1.31.2020

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Need to Know
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Super Bowl Weekend
The city of Miami hosts the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers this weekend as the two teams face off Sunday in Super Bowl LIV (6:30pm ET, Fox). The Chiefs enter as slim 1.5-point favorites, with experts expecting an evenly matched championship. Both teams finished the regular season in the top five in total offense and the top eight in total defense (see stats). Favored teams have won eight of 15 championship games - just over 50% - when the spread is less than three points. Quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes (Chiefs) and Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers) are starting their first Super Bowl games, though Garoppolo won two rings as Tom Brady's backup in New England. Chiefs coach Andy Reid is the sentimental favorite; despite being ranked seventh in all-time career wins, Reid has never won a Super Bowl. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will headline the halftime show.  

Watch for the commercials? Read what makes a Super Bowl ad successful and preview the best commercials expected to air, and don't miss the $6M spot paid for by a grateful pet owner.
Impeachment End Draws Near
Following a second day of questioning by lawmakers, the Senate will debate and vote on whether to call new impeachment witnesses today. In a reversal from earlier in the week, Republicans are increasingly confident they have the 51 votes necessary to defeat the motion. At least four Republicans would need to side with all 47 Democrats to call new witnesses; Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have signaled they'll support the motion, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) has been tight-lipped about her intentions. Outgoing Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) revealed late last night he would oppose the vote, saying Democrats proved their case but it didn't meet the bar for impeachment. There is also an outside chance of a tie, in which case Supreme Court Justice John Roberts would face an unprecedented decision of whether to break the stalemate.

If the witness vote is shot down, the Senate is likely to vote to acquit President Trump by the end of the day. 
All Eyes on Punxsutawney
The nation's attention will turn to Jefferson County, Pa. Sunday morning to see whether the country's most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, will determine whether spring comes early in 2020. As is tradition, the slumberous whistle-pig will join his homogenous crew of top-hatted dignitaries to see whether he'll spot his shadow (foretelling six more weeks of winter) or relax a bit with his admiring fans (predicting an early spring). The prescient woodchuck will also pick one of two scrolls, each containing separate wintery prophecies. The ceremony was originally conceived of by a local newspaper editor in 1887, but has its roots in Eastern European celebrations of the midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. Phil is right about 40% of the time - or an impressive 60% if you flip the somewhat arbitrary rules.

In fact, science says the real reason Phil peeks out of his burrow is to check for mates.
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In the Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> NBA All-Star Game (Feb. 16) full rosters announced with LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo named captains (More) | Major format changes to the game to include charity donations and fourth quarter tribute to Kobe Bryant (More)
> Salvador Dalí bronze sculptures worth $600K stolen from gallery in Sweden (More)
> Famed TV executive Fred Silverman, who led programming at CBS, ABC, and NBC, dies at 82 (More) | Twentieth Century Studios production president Emma Watts steps down (More)
Science & Technology
> New study suggests that Parkinson's patients who develop the disease before age 50 may have precursor issues in brain cells that develop before birth (More)
> First human-to-human transmission of Wuhan coronavirus in the US confirmed as husband of Chicago patient falls ill (More) | World Health Organization declares a global health emergency; death toll at 213, confirmed cases close to 10,000 (More)
> Researchers make first observation of metallic hydrogen; gas becomes solid and conductive when cooled to absolute zero and held at extreme pressures 4 million times standard atmosphere (More)
Business & Markets
> US gross domestic product growth ends 2019 at 2.3%, down from 2.9% in 2018 (More)
> IBM's Ginni Rometty stepping down; CEO since 2012 to be replaced by cloud computing head, with shares up 5% on the news (More)
> Amazon smashes earnings expectations on strong holiday sales, shares up 10%+ (More) | Southwest Airlines shares down 2% on reports of US government audit showing the airline flew passengers on planes without confirmation of required maintenance (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> United Kingdom formally withdrawals from European Union tonight at 11pm GMT (6pm ET); both sides enter 11-month transition period to negotiate trade deals and other policies (More)
> Election 2020: Senior pastor of Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, Rev. Ralph Warnock, launches bid against Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA); Ebenezer Baptist was home congregation of Martin Luther King Jr. (More)
> Trump administration to allow states to convert part of their Medicaid funding to block grants; supporters say approach increases state's flexibility in meeting needs while constraining costs (More) | See criticisms of block grants (More)
Weekend Reads
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A Brief History of the War on Cannabis
MIT Press Reader | Ryan Stoa. For as long as people have been farming marijuana, others have sought to ban it, from ancient China to the modern-day US. (Read)
The Outsize Influence of Your Middle School Friends
The Atlantic | Lydia Denworth. It's not just in your head - the friendships you formed in adolescence are more intense. And there's an evolutionary reason for that. (Read, $$)
This Sculpture Holds a Secret
NYT | John Schwartz, Jonathan Corum. A mysterious sculpture with a coded message has sat outside the CIA for three decades, resisting efforts by the world's best code-breakers to decipher its secrets. Now, the sculpture's creator has given obsessive fans a new clue. (Read, $$)
The Internet Never Forgets
MIT Tech Review | Kate Eichhorn. Until the end of the 20th century, you could be more or less sure your most embarrassing childhood moments would be forgotten. Now, everyone's worst memories are likely captured forever - and that's bad news for young people. (Read)
 
 
The Best of January 2020
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Editor's Note: More than 750,000 monthly clicks can't be wrong. Here are the most popular stories we ran in January. Enjoy!

(1/15/20) The New York Public Library reveals its 10 most checked-out books of all time.

(1/13/20) The counties where you should buy, not rent.

(1/22/20) The 50 best (and highest paying) jobs in America for 2020.

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(1/28/20) The economics of the all-you-can-eat buffet.

(1/14/20) The average American body temperature has been falling.

(1/3/20) Teen climber survives a 500-foot fall on Mount Hood.

(1/7/20) The most anticipated books of 2020.

(1/21/20) Visualizing the world's wealth in one image.

(1/17/20) America's 50 best cities to live in.

(1/8/20) Supervillain releases bedbugs inside a Pennsylvania Walmart.

(1/15/20) Study says midlife crises are real, and peak misery is age 47.

(1/28/20) Mapping where America's international communities cluster.

(1/4/20) These timelines will make you feel old.

(1/30/20) See the most detailed images of the sun ever taken.

(1/2/20) Clickbait: Reporter quits job on air after winning the lottery but before checking the payout.
Historybook: Guy Fawkes is executed (1606); 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, passes in Congress (1865); Jackie Robinson born (1919); HBD actress Kerry Washington (1977); HBD Justin Timberlake (1981).
You made it. Have a great weekend.
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"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives."
- Jackie Robinson
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