1.23.2020

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Need to Know
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Crown Prince Implicated in Bezos Hack
United Nations experts called for an investigation into evidence that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' phone was hacked using malware installed via a WhatsApp message received from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Private investigators hired by Bezos had already linked Saudi actors to the May 2018 hack, but the new revelations are the first to directly implicate the Crown Prince. The story appears drawn from a Hollywood script: The Saudis, allegedly angry over critical columns by journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Bezos-owned Washington Post, gained access to evidence that Bezos was having an affair with television anchor Lauren Sánchez. Salacious text messages were then sold to the National Enquirer, who tried to extort Bezos in exchange for positive coverage of the tabloid in the Post. While the affair did indeed happen - and bin Salman was implicated in the October 2018 murder of Khashoggi - Bezos blew the scheme up by publicly posting exchanges with the Enquirer's parent company, American Media Inc.

Saudi officials denied the allegations. 
"A Landmark Achievement"
In a milestone for the field of neuroscience, researchers revealed yesterday the successful mapping of the wiring diagram of the central part of the fruit fly brain. Led by teams from Google and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the results are the culmination of a 12-year effort and represent the largest such mapping ever completed, spanning 25,000 individual neurons with 20 million separate connections. Known as a connectome, the diagram - which will be made freely available - allows scientists to link the precise sequence of neural firing that occurs when, for example, a fly is attracted to an odor or senses danger. The approach is scalable, with researchers estimating a project 1,000 times the size could be done with just 10 times the $40M budget, in the same amount of time. The achievement is a small but important step toward one of the holy grails of neuroscience: mapping the 86 billion neurons and trillions of connections that make up the human connectome
Opening Arguments
Lawmakers sat through the first full day of arguments in the impeachment trial of President Trump yesterday, listening as House managers began outlining their case alleging the president abused his power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate domestic political opponents. The day was mostly muted compared to recent weeks (frustration was released after the session ended); the chamber was held to a vow of silence, with Reps. Adam Schiff (D, CA-28) and Jerry Nadler (D, NY-10) primarily holding the floor. Democrats have up to two more days to argue their case, after which the president's team will have three days to provide a defense. Senators will then have 16 hours to answer questions before a debate on whether to introduce new witnesses. See photos from the second day here.

Separately, Joe Biden said he would not participate in a witness swap, should one be proposed. 
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Netflix's biggest fear?
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Notice how Netflix seems to keep losing its best shows? We miss our five-hour "Friends" binge sessions too (*cries softly*). Well, it’s part of a larger trend, with Disney, Warner Media, and NBC quickly pulling more and more programs off the Netflix platform. According to Nielsen, over half of Americans rank the variety of content as a service’s most important feature… which could be a bad sign for Netflix.
 
Our friends at The Motley Fool have been scouring the investment world for “the Netflix killer,” and shockingly, both of The Motley Fool’s cofounders, David and Tom, independently arrived at the same company. This has only happened 23 times over the entire history of The Motley Fool Stock Advisor, and when it does, the average return has been an astounding 878.16 percent!
 
The company they’re featuring today could stand to grow immensely within the multitrillion-dollar media and entertainment industry, sitting nicely in the middle of the advertising market. And the best part is most investors have never even heard of itCheck out the report now!

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In the Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> Sundance Film Festival begins today in Park City, Utah; see full list of 118 feature-length films (More)
> Two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning to retire (More) | Arrest warrant for felony burglary with battery issued for former star wide receiver Antonio Brown (More)
> Terry Jones, British comedy legend best known for “Monty Python,” dies at 77 (More)
Science & Technology
> Researchers demonstrate new method to regrow damaged peripheral nerves by implanting a biodegradable tube filled with a protein that stimulates cell growth (More)
> General Motors subsidiary Cruise unveils its first driverless car without a steering wheel or gas and brake pedals; vehicle represents a design overhaul, created from the ground up to operate without a driver (More)
> Analysis shows Australia's Yarrabubba crater is the site of Earth's oldest known asteroid impact; 2.3-billion-year-old strike also linked to a global warming period (More)
Business & Markets
> Amazon ($220B) tops Google and Apple as world’s most valuable brand in latest report (More)
> Fashion retailer Express to close 90+ stores amid continued challenging retail environment (More)
> New Jersey is first state to mandate that businesses must pay severance during mass layoffs (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> Death toll rises to 17 in China coronavirus outbreak with confirmed cases nearing 550; officials have begun to impose travel restrictions around city of Wuhan (More) | Researchers say virus may have originated in snakes (More)
> Newly-appointed Lebanese government meets for the first time as violent anti-government protests continue; country has been gripped by economic and fiscal crisis, with former Prime Minister Saad Hariri stepping down in October (More)
> British Parliament passes bill governing the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, set for Jan. 31; after years of stalemate, passage came easily following Prime Minister Boris Johnson's victory in December snap election (More)
In-Depth
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The UFO Tapes Never Meant to Be Released
Popular Mechanics | Tim McMillian. Now known as the Nimitz encounters, video showing an unidentified flying object evading the world's best fighter jets made a splash when they hit the public last fall. But fascination with the tapes obscured larger questions: Who released the tapes? Why? What else is being kept secret? (Read)
The Battle for Notre Dame
Washington Post | Philip Kennicott. In the aftermath of a fire that destroyed Paris' famed Notre Dame Cathedral, France united behind a commitment to rebuild the centuries-old treasure. But should it be rebuilt as it was, or reinvented for the 21st century? (Read)
 
 
Excellent historical returns, no jargon.
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The Motley Fool was founded by brothers Tom and David Gardner out of their garage in Alexandria, Va. Since then, they’ve grown remarkably, thanks in part to some life-changing stock recommendations. Some highlights:
> Netflix in 2004 (200,000% returns to-date)
> Amazon in 2002 (13,000% returns to-date)
> Tom’s average recommendation: 200% returns
> David’s average recommendation: 600% returns
Today, they’re recommending a stock that could disrupt the entire media and entertainment industry. Check it out now!

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Etcetera
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In a first for US elections, Seattle voters will be able to cast ballots via smartphone.
Stress really does make hair go gray faster. ($$, NYT)
Scientists discover four new species of walking sharks. (w/video)

From our partners: Here's why you might be overpaying for renters or home insurance. #Ad
CDC data reveal the laziest states in America.
The iconic Mr. Peanut set to be killed off in Super Bowl ad
Ugh millennials: You're now disrupting the death industry.  
Tales of Australia's heroic wombats are probably overstated.
It's raining iguanas in Florida
Clickbait: "Greetings from Thailand," says prison escapee
Historybook: American statesman John Hancock born (1737); US and Vietnam reach peace settlement (1973); RIP athlete, artist, and activist Paul Robeson (1976); RIP Salvador Dali (1989); Madeleine Albright becomes first US female Secretary of State (1997).
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