California Oil Spill, a COVID-19 Pill, and Americans' Phone Addiction Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Monday, Oct. 4, and we're covering an oil spill in California, a new tool in the fight against COVID-19, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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California Oil Spill

A pipeline off the coast of Southern California burst Saturday, releasing an estimated 126,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean. As of last night, there were reports of dead fish and birds washing up between Los Angeles' Huntington and Newport beaches. See photos here.


Huntington Beach officials canceled the final day of a scheduled air show in response to the crisis. The leak appears to have come from a faulty underwater pipe located roughly five miles off the California coast, part of a platform that receives oil from about 70 wells before sending it to a local refinery for processing. 


Officials say beaches in the area may be closed for months as workers attempt to mitigate the spill. See the top oil spills affecting US waters in the past 50 years here.

Merck's COVID-19 Pill

Pharmaceutical giant Merck released trial data over the weekend showing its antiviral pill reduced COVID-19 hospitalizations by roughly 50%, a result that health experts framed as a breakthrough. Merck is expected to seek emergency use authorization for the drug as soon as possible.  


Unlike vaccines, the medication is meant to be taken orally early after a patient has already contracted the illness, and the treatment did not prevent deaths at the same rate as vaccines. In trials, 7.3% of people who took the medication died from COVID-19-related issues, compared to about 14% in the control group. See a technical explanation of the treatment here.


In related news, the rolling average of new COVID-19 cases reported in the US has fallen to around 107,000 per day (see stats), a 35% drop over the past month. 

OZY Media Collapses

OZY Media, an Emmy-winning digital media platform popular with younger readers, closed its doors Friday, just five days after stories emerged questioning its business practices. 


The company unraveled following reports a top executive had misrepresented himself as a YouTube executive during a phone conference with Goldman Sachs (see original report, paywall, NYT). The bank was said to have been considering a $40M investment in the company, based primarily on self-reported readership numbers and a purported relationship with YouTube. Samir Rao, chief operating officer and an OZY cofounder, allegedly impersonated the YouTube exec Alex Piper, the company's head of unscripted content, during a February phone call in an attempt to convince the bank to close the deal. 


The reports sparked a flood of broader complaints against the company and its founder Carlos Watson, including long-running accusations the company had been inflating its audience size. 

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> MLB regular season wrapped up last night with New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and San Francisco Giants picking up final three wild card spots (More) | See full playoff bracket (More) | Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady wins 19-17 in return to New England (More)

> James Bond film "No Time to Die" hauls in a $119M opening weekend, a pandemic international box office record (More) | "Venom 2" sets pandemic domestic record with $90M opening (More)

> National Women's Soccer League commissioner Lisa Baird resigns in wake of allegations of sexual misconduct against a former manager whose tenure spanned multiple teams (More)

Science & Technology

> Former Facebook employee responsible for leaking a series of documents to The Wall Street Journal makes her first public appearance last night (More) | See full series here (More, paywall)


> Chip manufacturer Intel unveils next generation neuromorphic processor; chip remains focused on research applications for now (More)


> Astronomers discover the first known exoplanet orbiting three stars; the 

GW Orionis system is located roughly 1,330 light years away from Earth (More)

Business & Markets

> US stock markets up Friday (S&P 500 +1.2%, Dow +1.4%, Nasdaq +0.8%); US consumer spending increased 0.8% in August, after a 0.1% decrease in July (More)

> General Motors third quarter vehicle sales fall over 30% due to ongoing chip shortages (More) | Tesla delivers higher-than-expected 241,300 vehicles in Q3 (More) | Electric truck maker Rivian files initial public offering S-1; posted net loss of $994M in first half of 2021 (More

> Twenty-one current and former employees publish essay stating Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin is a “toxic” workplace (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> Bipartisan infrastructure deal delayed again as House Democrats attempt to reconcile differences between moderate and progressive caucuses (More) | Thousands march in demonstrations supporting women's rights across the country (More)


> Leaked "Pandora Papers" purportedly detail how hundreds of world leaders, celebrities, and others manage their finances to avoid taxes; analysis involved 600 journalists across 150 countries (More) | See full report here (More)


> At least five people dead after a bombing outside a mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan; reportedly carried out by ISIS, the attack marks the most significant violence since the Taliban took control of the country (More)



Americans check their phones 96 times per day.


Ranking the biggest album releases in modern music history.


Ten years of moon photos reveal dazzling results.


The original "Scream" house is now on Airbnb.

Demand for private jets is at an all-time high


Uber is now delivering pumpkin carving kits.


When you're too hungry to wait to notch a world record.


X-rays uncover messages between Marie Antoinette and her secret lover.


Clickbait: Shakira fends off a wild boar attack.


Historybook: RIP Rembrandt (1669); Orient Express makes first run from Paris to Romania (1883); Hollywood legend Charlton Heston born (1923); Sputnik 1 is first artificial satellite to orbit Earth (1957); RIP rocker Janis Joplin (1970).


"Don't compromise yourself. You are all you've got."

- Janis Joplin

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