1.21.2022

Austria, Havana Syndrome, and the 5G Fight Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Friday, Jan. 21, and we're covering a vaccine mandate in Austria, an update on the illness affecting a number of US diplomats, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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NEED TO KNOW

 

Austria Votes for Mandate

Austrian lawmakers voted yesterday to require all residents aged 18 and over to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. The requirement includes exceptions for pregnant women, those with certain medical conditions, and those who've recovered from an infection within the past six months. The mandate, which kicks in Feb.1, is the first of its kind in Europe and carries a roughly $4,000 fine for violations. 

 

In the US, the seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases has begun to fall, currently around 736,000 per day—down about 10% over the past week (see data). Hospitalizations from the illness, which lag new cases, continue to rise, currently near 153,000 total patients.  

 

Separately, on the science side, a small study suggested a link between abnormalities in cerebrospinal fluid and lingering brain fog in COVID-19 patients. 

Pope Benedict 

A report released yesterday on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church found that retired Pope Benedict XVI knew about alleged child abuse by priests in a German diocese but failed to act on the knowledge. The report accuses Benedict of mishandling four cases during his tenure as the archbishop of Munich (then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) from 1977 to 1982. The former pope has denied all wrongdoing.

 

The Archdiocese of Munich commissioned the report to investigate the handling of allegations between 1945 and 2019. Two of the cases concerned priests who were legally charged for abuse but were allowed to continue as priests under Benedict. The current archbishop, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, was accused of mistreatment in two cases.

 

In all, the investigation found at least 497 victims of reported abuse and 235 suspected abusers, including 173 priests. A Vatican representative said the church would hold off commenting until it had read the full report.

Havana Syndrome Report

A slew of mysterious illnesses referred to as “Havana Syndrome” affecting US diplomatic staff are unlikely to have been coordinated by a foreign nation, according to the CIA. A new interim assessment from the agency found most cases can be attributed to preexisting medical conditions or environmental factors. A few dozen cases remain unsolved. 

 

Many of the early cases originated at the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba, in 2016, with other cases following from elsewhere, including Geneva, China, and Russia. US diplomats and spies have reported symptoms such as unexplainable headaches, nausea, hearing and vision loss, loud sounds, and more. 

In 2020, a National Academies study found some of the brain injuries examined reflected potential physiological effects of directed radio frequency energy, though it was unclear what type of source could've caused the range of reported symptoms. 

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> NFL divisional round kicks off tomorrow with NFC top-seed Green Bay facing off against San Francisco (8:15 pm ET, Fox) and AFC No. 1 Tennessee taking on Cincinnati (4:30 pm ET, CBS) (More)

 

> Sundance Film Festival launched virtually last night (More) | See preview of some of the most anticipated films (More) | Singer Meat Loaf dies at age 74 (More)

 

> NBC Sports won't send broadcasters to cover Beijing Winter Olympics over COVID-19 concerns (More) | Singer Adele postpones Las Vegas residency 24 hours before opening night due to COVID-19 outbreak among crew (More)

Science & Technology

> Scientists demonstrate pig-to-human kidney transplants; the surgery, performed in a brain-dead patient, follows a successful pig-to-human heart transplant in a living patient (More)

 

> Hubble Space Telescope observes a black hole actively causing star formation, as opposed to consuming matter; the object's gravity is causing a swirl of colliding gas moving at more than 1 million miles per hour (More)

 

> Pill containing material derived from healthy human fecal matter shown to treat recurring gut infections in trials; medicine could potentially replace invasive fecal matter transplants delivered via colonoscopy (More)

Business & Markets

In partnership with NowRx

> US stock markets fall again (S&P 500 -1.1%, Dow -0.9%, Nasdaq -1.3%); weekly jobless claims rise to 286,000, the highest level since October (More)

 

> Shares of exercise giant Peloton fall 23% as company halts production amid lower consumer demand; shares are down over 80% from all-time high in December 2020 (More) | Shares of Netflix drop 20% in after-hours trading after company forecasts slowing user growth (More)

 

> Over 6.1 million existing homes sold in the US in 2021, up 8% from last year and the highest level since 2006 (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> Jan. 6 committee requests cooperation from Ivanka Trump (More) | Georgia prosecutor requests special grand jury in a probe of alleged efforts by former President Donald Trump and allies to overturn state's election results (More)

 

> Tens of thousands of people expected to attend annual March for Life in Washington, DC, today; event is the country's largest pro-life demonstration (More)

 

> US levels sanctions on four Ukrainian officials for allegedly covertly helping Russia, amid Russian troop buildup on Ukraine's eastern border (More) | President Joe Biden walks back comments on "minor" incursion of Ukraine (More)

IN-DEPTH

 

5G Versus the Airlines

WSJ | Staff. A video explainer breaking down why some officials are worried 5G wireless technology may impact aviation safety. (Watch)

The Plight of the Tiger

Nat Geo | Dina Fine Maron. Siberian tigers, with just hundreds left in the wild, are being killed under the cover of night to serve an underground market in China. (Read, paywall)

From True Crime to Real Crime

Narratively | Dylan Taylor-Lehman. Was Steve Pankey a true-crime podcast junkie or a cold-blooded killer? (Read)

India's Fossil Paradise

BBC Future | Kamala Thiagarajan. India is home to some of the most spectacular dinosaur fossils anywhere in the world—but most of them remain in the ground. (Read)

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All Investments are subject to risk, including the possible loss of principal.  Crypto Trading is offered via eToro USA LLC. Securities trading is offered via eToro USA Securities, Inc.("The BD"), a broker dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The BD is a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). eToro USA LLC (NMLS ID: 1769299 ) is not a registered broker-dealer or FINRA member and your cryptocurrency holdings are not FDIC or SIPC insured.

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ETCETERA

 

Charting the drop in the US birth rate.

 

Americans are considering an age limit for elected officials

 

Comedian Bill Murray holds a surprise park performance.

 

Tongan man reportedly survives 27-hour swim following tsunami.

 

Visualizing the tech giants that dominated the web (by year).

 

Researchers stumble on a pristine coral reef off the Tahiti coast.

 

Britain's elementary school-aged cybercriminals

 

This penguin is living its best life

 

Clickbait: California city fights crows with lasers and a boombox.

 

Historybook: Louis XVI of France is executed by guillotine (1793); Fashion designer Christian Dior born (1905); HBD golf great Jack Nicklaus (1940); Founding father of American cinema Cecil B. DeMille dies (1959); First Women’s March sees large-scale protests in more than 160 countries (2017).

 

"The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication."

- Cecil DeMille

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