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Satya Nadella. Photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Microsoft is pledging $500 million to the Seattle region to address affordable housing issues, the New York Times reported and Microsoft confirmed in a blog post.

Why it matters: This kind of move from such an industry powerhouse will spur debate over what kind of responsibilities fall on companies to find "solutions for those who have not benefited from the industry's fortunes," per the Times. A report from December said the Seattle region needs 156,000 more affordable housing units and will need 84,000 more by 2040 if growth continues.

"The tech sector needs to contribute more to the communities in which they operate," said Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, at a gathering of editors at the company’s headquarters this week. "Explosive economic growth that came to tech hubs, such as Seattle and Northern California, put major strain on the cities’ infrastructure, such as education, transportation, and in particular, housing."

  • "We recognize that jobs came but housing wasn’t built for the people who started to fill them," Smith added. "It’s forced out of the community the school teacher, the nurses, the first responders, many of the people who work at tech companies themselves. What it’s required them to do is live farther away and spend more of their day commuting. It has undermined the health of the communities in which our companies are prospering."

Go deeper

CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions

CDC director Rochelle Walensky warned states on Monday that "now is not the time" to lift public health restrictions, as the recent dramatic declines in coronavirus cases and deaths "appear to be stalling."

Why it matters: While the average of 70,000 new infections and 2,000 daily deaths is nowhere near the extremely high levels recorded at the start of 2021, the figures are still a poor baseline to "stop a potential fourth surge" — especially with the threat posed by more contagious new variants, Walensky warned.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduces "ultra-millionaire" wealth tax bill

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Monday introduced a bill in the Senate that would impose a new tax on the assets of America's wealthiest individuals.

Why it matters: The plan, which Warren introduced along with Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) is similar to a proposal that was the centerpiece of Warren's campaign for the presidency in 2020.

3 hours ago - World

Former French President Sarkozy sentenced to jail for corruption

Nicolas Sarkozy, 2011. Photo: XINHUA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

A court in Paris on Monday sentenced former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to one year in prison and a two-year suspended sentence after he was found guilty of trying to bribe a magistrate, AP reports.

Driving the news: Sarkozy, who was president from 2007 to 2012, is the first president in France’s modern history to have gone on trial for corruption, per AP. He was charged with corruption and influence-peddling.