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Donald Trump Is the Worst U.S. President Ever, According to Historians


Wednesday, February 21st, 2024


Today’s newsletter is: 986 words; 4 min.


The U.S. vetoed a U.N. resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. It’s the third U.S. veto of a Security Council resolution since the start of the war on October 7, as Washington is pushing the body to instead call for a temporary ceasefire linked to the release of hostages held by Hamas.

The informant charged with lying to the FBI about President Joe Biden and his son Hunter admitted to investigators he got information about Hunter from Russian intelligence. The Justice Department called Alexander Smirnov’s contacts with Russian intelligence “not benign” in a court filing arguing for Smirnov to be detained as he awaits trial. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James is ready to seize Trump’s assets if he can’t pay the $355 million civil fraud fine. “If he does not have funds to pay off the judgment, then we will seek judgment enforcement mechanisms in court and we will ask the judge to seize his assets,” James told ABC News.

Capital One plans to buy Discover for $35 billion. The deal would create the sixth-largest U.S. bank by assets and give Capital One access to Discover’s payment processing network.


A new survey of presidential historians ranked Trump as the worst president of all time


Donald Trump Is the Worst U.S. President Ever, According to Historians

A new survey of presidential historians at the American Political Science Association ranked U.S. presidents on a scale of 0-100, rating Donald Trump (10.92) as the worst president of all time, while Joe Biden (62.66) ranked 14th and Barack Obama (73.8) ranked 7th.

  • Why it matters: The authors noted that while the self-identified ideology of the historians in the survey indeed influenced their choices (e.g., conservatives ranked Biden at 30th, while liberals ranked him 13th and moderates ranked him 20th), Trump was ranked in the bottom five across all ideological groups.



A new study confirmed pre-established links between COVID vaccines and adverse health effects


A new study by researchers at the Global Vaccine Data Network confirmed previously observed links between COVID vaccines and slightly increased risks of several conditions, like myocarditis and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

  • What to know: While the study confirms known links between the vaccines and certain conditions, the authors noted the size of the study population (99 million patients) increased the possibility of finding risks, and, in any case, COVID infections have consistently been found to be more likely to cause the conditions observed in the study than vaccinations.



A new report found fossil fuel stocks are dragging down stock market returns


Fossil Fuels Are Hurting Stock Market Returns

A new report by the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (everything has an institute nowadays) found fossil fuel stocks have dragged down stock market returns over the past decade, describing the assets as “an increasingly risky and speculative part of passive equity portfolios.”

  • Why it matters: The report encourages investors to take note of fossil fuels’ poor market performance over the past decade, particularly as investor awareness about climate change and the world’s energy transition continues to worsen their long-term outlook.


Ancient Cave Art May Have Passed Information Across 130 Generations 

Like a girl’s first crush and a boy’s first ill-timed public erection, the passing of knowledge from one generation to another is a universal experience across cultures.

  • The advice ranges from benign to life-changing, usually focusing on how to do something better or avoid an undesirable situation, and, despite young people’s unwillingness to admit it, the advice is usually correct.

Most advice is shared orally, passing through conversations that come up while doing a specific task, but plenty is written down.

  • Before the written word, ancient people relied on something different: art.

Patagonia paintings:

A new study by researchers at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council in Argentina found paintings in a cave in the northwestern region of Patagonia are thousands of years older than previously believed, spanning some 3,000 years and dating back to 8,200 years at the earliest, suggesting 130 human generations painted on the cave’s walls and ceilings.

  • The cave, called Cueva Huenul 1, contains 895 designs that look like blobs but the researchers promise mean real things. 

  • The paintings were repeated around each other in a comb-like pattern over thousands of years, essentially creating the same motif that the researchers believe is evidence of the “continuity in the transmission of information in these very small and very mobile societies.”

Why it matters:

The researchers believe the drawings could have been used to pass information between communities, including across future generations.

  • “We think it was part of a human strategy to build social networks across dispersed groups, which contributed to making these societies more resilient against a very challenging ecology,” said co-author Ramiro Barberena.


  • $542 million - The amount former President Donald Trump currently owes in legal penalties for defaming writer E. Jean Carroll and defrauding the state of New York through his business. Fun fact: A former president/current frontrunner of a major political party who owes more than half a billion dollars is also called a “national security risk.”

  • 76% - The amount of traffic from X to its advertising clients’ websites during Super Bowl weekend that was fake, according to new data from cybersecurity firm CHEQ. “I've never seen anything even remotely close to 50%, not to mention 76%,” said CHEQ CEO Guy Tytunovich.

  • 840 mph - The top speed reached by an American Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Qatar on Saturday thanks to a tailwind over 250 mph, according to data from Flight Aware. If confirmed, it would be one of the highest top speeds ever reached by a commercial flight (excluding supersonic Concorde flights).


Long Video. Explore the intertwined histories of the world’s five major religions. (11 min)

Short Video. Meet the guy making the world’s smallest sculptures. (3 min)

Fun Video. Here’s the scientific reason why you can’t put metal in a microwave. (6 min)

Good Read. Learn why soda taxes aren’t enough to reverse the obesity epidemic. (976 words; 4 min)

Neat List. Check out National Geographic’s 20 best travel experiences for 2024.


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Written by Ryan Wittler