1.30.2020

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Need to Know
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The Eve of Brexit
Members of the European Parliament overwhelmingly agreed to the United Kingdom's terms governing its departure from the European Union yesterday, approving the measure in a 621-49 vote. The sign off was the final major bureaucratic hurdle before the country formally leaves the 28-member bloc, which legally goes into effect tomorrow at 11pm local time (6pm ET). The moment will mark the end of a tortured journey that began in 2016 and saw the resignation of two prime ministers before current PM Boris Johnson won a December snap election, delivering his conservative party the legislative majority needed to finally pass a withdrawal package. Still, the break won't be immediate - Saturday kicks off an 11-month transition period during which the UK will still abide by EU laws and regulations, but loses its membership in EU institutions immediately. The two sides will use the time to hammer out loose ends, like trade deals and immigration policies.

Parliament members sang "Auld Lang Syne" after the vote (w/video).
Doomsday Glacier Melting
Scientists drilling on Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier recorded unusually warm temperatures at the structure's base, reporting readings more than 3.5 degrees above freezing. The measurements were taken at the grounding line, where the Antarctic land ends and the structure overhangs onto the open ocean as an ice shelf, implying warm waters may be melting the Florida-sized glacier from the bottom up. Sometimes referred to as the doomsday glacier, scientists view the ice as particularly critical to global sea rise; at current melt rates, it is already responsible for 4% of annual sea rise and a hypothetical total collapse would raise global sea levels by 1 meter. Taking the data was a feat of engineering; after two months in frigid conditions, the research team drilled through a half-mile of ice shelf, with a marine robot swimming almost a mile under the ice to take data near the grounding line. 

Simulate the impact of a 1-meter rise in sea levels here
Trump Signs USMCA 
President Trump signed the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement into law yesterday, a sweeping free trade deal governing an estimated $1.2T in economic activity. The approval marks the realization of one of the biggest campaign pledges by Trump, who harshly criticized the deal's predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement, as shifting US jobs to Mexico (experts say its overall impact was modest). Its passage comes after more than two years of negotiations, both with Canada and Mexico and within Congress, who approved the package in bipartisan votes earlier this month. The deal is projected to raise US GDP by $68B (0.35% increase) and add about 180,000 jobs (0.12% increase). The US and Mexico saw $671B in total trade in 2018, while the US and Canada saw $719B; dig into the details here and here

On the impeachment front, senators are on day two of a question and answer period with a looming vote on new witnesses scheduled for tomorrow. 
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In the Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> Digital media publisher Barstool Sports sells 36% stake to gambling operator Penn National Gaming for $136M; deal paves way for expansion of legal sports betting (More)
> Vanessa Bryant releases first public comment since death of husband Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna (More)
> Five-time Grammy winner Billie Eilish tapped to perform at Academy Awards (Feb. 9) (More) | Parent company for film subscription service MoviePass files for bankruptcy (More)
Science & Technology
> Knee injuries, such as ACL tears, linked to structural changes in the brain; study finds the corticospinal tract, which sends messages from the brain to muscles, atrophied by 15% in the hemisphere corresponding to the injured knee (More)
> Australian lab becomes first to grow Wuhan coronavirus outside of China, will share the strain with international researchers (More)
> Google says it paid out $6.5M to 461 security researchers as part of its bug bounty program, almost double from 2018 (More) | CalTech awarded $1.1B jury verdict in patent fight against Apple and Broadcom over chip-based Wi-Fi technology (More)
Business & Markets
> Federal Reserve holds its benchmark interest rate steady at current range of 1.5-1.75%, signals it may increase rates to 2% objective (More)
> Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to sell newspaper business to Lee Enterprises - owner of 50+ newspapers - for $140M (More)
> Boeing posts first annual loss since 1997 amid 737 Max crisis (More) | Tesla beats earnings expectations, projects to deliver 500,000 cars in 2020 - shares surge more than 10% in after-hours trading (More) | Facebook beats expectations, but shares fall 7% in after-hours trading as expenses increase; now at 2.5B monthly active users (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> Officials discover the longest tunnel under the US Southwest border ever found, stretching three-quarters of a mile from Tijuana, Mexico, to the San Diego area; tunnel located at a depth of 70 feet underground, well below border wall (More)
> Evacuation flight carrying about 200 Americans from Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus outbreak, arrives in Southern California quarantine zone for examination by health workers; death toll rises to at least 170 (More)
> Israeli Parliament postpones Sunday vote on move that would annex the Jordan Valley and up to 30% of the West Bank; hard-line supporters call for vote before March 2 election (More)
In-Depth
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The Spy at Los Alamos
NYT | William Broad. Last fall, historians uncovered the fourth known Soviet spy to have infiltrated Los Alamos National Lab during the 1940s, as the US was developing the atomic bomb. Fresh disclosures show the spy's efforts - codenamed "Godsend" - were much more damaging than his colleagues and were key to the Soviet's ability to recreate the bomb. (Read, $$)
How the Media Polarizes Us
Ezra Klein | Vox. The internet was supposed to shift the democratic paradigm, making information abundant, cheap, and easily accessible. Instead, two decades later, political interest and involvement have barely budged, with news stuck in an "entertain or perish" environment. (Read)
 
 
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Etcetera
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A look at what will drive tech trends in 2020
In a world of dating apps, abstinence is making some people happier.
See the most detailed images of the sun ever taken
US colleges want students to download location tracking apps (for attendance, of course).
People are beginning to realize we forgot to ban sword dueling.
Japan is building a 60-foot-tall humanoid robot
New bandages change colors when they detect disease.
Vet collapses after learning the value of his old Rolex watch. (w/video)
Clickbait: Some people think the coronavirus is related to Corona beer.
Historybook: RIP American flag designer Betsy Ross (1836); Franklin D. Roosevelt born (1882); Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany (1933); Mahatma Gandhi assassinated (1948); 14 killed on Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland (1972).
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