1.9.2020

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Need to Know
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US-Iran Crisis Averted
President Trump signaled he would not escalate military tensions with Iran yesterday, saying the country appeared to be standing down after firing more than a dozen missiles at bases in Iraq that host US troops and equipment. No injuries or deaths were reported in the attacks, which were retaliation for a US drone strike that killed general Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad airport last week (see timeline). Soleimani was one of the most senior officials in Iran, having led the country's elite Quds Forces for decades and responsible for a number of destabilizing efforts across the region in pursuit of furthering Iranian interests. Iran is expected to continue using less overt means to cause disruption in the Middle East and beyond, including its extensive cyber warfare capabilities.  

The House is still planning to vote on a War Powers resolution today, which would limit military action against Iran absent congressional approval; the Senate is unlikely to approve the measure.
Cancer Deaths Drop
Cancer deaths in the US fell by 2.2.% between 2016 and 2017, notching the largest single-year drop since data collection began in 1930. Experts attribute the decline to lower smoking rates and better treatments for lung cancer, the latter of which accounts for 13% of all cancer cases but 24% of deaths (see data). The news reflects a decadeslong decline in cancer mortality which has seen the death rate drop 29% from its peak in 1991. The difference represents about 2.9 million additional cancer survivors. Progress against breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men, and colorectal cancers - all of which have fallen 40-50% over the past four decades - also contributed to the drop. Melanoma, one of three major types of skin cancer, saw the steepest drop, falling 7% per year between 2013 and 2017; see more findings here.
Harry and Meghan Step Back
Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, will step back as senior members of the Royal Family, the couple announced yesterday. Without elaborating, the pair said they will strive toward financial independence and split time between the United Kingdom and North America. The couple have been candid about the stress from being under intense public scrutiny, with Harry reserving particularly harsh criticism for British tabloids. His mother, Princess Diana, was killed in a 1997 car crash after being allegedly chased by paparazzi. The couple are expected to release further details soon; however, the move likely means they will scale back appearances on behalf of the queen, official state visits, and charities and organizations for which they are royal patrons. Harry is the highest in the line of succession to make such a move in recent memory; his uncle, Prince Andrew, was forced from duties in November. 

The Queen was said to be disappointed in the decision. 
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In the Know
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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture
> Awards season: Aerosmith, Billie Eilish, and Lizzo to perform at 2020 Grammy Awards Jan. 26 (More) | Oscars to go hostless for second straight year (More) | Netflix (15) leads nominations at GLAAD Media Awards, which recognize inclusive representations of the LGBTQ community (More)
> Family says 2-year-old girl hit by foul ball by Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora last May has permanent brain damage (More)
> Justin Bieber reveals Lyme disease diagnosis; will speak out about treatment in upcoming YouTube docuseries (More) | What is Lyme disease? (More)
Science & Technology
> Apple declines FBI request to unlock phones from a suspect in the December shooting at a Florida naval base; company says it can't recover data stored on phones without undermining the security of its operating system (More)
> Study finds ocean acidification does not alter the behavior of coral reef fish; previous studies linked climate change to erratic behavior of some species, including being attracted to predators (More) | Report says 2010s were the hottest decade on record (More)
> The Lown Institute reveals the third annual Shkreli Awards, highlighting the worst examples of profiteering and dysfunction in medicine and healthcare (More) | Who is the "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli? (More)
Business & Markets
> Former HP CEO Meg Whitman raises $400M financing for Quibi, streaming service provider launching in April (More)
> Bed Bath & Beyond shares fall 10% after whiffing on Q3 earnings in continued challenging retail environment (More) | Shares of food delivery giant Grubhub up 12% on reports it's exploring strategic options including a sale (More)
> Fitness startup ClassPass - which lets users visit numerous gyms and classes per month - becomes unicorn, raises $285M (More) | See updated unicorn tracker, which are private companies valued at more than $1B (More)
Politics & World Affairs
> Iran says it won't share the black boxes from Boeing 737 crash that killed 176 people yesterday with Boeing or the US; officials maintain it was due to a mechanical failure (More)
> Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says she is cancer-free after undergoing three-week radiation treatment for pancreatic cancer (More)
> Two-thirds of Puerto Rico is without power amid aftershocks from Tuesday's 6.4-magnitude earthquake (More)
In-Depth
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The Cure That Almost Wasn't
STAT | Helen Branswell. Due to the sporadic character of Ebola outbreaks the search for a vaccine ran into dead ends for decades, despite the lethal and highly contagious nature of the virus. It wasn't until last year - through twists and turns, stubborn researchers, and unlikely lucky breaks - that a game-changing vaccine was finally deployed in the field. (Read)
 Podcast 
You Have to Be Phenomenal
Longform | Elizabeth Wurtzel. An interview with the author of "Prozac Nation," on her own personal struggles and why it's so difficult to be a writer, even for those who work hard and are naturally talented. (Listen)

Editor's note: Wurtzel passed away Tuesday from breast cancer at age 52; this podcast is from 2013.
 
 
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Etcetera
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Ranking the global trends to watch for 2020.
Artists float a sinking house down the River Thames.
Eerie photos of an abandoned Alaskan mining town. ($$, Atlantic)
Watch some cuttlefish wear tiny 3D glass (it's for science). 
The Y2K bug is back and parking meters are going bonkers.
Ughhh millennials: You can't buy houses, but you can spend thousands on houseplants.
Army warns Americans are receiving fake texts about a military draft.
Courageous mom gives birth to two sets of twins in one year.
Clickbait: Researchers say they can make food out of thin air
Historybook: "Common Sense" published by Thomas Paine (1776); Richard Nixon born (1913); HBD activist and singer-songwriter Joan Baez (1941); HBD musician Dave Matthews (1967); HBD Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton (1982); iPhone makes its debut (2007).
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