1.29.2019

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All your news in a single email. We scour 100+ sources so you don't have to. Culture, science, sports, politics, business, and more - all packaged in a 5-minute read below.
Need To Know.
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Taliban Truce.
US and Taliban negotiators announced an "agreement in principle" on the broad strokes of a peace settlement yesterday, providing a glimmer of hope that the 17-year-long war may be ending. The agreement included a conditional withdrawal of US troops in exchange for a general ceasefire and assurances from the Taliban that they will engage directly with the Afghan government and keep regional terrorist groups out of the country. Direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government would mark significant progress, with the former viewing the latter as illegitimate and only negotiating with the US to date. The talks come at a time when the Taliban either controls or is contesting over 50% of the country.

Need a primer on US involvement in Afghanistan? Begin here.  
HIV Hack.
Officials in Singapore accused an American of leaking the personal details of over 14,000 individuals who were HIV positive. 33-year-old Mikhy Farrera-Brochez - who had previously been jailed in the country for fraud and drug-related offenses - allegedly obtained the records through his partner Ler Teck Siang, a Singaporean physician and former head of the ministry’s National Public Health Unit. The list included 5,400 citizens and 8,800 foreigners and is especially sensitive in Singapore, where same-sex relations are banned and patients with HIV are stigmatized. While a motive was not identified, the duo had repeatedly duped Singaporean officials, faking blood tests and employment records. The breach comes just months after the health records of 1.5 million people were obtained in a massive hack of the same Ministry. 
Pacific Gas & Electric.
The nation's largest utility provider filed for bankruptcy yesterday after saying it faced billions of dollars in damages from wildfires in California. The company, which provides natural gas and electricity to over 5.2 million people along the West Coast, faced a number of lawsuits alleging that faulty electrical equipment and improperly cleared trees sparked a number of wildfires in 2017 and 2018 (see press release). Notably, the company faces a lawsuit brought by 70 families alleging that 2018's deadly Camp fire was caused by a slew of safety violations ignored by company officials. 86 people were killed in the blaze - the sixth-deadliest US wildfire on record. The news came just hours after shares jumped on news that an investor group extended a $4B offer to help the company avoid bankruptcy. 

Total insurance claims for California's 2018 November wildfires topped $11.4B, officials said.
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In The Know.
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Sports, Entertainment & Culture.
> Backstreet Boys to top Billboard 200 album chart for first time in 18 years (More)
> NBA superstar Anthony Davis requests trade from New Orleans Pelicans (More)
> Banksy mural memorial in honor of 2015 terrorist attack stolen from Bataclan concert hall in Paris (More)
Science & Technology.
> MIT researchers demonstrate flexible, inexpensive materials that can convert ambient Wi-Fi signals into electricity (More)
> New gene therapies offer path to full treatment of sickle cell disease (More) | What is sickle cell anemia? (More)
> Study finds lack of sleep heightens sensitivity to pain and dulls the brains response to painkillers; neural mechanisms that pick up on pain signals are disrupted with less sleep (More)
Business & Markets.
> US Department of Justice charges Chinese tech giant Huawei with bank and wire fraud to violate sanctions against Iran (More)
> Earnings Season: US stock markets fall (S&P 500 -0.8%, Dow -0.8%, Nasdaq -1.1%) as industry bellwethers Caterpillar and chipmaker Nvidia tumble on weak earnings (More)
> Only 2.2% of 2018 venture capital funding went to all female-led teams; though all-female founder team funding grew $1B in 2018 (More)
Politics & World Affairs.
> At least 3 dead, over 170 injured after tornado hits Havana, Cuba (More)
> US announces sweeping sanctions against the state-owned Venezuelan oil company PDVSA; move comes days after US backs opposition leader as interim president (More)
> President Trump's State of the Union address rescheduled for Feb. 5th, after being postponed from Jan. 29th due to government shutdown (More)
In Depth.
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How Machines are Affecting People and Places.
Brookings | Staff. While most perceive the future of artificial intelligence as skewing towards apocalyptic or utopian, the most realistic outcome is more nuanced. Forget about strict job loss numbers - this report focuses on the questions of what, where, and how automation will change the lives of US workers. (Read)
Shoot Someone In A Major US City, And Odds Are You’ll Get Away With It.
Buzzfeed News | Sarah Ryley and Jeremy Singer-Vine. As the number of shootings continues to increase in America, so does the number of unsolved cases - in Chicago, 88% of gun assaults result in no arrests. On top of that, if a gun homicide victim is a minority, there is only a 35% chance that the shooter will be caught. (Read)
Etcetera.
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Bill Gates' favorite infographic that captures 200 years of human progress
WallletHub ranks the most and least educated US states
How extra body fat may be shrinking your brain
USPS raises the cost of stamps by 10%, the biggest jump in their history
Study says women negotiate more aggressively when dealing with other women

You're Doing It Wrong: UAE's gender equality awards won entirely by men
Meet the person behind one-third of Wikipedia
This company wants to use the heat from space reentry to roast coffee beans
Man credits The Office for helping him save a life using CPR
Clickbait: North Korea launches clothing line that can be eaten in the event of famine
Historybook: Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet performed for first time (1595); HBD Thomas Paine (1737); Baseball Hall of Fame announces first inductees (1936); HBD Oprah Winfrey (1954); RIP Robert Frost (1963).
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- Robert Frost
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