Colin Powell, 'Forever Chemicals,' and America's Best High Schools

Good morning. It's Tuesday, Oct. 19, and we're covering the passing of Colin Powell, a plan to limit harmful synthetic chemicals, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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Colin Powell Dies

Gen. Colin Powell, former secretary of state, passed away yesterday at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, reportedly from complications arising from COVID-19. The 84-year-old Powell was fully vaccinated and was also being treated for multiple myeloma, cancer that forms in certain white blood cells. 


Powell joined the Army after graduating college in 1958, rising through the ranks to become a four-star general. He became the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush and the first Black secretary of state under former President George W. Bush. He played a leadership role in both Iraq wars, including arguing Iraq harbored weapons of mass destruction in 2003—a stance Powell said he ultimately regretted. See his life in photos here.


His passing represents a breakthrough death—when fully vaccinated patients die from COVID-19. Roughly 7,100 such deaths have been reported in the US, with 85% occurring in patients 65 and older.

'Forever Chemicals'

The Biden administration announced yesterday a three-year initiative to regulate toxic humanmade “forever chemicals,” which pose health risks to millions of Americans and have turned up in water supplies across the country. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, or PFAS, are long-lasting chemicals found in many commercial products such as food packaging, cookware, and more. The chemicals don't break down naturally and may remain in the bloodstream indefinitely; they have been linked to many adverse health effects, including certain cancers and liver damage.


The Environmental Protection Agency said it would accelerate efforts to set a national drinking water standard and would require chemical manufacturers to test and publicly report detailed data on the amount of PFAS in products. The agency will also propose to designate the harmful chemicals as hazardous under the Superfund law. The agency hopes to finalize an enforceable drinking water limit by fall 2023.


See a map of the more than 120,000 facilities known to process PFAS chemicals here.

Enter the Metaverse

Facebook announced yesterday it would hire at least 10,000 workers in Europe over the next five years to help build what it has termed the "metaverse." The hires would represent a 15% increase in the company's global workforce, and would mark Facebook's biggest step to date toward realizing the new platform.


Touted as the future of the internet, the metaverse is envisioned as an immersive digital world allowing users to interact via augmented or virtual reality headsets. Technologists have suggested that, beyond social networking, such digital worlds may be used for work, concerts, family gatherings, and more. Experts said it may take a decade or more to fully develop the platform at large scale. 


In related news, British lawmakers are in the process of hearing testimony from two whistleblowers, Sophie Zhang and Francis Haugen, about Facebook's internal practices around misinformation, hate speech, and more.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

Brought to you by Kettle & Fire

> Motion Picture Academy CEO Dawn Hudson to step down when contract ends in 2023 after a decade heading the organization behind the Oscars (More)


> Federal judge rules in favor of University of North Carolina in affirmative action case, says the school didn't discriminate against white and Asian American applicants in its admissions policies (More)


> Gonzaga, UCLA, and Kansas top preseason AP men's college basketball poll; season starts Nov. 9 (More) | Longtime ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale, 82, announces lymphoma diagnosis (More)

From our partners: Need a snack between meals? Kettle & Fire's got you covered with a full line of bone broth and soups. Whether you're Keto, Whole30, stretching your fasting window, or just like to keep it low carb and healthy, look no further. Kettle & Fire never uses anything artificial and sources only grass-fed and finished beef bones. The cherry on top? You can save 25% off your entire order right here.

Science & Technology

> US health regulators to allow a "mix-and-match" approach to receiving COVID-19 booster shots (More) | See current US COVID-19 stats here (More)


> New evidence suggests the Earth tipped 12 degrees off axis roughly 84 million years ago, before correcting itself; study is the latest in the debate over whether the Earth experiences "true polar wander" (More)


> Largest underwater eruption recorded to date responsible for a string of mysterious seismic events beginning in 2018, geologists conclude (More)

Business & Markets

> Five House Judiciary Committee members send letter to Amazon questioning whether executives lied under oath regarding third-party seller data practices (More) | Securities and Exchange Commission releases long-awaited report on January 2021 GameStop stock surge (More)


> China sees 4.9% gross domestic product growth, a decline from Q2, as housing and energy crises reduce growth (More)


> Apple announces two new MacBook models running on chips developed in-house, as tech giant continues to move away from chip partner Intel (More) | Shares of retail giant Macy’s surge 18% after news Saks Fifth Avenue plans to seek valuation of $6B for its e-commerce platform spin-off (More

Politics & World Affairs

> Chinese officials deny reports they successfully tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August, saying it was routine spacecraft testing; claims reportedly caught US intelligence by surprise (More)


> Two senior House Democrats, Reps. David Price (NC-4) and Mike Doyle (PA-18), to retire after current term; Price's district includes Raleigh-Durham's research triangle, Doyle's district covers Pittsburgh (More) | See running list of retirements here (More)


> Biden administration formally petitions Supreme Court to pause Texas' fetal heartbeat abortion ban while a challenge to the law is considered (More) | Former President Donald Trump to appear in a video deposition related to 2015 protests (More)



The Teenager Economy

Margins | Ranjan Roy. Dissecting the phenomenon of overly enthusiastic entrepreneurs whose claims don't quite match their company's financials. (Read)

A Feud, an Ax, and a Fishing Knife

Yahoo | Rachel Olding. Inside the bloody killing gripping a remote Maine island with a population of roughly 1,200 people. (Read)



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Ranking America's best high schools.


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Australia begins vaccinating koalas against chlamydia.


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Stunning animation captures the relative depth of the ocean.


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Clickbait: New Zealand city fires its wizard.


Historybook: British Gen. Charles Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, effectively ending the Revolutionary War (1781); John Jay becomes first chief justice of the US (1789); RIP abolitionist and suffragist Lucy Stone (1893); HBD actor, director Jon Favreau (1966); Black Monday stock market crash, Dow Jones drops 22% in one day (1987).


"Always do your very best. Even when no one else is looking, you always are. Don't disappoint yourself."

- Colin Powell

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