has used Starlink for military communications throughout its conflict with Russia, said on Sunday that Russian troops were using Starlink.

  • Tributes have been paid to the world marathon record holder, Kelvin Kiptum, after his shock death, alongside his coach, in a road accident yesterday. The 24-year-old won the London Marathon in April before setting the world record in Chicago in October.

  • Details of Charles Darwin’s vast personal library, from a paper on epileptic guinea pigs to the Elizabeth Gaskell novel he adored, are being published in their entirety for the first time. The project has involved nearly two decades of painstaking, detective-like work to track down the thousands of books, journals, pamphlets and articles in the naturalist’s library.

Don’t miss this: ‘I felt lost in early adulthood, so coined the term “quarterlife” as a focus for study’

‘There’s so much derision and looking down on this stage of life’: psychotherapist Satya Doyle Byock in her office in Portland, Oregon. Photograph: Richard Darbonne/The Observer

When Satya Doyle Byock finished her studies after nearly 20 years, she felt like she was stepping off a cliff. Adulthood seemed perilously unclear. “I was in my 20s and in crisis, looking around myself at friends in crisis,” says Byock, now 40. Only a few of her fellow graduates seemed clear-eyed about the future, with jobs or further study lined up. The rest had “absolutely no idea”.

One evening, Byock was telling her housemates about her desire to quit her first job after graduating, when she broke down sobbing. Everyone was telling her to stick with it, that it was normal to feel lost in your 20s. But when, Byock wanted to know – and how – did it start to get better? That question has shaped her life in more ways than one.

Climate check: From turtles to fruit bats, migratory species increasingly under threat, says UN

The migratory hawksbill sea turtle is one of many marine animals, from sharks to sturgeons, threatened with extinction. Photograph: Minden Pictures/Alamy

More than a fifth of migratory species under international protection are threatened with extinction, including nearly all nomadic fish, according to the first UN expert assessment. From humpback whales to dalmatian pelicans, each year billions of animals journey with the seasons over oceans, on land and in the skies. But a report by the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) has found that many migratory species are at risk of disappearing, threatened by human pollution, the spread of invasive species and the climate crisis.

The assessment of migratory animals that are under protection from the treaty found that 22% of the 1,189 CMS-listed species are threatened with extinction and nearly half, 44%, are showing population declines

Last Thing: Airport K9 sniffs out mummified monkeys at Boston airport

The remains of four mummified monkeys discovered and seized from luggage from a traveler at Boston Logan airport. Photograph: AP

A US customs and border protection dog has caused a stir at Boston’s often bustling airport after sniffing out something unusual in luggage from a traveler returning from Africa: mummified monkeys. The passenger returning from a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo reported that the luggage contained dried fish. But an inspection at Boston Logan airport revealed four dead monkeys whose bodies were dehydrated, agents said. The traveler said he brought the monkeys into the US for his own consumption, customs and border patrol spokesperson Ryan Bissette said Sunday. Raw or minimally processed meat from wild animals – sometimes referred to as bushmeat – is banned in the US because of the threat of disease.

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